Strahm, ‘pen come up big as Phillies earn 1st win

Strahm, ‘pen come up big as Phillies earn 1st win

5:05 AM UTC

NEW YORK — The Phillies decided to make Tuesday night against the Yankees a bullpen game, partly because left-hander Ranger Suárez is on the injured list due to tenderness in his left forearm.

The strategy paid off for Philadelphia, as five relievers — led by left-hander Matt Strahm — helped the club earn its first victory of the season in a 4-1 decision at Yankee Stadium. The win snapped a four-game losing streak to start the year.

“It’s good to get our first win, [but] it’s just one win,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We have another game tomorrow. We have a tough pitcher we have to face [in Gerrit Cole].”

Strahm made his first start since Aug. 17, 2021, when he was with the Padres, and was almost unhittable. The southpaw pitched four scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three batters. Strahm retired the first eight hitters he faced before allowing a single to Anthony Volpe in the third inning. After that, Strahm retired four out of the next five hitters before leaving the game.

“Any time you are scoreless in an outing, you are obviously happy with it,” Strahm said.

Strahm was still going strong after throwing 61 pitches. In fact, Thomson was going to let Strahm go back out to the mound for the fifth inning, but he thought the top of the inning went too long as the Phillies scored two runs and New York made a pitching change. So Thomson decided to take Strahm out and go with right-hander Andrew Bellatti.

“I thought he threw the ball great. The slider was good. Fastball had movement, was effective,” Thomson said of Strahm. “He pitched up in the zone. A lot of swings and misses. But the entire bullpen was really good.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was also impressed with what he saw from Strahm.

“I thought he had a presence on the inner half with us,” Boone said. “He’s got that ride on his fastball. So he was working it well up above the belt and then also spinning it down in the zone. So we had a couple of different things to cover.

“And I think his fastball was really playing a little bit more. Our good swings on it, we were fouling some pitches off or just missing some balls. And I think that was … some of the life he had.”

Look for Strahm to stay in the Phillies’ rotation after his outing Tuesday. According to Thomson, the lefty will throw 75-80 pitches in his next start.

“We’ll treat him as a starter. He will not pitch out of the bullpen between starts,” the skipper said.

While Strahm has primarily appeared out of the bullpen during his eight years in the big leagues, he doesn’t consider himself to be solely a reliever.

“I refuse to call myself a reliever or a starter. I’m just a pitcher,” Strahm said. “Whatever they need, whenever they need it, I will do it.”

Bellatti, José Alvarado, Connor Brogdon and Craig Kimbrel combined to pitch the remaining five innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out six batters. The lone run was scored in the ninth inning when DJ LeMahieu hit a solo home run into the Yankee bullpen off Kimbrel.

“Kimbrel bent, but he didn’t break,” Thomson said. “The job that Alvarado, Bellatti and Brogdon did, it was just phenomenal.”

The Phillies had timely hits against Yankees right-hander Domingo Germán, who allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings. Philadelphia took the lead in the first inning when Kyle Schwarber hit a mammoth home run over the right-field wall to give the team a 1-0 lead; it traveled 415 feet at an exit velocity of 104.4 mph, according to Statcast. It was also the 200th homer of the left-handed-hitting slugger’s career.

“It feels good. I think the biggest thing is being able to start up with the lead,” Schwarber said. “The personal accomplishments will come after I’m done playing. Cool stat, cool thing. But I’m happy about the win.

“I think the biggest thing was to get the lead, and Strahmmy pitched his butt off. He hasn’t had the chance to build up, [but] he goes out there and goes four strong and the bullpen comes in and does its thing.”

Two innings later, Brandon Marsh slugged a home run into the Yankees’ bullpen to make it a two-run game. The final two runs were charged to Germán in the fifth inning, when reliever Michael King allowed RBI singles to Trea Turner and Schwarber.

“It was a good all-around game. Hats off to Strahm and the whole entire bullpen,” Marsh said. “We were supposed to come out on top tonight.”

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