Odubel Herrera tried to help the Phillies win a ballgame Wednesday night.
He succeeded on Thursday afternoon as the Phillies eked out a 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins to get out of South Florida with a split of a four-game series.
The Phillies are now looking at a rare Friday off day before a two-game weekend series with a red-hot Tampa Bay Rays team that has the best record in the American League.
Thursday was the Phillies’ 18th one-run game. They are 10-8 in them and 25-26 overall, right in the thick of things in an NL East division where no one has kicked it in yet.
These Phillies do nothing easy. For the second straight game, they blew an eighth-inning lead. The defense fell apart as the Marlins rallied for three runs in the eighth to win, 4-2, on Wednesday. On Thursday, agita-causing reliever Jose Alvarado walked three batters in the eighth and one turned into the tying run.
Herrera led off the top of the ninth inning with a triple and scored the go-ahead run from third base when Ronald Torreyes beat out a potential double play moments later.
One night earlier, Herrera robbed a home run to preserve a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning. He could have been the hero of that game before baseball’s worst defensive team played down to its reputation in the eighth inning.
“Odubel had a great day,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s been big for us.”
After the game, Herrera was asked what was more exciting, the triple or the longball larceny from the night before?
“Both,” he said with a big smile. “The catch was really good. The triple was exciting, too. I love it.”
Herrera was called up in the final week of April and started slowly. He's hitting .289 with an .826 OPS, six doubles, a triple, two homers and nine RBIs in May.
"It’s nice to see," Girardi said. "He’s having a chance to rewrite his story a little bit. And he’s playing really well."
Rhys Hoskins had a big series. He provided the offense with a two-run homer in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win. He had another big game in the series finale. His solo homer against Marlins starter Pablo Lopez in the fourth inning gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. The homer was Hoskins’ team-high 11th and it came just a couple of pitches after he was knocked down by an up-and-in fastball from Lopez. The Phils built the lead to 2-0 on when Herrera followed with a double, moved up on a hit by Alec Bohm and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Joyce. The Marlins cut the lead to 2-1 after Spencer Howard hit a wall in the fifth and tied it against Alvarado in the eighth.
Alvarado is methodically showing why Tampa Bay moved on from him over the winter. He has walked 16 batters in 17 innings.
Amazingly, Girardi said he doesn’t need any antacid tablets when he watches Alvarado pitch.
“No, no,” he said. “I always feel good about Alvy when he goes out there. Again, he’s going to walk some guys but he’s also going to get strikeouts and double-play balls and you’re just going to live with it.”
Lefty Ranger Suarez was one of the stars of the win. He cleaned up Howard’s bases-loaded mess in the fifth and ended up with three scoreless innings. He allowed a hit, walked none and struck out three.
Suarez has a fearlessness to him. He’s not afraid to go right at hitters. After a lost season in 2020 — he spent a month alone in a Clearwater hotel room in COVID protocol — he could end up being quite valuable to this club. He throws strikes and he’s versatile.
Howard had some encouraging moments in his second start of the season for the big club.
The 24-year-old right-hander allowed just one hit and a walk while striking out four through the first four innings. His fastball topped out at 95.8 mph and averaged 93.5 mph over that span.
In the fifth, Howard lost a tick on his fastball and his command vanished. He gave up a base hit to open the frame then issued a pair of walks before Girardi removed him at 66 pitches.
Suarez inherited a difficult bases-loaded situation and did a nice job getting three outs with only one run, which was charged to Howard, crossing the plate.
This was the second straight start that Howard’s performance declined as his pitch count inched upward, though this decline was not as steep as the previous one. Five days earlier against Boston, he lost his velocity and his command in the third inning, as he was getting over just 35 pitches.
The Phillies say Howard is healthy. He wouldn’t be on the mound if he wasn’t. He will continue to get the ball as a starter and must figure out a way to maintain his sharpness for more than just a few innings. Maybe it will come with time and experience. The Phillies sure hope it does.