Phillies vs. Padres: Phils leads NLCS thanks to Kyle Schwarber, Jean Segura, Alec Bohm

The Phillies spent $79 million to bring Kyle Schwarber to Philadelphia because they thought his power bat would play well in their roster and his playoff experience would be a compass in a clubhouse that needed help. to find its way until October.

With 45,279 towel-waving maniacs rocking Citizens Bank Park, Schwarber went home plate late in the first inning Friday night and drove a full Joe Musgrove cutter into the right field seats. Schwarber’s 11th career playoff home run gave the Phillies an early lead and set an emotional tone by winning Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, 4-2, over the San Diego Padres.

The Phillies are up two games to one in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 scheduled for Saturday night at South Philly.

While Schwarber started the Phillies early, there were other stars. Jean Segura was a great. He delivered a massive two-run single off a 1-2 slider by Musgrove late in the fourth inning to break a 1-1 tie and put the Phils up, 3-2.

Segura also had three outstanding defensive plays at second base, expiating a fourth-inning error. One of the plays was a diving gem to end the top of the seventh with a man on base behind reliever Jose Alvarado.

Three of the Phillies’ four points came with two outs. In addition to Segura’s hit in fourth – a punch to right field that was reminiscent of his hit in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the NL wildcard series at St. Louis – the Phils returned to- doubles return from Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm with two outs in the sixth to come back up, 4-2.

Phillies starter Ranger Suarez pitched well but came out after five innings with a 3-2 lead. It could easily have been a 3-0 lead as poor defending (and a defensive change gone wrong) led to the two points he gave up. Suarez allowed just two hits, and one was against the lag, and threw just 68 pitches before manager Rob Thomson went to his bullpen.

At the time, Thomson’s decision to withdraw Suarez was a bit of a headache. There was initial speculation that Suarez might have tweaked a hamstring, but on the TV show Thomson said he pulled Suarez because the southpaw hadn’t kicked in nine days and the formation of the Padres was about to see him for the third time. This is no longer Jack Morris’ game.

With dangerous right-handed hitters Manny Machado and Brandon Drury, Thomson went to Zach Eflin for the sixth and the right-hander survived a pair of singles and pitched a scoreless inning to hold the one-run lead. Eflin got some great help from the defense as Segura and Bryson Stott teamed up to turn a 4-6-3 double play on pincher Josh Bell to end the frame.

The double play sent an extra shot of electricity through the huge crowd, and late in the inning, the Phils added a run to their lead on the back-to-back two-out doubles of Castellanos and Bohm. Those blows knocked Musgrove out of the game.

Thomson was a huge factor in the Phillies breaking a 10-year playoff drought. It was a club heading towards a stalemate when he took over from Joe Girardi on June 3. So many of Thomson’s moves have paid off in the past five months and his decision to go to the bullpen at the start of this one certainly turned out to be a winner.

Still, Thomson’s decision to lift Suarez after five innings meant the bullpen had to pick up four innings, which isn’t ideal considering the Phillies will rely on that unit to get past Game 4 on Saturday night. Bailey Falter will start this game. The Phils would like to see him cross the Padres lineup once — nine out — before a series of relievers try to get the next 18 out. The Phils used this strategy in the NLDS clincher against Atlanta and it worked brilliantly as six pitchers recorded 15 strikeouts and no walks.

Eflin and Alvarado combined six outs in Friday night’s win. Eflin threw 17 pitches and Alvarado threw 27. At this time of year, both should be available Saturday. It remains to be seen whether Seranthony Dominguez will be available or not. He threw 34 pitches to get the last six outs of the game. But it was all worth it. He got the stoppage, the Phillies got the win, and now they’re two World Series wins away.

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