Phillies vs. Padres: Bills lead NLCS thanks to Kyle Schwarber, Gene Segura, Alec Bohm

The Phillies spent $79 million to bring Kyle Schwarber to Philadelphia because they believed his power bat would play well in their lineup and his postseason experience would be a compass in the clubhouse.

With 45,279 towel-waving crazies rocking Citizens Bank Park, Schwarber stepped into the bottom of the first inning Friday night and drove a full-count cutter off Joe Musgrove into the right-field seats. Schwarber’s 11th career postseason home run gave the Phillies an early lead and set an emotional tone as they won Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the San Diego Padres 4-2.

The Phillies take a two-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 on Saturday night in South Philly.

Although Schwarber left the Phillies early, so did the other stars. Jean Segura is great. He delivered a big two-run single off Musgrove in the bottom of the fourth inning on a 1-2 slider to break a 1-1 tie and put the Bills up 3-2.

Segura made up for a fourth-inning error and made three great defensive plays at second base. One of those plays was a diving gem to end the top of the seventh with a man on behind reliever Jose Alvarado.

Three of the Phillies’ four runs came with two outs. In addition to Segura’s hit in the fourth — a punch to right field reminiscent of his clutch hit in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the NL wild-card series in St. Louis — the Phils regained their lead in the sixth with doubles by Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm to make it 4-2. progressed on account of.

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Phillies starter Ranger Suarez pitched well, but left after five innings with a 3-2 lead. It could have easily been a 3-0 lead as poor defense (and a defensive turnover made worse) led to the two runs he gave up. Suarez allowed just two hits, one against a changeup, and threw just 68 pitches before manager Rob Thompson went to his bullpen.

At the time, Thompson’s decision to drop Suarez was a bit of a head-scratcher. There was some initial speculation that Suarez might have tweaked a hamstring, but on the telecast, Thompson said he fired Suarez because the lefty hadn’t pitched in nine days and the Padres’ lineup was about to see him for the third time. It’s not Jack Morris’ game anymore.

Due to dangerous right-handed hitters Manny Machado and Brandon Drury, Thompson walked Zach Eflin in the sixth and the right-hander survived a pair of singles to start a scoreless inning to preserve a one-run lead. Eflin got some big-time help from the defense as Segura and Bryson Stott turned a double play off pinch-hitter Josh Bell in a 4-6-3.

The double play sent extra electricity through the crowd, and in the bottom of the inning, the Bills added a run to their lead on back-to-back two-out doubles by Castellanos and Bohm. Those hits drove Musgrove out of the game.

Thompson was a big factor in the Phillies breaking a 10-year postseason drought. It hit a dead end when he took over for Joe Girardi on June 3rd. Many of Thompson’s moves over the past five months have paid off, and his decision to go to the bullpen in this one start certainly changed. A winner.

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Still, Thompson’s decision to lift Suarez after five innings meant the bullpen had to go four innings, not ideal considering the Phillies are leaning on that unit to get Game 4 on Saturday night. Bailey Falter will start that game. The Bills want to see him go down the Padres’ line one time — nine outs — before trying to get the next 18 outs. The Phils used that strategy in the NLDS clincher against Atlanta, and it worked brilliantly as six pitchers recorded 15 strikeouts.

Eflin and Alvarado combined for six strikeouts in Friday night’s win. Eflin threw 17 pitches and Alvarado 27. At this time of year, both should be available on Saturday. Whether or not Seranthony Dominguez is available remains to be seen. He threw 34 pitches in getting the final six outs of the game. But it was all worth it. He made the save, the Phillies won, and now they’re two wins away from the World Series.

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