(Harrisburg, PA) - The Fightin Phils needed a lift on Monday night in the capital, and boy did they ever get one from Phillies 40-man member Ranger Suarez . The Opening Day starter dazzled for eight innings at FNB Field, and got two timely hits from Damek Tomscha and a fifth inning grand slam from Kyle Martin as the Fightins (4-7) snapped a three-game losing streak after getting swept in Richmond to start the trip.
Wirkin Estevez got the start for the Senators, and escaped a couple of jams in the first and second with two on and no outs. Both innings followed the same script, with the Fightins getting a leadoff single and a walk before a double play and the final out with a runner stranded at third.
They finally broke it open in the third when Suarez roped a single back up the middle to lead off the inning in his first professional plate appearance. He went first to third on the second of Zach Coppola's three straight singles, and two batters later, Tomscha cranked a double to the left field wall for a 2-0 lead.
On a night where he matched career highs with 10 strikeouts over 8.0 innings, Suarez was dialed in and threw a ton of first pitch strikes. After striking out the side in the third, he added two more in the fourth and fifth to bring his total to eight. A nine-pitch sixth inning brought him into the seventh as he became the first starter to work more than six innings. After surrendering a leadoff single to Taylor Gushue , Suarez started a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Dan Gamache , who came into the game with a league-leading .419 average and finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Suarez (1-1) struck out Kelvin Gutierrez to end the seventh, and added one more to tie his career high in the eighth before handling one more groundball from Daniel Johnson for his final act of the night. In the top of the fifth, Reading loaded the bases with one out against Estevez thanks to Coppola's third hit and walks by Malquin Canelo and Tomscha. Martin then grooved a 2-2 pitch into the seats in right for his first career grand slam, giving him eight runs batted in for the season and a 6-0 lead that stood up when Garrett Cleavinger and Luke Leftwich combined on a scoreless ninth inning.
America's Classic Ballpark is proud to be a part of Pennsylvania's Americana Region. Season tickets for the 2018 season are available online at Fightins.com, by phone at 610-370-BALL, and in-person at FirstEnergy Stadium. Follow the Fightin Phils on Twitter at @ReadingFightins and like them on Facebook via www.facebook.com/fightins.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.