Bryson Stott
Phillies manager Rob Thomson had a plan in mind and executed it beautifully on Saturday night in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. 
Ranger Suarez started the contest, but was pulled at the first sign of trouble in the fourth. 
In a normal situation, Thomson would allow Suarez some room to navigate the situation with runners on first and second and two outs, but this is the postseason, and Thomson has never been shy about using his bullpen in high leverage situations. 
"You hate to take a guy out," Thomson said. "He's pitching well. He knows he's pitching well, but just because of the off days, it was [Jeff] Hoffman after Suárez no matter what, just depending on -- just wanted to make sure we got the right spot for him." 
The parade to the bullpen commenced. Hoffman wiggled out of the fourth without a blemish, while Seranthony Dominguez did the same in the fifth. José Alvarado, Orion Kerkering, Matt Strahm and Craig Kimbrel all saw action, keeping a historically good Braves lineup off the scoreboard. 
"We were contemplating whether or not to explain it to him before the game," Thomson said. "We decided not to, but I explained it to him afterward, and he understood it. He's a competitor. I get it. I'm OK with him being disappointed. 
"There's one thought that you tell him to empty the tank early, don't worry about going deep. Is that the best message to send him, or is it, 'Just go and pitch your game?' I decided not to tell him and let him pitch his game and he did, he pitched well and he was disappointed to come out. All moves are scrutinized this time of year, I get it. If that didn't work out, it would be scrutinized. But it is what it is and you've got to make the best decision in your mind that needs to be made." 
The Braves had not been shutout at Truist Park in over two years. Bryson Stott put the Phillies on the board in the fourth with a two-out RBI single. Bryce Harper launched a solo blast in the sixth to increase the lead. 
Spencer Strider, who entered Saturday with dominant career figures against the Phillies, took the loss. He surrendered two runs, one earned, over seven innings. 
"Yeah. Strider, man, he's one of the best in the game, if not the best right now, striking guys out, and he had a phenomenal year," Harper said. "So it's always a tough at-bat. You know he's going to come at you and throw his best at you. So just trying to get a pitch over and was able to get the slider up and do some damage." 
The Game 1 victory means the Phillies have homefield advantage moving forward, with Zack Wheeler pitching Game 2 and Aaron Nola going in Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday. 
"It's always important to win Game 1, but I think Game 2 is pretty important, too," Thomson said. "It's kind of a swing game. And you can't let up at all against this ball club because they're good, and they can attack, and they can do a lot of good things. So we gotta stay nose to the grind stone."

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