Jean Segura set all kinds of records Tuesday night.
First, he launched the biggest bat flip in the history of Citizens Bank Park. The thing went so high, the folks in air traffic control picked it up on their screens over at the airport.
A few seconds after the bat flip, Segura spiked his helmet to the ground and dropped the biggest F-bomb in ballpark history on the Miami Marlins’ dugout. It was more explosive, even, than the one Larry Bowa dropped on Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets back in 2015. Google it.
Segura was a little animated, a little emotional, a little fired-up because he’d just won the Phillies a big ball game after feeling the slight of having the batter in front of him walked intentionally. His base hit to right field scored Bryce Harper from second base with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give the Phillies a 3-2 victory in front of just 17,145, the smallest crowd of the season at CBP.
“It’s been like that for the last three years,” Segura said after the game. “They keep walking people in front of me. It made me angry.
“I’ve got a lot of walk-offs in my career. You walk people in front of me to pitch to me, I’ll take it.”
The walk-off game winner was the eighth of Segura’s career and sixth as a Phillie. It provided the Phils with their first win in the month of September after an 0-3 start and gave them a winning start to a crucial homestand after an ugly 1-5 road trip to Arizona and San Francisco.
“Being in that situation before, the best part is the W,” Segura said. “You play this game to win, so the W is more important than the walk-off. We’ve been playing rough baseball lately. To get the W tonight, I think the boys will feel really good about it and hopefully it can carry over.”
In addition to the win, one of the best things to come out of Tuesday night was the way Aaron Nola pitched. Coming off one of the worst starts of his career – he gave up eight runs in four innings in a loss at Arizona – he pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball and left with a 2-1 lead.
Nola’s September struggles are well documented. He had a 6.19 ERA in six starts last September, a 3.57 ERA in six starts in September 2020 and a 6.51 ERA in five starts in September 2019. The Phils were just 5-12 in those starts.
With Zack Wheeler still on the shelf and a playoff berth on the line – the Phils are three games up on Milwaukee, the team they most likely need to outlast to make the postseason – it’s imperative that Nola pitch well this month. He struck out 10 in this game, leaving with 200 on the season.
“He did a great job getting ahead and staying on the attack,” catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “He had both fastballs going, two-seam and four-seam, and the curveball with two strikes was really good.
“We need quality innings as much as we can get right now. As an offense, we're going to do the best we can to score these guys runs so there's not as much stress on them. But when it comes down to it, in September, it’s a little tougher on everybody so we need the best out of (Nola), the best out of our offense, and the best out of our bullpen. He’s definitely important for us, so that was good to see out of him tonight.”
Realmuto figured prominently in the win. He threw out his 23rd and 24th would-be base stealers of the season, the most in the majors. His second one came in the ninth when he gunned down Luke Williams trying to take second. The out helped David Robertson survive two walks and a hit to get his team to the bottom of the ninth with the game tied.
“J.T. has been fantastic in every facet of the game,” manager Rob Thomson said. “In my mind, at this point, I think he should be in the MVP conversation. That’s how important he is to our club.”
Shortstop Edmundo Sosa also had a big game. He made a great scoop and tag on Realmuto’s throw in the ninth and earlier in the game had a homer and a double. He scored the Phils’ second run on a sacrifice fly. Initially, he was ruled out at the plate on a great throw by left fielder Brian Anderson, but replays showed that catcher Nick Fortes blocked the plate without the ball. That's been a no-no since 2014. The call could have gone either way.
“The replay gods weren’t on our side today,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said.
Realmuto was the guy the Marlins walked to get to Segura in the ninth. First base was open after Bryce Harper had doubled against Tommy Nance with one out. The Phils had some luck on the play. Harper blooped a ball down the left-field line and did not run hard until he saw it fall in near the line. He turned it on after rounding first and barely beat Anderson’s throw.
“If I’m out of the box quicker, it’s not even a play at second base,” Harper said. “I’ve got to be better there in that situation. I’m just glad I was able to get in there and score on that ball and win the game.”