Phils rally to take Game 1 as Cards implode in 9th
8: 09 PM ET
Alden GonzalezESPN Staff Writer
- ESPN baseball reporter. Covered the L.A. Rams for ESPN from 2016 to 2018 and the L.A. Angels for MLB.com from 2012 to 2016.
ST. LOUIS — Jean Segura‘s career spanned 11 seasons and 1,328 games before he finally reached the postseason, the longest active streak in the major leagues. On the morning of his first playoff game, the Philadelphia Phillies‘ second baseman barely slept. He woke up at 7 a.m. “With adrenaline in my blood.” Friday went on and that edge didn’t leave.
” I was focused mentally on every play and every pitch,” Segura stated. Segura said, “I came prepared today for a game and to be here — I just thank god that everything was on my side.” “
With the Phillies down a run, the bases loaded, one out in the top of the ninth and the St. Louis Cardinals scrambling to replace their wounded closer, Segura snuck a grounder past a slightly drawn-in infield, plating two runs and propelling the Phillies to an improbable 6-3 win in the opening game of their best-of-three wild-card series, putting them on the cusp of advancing into the National League Division Series.
The Cardinals, backed by a stellar performance from Jose Quintana and an electrifying pinch-hit homer by Juan Yepez, held a 2-0 lead heading into the final inning and had every reason to believe they were headed toward a Game 1 victory. They were at home, with a sold-out Busch Stadium crowd in a frenzy, and their lights-out closer, Ryan Helsley, was on the mound. What followed was a test of credulity.
The Cardinals were 93-0 in postseason history when leading by multiple runs entering the ninth inning. The Phillies, meanwhile, were 0-54 during the regular season in that same situation. They scored six runs, which is the most for a team to score in postseason history. None of their runs were made on hard contact. Alec Bohm was plunked with the bases loaded, Brandon Marsh hit a chopper that bounced past the glove of Nolan Arenado, Kyle Schwarber produced a sacrifice fly and Bryson Stott brought in a run after Paul Goldschmidt made a diving play on his grounder but threw late to home.
The biggest runs came off the bat of Segura, who lunged toward a slider low and away from Andre Pallante and hit a four-hopper to the right side that snuck through a sprawling Tommy Edman, who was playing slightly in to account for Segura’s speed. The Cardinals had a groundball pitcher against a hitter, and they got a grounder that could have caused a game-ending double-play — but it was hit just a little too far to the left.
“That’s how the inning went,” Arenado stated. It wasn’t going our direction. “
It all seemed to be caused by Helsley’s right thumb, which he jammed as he was attempting to field a play in the penultimate regular season game. Helsley did throw some pitches from the mound during Thursday’s workout. Helsley admitted that his finger felt stiff but he assured the Cardinals that he would be able to close out games in postseason.
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol turned to Helsley with one on and one out in the eighth and watched him make quick work of Marsh and Schwarber. Marmol stated that Helsley had lost some of his feel for pitches shortly after the ninth inning began. “
Helsley, who emerged this season as one of the sport’s most dominant closers, began to miss well wide of the strike zone and ultimately threw only nine of his 23 pitches for strikes in the ninth. J.T. Realmuto contributed a one-out single, then Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos drew back-to-back walks, the latter on pitches that were either way up and in or way low and outside. By that point, the Cardinals had Pallante and Jack Flaherty warming in the bullpen. Bohm would be Helsley’s last batter — and Helsley hit him on the left shoulder with a 101 mph fastball. Helsley left Busch Stadium after throwing a warm-up pitch outside. He then left to have imaging done on his finger.
He may be out for the series.
” We’ve had guys step in all year,” Marmol stated. “If he’s not there, someone has to take his place. It’s part of the job. I will tell you that no one is going to feel sorry. “
Friday’s top of the ninth marked the only half-inning in baseball this season where a team allowed at least six earned runs on three hits or fewer, with no extra-base hits allowed, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. In postseason history, there have been five games where a team led by more than two runs after the eighth inning. The Cardinals were involved in three of them. This was the first time that the Phillies had scored six runs or more in a postseason inning. They chose the perfect time.
“It was special,” said Zack Wheeler, who threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Cardinals, exiting three batters before Jose Alvarado gave up the two-run homer to Yepez.
“The ninth inning was “probably the most exciting inning” Realmuto stated. It didn’t even require a home run. We had the momentum and multiple guys stepped in when we needed them. “
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.