ST. LOUIS — Jean Segura wasn’t even midway to first base when he leaped in the air, his left leg pointing ahead, his proper leg angling again, having a look extra like a ballet dancer than a 2d baseman.
This used to be natural pleasure — 11 years and 5,195 at-bats in the making.
If you’re going to wait that lengthy to make the playoffs, it’s possible you’ll as smartly be emphatic in saying your presence. So, with the bases loaded and the Phillies down to their ultimate two outs Friday, on the eleventh anniversary of their remaining playoff sport, Segura punched a two-run unmarried thru the proper aspect to give them a lead.
It used to be all phase of a six-run ninth inning in opposition to St. Louis Cardinals nearer Ryan Helsley in a 6-3 victory that pulled the Phillies from the verge of collapse of a Game 1 loss in the best-of-three National League wild-card series to the threshold of the divisional spherical.
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One extra win, and the Phillies will face this pinch-me fact: A shuttle to Atlanta for a rematch with the protecting World Series champion Braves in a best-of-five series that may deliver the playoffs again to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since 2011.
No marvel Segura jumped like Baryshnikov.
“It’s a lot of adrenaline in my body, just like when you give a little kid a toy and they’re just jumping around and happiness,” Segura mentioned. (*1*)
Years from now, Phillies fanatics will discuss the time when Segura reached out, dropped his bat on a 2-2 slider from Helsley, and shot it to proper subject. It chased house Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos, gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, and shocked the sellout crowd of 45,911 at Busch Stadium.
It used to be antique Segura. Often lost sight of in a Phillies lineup recognized for its sluggers, Segura is a touch hitter. He’s recognized for placing the bat to the ball. In the second, it used to be precisely what the Phillies wanted.
“That’s Jean. He can hit anything,” mentioned Alec Bohm, who were given hit on the left shoulder by way of a 101-mph Helsley fastball to drive in a run and convey up Segura. “He’s the hit machine. Nobody we’d rather have up at the plate.”
The symbolism used to be unavoidable. Until this week, when the Phillies ended their playoff drought, Segura used to be baseball’s lively chief in video games performed (1,328) with out making the playoffs.
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“I was ready today,” Segura mentioned. “I woke up at 7 o’clock a.m. with adrenaline in my body knowing that I am going to play a postseason game today. I was mentally focused on every play, every pitch prepared.”
Zack Wheeler used to be a playoff amateur, too. On the eve of the series, the Phillies ace expected feeling the herbal anxiousness that includes a primary occupation postseason get started. But he couldn’t have channeled it significantly better, with 13 of his 17 first-inning pitches clocking in at 97 mph or sooner.
Wheeler dazzled for 6⅓ innings, simply as the Phillies drew it up once they deliberate his go back from the injured checklist remaining month. They checked out the time table, counted the days, and charted a path for him to get started Game 1. It marked their surest trail to advancing.
But there used to be any other phase of the plan. They wanted to get a lead for Wheeler.
It didn’t occur. And after Wheeler grew to become over a scoreless sport to lefty reliever José Alvarado, Cardinals pinch-hitter Juan Yepez sneaked a two-run homer inside of the left-field foul pole, a blow that seemed for some time adore it could also be decisive.
Alvarado hadn’t given up a run since Aug. 23, a span of 13⅔ innings. He hadn’t allowed a homer since July 30. But after issuing a two-out stroll and placing a first-pitch cutter to Yepez, it appeared adore it can be any other bankruptcy in the ebook of dangerous issues that experience came about to the Phillies on Oct. 7, in all probability the darkest day on the calendar in their 140-year historical past.
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In 1977, the Phillies gave up 3 runs in the ninth inning of a Game 3 crusher in opposition to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, a loss that was referred to as “Black Friday.”
A yr later, they have been eradicated by way of the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS.
In 2011, the Phillies’ remaining shuttle to the playoffs, Ryan Howard clutched his left leg and collapsed on the first-base line after blowing out his Achilles on the ultimate out of an removal sport in opposition to the Cardinals.
With the ninth-inning rally — which started with J.T. Realmuto’s one-out unmarried and featured two walks, the hit by way of pitch, Segura’s unmarried, a easy slide into house plate by way of Edmundo Sosa on a fielder’s selection, an RBI unmarried by way of Brandon Marsh, and a Kyle Schwarber sacrifice fly — the Phillies reaffirmed their resilience.
They may additionally have chased away a couple of ghosts.
“That’s just kind of who we are. It’s what we’re built on,” Bohm mentioned. “It’s the city. It’s Philadelphia. It’s our team. We don’t quit.”
Indeed, the Phillies authored an identical comebacks all over the season. There used to be Harper’s grand slam and Bryson Stott’s three-run homer in a walk-off victory over the Los Angeles Angels on June 5. A couple of days later, Bohm and Matt Vierling homered in the ninth inning in Milwaukee and then-Brewers nearer Josh Hader. They got here again to beat presumptive NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara on Sept. 13.
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But this will likely had been the maximum fantastic. It indubitably used to be the maximum vital.
“Once we got a guy on, you could kind of feel it rumbling a little bit,” Rhys Hoskins mentioned. “Continue to believe and good things happen. We’d rather be leading going into the ninth, but there’s a belief in the dugout that we’re never out.”
This time, it came about to be Segura who delivered.
“Jean’s been waiting so long to get in a playoff game, and he comes through with that base hit at a very big time,” Wheeler mentioned. “That was very fun to watch.”