Jean Segura, whose career extended 11 seasons and 1,328 games before he at last made it to the postseason, had the longest active streak in the major leagues. The night before his first playoff game, the second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies hardly slept at all. He “woke up with adrenaline in my body at 7 a.m. That edge remained as Friday progressed.

I was mentally focused on every play and pitch, Segura alleged.I’m just grateful that everything worked out for the best. I arrived ready to play a game today and to be present.

Segura snuck a grounder past a slightly drawn-in infield in the first game of their best-of-three wild-card series, helping the Phillies to an unlikely 6-3 victory and putting them on the verge of advancing into the National League Division Series with the bases loaded, one out, and the game still tied at one in the top of the ninth inning with the St. Louis Cardinals scrambling to replace their injured closer.

With a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning and strong support from Jose Quintana and an electrifying pinch-hit home run by Juan Yepez, the Cardinals had every reason to think they would win Game 1. Their lights-out closer, Ryan Helsley, was starting for them at home in front of a packed-out Busch Stadium crowd.

Phillies Wild card

What happened next was hard to believe.

When leading by several runs going into the ninth inning, the Cardinals were 93-0 in postseason history. In contrast, the Phillies struggled during the regular season, going 0-54. They ended up scoring six times, which is a postseason record for a team down going into the ninth. Their runs didn’t include any difficult contact. With the bases loaded, Alec Bohm was intentionally hit, Brandon Marsh hit a fly ball that sailed past Nolan Arenado’s glove, Kyle Schwarber delivered a sacrifice fly, and Bryson Stott scored after Paul Goldschmidt made a diving catch on his grounder but threw it late to first base.

The most runs were scored by Segura, who lunged at a slider that was low and away from Andre Pallante and smashed a four-hopper to the right side that slipped by a sprawling Tommy Edman who was playing slightly in to take into consideration Segura’s speed. The Cardinals received a grounder that could have turned into a game-ending double play but was hit just a tiny bit too far to the right since they had a ground ball pitcher facing a ground ball hitter.


Arenado remarked, “That’s just kind of how the inning went. It wasn’t working out for us.

And it all seems to have started with Helsley’s right middle finger, which he jammed in the penultimate game of the regular season while assembling himself for a fielding play. Helsley threw a few pitches off the mound at the Cardinals’ workout on Thursday, and despite acknowledging that his finger was a little sore, he assured them that he would be prepared to end games in the postseason.

With one on and one out in the eighth, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol turned to Helsley and watched as he dispatched Marsh and Schwarber with ease. But Marmol noted that Helsley “started to lose a little bit of feel for his deliveries” shortly after the ninth inning started.

Helsley, who has become one of the most powerful closers in the game this season, started to miss deep beyond the strike zone and ultimately only threw nine of his 23 pitches for strikes in the ninth inning. After J.T. Realmuto singled with one out, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos both got walks, the latter on pitches that were either extremely high and inside or extremely low and outside. Pallante and Jack Flaherty were already warming up in the bullpen for the Cardinals at that point. Bohm would be Helsley’s final at-bat, and Helsley struck him with a 101 mph fastball in the left shoulder.

Helsley left Busch Stadium after throwing a warm-up pitch far outside in order to have imaging done on his problematic finger.


He could be eliminated from the series.

All year, the lads have stepped up, according to Marmol. “It’s a part of it because if he goes down, someone else will have to stand up and take over. I’ll tell you right now that nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”

According to analysis by Admin Stats & Information, Friday’s top of the ninth inning was the first one in baseball this season where a club gave up at least six earned runs on three hits or fewer without allowing any extra-base hits. The Cardinals have participated in three of the five games in postseason history where a team that led by two runs or more after the eighth inning lost by two runs or more. For the first time in a postseason inning, the Phillies scored six or more runs.

They chose the ideal moment.

Zack Wheeler, who had 613 scoreless innings against the Cardinals and struck out three batters before Jose Alvarado allowed Yepez to hit the two-run home run, remarked, “It was special.”

Phillies Wild card

Realmuto characterised the top of the ninth as “maybe the most thrilling inning I’ve ever been a part of.” “And a big home run wasn’t even necessary. We had the momentum, and several people stood up when they had to.”


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