SAN DIEGO — The two moments stand like bookends framing Jean Segura’s emotional three-day visit to Petco Park.
In the first inning of Monday night’s game, he failed to run out a pop up. Next thing you knew, Andrew McCutchen was on the ground, grabbing his left knee with a season-ending injury.
Fast forward to the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday afternoon. The Phillies were clinging to a two-run lead on the San Diego Padres. The bases were loaded and Manny Machado, who’d already clubbed one grand slam in the series, was at the plate against Hector Neris. With two outs and the game hanging in the balance, Neris threw a 2-2 splitter and Machado lifted it to left field. Would it fall in for a game-tying hit? It surely had a chance because left fielder Jay Bruce was playing deep.
As the anxiety level rose in the Phillies’ dugout, Segura took off from his shortstop position in pursuit of the ball. He raced far out into left field and like a wide receiver tracked the ball and looked it into his glove for the third out.
The Phillies got a lot of clutch performances in their 7-5 win over the Padres (see observations), but Segura’s might have been the biggest.
Had it all the way?
“No,” Segura said. “But I knew I had a chance so I went and got it.”
“It was definitely a heart-attack moment in the dugout,” manager Gabe Kapler said.
“It was a game-saver,” Jake Arrieta added.
“One of the most important wins of our year for sure,” Kapler said.
After making the catch, Segura returned to the dugout and received a hug.
“Not only Hector — everybody,” he said.
Segura probably needed a hug after the week he had. His lack of hustle Monday night caused McCutchen to get into a rundown and the Phillies’ outstanding leadoff man blew out his knee trying to elude a tag.
McCutchen was just a few feet away, on crutches, as Segura spoke with reporters after the game.
“It’s tough,” Segura said. “I didn’t sleep too well the last two nights. I think about it. I feel really bad for Cutch. At the end of the day, I don’t think my hustle had anything to do with his injury. It happened. I’m not that type of player. I always do my best, hustling, playing 100 percent. It was just something that happened. I’m human. I made a mistake and I don’t blame anybody. I have no excuses. I have to keep moving forward and pray for him.”
The victory allowed the Phillies to win the series after losing the first four games of the trip, three in Los Angeles. They headed home at 35-27, still in first place in the NL East.
What a week out west it was. The Phils were beaten up in Dodger Stadium. They picked up Jay Bruce in a trade to fortify the bench, but he now finds himself a starter — with three home runs and seven RBIs in two starts. They lost McCutchen. They promoted outfield prospect Adam Haseley. And in Wednesday’s finale, they watched valuable reliever Seranthony Dominguez walk off the field with a sore right elbow. He will have an MRI in Philadelphia on Thursday.
During the trip, Arrieta and ace Aaron Nola made a combined three starts and none were good.
Arrieta was hit hard Wednesday, but the Phils managed to come back from a 5-2 deficit thanks to big hits from Cesar Hernandez, Bryce Harper, Haseley, Bruce, Scott Kingery and Andrew Knapp. Haseley started a three-run rally in the seventh with a walk and Kingery a two-run rally with a two-out walk in the eighth. Haseley put the Phils ahead with an RBI double to left on an 0-2 pitch in the eighth. It was his first big-league hit and it was a big one.
“It’s all a blur,” Haseley said of his big moment. “I really can't put it into words.”
Harper did his best to put the victory into words.
“Huge dub,” he said.
Sometimes less is more.
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