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Phils walk off on Harper's hit, Quinn's slide

@ToddZolecki
August 15, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper wanted to change the Phillies’ fortunes in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies desperately needed something positive to happen in a 6-5 victory over the Mets. They had just finished a three-game series on Thursday against the Orioles,

PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper wanted to change the Phillies’ fortunes in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies desperately needed something positive to happen in a 6-5 victory over the Mets. They had just finished a three-game series on Thursday against the Orioles, who swept them at home. Harper called the series an “embarrassment” and “terrible” as they fell four games under .500. The Phillies learned before Friday’s opener against the Mets that Jacob deGrom had been scratched because of a stiff neck. Their chances to win skyrocketed. But after J.T. Realmuto smashed a go-ahead three-run home run in the fifth inning and the bullpen recorded 16 outs without allowing a run to overcome an early exit from rookie Spencer Howard and sloppy defense, Phillies closer Héctor Neris allowed a game-tying hit with two outs in the ninth.

“Get me up,” Harper said in the dugout. “Get me a chance.”

Box score

Harper lives for big moments like this. Everybody remembers his dramatic walk-off grand slam against the Cubs almost exactly a year ago. He screamed and pumped his fists as he sprinted around the bases.

Harper stepped into the batter’s box this time with runners on first and second and one out. He fell behind 0-2 to Mets closer Seth Lugo when he ripped a slider to right field. The ball left his bat at 102.5 mph. He wondered if he might have hit the ball too hard. Fortunately for him, Roman Quinn was the runner at second base.

Quinn is one of baseball’s fastest runners. He sprinted toward third and Phillies third-base coach Dusty Wathan waved him home. Quinn took a wide turn around the bag. Statcast captured his sprint speed at 30.2 feet per second. Elite speed is in the 30-plus range.

Mets right fielder Michael Conforto’s throw home hit 91.1 mph.

Quinn slid headfirst. His left hand touched home plate to beat catcher Wilson Ramos’ tag.

Safe.

"Well, he's faster than most,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “Some of us will never understand what that's like, so his wide turn doesn't matter as much as if it was you and I running, you know what I'm saying? Roman can impact the game in so many ways just because of his speed. But I wasn't sure he was going to make it. I really wasn't. But I thought it was a good send. You take that chance, in a sense. It worked out. It's a really good slide. The thing about Roman is when he slid, he didn't decelerate, he accelerated through the bag, which was probably the difference."

The play got reviewed almost immediately, tempering what limited celebrations there can be in a global pandemic.

“From our view, it looked like an out, and then when we saw it on the big screen, we saw the hand come in,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said.

The review came back from New York. Quinn was safe.

Harper pumped his fist.

“You guys know I love those opportunities,” he said. “I love being able to come through for my team. We never quit. We never die. Coming into the dugout there [in the middle of the ninth], it’s a 5-5 game and we’ve got a chance to win a game. I was happy I was able to get up there. With Q on second base, I knew I had to just put something in the outfield and he was going to score.”

It was the 11th walk-off hit of Harper’s career, and his third with the Phillies.

It allowed the spotlight to shine on Realmuto’s eighth homer of the season. He is playing like a National League MVP Award candidate. It also allowed Girardi to praise his beleaguered bullpen. After Howard left the game in the fourth inning because of a blister on his right middle finger, José Álvarez, Blake Parker, Adam Morgan and Tommy Hunter fired 4 2/3 scoreless innings. It was just the third time this season that the Phillies’ bullpen did not allow a run, lowering its ERA to 9.12.

“I hope it’s the start of something,” Girardi said.

deGrom talked about his late scratch on a Zoom call in the afternoon with Mets reporters. As he spoke, the Mets’ backdrop fell off the wall featuring the Phillie Phanatic.

Maybe it was a sign.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .