PITTSBURGH -- Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball.
Jean Segura was doing all he could against Kyle Crick with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth. He had fallen behind, 1-2, to begin the at-bat. But after the Phillies came up empty-handed in the same situation in the first inning of Friday’s 6-1 win over the Pirates at PNC Park, Segura looked determined to push across a run this time.
“You could feel the intensity in the ballpark rise,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “The fans were getting more and more into it. Segura got more and more locked in. He wasn’t going to quit, and he wasn’t going to fail.”
Segura fouled off nine of the next ten pitches he saw. Then, on the 13th pitch he saw, Segura chopped a ball to first baseman Josh Bell, crouched deep in the infield dirt. The shortstop threw his head down and sprinted to reach first a split second before Crick, who received a relay from Bell, resulting in an RBI infield single to pad the Phillies’ lead.
“He broke right out of the box, never hesitated, smelled a hit, gave us everything he had and beat it out,” Kapler said. “It was a huge play in the game.”
The play was challenged, and Segura had to watch from first as the videoboard at PNC Park showed angle after angle of Crick’s foot and Segura’s foot nearly hitting the bag at the same time. He believed he was safe, but with review, nothing ever feels safe for the players until the review is final.
“Sometimes the play is bang-bang, and it can go different ways,” Segura said. “You don’t know what is going to happen in those review plays, but thank God they gave it in my favor.”
Segura’s at-bat was the second longest by a Phillie this season, behind J.T. Realmuto’s 16-pitch battle with the Marlins’ Caleb Smith that ended in a strikeout. The last time a Phillies player worked an at-bat as long as Segura’s before recording a hit was Rhys Hoskins, who homered on the 14th pitch of an-bat vs. the Nationals on June 29, 2018.
It turned out to be a momentum-booster for the Phillies, as they continued their hot hitting into the ninth inning, scoring three runs off reliever Clay Holmes. It helped back Jake Arrieta’s one-run outing, in which he went 5 2/3 innings as he continues to bolster the Phillies’ rotation despite a bone spur in his pitching elbow.
But even he understood the magnitude of Segura’s gritty at-bat.
“You can boil tonight down to the at-bat that Segura had,” Arrieta said. “Thirteen pitches or so, beating out that ball -- just incredible, really. The way we grinded, especially from the seventh inning on, was real impressive. We made it really tough on their guys.”
That play may have been the most glamorous for Segura on Friday, but it wasn’t the only crucial appearance he made. One inning earlier, he sprinted down the line to beat an inning-ending double play, which set Bryce Harper up to notch the go-ahead RBI single.
Arrieta wasn’t the only Phillie playing through pain on Friday night. Segura fouled a ball off his left heel in Monday’s game against the Dodgers, and he missed the next two games due to it. He said he’s still not 100 percent, but he’s willing to fight.
“That’s baseball sometimes,” Segura said. “You play through injuries, you play through pain, and at the end of the day, you do it because this team needs you.”
It’s an apparent change from recent history in his first with Philadelphia. A month ago to the date, Segura jogged as he watched a ball that could have easily been a double land for just a single against the Nationals. Kapler called the lack of hustle on the play “unacceptable,” and Segura agreed, saying, “That can’t happen.”
“To see him kind of dig deep in that moment is a pretty good indication of how far he’s come,” Kapler said. “He’s a developing person, a developing player and he’s working to be his best all the time.”