It was his first look at live pitching in almost two months.
It was a great sign.
It was another great sign that the Phillies bounced back to beat the Reds in a 7-6 walk-off victory at CBP. The Phillies carried a one-run lead into the ninth only to have the Reds score twice. But the Phillies battled back. Jean Segura walked and Bryson Stott doubled off the top of the right-center field wall. A throwing error allowed Segura to score the tying run. Nick Maton followed two batters later with a game-winning single to right.
“It was a roller coaster of a game,” Maton said.
It was the Phillies’ fifth walk-off victory of the season, which includes the first career walk-off hits from Stott (June 5 vs. Angels), Rhys Hoskins (June 13 vs. Marlins), Garrett Stubbs (June 15 vs. Marlins) and Maton. Maton’s heroics ensured the Phillies will maintain at least a share of the second NL Wild Card as they improved to 68-55.
“We all believe in each other,” Stott said. “If you don’t do it, you know you’ve got another great guy behind you that is very capable of doing it as well.”
The Reds scored two runs in the ninth to take the lead, and right-hander Alexis Díaz jogged to the mound to try to earn his sixth save in the bottom of the ninth. Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson told Stott and Maton to warm up in the batting cage. He planned to use them against Díaz.
They took a few swings in the cage.
“We didn’t really talk much,” Maton said.
“I told him to hurry up because I was up first,” Stott said.
Stott pinch-hit for Yairo Munoz, clubbing a 1-1 pitch off the top of the right-center-field wall. Reds center fielder Nick Senzel fielded the ball and promptly airmailed it about 15 feet beyond the cutoff man. It almost hit Stott, who ducked out of the way. The errant throw allowed Segura to score from third and Stott to scamper from second to third.
Maton missed the entire thing. He was in the bathroom.
“I just had to go,” Maton said. “I had to go real quick and saw he was at third base.”
Matt Vierling, who hit a solo homer in the seventh to give the Phillies a two-run lead, struck out swinging for the first out. A few pitches later, Maton was running into shallow right field to celebrate the walk-off hit with his teammates.
“We never feel like we’re out of the game,” Stott said. “With the hitters that are in this lineup, you know you’re never out of it.”
The Phillies have been playing without their best hitter since June 25, when Harper broke his left thumb in San Diego. On Tuesday, Harper went 2-for-3 with two home runs and two walks for the IronPigs in Allentown, Pa.
“That guy is crazy,” Stott said, shaking his head. “He’s something.”
“Bring him up,” Segura said, smiling. “He doesn’t need more games. What’s he doing up there? He’s ready. We’re happy that he’s doing well. Hopefully he comes back quicker. If he hits two homers, bring him up.”
Harper’s original plan was to play with the IronPigs through Saturday, then take Sunday off. Presumably, it will allow him to fly with the Phillies to Phoenix for Monday night’s series opener in Arizona.
But maybe Harper feels ready before that.
He can be activated from the 60-day injured list as early as Thursday.
Harper asked folks to pump the brakes, but you never know. It would be something to see Harper’s name show up unexpectedly on the lineup card before the end of this 11-game homestand.
“Tonight was great, right?” Harper told The Associated Press. “But at the same time, I need the at-bats, I need to be able to see pitches, different guys, different angles, understanding how my body's going to react, what my thumb's going to be like.”
Whether it’s Thursday, this weekend or early next week, the Phillies won another game Tuesday without him.
It has everybody excited about the possibilities once he returns.
“Right now, I feel like we can beat any team in the game,” Segura said. “Regardless, we’re fighting for a Wild Card spot. Our job is to get to the playoffs. As soon as we get to the playoffs, I like our chances with [Zack] Wheeler and [Aaron] Nola against any team in the Major Leagues. I’m just excited. I can’t wait to get to that spot.”