Captain America wasn’t the star of that Phillies win, but that doesn’t mean the impact of his exploits the night before hasn’t continued.
The Phillies won back-to-back wins when they rallied three points late in the 10th inning to beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, at Citizens Bank Park Thursday afternoon.
The win gave the Phillies (30-31) a series victory and propelled them past the Braves (29-31) for second place in the eastern NL.
Alec Bohm, Odubel Herrera and Jean Segura made some big hits in the 10th. Segura, who produced three of the Phillies’ four points, won it with a shot from the wall to the left center. He was scored a single, but regardless, two runs were scored to give the Phils their second spectacular victory in less than 24 hours.
On Wednesday night, the Phils won 2-1, when rookie Luke Williams, fresh off a stellar performance in which he helped the U.S. team qualify for the Tokyo Olympics – hence the nickname Captain America – hit a two-run homer with two strikeouts down the ninth inning.
It was the victory of the season and the Phillies, a team in desperate need of a spark, were still feeling positive vibes Thursday.
“Yesterday’s start was huge,” Segura said. “It gave us momentum to play a little better. To be able to win this one today, to come back from behind, especially after having given up in the top 10, it’s huge. It tells you what kind of team and what kind of ability we have to play this game. I think if we stick together like this I think this team could be really, really good.
Time will tell how good the Phillies will be. They didn’t really inspire confidence in the first 61 games. They have a lot of flaws and quite a few of them were on display in this series. But winning makes everything a little better. It can make even the ugliest of circumstances happy, like a one point lead in the ninth and three walks, a wild pitch and a passed ball in the 10th. It all happened in this one.
The Phillies have won back-to-back playoffs for the first time since week one of the season.
“It’s important because the alternative was not to win today and give a great opportunity to win another series against a team in your division,” said manager Joe Girardi. “For me, it’s great. We have a day off, the guys can enjoy it a bit and we get back to work on Saturday. “
For eight innings Thursday, one word described the Phillies’ pitch: Brilliant. Zack Wheeler threw the white ball, scattered four hits, walked none and put out 12.
“He’s one of the main reasons we had a chance to win this game,” said Girardi.
Wheeler signed a five-year, $ 118 million contract ahead of the 2020 season. It has been worth it so far. In 24 starts with the club, he has a 2.57 ERA.
His ERA in 13 starts this season is 2.29 and he has five double-digit batting games. Don’t be surprised if he’s in Denver for the All-Star Game next month.
The lack of race support remains a huge issue for Wheeler. He allowed just two runs in 7 1/3 innings in his previous start, but lost 2-1 to Washington.
In it, the Phillies got a point from Wheeler in the bottom of the eighth on back-to-back doubles from Herrera and Segura. That would have been enough for a win, but Hector Neris was scored for an equalizer by Freddie Freeman with a strikeout early in the ninth. Herrera, who cost himself a triple by not running hard on his double in the eighth, could have stolen the home run and saved everyone a lot of heartache, but he timed his jump to the wall poorly.
Freeman, by the way, has 29 homers and 117 RBIs in 187 career games against the Phillies.
The top of the 10th was a disaster for the Phillies with Jose Alvarado hitting three hitters and giving up a run on wild ground. Another scored on a goal-laden ball passed to Rafael Marchan.
Alvarado’s savagery – he has 28 strikeouts but 22 walks in 21 2/3 innings – has the potential to break hearts and it almost does in this one. Less than 24 hours after Williams blew the lid off the place, Alvarado left the mound to the sound of boos from the crowd of 14,261.
“That’s what you’re going to get,” Girardi said of Alvarado. “You’re going to get some ground balls, strikeouts and walks. I really like the idea of two of the things you’re going to get – the balls on the ground and the strikeouts. I mean, (madness) happens to him.
Atlanta reliever Chris Martin allowed three hits in the bottom of the 10th.
Segura had the big blow, a big blow to cap a day of three RBIs.
“I thought it was enough to get me to walk, which is why I pimped him up a bit,” Segura said of his slow trot out of the box. “At the end of the day it’s a draw and we come home with a win.
“Every time you get a kick out of the clutch it’s a really good feeling. That’s the beauty of baseball. When you get those assists, when you find yourself in those tight games and situations, and when you get out of them, that’s what people watch the most. “
The Phillies hadn’t won back-to-back wins since June 26-27, 2019. Segura won one of those games. Friday is a day off and the Yankees arrive on Saturday.
“When you’re struggling a little here and there, you’re looking for those types of moments,” Wheeler said. “(Wednesday) speaks for itself. It doesn’t matter how we get the win, as long as you can get it. These last two days have been exciting and I hope we can continue this weekend.”