PHILADELPHIA — Jean Segura has played 11 seasons in the majors, made two All-Star teams and hit .300 three times, but he has never had an inning quite like the fourth inning of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Friday night.
Playing in his first postseason, the Philadelphia Phillies second baseman dropped the relay throw from shortstop Bryson Stott, turning a potential inning-ending double play into a tying run for the San Diego Padres.
In the bottom of the inning, however, he redeemed himself with a clutch, two-out, two-strike, two-run single to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead in a game they would hold on to win 4-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to make a mistake,” Segura said. “That’s the play that I’ve probably made 3,000 times in my life, but for some reason I missed it. As a player, you never put your head down. Just keep it up, continue to play the game because you don’t know how the game’s going to end. Maybe that play can affect you through the game.”
Segura, who had made a nice diving stop in the field earlier in the game, would add a second fantastic diving play to rob the speedy Ha-Seong Kim of a hit with two outs and a runner on base to end the seventh. He pumped his arm through the air and kicked his leg in a loud show of emotion.
“I’m fired up,” Segura said. “I don’t know how to explain that, but it’s like Goku, the little Goku, like something, like fire inside my body. Like I just want to get it out, like explosive. If you don’t get emotional with 45,000 people in the stands or 46,000 people in the stands, you’re playing the wrong sport.”
After Segura’s error, the Phillies had a meeting at the mound with starter Ranger Suarez, who would end up getting the win with a solid five innings.
First baseman Rhys Hoskins wasn’t surprised that Segura bounced back from the error.
“He’s a 10-, 11-year professional and enjoying and soaking up every second of this because he’s waited so long and competed for so long, working his tail off for 15-16 straight offseasons most likely, so, no, not surprised at all,” Hoskins said. “Plus, how many big hits have we seen him get, right? He had the opportunity to make some really nice plays in the field as well. The first thing he said when we went to the mound after he dropped the ball is, ‘Ranger, give me another one.’ That’s just the type of confidence he has in himself.”
The game did end with some controversy in the top of the ninth inning. After Juan Soto led off with a base hit against Phillies closer Seranthony Dominguez — who was trying to complete just his second two-inning outing of the season — third-base umpire Todd Tichenor rung up Jurickson Profar on a 3-2 checked swing.
Profar, who had already flipped his bat and started his trot to first base, squatted down in disbelief and started walking toward Tichenor, knocking off his helmet and then kicking it. Home-plate umpire Ted Barrett ejected Profar from the game.
“I thought I didn’t go and it should have been a walk,” said Profar, claiming he wasn’t really even swinging, just trying to get out of the way of a backdoor slider. “I didn’t have a really good chance to see it, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t go. Maybe the bat was in front, but I was just getting out of the way. I didn’t go, I didn’t swing.”
He said he wasn’t worried about a possible suspension.
“No chance, man. MLB doesn’t suspend people for that. We play a game, and we play with emotion. We don’t play soft. We play to win and I play with emotion.”
Had Profar walked, the Padres would have had momentum on their side and pressure on Dominguez with runners at first and second and nobody out. Instead, the final two hitters, Trent Grisham and Austin Nola, went down on a pop-up and a strikeout. Dominguez ended up throwing 34 pitches in his two innings, his second-highest total of his season, and recorded the Phillies’ first two-inning save in the postseason since Tug McGraw in 1980.
He has now pitched 6⅓ innings this postseason, allowing just two hits with 13 strikeouts and no walks.
For the pivotal Game 4 on Saturday night, both managers turn to their No. 4 starters — Mike Clevinger for the Padres and Bailey Falter for the Phillies, who drew the assignment over Noah Syndergaard. Clevinger struggled in his one postseason start against the Dodgers in the division series, allowing six hits and five runs in 2⅔ innings. This after a 6.52 ERA in six starts in September.
He has been battling a sore knee but was able to throw a 35-pitch bullpen Thursday for first time in a month.
“We’ve had our ups and down,” Clevinger said after Game 3. “It’s been some good weeks, some bad weeks, some weeks the knee doesn’t want to do it and lately it’s just kind of been pretty bad towards the end. And then finally this past week, it’s been really, really encouraging.”
“I’m going until Bob comes and tells me I can’t go anymore,” Clevinger said.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson said he’ll have to wait to see if Dominguez is available for Game 4. The hard-throwing right-hander is coming off Tommy John surgery, and the Phillies have used him carefully all season.
“We’ll have to check in on Seranthony,” Thomson said. “That’s the most pitches he’s thrown all year. We got to the point in the game where we had the lead late and we had to go for it.”