After losing five straight games, the Phillies entered Wednesday night’s matchup with the Blue Jays in desperate need of a victory. The string of poor play dropped the Phils into the third and final wildcard spot, with the Milwaukee Brewers nipping at their heels. In the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game it looked like they were destined for a sixth straight loss, but Matt Vierling proved otherwise.
Zack Wheeler looked terrific in his return from the Injured List, tossing 4.0 shutout innings and punching out three Blue Jays while giving up only two hits and walking none. Noah Syndergaard and José Alvarado combined for three more scoreless frames, but the wheels came off in the eighth inning. Closer Seranthony Domínguez, returning from his own IL stint, was tagged for three runs, two earned, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launched a three-run homer. Nick Nelson was able to put out that fire, but things looked bleak heading into the Phillies’ half of the eighth.
J.T. Realmuto immediately got one back with a solo homer, but Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott went on to record two outs. However, an infield single from Jean Segura gave the Phils some hope, and rookie Dalton Guthrie drove him in with a line drive single. Up came Matt Vierling, who notched his fourth single of the game to put runners on the corners for Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber proceeded to rope his own single into right field to score Guthrie and make it a brand new ballgame.
After both sides were retired in order in the ninth, the game went into extra innings. Andrew Bellatti struggled to find the strike zone, issuing back-to-back walks to Alejandro Kirk and Matt Chapman to load the bases with one out. However, Jean Segura came to the rescue, snaring a scorching line drive off the bat of Teoscar Hernández and diving to reach second base to record the double play. With the Phillies somehow out of the jam, the stage was set to complete the comeback.
Bryson Stott led off with a sacrifice bunt to move the winning run to third base. Segura was then hit by a pitch, and Guthrie walked to load the bases. Our hero, Matt Vierling, strode to the plate with the game on the line. As he had done four times before in this game, Vierling knocked another single up the middle to plate the winning run and complete the comeback.
It’s been an up-and-down year for the 26-year-old Vierling, as he’s been shuffled in and out of the starting lineup repeatedly due to injuries. He’s struggled mightily at the plate, but at least on Wednesday night he could do no wrong.