Pedro Florimon's heads-up fake-out in ninth helps clinch victory for Phillies

Phillies Nationals Baseball
Phillies closer Hector Neris celebrates with catcher Andrew Knapp after Neris struck out the Nationals’ Wilmer Difo to end the game on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON – Never mind that Pedro Florimon spent the first five innings on the Phillies’ bench on Saturday. Or that he struck out in both of his at-bats.

Florimon still made the most heads-up play in the 3-1 victory over the Washington Nationals.

With the Phillies leading by two runs in the ninth inning, closer Hector Neris walked leadoff man Trea Turner on four pitches. Turner, who swiped 46 bases last season and is 12-for-13 in steal attempts this year, predictably took off for second base on Neris’ first pitch to Matt Wieters.

Wieters hit a pop up to shallow right field, but Florimon moved to cover the bag anyway as though he was preparing to take a throw from catcher Andrew Knapp. Turner never stopped running and slid into Florimon’s waiting glove. Florimon further sold the play by pressing and holding his glove on Turner, who was cleaning off his jersey while second baseman Cesar Hernandez caught Wieters’ pop up. Hernandez easily doubled off Turner at first base.

Credit Neris with the save – and Florimon with the fake.

“I just tried to hold him like that,” Florimon said. “I don’t know if he expected that I didn’t have the ball. I don’t know what’s going on in his mind. I just did it.”

Florimon said he has tried the play before. It usually doesn’t work.

“Now it’s working,” Florimon said, “So that’s good for us.”

Said manager Gabe Kapler: “That was just incredibly heads-up, and I think it made everybody in the ballpark feel like the ball was on the ground somewhere or in his glove. Really, really smart play by Flo.”

Aces wild

How’s this for a marquee matchup? Phillies righthander Jake Arrieta (3-1, 3.49 ERA) and Nats ace Max Scherzer (6-1, 1.79) – the last two National League Cy Young Award winners – will face off in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

“As a baseball fan, I get excited every day I come to the ballpark,” Kapler said. “But no doubt, Scherzer vs. Arrieta, day game, last game of the series to settle it, huge moment, and we’re all pretty stoked for it.”

Since Scherzer signed with the Nationals, the Phillies are 1-11 when he starts against them. Scherzer is 8-0 with a 2.35 ERA in those starts.

Extra bases

With a third-inning walk, Odubel Herrera’s on-base streak reached 34 consecutive games, including all 30 games he has played this season. It’s tied for the fourth-longest streak by a Phillies player since 2000. It’s also the longest streak to begin a season by any Phillies player since at least 1900. … Phillies reliever Tommy Hunter won a duel with Bryce Harper in the seventh inning, striking out the Nationals’ star on 10 pitches. Little-known fact about Hunter: He’s also among 13 pitchers who have faced Albert Pujols at least nine times without allowing a hit. Pujols, 0-for-9 with three strikeouts against Hunter, became the 32nd member of the 3,000-hit club on Friday night. … Righthander Ben Lively (lower back strain) threw a 20-pitch bullpen session. He isn’t eligible to be activated until Tuesday, and his turn in the rotation won’t come up until May 11. … To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Nationals manager Dave Martinez hired a mariachi band to play in the home clubhouse as players arrived.