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J.T. Realmuto delivered a big hit for the Phillies on a pitch that has given him trouble | Extra Innings

Orioles reliever César Valdez is a change-up specialist. Realmuto has struggled against change-up this season. But a last-minute scouting report helped the Phillies catcher come up clutch.

J.T. Realmuto hits a walk-off, two-run triple against the Orioles in the 10th inning on Tuesday night.
J.T. Realmuto hits a walk-off, two-run triple against the Orioles in the 10th inning on Tuesday night.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

On paper, it was a terrible matchup for J.T. Realmuto.

With the tying run on third base, the winning run on first, and two out in the 10th inning Tuesday night, Realmuto came to the plate against Baltimore Orioles reliever César Valdez. No pitcher in the majors throws a higher percentage of changeups (74.7%) than Valdez, and Realmuto was slugging .302 against changeups.

“You have to be on time and you have to be able to hold your position to stay back and drive off-speed pitches,” Realmuto said later. “It’s just been something I’ve been battling with all season long.”

Realmuto had never faced Valdez either. So, when the Orioles had a mound conference before he stepped to the plate, he got a quick scouting report from teammates Jean Segura, who had just struck out against Valdez, and Freddy Galvis, who played for Baltimore earlier this season.

Valdez threw a change-up for a strike, then uncorked two out of the zone. When he came back with a fourth change-up in a row, Realmuto was ready. He lined it into right field, beyond the outstretched glove of Anthony Santander, for a game-winning triple.

“The biggest thing for me is, when I’ve gotten an off-speed pitch to hit, I haven’t let them travel and I’ve just kind of caught them a little out in front,” Realmuto said. “I was able to do it right there, where I recognized it was an off-speed pitch and was able to stick my landing.”

Realmuto recorded his second walk off hit of the season. And now, with Zack Wheeler on the mound Wednesday night, the Phillies will aim for a series victory over the 103-loss Orioles.

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The rundown

Crazy night for Bryce Harper, who made two outs on the bases and struck out twice, got two hits, drew an intentional walk in the 10th inning, and scored the winning run from first base.

Why would anyone pitch to Harper? I took a look at his uncommon plate discipline.

Harper has started 61 consecutive games, which is hard to believe when you consider he has to manage a back condition.

Wheeler became the first pitcher in baseball to reach 200 innings, a feat that will be exceedingly rare this season after an abbreviated year in 2020. Here’s how he did it.

Important dates

Tonight: Wheeler vs. Orioles lefty Keegan Akin, 7:05 p.m.

Tomorrow: Aaron Nola starts at home vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m.

Friday: Kyle Gibson faces the Pirates, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday: Ranger Suárez takes the mound vs. Pittsburgh, 4:05 p.m.

Sunday: Phillies’ regular-season home finale, 1:05 p.m.

Stat of the day

Héctor Neris pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday night in his 400th major-league appearance, all of which have come with the Phillies.

Neris is the seventh pitcher to appear in at least 400 games for the Phillies. The rest of the club: Hall of Famers Robin Roberts (529) and Steve Carlton (499), Ryan Madson (491), Tug McGraw (463), Chris Short (459), and Ron Reed (458).

From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.

Question: Are the Phillies drafting the wrong players or failing to develop the players in their farm system? There seems to be an invisible obstacle between triple A and the big leagues. Players who do manage to make it to South Philly seem to fade and fail to become regulars. — Terry W., via email

Answer: Thanks, Terry. You have hit on the overarching question facing the Phillies for, what, 10 years? Dave Dombrowski has had 10 months to look under the hood, and it seems he’s concluded that player development is the problem. He recently removed the top two player-development officials and fired the lead on-field instructor. More changes are likely on the way.

The Phillies’ farm system is regarded across baseball as one of the weakest in the sport. But the majority of their best prospects were in double A or lower this year. They can’t afford for this wave of talent to fizzle out in triple A or regress upon reaching the majors.