Phillies infielder Nick Maton faces older brother Phil in regular season finale
There were not many storylines to watch for in the Philadelphia Phillies‘ regular season finale Wednesday evening against the Houston Astros.
But one that made headlines involved Phillies infielder Nick Maton and his older, right-handed reliever brother, Phil. For the first time in their baseball careers — at any level — the Maton siblings faced each other. The matchup came in the top of the eighth inning in the eventual 3-2 Astros victory.
Nick ultimately prevailed.
Phil began his final 2022 regular season appearance by hitting Phillies rookie outfielder Dalton Guthrie with 72 miles per hour curveball — perhaps with some nerves coming into play considering his younger brother was at the on-deck circle.
Phil got ahead of Nick by tossing consecutive 74 miles per hour curveballs for a called strike and foul ball. Nick would then even the count at two, before fouling off the fifth pitch of the at-bat.
Then came pitch No. 6 of Nick’s at-bat against Phil — with both the Astros and Phillies dugouts eagerly watching on the top step and rails to see how the at-bat would end:
Nick hit a single off his brother and the Phillies dugout celebrated signs of the same intensity as when they clinched a National League Wild Card spot just days prior. Phillies players even requested to save the baseball for their infield teammate.
Phil was later charged with both runs the Phillies scored in the game.
After the game, NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst Ricky Bottalico commented on the matchup between the Maton brothers:
"“I think the highlight of the game was Maton against Maton. … I loved how Phil Maton was [upset] on the mound. I enjoyed that. And I liked how Nick was at first base kind of ‘digging it in’ a little bit.”"
In a postgame interview with reporters, Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said the matchup between the Maton brothers was great, adding he is sure Phil asked Astros manager Dusty Baker if he could face his brother.
Thomson went on to comment about the camaraderie Nick has with his Phillies teammates:
"“Everybody loves Nick. They really do. And their dugout was cheering for their guy, and our dugout was cheering for our guy. Fans got into it and kind of figured out what was happening.”"
When NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury asked if Thomson saw the breaking balls Phil threw to Nick, the interim manager jokingly replied: “Well, he knows him.”
Nick finished his second season in the majors slashing .250/.341/.514 with two doubles, one triple, five home runs, and 17 RBI spanning 35 games and 72 at-bats. Phil, meanwhile, concluded his sixth big-league season. In 67 appearances this year for the Astros, the right-hander went 0-2 with a 3.84 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 73-24 strikeouts-to-walks ratio across 65 2/3 innings.
Now, for both the Maton brothers’ respective teams, all baseball games from here on out will be meaningful postseason baseball. Who knows, maybe a few weeks from now, they will oppose each other for just the second time ever in the 2022 World Series.