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In last night’s 19 inning epic, one of the heroes was undoubtedly Wilson Valdez for what he did on the mound. This afternoon, things were turned on their head again when Cliff Lee was the star for what he did with his bat.
On a day where Cliff probably didn’t have his best stuff on the mound, he certainly made up for it at the plate. Lee was 2-4 with 3 RBI, including a bases loaded ground rule double in the 6th that put the Phils up for good. While Cliff might not have pitched to his high standard, Lee certainly wasn’t bad on the mound, giving up four runs and giving most of the bullpen the day off with an 8 innings effort where he struck out eight. Jose Contreras, who was activated off the DL today, came on to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth.
Chase Utley aso slammed his first homer of the season with a solo shot in the 8th inning. He’s still obviously working himself back however and was 1-5 on the day.
The Reds had some tough luck when starter Homer Bailey was forced from the game after just four innings with back spasms. That forced Dusty Baker to bring in Daryl Thompson, who was called up this morning, and make him pitch three innings to give his taxed bullpen a rest. Thompson was tagged for five runs and gave up five walks en route to to taking the loss.
With a host of tired players and taxed bullpens, the Phillies and Reds will face off in the finale of their four game series just about 12 hours after the previous game ended. The Phillies will be looking for a good, long start out of Cliff Lee, who will face Homer Bailey.
The Phillies beat the Reds 5-4 last night in a 19 inning epic where the two teams combined to use 40 different players and in which utility infielder Wilson Valdez pitched the 19th inning and recorded the win.
There’s a number of Phillies who you would have to assume are simply not available this afternoon. Carlos Ruiz caught 18 innings last night, which means Dane Sardinha will start behind the plate. Danys Baez threw five innings, so he won’t be available for the probably the next five days. David Herndon threw 2+ innings. The five other relievers the Phils used all pitched an inning or less could potentially be available today, but there’s no doubt that Charlie Manuel will be hoping Cliff Lee gives them the day off.
Chase Utley did not start last night and only appeared in the game as pinch hitter, so he should be good to go for this afternoon. Ross Gload is still ailing, so it’s likely that guys like Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez will have to start as well.
Wilson Valdez earned his first career win after he was called on to pitch the 19th inning as the Phillies beat the Reds 5-4 in the longest game in Citizens Bank Park history. For those who stayed up or stayed down at the ballpark to watch, it was a game you will never forget.
Roy Halladay started the game and endured a frustrating evening where he allowed 11 hits over 7 innings, where almost all where ground ball singles that squeaked through the infield. The game would head into the ninth tied at 3-3. The Phillies would load the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn't get a run in and the game headed to extra innings.
It looked like it would end quick as Jay Bruce, who killed the Phillies over the first nine innings, homered in the 10th to put the Reds up 4-3. However, Ryan Howard would answer in the bottom of the inning with a monster shot of his own to tie it up. That would do it for the scoring for the next 8.5 innings.
The hero of that scoreless stretch for the Phillies has to be Danys Baez, who threw 73 pitches over five innings in which he allowed one hit and no runs. The Phillies would use their final pinch hitter in the 18th when Dane Sardinha came on for Baez and struck out. At that point, no one was warming up in the Phillies pen and it became clear that a position player was going to have to take the mound to face the heart of the Reds order.
That man ended up being Wilson Valdez and the remaining crowd went nuts when he took the mound. During his entire appearance, they chanted "Let's Go Wilson!." He was actually hitting 89 on the gun and got reigning NL MVP Joey Votto to fly out for the first out of the inning. Scott Rolen came up second and Valdez actually hit him to put a man on. Jay Bruce came up third in the inning and flied out. Valdez would then retire the opposing pitcher, Carlos Fisher, for the final out of the inning. It only took him 10 pitches. He has never pitched professionally at any level before tonight and became is the first position player to win a game since Brent Mayne in 2000. Just for good measure, Valdez had three hits in the game as well.
Raul Ibanez, who would get the game winning RBI the following inning, said they knew Valdez had to be the guy to pitch.
"He's a great athlete. So it was obvious to us that he was going to be the guy to pitch. He throws hard and he's got a great arm..."
Then he got a shaving cream pie to the face. Charlie Manuel said after the game that he had never used a position player to pitch in his managerial career.
Back to the game... Jimmy Rollins singled to lead off the bottom of the 19th and Domonic Brown drew a walk to put two on with no one out. Placido Polanco dropped down a bunt to move the runners over and Ryan Howard was intentionally walked to load the bases. That brought Raul Ibanez to the plate, who hit a deep sacrifice fly to center to secure a win for Wilson Valdez.
Here's just a few facts about tonight:
These two teams now have to prepare to face each other later today at 1 p.m. The Phillies have Cliff Lee going and could desperately use a complete game or at least, 8 innings from him. You can bet Cliff will know that.
Roy Halladay provided one of the great pitching performances in postseason history last year when he no hit the Reds in the NLDS. It was just the second no hitter ever in the postseason. Tonight, he’ll look to continue his dominance over the Reds as the Phillies face Cincy in the third of a four game series at Citizens Bank Park.
Halladay will opposed by a pitcher who nearly made history of his own in this matchup. Travis Wood took a perfect game into the 9th inning against the Phils last season that was broken up with a Carlos Ruiz double in the ninth inning. Roy Halladay just so happened to be the opposing pitcher that and threw nine innings of shut out ball himself as the Phillies won the game in extra innings.
Before last night, the Reds had lost nine straight games to the Phillies. The game will be shown nationally on ESPN2 tonight at 7PM.
If any starting pitcher in the NL has a right to be upset with his lack of run support, it might be a guy like Cliff Lee or any member of the Phils staff. They’re on pace to pitch a historic season, while the offense has scored the 8th fewest runs in the majors.
But those guys haven’t complained. Reds’ starter Edison Volquez, however, has. Despite the fact that his team is second in the majors in runs scored, Volquez blames the offense for the teams’ recent struggles.
“Everybody has to step up,” he said, “start to score some runs. In the last five games, how many runs have we scored? Like 13? That’s not the way we were playing last year. We’re better than that.”
He is right that the Reds offense has been stymied over their recent six game losing stream, however Volquez is hardly one to talk. He has a 6.35 ERA, allowed 38 walks and served up nine HRs this season.
The Phillies own struggling offense broke out in a big way last night on Chase Utley’s season debut, although the all star second baseman ended up having nothing to do with it. The offense put up 10 runs, but Utley went 0-5. After the game, he said it felt good being back out there.
“It felt great to get back out there with the guys,” said Utley, who had been out since Spring Training with knee tendinitis. “The crowd was outstanding as usual, which gave us a big boost. Cole pitched well like he has been and we scored some runs.”
It was only the fifth time all season that the Phillies have scored at least 10 runs. The offense will be tested tonight facing Johnny Cueto, who is making just his fourth start of the year and has so far pitched to a 1.45 ERA. He will be opposed by Vance Worley, who was recently recalled to replace Joe Blanton, who was placed on the DL with elbow soreness on Monday.
The Phillies offense had only scored nine runs over their past six games, but equaled that total by the 3rd inning of tonight's game as they crushed the Reds 10-3. It was the sixth straight loss for Cincinnati. Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez all homered while Cole Hamels turned in a quality start for his sixth win of the year. Reds' starter Bronson Arroyo was pounded for nine runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Tonight featured the much anticipated return of Chase Utley to the Phillies lineup after the 2B had the first 46 games of the year. Utley was greeted with a huge ovation by the 45,841 fans who showed up, which was the largest regular season crowd in Citizens' Bank Park history. While he did do some nice things in the field, Utley looked predictably rusty at the plate going 0-5. He was the only starter to not get a hit.
Considering Utley had no spring training and got only limited at bats in Clearwater over the past few weeks, it will clearly take him some time to get back in the groove. Still, it was good seeing #26 out there at second base and while we can't assume Utley was the reason, there certainly was an extra energy around the team this evening.
The Phillies hold a two game lead in the NL East and could tie the Indians for the most wins in baseball if the Red Sox hold on to their 2-1 lead tonight. Vance Worley will face Johny Cueto tomorrow evening as the Phils take on the Reds in game two of their four game set.
The Phils got off to a quick lead as Placido Polanco hit a 2-run shot to deep left in the first. However, in the third is when things got really rolling.
The inning started off with a Chase Utley ground out to the pitcher. However Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard would both get on with singles. Raul Ibanez hit a single of his own to shallow left, scoring Polanco. Carlos Ruiz then drew a walk before John Mayberry continued the parade of singles, scoring both Howard and Ibanez.
Chase Utley is 0-3 so far and hasn’t sparked the sudden offensive surge, but there is clearly a fresh energy around the team tonight.
Chase Utley makes his long awaited return to the Phillies lineup tonight as they host the Cincinnati Reds in the first of a four game series at Citizens Bank Park. Utley has missed the entire season so far with tendinitis in his knee and spent the last month testing that knee while rehabbing in Clearwater, Florida where he hit .281 with the Phillies single-A affiliate.
But just how much of an impact can we expect Utley's return to have? ESPN's David Schoenfield broke it down.
Valdez and Orr combined for about 13 runs created in 177 combined plate appearances. Last season, Chase Utley played 115 games -- coincidentally, almost exactly how many games the Phillies have remaining (116) -- and created about 82 runs in 511 PAs while hitting .275/.387/.445. At their current rate of production, Valdez and Orr would be expected to create about 37 runs over 511 PAs -- meaning Utley, if he plays every day the rest of the season -- would add about 45 runs to the Phillies' team total if he hits like he did in 2010.
That's a pretty big shift when you consider how many close games the Phillies have played. Without Utley, the Phillies still have the best record in the National League and their starting pitching has allowed the fewest runs and walks, while also posting the most strikeouts and complete games in baseball. Utley's bat along with a healthy Shane Victorino could turn a lot of those 2-0 losses in to a 3-2 wins.
If Domonic Brown becomes the hitter everyone expects, the Phillies offense could go from poor to adequate to actually pretty good.
Turning the focus to tonight however, Utley will bat second in the lineup and Cole Hamels will take the hill against Bronson Arroyo. Hamels has dominated the Reds in his career going 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA in seven career starts. He also has two complete games and a shutout against Cincy. Arroyo has not fared nearly as well against the Phils recording a lifetime 3-4 record with a 4.11 ERA in seven career starts.
The Reds are 2.5 games back of the NL Central lead, but have lost five straight and have been swept in their last two series, first by Pittsburgh and then Cleveland.