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:
- It was the longest game in the majors this season in terms of innings.
- The official time was six hours and 11 minutes
- It was the longest game between the Phillies and Reds since May 21, 1967, a game that the Phillies won 2-1 in 18 innings. Amazingly, the Phillies used only 2 pitchers in that game. Tonight they used nine.
- It was the longest game in Philadelphia in since July 7, 1993 when the Phillies beat the Dodgers in 20 innings
- Domonic Brown had five at bats and he didn't enter the game until the ninth inning.
- Carlos Ruiz ended up playing third base and nearly ran down a foul ball, jumping over the rain tarp. This after he caught 18 innings.
- The two teams used 40 different players
- Over 250 baseballs were used.
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.