The Philadelphia Phillies have faced a lot of obstacles lately due to their struggling offense. Wednesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds seemed set to turn that trend around, as the Phillies jumped to a quick 3-0 lead with Roy Halladay on the mound. But since Halladay had one of his rare off nights, the Reds forced extra innings and were poised to win in the 10th until Ryan Howard tied the score with a home run. After that, all of Philadelphia had to stay up until past 1 a.m. ET to see the home team triumph, securing the first career win for Wilson Valdez.
The Phillies’ second baseman was the last pitching option left, since Philadelphia and Cincinnati were stuck at 4-4 through 18 innings. The normally unreliable Danys Baez kept the Reds shut down for five innings, yet he was the last reliever the home team had.
Manager Charlie Manuel wouldn’t use one of his aces in an emergency, so he turned to his second baseman instead. Valdez got off to a shaky start, as MVP Joey Votto fell just short of a home run and Scott Rolen was hit by a pitch. Yet Valdez got both Jay Bruce and exhausted relief pitcher Carlos Fischer to pop up to end the inning.
Fischer had gone several innings himself, but Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker had no position players to bail him out. As such, the Phillies got the bases loaded in the bottom of the 19th, and finally ended the six-hour, 11 minute epic with a long Raul Ibanez sacrifice fly.
The 5-4 win gave Philadelphia its most improbable win of the season, and put its struggling offense, the return of Chase Utley, and Halladay’s struggles on the back burner. Yet although Utley has finally come back in this series, he took a day off to let Valdez fill in — a move which paid off beyond expectations hours later.
Valdez has been the Phillies’ most valuable replacement for two years, filling in for the injured Jimmy Rollins at shortstop last season and moving to second to replace Utley this year. But even Valdez couldn’t have imagined being this kind of replacement, and neither could anyone else who stayed in Citizens Bank Park all night.
If that wasn’t enough, both the Phillies and Reds have no time to get some much needed rest. The two have to wrap up the four-game series at 1 p.m. ET Thursday, just 12 hours after Valdez’s last pitch and Ibanez’s sac-fly. But Philadelphia has to feel more confident since Cliff Lee is on the mound to give the bullpen, and Baez, a desperately needed break.
Yahoo Sports- “Phillies infielder gets pitching win in 19-inning marathon”