AP Photo/Matt Slocum
After 6 hours of grueling play of the Great American Pastime, the Philadelphia Phillies emerged victorious over the visiting Cincinnati Reds. What first started out with Roy Halladay vs Travis Wood, turned into second basement Wilson Valdez vs Mike Fisher. Locked in a 4-4 tie, for 8 and 1/2 innings, a good sized amount of Phillies Fans remained at Citizens Bank Park. Little did they know when they gave their tickets to the usher at the gate, they would be in for an extra 9 innings, and then some.
The game appeared as any normal thrilling classic, as Roy Halladay threw 7 good innings giving up 11 hits, and 3 runs. While on the other side of the field, Dusty Baker's starter Travis Wood threw 6 high quality innings surrendering 3 runs on only 6 hits, which included a 2 run homer to Phillies right fielder, Ben Francisco, in the first inning. After 9 innings the game remained tied at 3, Jay Bruce strolled to the plate in the 10th, and hit a moon shot off Antonio Bastardo, into the crowd. This left Phillies fans in a state of worry, but optimism was around the ballpark. In the bottom half, Reds closer Francisco Cordero took the hill looking to grab his 10th save of the year. Confident and Positive, Cordero was in a great state of mind throwing his warm-up pitches; however, that would not last long as Ryan Howard would club an offering to him into the crowd, sending Cordero into a state of shock...and for about 3 hours, that would be it.
After the 18th, Wilson Valdez rushed over to Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel, to inform him that he was capable of throwing from the rubber. Manuel responded with "Are you sure?" and Valdez nodded. Talk about pressure, Valdez's first opponent was reigning MVP Joey Votto. Votto stood in strong, and eventually smacked a pitch which ended up being a flyout. As Votto trotted back to the dugout, the roar of the Philly Faithful emerged in large cheers, and they continued for the next 2 players who also flew out, Jay Bruce and Mike Fisher. Fisher, surprisingly, was the one who displayed the most frustration after popping out to the 80+ mph hurler Valdez. Somewhere in America, Mark Grace was smiling. In the bottom of the 18th, Jimmy Rollins who started the game in the first inning, and scored the first run, would end the game in the final inning with the final run. After a walk to Domonic Brown, Placido Palanco sacrafice bunted over the runners. After an intentional walk to Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, the bases were loaded and Raul Ibanez had the opportunity to send the tired and groggy Philly fans happy. Ibanez hit a deep fly to center, which was ran down by Reds' centerfielder Drew Stubbs, but there was absolutely no chance at a play at the plate.
After cream pies to both Valdez and Ibanez, smiles and laughter was taking place all over the ballpark. Valdez has become the first position player to start in the field, and then go on to pitch for the win, since Babe Ruth on October 1, 1921. As for the Reds, you have to tip your cap to them, to keep a game close for 19 innings is no easy task. It's one of those games where it sucks to lose, but someone has too. May 25, 2011 An amazing night for fans of baseball...