When Roy Halladay starts a game, you do not expect nineteen innings, six hours and eleven minutes of pure madness. This was one for the ages, and one we may never see again. If you thought last year’s 16 inning game was nuts, this was nothing like it. I don’t think anything can get more insane than having Wilson Valdez as the winning pitcher.
It seems like days ago when we found out that Ben Francisco would bat second. Francisco silenced all critics with a two-run bomb in the first inning. John Mayberry added an RBI single an inning later to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.
Halladay didn’t have his best stuff, but he wiggled out of jams. He gave up 11 hits — all singles — over seven innings. The most costly came in the seventh inning when Jay Bruce singled past Valdez, tying the game at three. It wouldn’t be the last time Bruce would strike.
Michael Stutes and Ryan Madson’s efforts in relief seem to be long lost, as they will be overlooked by the craziness of this game, but it should be noted that they each pitched scoreless innings, which were very big at the time. Also overshadowed will be the defense of Jimmy Rollins, who made several key web gems.
The Phillies had a golden opportunity to score in the ninth inning. They had plenty of chances all night, but the Phillies had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth, and failed to score. Domonic Brown hit a mile high pop up and Placido Polanco grounded out to end the threat. The failed opportunity took the game into extra innings, which turned into the length of a whole other game.
Bruce continued his Phillie killing taking Antonio Bastardo deep in the ninth. The home run marked Bruce’s ninth run batted in of the series. The way the Phillies offense has been going, the game seemed to be over, but Ryan Howard brought everybody back to life with a game tying solo shot.
A whole book could be written about the eleventh inning. In the top half, J.C Romero relieved Kyle Kendrick. With Brandon Phillips already at first, Romero walked Joey Votto. Romero got lucky and caught Phillips dancing a little too far off second base. The pick off play was huge, especially since Romero went on to walk Scott Rolen and Bruce. Romero was then lifted for David Herndon, who escaped the jam. Herdon pitched a sold 2.1 scoreless innings in relief.
In the mean time, the Phillies failed to score. They only had one man left in the bullpen: Danys Baez. Usually Baez causes a lot of worries when he pitches, but there was an exception on Wednesday (Thursday?). He pitched incredibly. He ate five scoreless innings, only allowing two base runners. He was definitely the game’s hero. Not enough can be said about his performance.
That brings us to the 19th inning. By this time, Baez was gassed, and the Phillies had no relievers left. So Valdez got the call, moving Carlos Ruiz to third base and Placido Polanco to second. What a job Valdez did. He topped 90 mph on the radar gun. He even shook off catcher Dave Sardinha! Not only did he get out of the inning, he got out reigning NL MVP Votto and Bruce, who had been giving the Phillies trouble all series. Three pop outs ended the inning without any damage.
When Valdez walked off the mound and headed toward the dugout, the players showed the most life they had all night. Perhaps it was what they needed to spark the offense.
It was after 1:15 a.m and there was still a decent crowd who chanted “Fischer!” mocking the tiring pitcher. Rollins led off the inning with a single and was followed by a Brown walk. Polanco got the job done in moving Rollins to third, and Raul Ibanez, who was just 1-for-7 on the night, stepped to the plate. He scorched a fly ball to center field, and the rest is history. Rollins came on in to score as the team celebrated their hard earned victory.
The 5-4 win marked the longest game ever at Citizens Bank Park. If you like crazy stats, this was certainly a game for you. Valdez became the first position player to earn a win since 2000. It was the longest game the Phillies played since their 20 innings marathon on July 7, 1993 against the Dodgers. No doubt it was a wild one. A game like this may never happen again. It was certainly a privilege to watch.
Injury updates: During the broadcast of Wednesday’s game, we found out that Joe Blanton saw Dr. James Andrews and surgery is not needed. Blanton will start a throwing program in 3-4 weeks, so he will be out a while. Also, Ross Gload will play through a small tear in his hip.