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Top Moment #1: Nineteen Innings of Madness

Phillies Nation’s winner for the number one Philadelphia Phillies Top Moment of 2011 is … (drum roll, please) … The 19 inning marathon against the Cincinnati Reds!

This may not come as a surprise.  We remember staying up late, refusing to turn off the television.  We remember it being one of the oddest games of recent memory. We remember Wilson Valdez taking the mound in the 19th inning and retiring the meat of the Reds’ lineup.  We remember it being one entirely awesome game.

I’ll be honest: there are some things that I forgot.  It was practically two games in one: 6 hours and 11 minutes of insanity.  With the game occurring last May, many things have exited my brain.  I thought that I’d test your knowledge in a few trivia questions:

1. Who were the starting pitchers?
2. Which Phillies homered?
3. How did the Phillies score the winning run?

No cheating. The answers are after the jump.

If you answered (1) Travis Wood and Roy Halladay, (2) Ben Francisco and Ryan Howard, and (3) Raul Ibanez sacrifice fly, then congratulations, you answered them all correctly.

The Phillies had a 3-0 lead by the second inning, thanks to Francisco’s two-run shot in the first.  With Doc on the mound, a 3-0 lead is usually plenty, but the Reds tied the game in the seventh on Jay Bruce’s two-run single.

After the three early runs, it became one of those nights where the Phillies just couldn’t seem to score a run.  They were able to get baserunners, but could not find a way to bring them home.

Luckily, the bullpen kept the Phillies in the game.  Antonio Bastardo surrendered a 10th-inning home run to Bruce, but Ryan Howard got that run back with a shot of his own.  Other than that, the Phillies bullpen was flawless.

Because the Phillies couldn’t score runs and kept using pitchers, they ran out of arms.  Danys Baez was their last hope.  Yes, that same Danys Baez who was released from the team later in the year.  We all expected that he would implode and the game would end, but a miracle must have happened.  Baez pitched five shutout innings out of the pen.  Innings 14 through 18 were in the hands of Danys Baez.  Sure, it was a “God help us!” kind of situation, but Baez amazingly came through.  He truly was the hero during those late night hours.

Eventually, Baez became gassed and the Phillies had to bring in somebody else.  “Not uhs” and “no ways” were heard in the stands as Wilson Valdez approached the mound.  I actually laughed when I heard Valdez was coming into pitch, but he actually put on a show.  He topped 90 mph on the radar gun and retired Joey Votto, Jay, Bruce, and Carlos Fisher — the first two being very intimidating hitters.

I can still replay the image of Valdez leaving the mound with a smile and joking with his teammates in my head.  Valdez’s performance must have brought some life back to the Phillies.  Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a single, Dom Brown walked, Placido Polanco moved the runners over, and Howard walked.  The bases were loaded with just one out in the 19th inning.  Raul Ibanez did exactly what he needed to do: hit the ball in the air to the outfield.  The sacrifice fly scored Rollins, and the Phillies beat the Reds, 5-4.

It was a long game.  It was a weird game.  But it was certainly an entertaining and memorable one.  It ranks first among the Phillies Top Moments for 2011, and in my mind it ranks as one of my favorite regular season games of all time.

This post sponsored by Kevin’s sports betting tips website and blog.

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