As far as headlines go, the one above is not what Phillies fans generally expect to see. But it was a back-up player and a much maligned bullpen pitcher who saved the day for the Phillies on Wednesday night against the Reds.
It took more than six hours and nine pitchers, but the Phillies finally pulled out a 5-4, 19-inning win. Both offenses struggled to score runs and for the Phils, this has been problematic all season.
I have two words rattling around my brain in regards to the Phillies offense: frustrating and painful. This team has been painful to watch most of the season so far. And they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, which is incredibly frustrating.
For example, Raul Ibanez led off the sixth inning with a triple. So with NO outs and a man on third, what should happen just doesn’t. Carlos Ruiz swung at the first pitch and popped out. John Mayberry Jr. watched a called-strike three go by. And then Wilson Valdez is walked intentionally to get to the pitcher. Result: NO run, when all they needed was a sac fly or some form of contact with the ball that did not turn into a pop-up.
And this is exactly the sort of thing that is plaguing the Phillies offense. They faced a Reds pitcher who was off his game and they did not take advantage. Instead, they got themselves out by being impatient and swinging at bad pitches.
So just like Tuesday night, with a 3-1 lead, the Phillies watched the Reds come back to tie the game, 3-3 by the seventh inning. They got hurt, again, by Jay Bruce with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a two-run single off Roy Halladay, who had a few issues tonight. However, the defense behind him did little to help.
But once the game entered the wee hours of the morning, many forgot that Halladay had even started the game. The bullpen took over for a total of 12 innings.
Danys Baez, who has taken a lot of abuse from Phillies fans for his lack of consistency, was one of the hero’s in this game. He pitched a career-high five innings and 73 pitches to carry the Phils through the 18th inning. He allowed only one hit, one walk and zero runs.
Last year, Baez was so bad that many hoped he would be cut. And this year has been up and down for him. But rest assured that after an effort like this, Baez is keeping his job.
After Baez exited, the unexpected happened. Wilson Valdez stepped onto the pitcher’s mound. And he was tasked with facing the heart of the Reds line-up in Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce, who had absolutely been killing the Phils all series long.
But Valdez gave a valiant performance, even clocking over 90mph on the radar gun. He got Votto to fly out to deep center, hit Rolen with a pitch and then two more fly-outs to end the inning. As he exited the field, the crowd went crazy cheering for him.
Valdez is the first player to start in the field and move on to pitching since Babe Ruth. Seriously. He is also the first Phillies position player to pitch since Tomas Perez did it in 2002. The game win went to Valdez and afterwards he told Comcast Sportsnet, “I like to win,” in response to why he agreed to pitch. He also joked that he could have gone three or four more innings.
Raul Ibanez hit a sac fly to score Jimmy Rollins for the win in the 19th inning. In a game where an infielder pitched, a catcher (Carlos Ruiz) played third base and the team left 16 men on base, this win has to be a huge boost for the Phillies.
The last game with the Reds comes quick after this one; Thursday afternoon at 1:05pm. Cliff Lee will pitch.
Ross Gload is not playing right now due to a slight muscle tear in his hip. This is same sort of injury that Chase Utley played through in 2008, which eventually required surgery. Gload is expected to play through it as well.
Jose Contreras should return to the team sometime this week. Odds are good that David Herndon will be sent down to make room.
Chase Utley got a day off today, except for a pinch-hitting appearance, in what appears to be an effort to err on the side of caution by not pushing him too hard, too soon. He should play again Thursday.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The post-game shaving cream pie to the face has become a celebratory Phillies tradition over the years. One reader wanted to know where it all began. In my own experiences, I have been able to trace the practice as far back as 1993 where it happened on a semi-regular basis. Here are a few shots from 1993 where Mitch Williams pied Andy Ashby. You can see the pie in mid-air as Ashby tried to avoid contact during his post-game interview with Harry Kalas:
Usually when a player gets a game winning, walk-off hit, they can expect to get pied. However, sometimes this prank is also carried out following any outstanding performance. For instance, on June 2, 2002, pitcher Robert Person hit two home runs in a game against the Expos, the first of which was a Grand Slam. The result? 7 RBI for Person, a win for the Phils and yes, a pie to the face.
In the 1990’s, the pie incidents were sort of random. But when Tomas Perez joined the Phillies in 2000, he became the “official” Pie Guy and for the next 6 years, he did not miss a beat. Perez pied everyone. And his teammates loved him; Perez was riot in the clubhouse, keeping things loose and fun. And for me personally, Perez was the nicest, most approachable player I had ever met. I always stood in the same place before games and Perez took notice. All I had to do was wave at him, and he would run right over. We spoke before many games and I got countless autographs from him.
The day the Phillies released him in 2006, we had a conversation about his tenure in Philly during batting practice. I told him how glad everyone was that he was still with the team and that his smile always brightened my day. Literally, ½ an hour later, he was released. :O(
Not only was I devastated, but so were Perez’s teammates. Ryan Howard said after the game, “I will miss the pies in the face.” And catcher Mike Lieberthal, another frequent pie’ing victim, added, “He is one of my favorite players I ever played with. He was not only a good player, but he kept everybody loose and is one of the best personalities I have ever been around.”
With the departure of Perez, the torch was passed to Shane Victorino who became the new Pie Guy and has been basically in charge of the prank ever since. Although, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs and others have been known to help out on occassion. And these days, no one is safe from the Pie Guy:
In fact, some pie pranks are not even reserved for the playing field. This pie attack occurred during an interview with Brett Myers and Kyle Kendrick on NBC’s Today Show. The attack starts at about 2 minutes, 45 seconds into the video:
And some players even get double teamed; check out Carlos Ruiz:
There are some varying opinions on the pie pranks. Some players think it is funny; some are not so thrilled about it. As for the fans, I have heard everything from how funny it is to how stupid it is. One fan told me it is annoying because it ruins the post-game interview. Others wonder if it could be dangerous. And yet others look forward to it and find it entertaining. What do you think? Feel free to comment below.
What I can tell you is this; the Pie Guy is a Phillies tradition that does not appear to be going away any time soon.
Photo credits: Ibanez, Howard, Perez by Jenn; Ashby & Williams by Diana Dickerson; Rollins: NY Daily News; Victorino: CBSsports.com; Lieberthal: http://www.usat-rockymountain.org
This is why I love baseball. Anything can happen. The Phillies pitching sucked big time, but even bigger, timely hits saved the day! Phillies beat the Nationals 13-11 and we all LOVE Raul Ibanez! Get to that in a minute….
First, let’s give the pitching a well deserved spanking! I’m sorry Joe Blanton, but the nickname I gave you last year when you were stinking up the joint is back: It’s Joe Blah-nton! As much as I hate to dub anyone with a “BLAH!”, after a horrid start to the season and an 8.41 ERA, it only seems fitting. Consider it a challenge. Prove me wrong. PLEASE.
Blah-anton surrendered 6 runs tonight on 8 hits and 3 walks, including 3 monster home runs; and all this in only 4.1 innings. Yikes! But hey, the bullpen did no better. Jack Taschner chipped in one run and Scott Eyre, entering the “every pitchers nightmare” category, gave up not one, but TWO 2-run home runs in ZERO innings. He was pulled before he even recorded an out.
But thank goodness for Ryan Howard and RAUUUUUUUUUL Ibanez! Both players whacked a GRAND SLAM in the game! The last time the Phillies hit 2 slams in one game was 2003 when Tomas Perez and Jason Michaels did it. Howard’s slam tied the game up at 6-6. Later, after the pitching exploded again and the Phils trailed 11-7, Ibanez gave them the lead in the 8th with his salami. It was Raul’s 3rd hit of the game. Jimmy Rollins also had a 3 hit game, while attempting to slip out of his slump; looks like he found his mojo again.
Ryan Madson got the save in the 9th in the absence of Brad Lidge, who has inflammation in his right knee. Hopefully, it is not serious; the MRI was clean and he is day-to-day. Carlos Ruiz was given a rest today in AAA Lehigh Valley; he experienced some discomfort in his injured oblique area during batting practice and was held out of the game. Looks like Lou Marson and Chris Coste will continue to man the backstop for a while. Marson looks great behind the plate; he keeps ball in front of him and he has a good arm too. His hitting will come along as he gets more at-bats. And Coste is Coste…he’ll get the job done.
So who’s going to get their Charlie Manuel bobblehead tomorrow night? You know I am! Hope to see ya there….7:05pm start with Cole Hamels getting the start!
And again, don’t forget to VOTE for your All-Star’s! Get your Phillies into the game!! Vote a maximum of 25 times per day, per email address.
Photos by Jenn
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