Ben Francisco drilled a home run into the left field seats in the bottom of the first inning on Wednesday night to put the Phillies up 2-0 on Cincinnati. With Roy Halladay on the mound facing a Reds team he had dominated for 18-consecutive scoreless innings coming into the game, you figured we'd be in for one of those nice-and-neat two hour and fifteen minute victories out of Doc.
Fast forward some six hours later, the thousands of fans left remaining were screaming "Wiiiiilll-sonnnnnn! Wiiiiiilll-soonnnnnnn!" as Wilson Valdez stood on the pitching mound in the 19th inning. It's the kind of absolutely unpredictable story line akin to perhaps only Roy Oswalt playing left field that makes following baseball so damn fun.
"I was just trying to throw strikes," Valdez said with a smile as
shaving cream was still stuck in his ear, on his neck, and on his chin.
We've heard Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee say it hundreds of times, but when Wilson Valdez says it, you get the feeling he *really* means it. Plus, it's Wilson Valdez talking about freaking pitching.
Literally. When Wilson says he was just trying to throw strikes, that's exactly the only thing he's trying to do.
It wasn't Valdez's first time on a pitching mound. He told us after the game that he pitched two innings in the Dominican League back in the day. Rich Dubee and Pete Mackanin told Charlie Manuel that Wilson was their guy when the bullpen was completely empty.
Valdez showed off a heater that would have made Jamie Moyer jealous, hitting 88-89 on the radar gun.With every out he recorded, the Philly fans became louder and louder, loving every minute of the bizarre yet glorious spectacle unfolding in front of their eyes, some six hours after they all arrived at the ball park.
"It's something I'm never going to forget," Valdez said. "I feel happy because they were cheering for me. I'm glad that I could throw one inning."
It's something I'm never going to forget either.