By the 19th inning on Wednesday night, the Philadelphia Phillies had used up all of their actual relief pitchers. Unwilling to send in anyone else from his starting rotation, manager Charlie Manuel instead turned to 33-year-old Wilson Valdez(notes), usually a backup infielder, who had started the game at second base.
Valdez came through with a hitless inning, and he picked up the victory after Raul Ibañez broke a tie with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 19th to end the longest game of the season — 6 hours, 11 minutes.
Valdez became the first position player to get a pitching win since catcher Brent Mayne in 2000 for the Colorado Rockies. Heck, at least Mayne had some major league experience returning the ball to the mound. Valdez's feat is much more impressive.
"If [anyone] hits a home run, they're not going to say anything to me," said Valdez, laughing.
The Reds sure weren't laughing after Valdez, who reached 89 mph on the radar gun, got through the inning without giving up a hit — though he did throw a ball back to the screen, and he hit Rolen with an ill-advised slider (or something). He was no Andy Marte, but Valdez did pretty good for a guy who said he hadn't pitched since winter ball nine years ago. He threw 10 pitches, five for strikes.
"I can go for three more, four more (innings). Whatever," he said.
Not at all necessary, Wilson. You know, there's a T-shirt for sale out there that claims Valdez can do everything. The shirt don't lie. And neither does a shaving cream pie in the face from the team's No. 1 ace closer:
It also should be noted: The Phillies didn't win this game only with backup infielders who pitched.
• When Valdez moved to the mound, catcher Carlos Ruiz(notes) shifted to third base. In my favorite moment of the game, he made an amusing but unsuccessful dash — and dive onto the tarp — in pursuit of a pop foul. Manuel said he wondered what the heck Chooch was doing.
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