Wilson Valdez is the man of the hour throughout the Delaware Valley after Wednesday night’s epic Phillies 19-inning 5-4 victory.
Heck, after going from starting second baseman to winning pitcher he deserves all the love Phillies faithful can give.
“It got lucky that I threw a lot of strikes,” a shaving-cream-pie-faced Wilson Valdez said in the Phillies locker room following the six-plus hour win over the Reds.
But for all the 10-mph-faster-than-Jamie-Moyer's-fastball strikes Valdez threw (one more in his one inning of work than regular reliever J.C. Romero threw in his 16 pitch appearance), the pitch that will always stick out in my mind was off its mark.
Valdez had just somehow managed to best defending National League MVP Joey Votto by getting the lefty slugger to pop a long, loud out to center (a moment made more absurd by Votto seemingly thinking he had gotten all of a Valdez 88-mph fastball) when former Phillie Rolen stepped in.
“Booooooooo!” screamed the remaining the remaining Phillies fans in attendance – acknowledging the fact that Rolen about a decade ago demanded a ticket out of town rather than becoming an ingredient of the Phillies winning formula.
Valdez called catcher Dane Sardinha and third baseman (that is no typo) Carlos Ruiz to the hill to talk over what to do about Rolen. Gloves over mouths they seemed to be strategizing.
A breaking ball, seriously?
Valdez’s attempt at the hook never broke plunking Rolen’s belly. I know it’s bad to enjoy someone getting plunked but considering that it was Rolen it made me smile.
Rolen was the only batter to reach base off “Babe Ruth” Valdez. And Valdez -- a 33-year-old journeyman -- would go on to become the first player to start a game in the field and end it as the winning pitcher since, well, Ruth 90 years ago.
Valdez isn’t headed to Cooperstown and might never hit a home run again but for at least one late night -- or morning or day after -- Valdez was a Hall of Famer in the minds of Phillies fans everywhere.