The ball jumped off the bat and the small section of friends and family jumped from their seats and began to roar. Joey Wendle not only had just hit his first career grand slam Sunday, it came against the team he rooted for while starring at Avon Grove High School and leading West Chester University to a national championship.
The Oakland second baseman had to be reveling in the moment as he circled the bases at Citizens Bank Park, right?
“Did I run around the bases? I don’t even remember that,” Wendle said. “Yeah, it was pretty surreal.”
Wendle’s second career home run came one year to the day after he went deep against Yu Darvish in Texas and in just his fifth game since being recalled from Triple A Nashville. It was the go-ahead homer in the Athletics’ 6-3 victory (see story).
“Definitely a special memory,” the 27-year-old said. “Definitely something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
The Phillies led 3-2 in the top of the sixth inning when Henderson Alvarez was lifted after walking Matt Joyce and allowing a single to Chad Pinder. Left-hander Hoby Milner came in and struck out Matt Olson for the first out, and then manager Pete Mackanin brought in Edubray Ramos.
The righty struck out Matt Chapman but then walked Mark Canha to load the bases.
Up came the lefty-hitting Wendle. And he wasted no time by pouncing on a first-pitch slider and drilling it to right field.
“That guy has more than a strikeout per inning and I was looking for something up in the zone because I knew what he could do if I got buried in the count,” Wendle said. “Just got a slider, kind of backed up a little bit and I was able to drive it out.”
Wendle finished 1 for 4 and is 3 for 9 since his call-up. He hit .285 with eight homers and 54 RBIs in 118 games at Triple A.
Wendle faces obstacles to stick with Oakland. Veteran Jed Lowrie is ahead of him at second base and Franklin Barreto is a 21-year-old prospect the A’s value. But manager Bob Melvin said he’s been happy with what he’s seen from Wendle, who’s the first alum of Division II West Chester to play in the big leagues since John Mabry retired in 2007.
“It’s one thing to hit a grand slam to put your team ahead. It’s another when you do it at home,” Melvin said. “And this is a close-knit group of guys, especially the younger guys that we brought up and Joey’s been with them, so they were really happy for him.”