Chester County native Joey Wendle hits grand slam as A's trump Phillies

Joey Wendle hits a grand slam against Philadelphia.
Joey Wendle rounded the bases on Sunday and couldn't help but smile as he crossed home plate and walked toward the Oakland dugout. The childhood moments of taking swings in the backyard of his West Grove home came flooding back. The dreams of wearing a Major League uniform near his hometown now a reality.

“Did I run around the bases?” he asked inside the visiting clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park. “I don't even remember that. … It was pretty surreal.”

Wendle, who grew up less than an hour from Philadelphia and starred at West Chester University, hit a grand slam in the sixth inning to seal an Athletics 6-3 victory over the Phillies.

The 27-year-old infielder was making just his second start of the season and 25th of his big league career.

“It’s one thing to hit a grand slam to put your team ahead,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s another thing to do it at home. This is a pretty close-knit group of guys, a lot of them have come up together, so they were really happy for him. Everybody knows there’s some sentiment involved when you play at home, so everyone was pulling for him.”

Wendle was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the sixth round of the 2012 draft before being dealt to Oakland in a deal for veteran outfielder Brandon Moss three winters ago. He's been a model of consistency in the Athletics' farm-system, hitting .289, .279, and .285 respectively. This year, in 118 games at Triple-A he had a 327 OBP, with eight home runs and 29 doubles.

“We’ve really liked Joey,” Melvin said. “Now there are some people in his way, certainly (Jed) Lowrie and we love (prospect, Franklin) Barreto, but Joey, since he's been, here, has done a nice job for us. It’s good that we rewarded him with a call-up because he deserved it. And he was good for us as a call-up last year. He plays good defense, obviously can swing the bat. Since he came over in the Moss trade he’s done a nice job for us, he’s just been blocked by the guys ahead of him.”

Wendle had a small contingent of friends and family stationed down the third base line and near the visitors' dugout. To hit his second career homer - and for it to be a grand slam in front of his home crowd - is something he'll carry with him for the rest of his big league career.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of fun baseball opportunities but, yeah, this one is certainly up there," Wendle said. "I’ve done that about a hundred times in my backyard, so it was certainly really fun today.”

The Phillies jumped on Athletics' starter Sean Manaea in the opening frame for a pair of runs but the A's answered back with Chad Pinder and Matt Olson launching back-to-back solo shots to even the contest in the fourth. Maikel Franco ripped an RBI-single in the fifth to score J.P. Crawford, but Wendle's grand slam off reliever Edubray Ramos put the exclamation point on the victory for the Athletics.

Henderson Alvarez, making his first major league start since 2015, tossed five innings while surrendering four runs on four hits. He walked two and collected four strikeouts.

"I didn't like the outcome, but I liked Alvarez," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. "He made a couple mistakes in the fourth, but I liked what I saw."

The Athletics scored all six of their runs on Sunday via the long ball.

The NL West-leading Dodgers now pay a visit to Citizens Bank Park and open a four-game set with the Phillies on Monday. Nick Pivetta is scheduled to oppose Clayton Kershaw in the series opener.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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