PHILADELPHIA -- Ken Giles left the Phillies bullpen, headed down a few steps and walked through the bullpen door before he jogged onto the field for his big league debut with two outs in the top of the ninth inning Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.
"I thought I was going to fall down," he said following a 7-3 victory over the Padres. "My legs were a little Jell-o-y. I thought I was going to fall down. But once I got to the dirt I was like 'Oh my God, this it. My dreams are finally coming true.' Now I've got my greatest goal accomplished. … It was breathtaking."
Fans have been waiting for Giles since April, when he started to light up the scoreboard in Double-A Reading with 100-mph fastballs. He dominated Double-A hitters and pitched with some success in Triple-A.
He didn't disappoint as his first-pitch fastball to Yasmani Grandal flashed 100 mph on the scoreboard, although Pitch f/x data had it at 99.1 mph. His next three pitches were balls and Grandal lofted a 3-1 fastball into the flower boxes in left field for a solo home run.
"That's a great way to welcome me to the big leagues," Giles said. "I didn't think it was going to go out. It looked like a routine fly ball to the warning track to me. Once I saw it, Dom [Domonic Brown] was under it, I just stood behind the mound like I would for an out. Next thing I knew, there was stumbling in the bushes. I was like all right, oh well, on to the next one."
Giles struck out Alexi Amarista swinging on a 2-2 slider to end the game.
One home run, one strikeout.
Giles hopes he is on his way.
"It was fun, it was great," he said. "Now I've showed them what I can do, what I throw, so now it's just, I got the first one out of the way, now it's down to business, time to pitch."
The scoreboard flashed 100 mph twice with fans cheering each time it hit. Giles heard each one.
"How could you not?" he said. "I just go out there and pitch. Whatever it says, it says. I'm not going to try to force it. It's all natural, you've seen it, everybody's seen it today. No reason to pump 102 or 103. … Everybody's different on their debut and, unlucky for me I got a home run on mine, but, that's a great memory, just thinking first at-bat, gave up a home run. Next guy, struck out. It's just a good story to tell."
Bunning reflects on Father's Day perfect game
PHILADELPHIA -- Jim Bunning still vividly recalls the details of Father's Day 1964.
Why wouldn't he?
He pitched a perfect game for the Phillies on June 21, 1964, against the Mets at Shea Stadium. The Phillies plan to honor the accomplishment Sunday on Father's Day at Citizens Bank Park.
"It meant so much because my oldest daughter and my wife came up for the game," Bunning said Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. "And they never would have come up if it wasn't Father's Day."
Bunning, 82, said he figured that afternoon might be a good one when he hung a couple sliders to Mets leadoff hitter Jim Hickman, but he only fouled them back. He remembered the biggest defensive play of the game when Jesse Gonder smashed a ball to Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor with one out in the fifth inning. Taylor knocked down the ball, which rolled a few feet away from him. But Taylor quickly picked up the ball and threw from his knees to first base to get Gonder.
"It was the only straight changeup I threw in the whole game," Bunning said. "The only one. And Tony made that spectacular play. And I thought, this has got the makings of something special."
Bunning said he talked throughout the perfect game, typically taboo during a run at perfection. But Bunning dismissed the superstition after he kept quiet during a failed no-hit bid weeks earlier. Catcher Gus Triandos once said Bunning was "jabbering like a magpie" during the game. Bunning even asked Triandos to tell him a joke when he visited him on the mound in the ninth inning.
"I know it relaxed me and I hoped it relaxed the whole team," Bunning said.
Bunning appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show later that night and celebrated at a Howard Johnson's off the New Jersey Turnpike because the once famous Toots Shor Restaurant had closed.
"[Former pro golfer] Ken Venturi had won the U.S. Open at Congressional, and I met Kenny backstage [at the Ed Sullivan Show], and he said some nasty words to me -- kiddingly -- that I had knocked him off the front page of the New York papers," Bunning said. "He said, 'I almost died winning that thing.' They had to intravenously give him fluids when they played 36 holes on the final day."
Howard sees marginal improvement vs. lefties
PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard has been a bit better against left-handed pitchers this season than the previous three, but not substantially better.
So it seemed like a no-brainer Thursday when Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg started John Mayberry Jr. at first base against Padres left-hander Eric Stults. Howard entered the afternoon with a .209/.268/.413 line against left-handed pitchers, compared with a .198/.254/.350 line the previous three seasons.
Meanwhile, Mayberry has a .273/.385/.545 line against left-handed pitching this season and a .274/.326/.528 line against them in his career.
"Well with KK [Kyle Kendrick] out there I wanted to give at-bats to Mayberry against the lefty and also the added defense with the potential of them having a lot of left-handed hitters in the lineup," Sandberg said after the game. "There were a lot of balls hit to Chase [Utley], and a couple hit to first base. But also for some defense behind KK."
But a quick look at the matchups showed Howard is 2-for-2 with two home runs and four RBIs in his career against Stults.
Despite his struggles against left-handed pitchers, Howard has started 12 of 16 games against lefties this season. He also has hit fifth eight times after hitting there twice in the season's first four games.
Mayberry went 3-for-4 with two doubles, one home run and three RBIs in the 7-3 victory.
Brignac's walk-off to snap scoreless tie a rarity
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies infielder Reid Brignac picked up his second walk-off hit of the season Wednesday, when he hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning in a 3-0 victory over the Padres.
Elias Sports Bureau said Brignac is the first Phillies player to snap a scoreless tie with a walk-off home run in nearly 42 years. Willie Montanez did it July 28, 1972, when he hit a two-run home run against the Cubs' Milt Pappas in a 2-0 victory at Veterans Stadium.
• Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee played catch again Thursday morning. He is recovering from a strained left elbow.
"He came out fine," Sandberg said.
• Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said during Thursday's broadcast that Triple-A outfielder Darin Ruf has a fractured left wrist, although it does not change the timetable for his return. The Phillies never previously offered a timetable, although it seems to be weeks away.
• Class A Advanced Clearwater announced it had released outfielder Anthony Hewitt, who was the organization's first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He had a .223/.264/.370 line over seven seasons in the organization. He had just been demoted to Clearwater after hitting .140 in 103 plate appearances with Double-A Reading.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.