Philadelphia Phillies: 25 Most Heartbreaking Losses in Franchise History
"You can't win 'em all."
Baseball fans don't need beaten cliches to face reality. During the course of a 162-game regular season, even the greatest of teams are going to get unlucky once in a while. The most technically sound teams are going to make a few mistakes.
It happens. Baseball must obey those pesky mathematics and probability laws.
So what makes fans so angry when someone says something as simple as, "You can't win them all?" That's not a comforting statement. At its core, it basically means that from time to time, you're going to lose.
Nobody likes losing!
Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies can multiply that statement 10,000 times. Saddled with a number of obstacles blocking their path to a winning franchise for a long time, the Phillies collected a number of losses, some more painful than others.
Even as one of the best teams in baseball in recent seasons, the Phillies have experienced a number of painful losses. That's the beauty of this game: It always keeps you humble.
So as yet another baseball season waits just around the corner and the Phillies attempt yet another run at a World Series title, let's prepare ourselves for the bumps along the way. Let's take a look at some of the most painful losses in franchise history, to understand just what the Phillies are fighting for in 2012.
For news, rumors, analysis, and game recaps during Spring Training, check out Greg's blog: The Phillies Phactor!
25. We're Number One! (...to Reach 10,000 Losses)
Losing one game is difficult.
Losing 10,000 flat out stinks.
But that's what the Phillies, who were the first professional sports team to reach 10,000 losses, have had to go through. For most of their existence, there has been an impossible hurdle for the Phillies to jump, from terrible ownership to terrible rosters and everything in between.
On July 15, 2007, the Phillies were romped by the St. Louis Cardinals and saddled with the 10,000th loss in franchise history. The Phillies sent Adam Eaton to the mound, and more often than not, that didn't end well.
This was no different.
Though the Cardinals hit four home runs and the Phillies scored just twice, losing a game in the middle of July wasn't so bad. It was the painful fact that the Phillies were the first club in all of professional sports to lose 10,000 games.
24. What's in a Modern Record for Conescutive Losses?
One loss stinks. Ten straight losses, as the Phillies experienced during the "Phold," is frustrating. But 21 straight losses is just downright absurd.
That's probably one of the most embarrassing "accomplishments" in Phillies' history, as Warren Sphan spun a complete game gem to hand the Phillies their 21st consecutive loss.
Though the loss may seem minuscule in hindsight, let's not forget—this one set a modern day record (at the time) for consecutive losses, helping to make the Phillies one of the biggest laughingstocks in all of baseball.
23. Heart Aplenty, Talent Lacking: The Makings of a Painful Loss
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The propensity that Kyle Lohse has for giving up big postseason home runs in Citizens Bank Park is a little startling.
That's just an observation. On a serious note, Game 2 of the 2007 NLDS was still a big hurdle for the Phillies to tackle. Despite dropping the first game of the series, the Phillies had battled throughout the regular season just to get to postseason play, and weren't ready to give up just yet.
The club's Game 2 starter would be Kyle Kendrick (that should say something in and of itself,) who would promptly give up back-to-back home runs in the first inning.
However, the Phillies would answer, temporarily taking the lead. The Colorado Rockies would load the bases a couple of innings later, and Kyle Lohse gave up one of the most heartbreaking grand slams in the history of the franchise.
The Phillies were crushed. The club knew it. The fans knew it.
They would drop that series without picking up a single win.
22. Astros Blow Phillies' Playoffs Hopes into Orbit
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My, how things have changed.
The 2007 season will always be remembered as the year the Phillies finally made it back to the postseason, but for those of you blessed with short-term memory, allow me to remind you that there were some playoff hopes back in 2005.
Though the Atlanta Braves were in first place in the NL East, the Phillies were making a surprising run at the Wild Card back in '05. But, standing in their way was a talented Houston Astros team. Many believed that if the Phillies could win this series, they could make the postseason.
Obviously, this was a crushing loss for a number of reasons.
Trailing by two heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Bobby Abreu hit one of his most memorable home runs in a Phillies' uniform, giving the Phillies the lead.
Craig Biggio would have none of it, tagging Billy Wagner with a home run and allowing three unearned runs to score. The Phillies, who would face both Chad Qualls and Brad Lidge in that game, were unable to retake the lead in the ninth.
They ultimately missed the postseason.
21. Phillies Can't Topple Rockies
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In hindsight, 2007 was a pretty solid season for the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins predicted that they were the team to beat, and though they would lose that 10,000th game during the season, they didn't do all that much losing after that.
The Phillies made their way back to the postseason for the first time since 1993 that season, winning the NL East on a wild final day of the season, capped by starter-turned-closer Brett Myers celebrating on the mound with the team quick to follow.
They were humbled quickly by the Colorado Rockies.
The Phillies sent Cole Hamels to the hill and the Rockies got on him early, as he surrendered a lead that the Phillies would never be able to regain.
After building momentum throughout the season, Game 1 of the 2007 NLDS was a particularly tough pill to swallow, but it would only get worse.
20. There Won't Be a Repeat
After a labor strike shortened the 1981 season, the National League Division Series was created in the name of fairness. That season, the East would crown two champions (of the first and second half,) pitting the Phillies against the Montreal Expos.
The Phillies had everything working in their favor. First and foremost, they were the defending champions. They had home-field advantage, and even as the series was split at two games apiece, the Phillies seemed to be favored.
Playing in a crucial Game 5, they would send their ace, Steve Carlton, to the mound.
After losing to Steve Rogers in Game 1, Carlton hoped for a bit of revenge, but Rogers wouldn't blink, shutting out the Phillies and handing Carlton his second loss of the series.
There would be no repeat in 1981.
19. The Day After, It's over
Ted Keith / SI.com
Just a day after the infamous "Black Friday" game, the Phillies were back to work against the Los Angeles Dodgers, trying to stave off elimination and claw their way back into the NLCS.
They were in pretty good shape to do so, sending their ace starter Steve Carlton to the mound in opposition of Dodgers' starter Tommy John.
However, it was clear that their devastating loss in Game 3 took the wind out of their sails. John pitched one of the best games of his career, scattering one run over seven hits. He out-dueled Carlton and sent the Dodgers to the World Series.
18. Looking Up at Giants
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Heading into the 2010 NLCS, the Phillies were looking to join an elite class. If they were able to slay the San Francisco Giants, they would head to their third World Series in three seasons. After knocking off the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS, they looked to be in pretty good shape.
In the first postseason start of his career, Roy Halladay had tossed a no-hitter, and looked for more magic in his second outing, but Cody Ross would have none of it. The unlikely hero would hit two home runs in Game 1, giving the Giants an early lead in the series and putting the Phillies in an early hole.
17. A Chance to Break the Phold Goes Awry
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What if the Phillies were able to win one game during the "Phold?" What if they were able to win just one game during that 10-game losing streak to shift the momentum a bit? How different would the 1964 season have been in Philadelphia?
The Phillies had an opportunity to do just that on September 21, 1964 in a game against the Atlanta Braves, whom the Phillies had handled during the regular season.
Clinging on to a three-game lead despite their slide, the Phillies sent Chris Short to the mound to face the Braves, who would score three runs (two earned) against the lefty. The Phillies scored two in the bottom of the eighth to tie it, and for the first time in about a week, there was hope.
That hope began to dwindle in the 10th inning, when the Braves scored a pair, but the Phillies answered right back to keep it tied.
The Phillies just couldn't push the winning runs across, however, and Eddie Matthews won the game for the Braves in the top of the 12th inning.
The "Phold" continued.
16. The Comeback Attempt Falls Short
The Phillies loss in Game 3 of the 1983 World Series was a tough pill to swallow, but it was only going to get worse.
Playing at Veterans Stadium yet again, the Phillies looked to recapture some of the momentum lost in the previous game. They would send John Denny to the mound to oppose the Baltimore Orioles, and the right-handed starter would keep them in the game.
Heading into the ninth inning, however, the Phillies trailed by two. They threatened with a rally. Having scored a run in the ninth, a packed Veterans Stadium was rocking, but O's closer Tippy Martinez quickly slammed the door on any hope of a comeback, and realistically, the club's second World Series title.
15. Lee Can't Protect the Lead
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During the offseason, the Phillies received more attention than any team in baseball after bringing Cliff Lee back to town and taking the claim of the best pitching rotation in the game. The Phillies brought Lee aboard because of his postseason track record, among other things, and with a four-run lead in Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phillies were staring a two-game lead in the series right in the face.
However, the Cardinals had other plans.
They would rally to take the lead against Lee and the Phillies, and with a bit of bullpen magic from manager Tony La Russa, would steal Game 2 and head back to St. Louis split in the win-column.
While the Phillies' offense took most of the criticism for the eventual series loss, it would have been a different ball game had Lee held onto the lead in Game 2.
14. Oswalt's Relief Apperance Not Enough to Lift Phillies
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After falling behind two games to one in the series, the Phillies were pulling out all stops in an attempt to pull even with the San Francisco Giants in Game 4.
They fell behind early, but the Phillies scored four runs in the fifth inning to take the lead in support of starting pitcher Joe Blanton. The Giants answered with a run in their half of the inning, and in the sixth, took the lead, knocking Blanton out of the ball game.
The Giants led by a run until the eighth inning, when the Phillies pushed one across to tie. Brian Wilson pitched a scoreless ninth for his club and now, the ball was in the Phils' court.
Manager Charlie Manuel made an interesting decision to bring on Game 2 starter Roy Oswalt in a relief appearance. The Phillies' right-handed starter clearly didn't have his best stuff out of the bullpen, and the Giants rallied against him to win the game.
13. The Mad Dash II
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As the Phillies and New York Yankees continued to do battle in the 2009 World Series, many baseball pundits believed that Game 4 was a "must-win" for the Phillies for a number of reasons. They would send Joe Blanton to the mound to face CC Sabathia, who was pitching on short rest.
It was a closer contest than the pitching matchup would have you imagine. Heading into the ninth inning, the Phillies and Yankees were tied at four runs apiece.
In the top of the ninth inning, the Phillies turned the ball over to their closer with the home-field advantage. Brad Lidge had struggled through most of the season, and Game 4 was no different.
After recording the first two-outs, Johnny Damon singled.
He then stole second and third on the same play, in a series of events that would come to be compared as Enos Slaughter's famous "mad dash." Damon would then score on a wild pitch, and the Yankees would tack on two more runs to take a commanding three games to one series lead.
12. The Big Red Machine Rolls over the Phillies
Down two games to none in the 1976 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds, it was kind of hard to see the bright side if you were a fan of the Phillies, but the club wasn't ready to call it quits just yet.
In what could (and would) be a decisive Game 3, the Phillies sent Jim Kaat to the mound to keep their postseason hopes alive, and he would hold the Reds to just one hit through six innings. The Phillies, meanwhile, held a three-run lead.
Just as it looked like the Phillies had clawed their way back into the series, the Big Red Machine struck. A tiring Kaat ran into trouble in the seventh, and the Reds hung a four spot on him to take the lead.
The Phillies would strike back, scoring two in the eighth and what, at the time, was an insurance run in the top of the ninth.
In what would prove to be a rather shaky postseason career, Ron Reed gave up back-to-back solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, forcing the Phillies to hand the ball off to Gene Garber, who also worked himself into trouble.
With the game tied and the bases loaded, Ken Griffey beat out a chopper that allowed Dave Concepcion to score the winning run, sending the Reds to the World Series.
11. Ivan DeWhoops
After splitting the two games of the 1983 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, in Baltimore, the Phillies had an opportunity to head back to Veterans Stadium with home-field advantage, and being able to capitalize in Game 3 was crucial.
Through most of the game, that's what they did.
Steve Carlton seemed to have things on cruise control, as the Phillies led by 2-1 heading into the seventh inning. That's where things started getting a little crazy.
In the seventh, Rick Dempsey doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch. Pinch-hitter Benny Ayala drove him home with a single, knocking Lefty out of the game. In came sensational Phillies' reliever Al Holland.
After allowing a single, runners were at first and second.
John Shelby stepped up to the plate to face Holland, hitting a ball to Phillies' second baseman Ivan DeJesus, which he misplayed, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Needless to say, the Phillies never recovered.
10. The Secretary of Defense Battles the Sun
In what had become a heated rivalry by 1978, the Game 4 of the '78 NLCS between the Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers was a battle.
Each team hit a pair of home runs, with Greg Luzinski and Bake McBride doing the honors for the Phillies, and Ron Cey and Steve Garvey going yard for the Dodgers. But that was about all of the offense for most of the game.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the 10th inning and the game is still tied. The Phillies gave the ball to their closer, Tug McGraw, who got two quick outs.
Cey drew a walk and things got crazy.
Garry Maddox, nicknamed the "Secretary of Defense," lost a ball in the sun in center field as it bounced off of his glove, allowing Cey to advance to second. The next batter, Bill Russell, lined a base hit to center field, right at Maddox.
The Phils' center fielder charged the ball, but it skipped right past him, rolling all the way to the wall and allowing the game winning run.
9. Uribe Wins It
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The 2010 NLCS was an excellent series between the Phillies and San Francisco Giants, and though it didn't end the way Phillies' fans would have liked, it sure ended in appropriate fashion.
With the Giants holding a three games to two lead in the series, Game 6 was a nail-biter. Both clubs scored two runs early and the score would stay that way through most of the game. Sparks were flying early after Jonathan Sanchez hit Chase Utley with a pitch, and Utley promptly flipped the ball back towards the mound, causing a benches-clearing altercation.
The intensity remained throughout the game, but Roy Oswalt would go on to duel with Madison Bumgarner, who had come on in relief of Sanchez.
Finally, in the eighth inning, the Giants got on the board. The Phillies turned the ball over to their set-up man, Ryan Madson, and Juan Uribe promptly sent a home run over the right field wall.
The Phillies were unable to rally, and the Giants were going to the World Series.
8. The Nail in the Coffin
It started with a steal of home by Cincinnati Reds' outfielder Chico Ruiz. It continued through a winnable, extra-innings loss to the Atlanta Braves, and now, the Phillies had to take on the surging St. Louis Cardinals to stop the streak and keep their postseason hopes alive.
With all sorts of pun intended, it just wasn't in the cards.
The Phillies sent Chris Short to the mound yet again during the "Phold," something that manager Gene Mauch would be chastised over when the season ended. Opposing him was menacing Cardinals' ace Bob Gibson, trying to vault his team into first place.
The Cardinals had all of the momentum, and they capitalized.
Though Short would allow just three runs, he would be out-dueled by Gibson, who pitched eight innings of one-run ball. The Cardinals tacked on two unearned runs later in the game, and with the loss, the Phillies were knocked out of first place, as the Cards put the proverbial "final nail in the coffin."
7. Who's Your Daddy?
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After signing the veteran pitcher midseason, the Pedro Martinez acquisition was working out well for the Phillies. He had pitched well during the regular season, providing an experienced option for Charlie Manuel in the rotation, and slotted behind Cliff Lee and former World Series' MVP Cole Hamels, the Phillies liked their chances.
However, the Phillies were much better on paper compared to their play in the World Series. Lee brought his A-game, but Hamels struggled and Martinez became the linchpin of their World Series hopes.
Slated to start Game 6, the New York Yankees jumped all over Martinez, as "Who's your daddy!" chants ran through the ballpark. The Yankees scored two runs in the second and third innings, and Martinez was yanked after the fourth.
Trailing by six runs heading into the sixth inning, the Phillies mounted a small comeback, but would lose the game by a score of 7-3, forced to watch the Yankees celebrate yet another World Series victory.
6. Offensive Juggernauts Strut Their Stuff
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Talk about a back and forth affair.
With starting pitchers Tommy Greene and Todd Stottlemyer on the mound to start the game for the Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively, Game 4 had the potential to become an offensive showcase fast, and it did.
Playing the game at Veterans Stadium, the Blue Jays hung a three spot in their half of the first inning, but the Phillies countered with four runs of their own to take the lead. The Phillies would score in the second, but in the fourth inning, the Jays would take the lead with four more runs.
That seesaw type of offensive battle was what you would see throughout the rest of the game.
The Phillies scored at least one run in each of the fourth through seventh innings, including a five spot in the fifth. The Jays cooled off a bit, scoring just two runs in the sixth inning.
Heading into the top of the eighth inning, the Phillies held a 14-9 lead—a lead that most people thought they could hold. They couldn't.
Mitch Williams would take the mound, and the loss, as the Jays rallied to score eight runs in their half of the eighth inning and shut the Phillies down to take a three games to one lead in the series.
5. Vintage Joe Niekro
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One thing that the Phillies did not want to do in the 1980 NLCS was run into vintage Joe Niekro, on the road, in Houston.
The Houston Astros' right-handed starter baffled the Phillies' lineup for 10 innings before having to come out of the game, but Larry Christensen had an answer. He was tossing a shutout as well, and neither side could push across a run.
In the 11th inning, the Phillies left the game in the hands of trusted closer Tug McGraw, but on this night, the Astros' got the best of him. Joe Morgan, who would eventually lead the Phillies to a World Series, tripled to start the inning, and two intentional walks later, came home on a sacrifice fly.
Though the Phillies would ultimately win the series, this game gave the Astros a two games to one advantage.
4. Halladay out-Dueled, Phillies Sent Packing
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Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS was painful for the Phillies.
The series as a whole was a seesaw battle. The Phillies won Games 1 and 3, while the St. Louis Cardinals countered by taking Games 2 and 4. Finally, the series shifted back to the city of Philadelphia for a win-or-go-home Game 5, pitting aces and friends Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter against one another.
It was a classic pitchers duel.
Halladay surrendered one run in the first inning, but settled down to give one of the gutsiest performances of his career. However, Carpenter was just that much better, shutting out the Phillies, who gave a few balls a ride deep to the outfield wall but were unable to cash in.
To put the cherry on top, not only was Ryan Howard the final out of the postseason for the second straight year, but he also tore his left Achilles tendon, putting the start of his 2012 season in jeopardy.
3. "The Phold" Begins
Being a Phillies' fan had to have been difficult in 1964. After several years of playing mediocre baseball leading up to the '64 season, the Phillies were ready to field a respectable team, led by the likes of Jim Bunning, Chris Short, Johnny Callison and Dick Allen.
The team played good baseball throughout most of the season and well into the month of September, but in a game against the Cincinnati Reds late in the season, the club would experience one of their most heartbreaking losses.
Art Mahaffey started the game for the Phillies on September 21, 1964 and pitched well. In fact, the only run of the game came on a steal of home by Reds' third baseman Chico Ruiz. John Tsitouris dominated the Phillies' lineup, and what seemed like a simple loss would become the beginning of the biggest collapse in franchise history.
Dick Allen would later call that steal of home, "The play that broke our humps," and the first-place Phillies never recovered, dropping 10 straight games and missing the postseason.
2. Black Friday
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Looking to claw their way into the World Series for the first time since 1950, the Phillies found that only the Los Angeles Dodgers stood in their way in 1977. After splitting the first two games of the series, the Phillies were sitting pretty through most of Game 3.
Heading into the top of the ninth inning, the Phillies led by two runs. That's when everything began to unravel.
Everything that could go wrong for the Phillies did. It all started when a ball that left fielder Greg Luzinski should have caught bounced right off of his glove.
Two runs scored.
Davey Lopes then scorched a ground ball that hit off of Mike Schmidt, but wound up in Larry Bowa's hand. The Phillies' shortstop fired across the diamond to nail Lopes, but the first base umpire blew the call and Lopes would be called safe.
Following an errant pick-off throw and a base hit, Lopes was the game winning run.
The Phillies would never recover from this crushing loss, eventually dropping the series. "Black Friday" was the beginning of the end.
1. "Touch 'em All, Joe!"
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It was a home run that stings to this day.
The Phillies were tasked with conquering the juggernaut Toronto Blue Jays to complete their fairytale season, and the World Series became an entertaining, seesaw battle. By the time Game 6 rolled around, the Blue Jays led three games to two.
After falling behind early in the game, the Phillies hung a five-spot on the board in their half of the seventh inning to take the lead.
Still leading by one run heading into the ninth inning, manager Jim Fregosi handed the ball off to closer Mitch Williams yet again. Williams had worked frequently in the series, and many questioned how much energy he had left.
Williams walked Rickey Henderson to start the inning, and after a fly-out by Devon White, Paul Molitor singled to push Henderson to second. Then the powerful Joe Carter stepped to the plate.
Williams was obviously out of gas, but despite this, Fregosi stuck with his man. The rest is history. Carter crushed a fastball over the outfield wall, hitting a walk-off home run to give the Blue Jays their second consecutive World Series title.
Tom Cheek would go on to proclaim, "Touch 'em all, Joe! You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!"
Phillies fans know that he was right.