I can say without a doubt that I am seriously spoiled as a Phillies fan. I admit it.
Ten consecutive seasons of at least 80 wins. Eight consecutive winning seasons. Four straight division titles. Two pennants. And a world championship.
I cannot even imagine being a Pirates fan. An Orioles fan. A Nationals fan.
I have been blessed to witness 41 postseason games in the last four seasons—25 of them victories. I have witnessed countless moments that I will cherish forever. The moments that have helped define me as a passionate Philly sports fan.
I narrowed the list down to 40. My 40 favorite Phillies' moments of the Charlie Manuel era, which began at the start of the 2005 season.
Rookie pitcher Kyle Kendrick turned in a solid season for the Phillies in 2007, winning 10 games, losing only four and posting an ERA of 3.87. He finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting and even earned the start in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies.
But on February 16, 2008, Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel called 23-year-old Kyle Kendrick into his office to tell him he had been traded to the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League for a player named Kobayashi Iwamura.
Kendrick, who admitted to being way too trustworthy, believed Manuel completely.
He didn't realize that MLB players were not allowed to be traded to Japan. Or that Kobayashi is the legendary hot dog eating champion from Japan, and Iwamura is the last name of the Tampa Bay Rays' second baseman, Akinori Iwamura.
He dejectedly said his goodbyes to his teammates until pitcher Brett Myers gleefully told Kendrick, "You got PUNK'D!"
This moment demonstrated just how loose the Phillies were heading into spring training in 2008—a season that ended with a World Championship.
In 2007, Brett Myers struggled in his first three starts, posting a 9.39 ERA. Myers’ ineffectiveness, combined with an injury to closer Tom Gordon, enabled the Phillies to move Myers to the role of closer.
Myers performed well above expectations. For the season, he posted a 5-5 record and 2.84 ERA as a reliever, and a 1.84 ERA in save situations. He saved 21 games during the season.
Myers had the unusual distinction of throwing the first pitch of the season as the team’s opening day starter, and the final pitch of the season as the team’s closer in a non-save situation.
After the season, the Phillies signed closer Brad Lidge, and Myers returned to the starting rotation.
The Phillies trailed the Mets by seven runs entering the bottom of the fourth inning. Starting pitcher Jamie Moyer had allowed nine hits and six runs in three very ineffective innings.
But the Phillies chipped away, scoring a run in the fourth on a Pedro Feliz sacrifice fly. In the fifth, the Phillies added a pair of two-run homers from Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. Jimmy Rollins produced a run-scoring single in the eighth, and pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a big two-out RBI double.
In the bottom of the 13th, Shane Victorino led off with a triple. After intentional walks to Jayson Werth and Bruntlett, Chris Coste crushed a deep fly ball to center field for a walkoff hit. The incredible win gave the Phillies sole possession of first place in the NL East.
In the game, Jimmy Rollins recorded five hits and three RBIs. But the player of the game was catcher Chris Coste, who entered the game in the eighth. He singled, doubled, singled and singled in four at bats.
The Phillies beat the Rockies 20-5, scoring six in the fourth, six in the sixth and four in the eighth. Chase Utley led the way with three hits and six RBIs. Pedro Feliz and Chris Coste drove in four each, and Ryan Howard drove in three.
A nine-run fourth highlighted a 20-2 drubbing of the St. Louis Cardinals. Howard homered twice and drove in five. Carlos Ruiz drove in four. Utley homered and drove in three, and Geoff Jenkins added three RBIs.
An incredible 10-run first inning off the Reds' Johnny Cueto led to a 22-1 victory. Shane Victorino, Greg Dobbs and Chase Utley hit first-inning home runs, while pitcher Cole Hamels helped his own cause with a two-run double. Werth blasted an eighth inning grand slam to complete the 21-hit, 22-run outburst.
For the first half of the season, Ubaldo Jimenez was as dominant as any pitcher in baseball history. He won 10 of his first 11 starts, including a no-hitter, with an ERA of 0.78. When Jimenez faced the Phillies, on July 24th, his ERA had risen to 2.38, but he was still 15-1.
The Phillies left the bases loaded in the bottom of the second and entered the third in a 0-0 game. Then Jimmy Rollins singled, stole second and advanced to third on a poor throw. Then Placido Polanco walked. And so did Raul Ibanez.
Ryan Howard cleared the bases with a three-run triple and scored on a wild pitch. After Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino walked, Jimenez was replaced by Matt Belisle. Belisle allowed an RBI single to Greg Dobbs and a two-run triple to Jimmy Rollins. All seven runs scored in the inning were charged to Ubaldo Jimenez.
Not only did the Phillies win easily, 10-2, but they helped ensure that teammate Roy Halladay would be the NL favorite for Cy Young, not Ubaldo Jimenez.
Pitcher Joe Blanton stepped to the mound in the fifth inning of Game 4 of the World Series with the Phillies leading 5-2.
Blanton’s mind was probably on the tendencies of the Rays’ hitters that he would face in the sixth inning. Or on the fifth-inning home run he had allowed to pinch-hitter Eric Hinske.
So the last thing he probably expected to do was hit a home run...or even get a hit. After all, Blanton was a career .070 hitter with one RBI in 43 at bats.
But on Edwin Jackson’s fourth pitch, Blanton crushed a line drive over the left field fence, plating the Phillies with a 6-2 lead.
The Phillies won easily, 10-2, and captured their second World Series title in Game 5.
In his second trip to the All-Star Game, Philadelphia's own Bobby Abreu was an unusual choice to participate in the Home Run Derby.
Then he smashed a record 24 home runs in the first round. He knocked out six more in the second round and blasted 11 in the final round to win the Home Run Derby.
Overall, he crushed a still-standing record of 41 home runs.
To put Abreu's 41 home runs in perspective, the previous record for a single Derby was 27, set by Miguel Tejada in 2004.
One of the most incredible Phillies’ comebacks in recent history came after the Phillies trailed the Dodgers 9-2 entering the bottom of the eighth. Baseball-Reference’s win expectancy rounded the Dodgers’ chance of winning at 100 percent.
In the bottom of the eighth, Placido Polanco and Mike Sweeney singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Jayson Werth’s two-run single. A balk and a Ben Francisco double later, the Phillies still trailed 9-5. Wilson Valdez provided an RBI single, and the Phillies cut the lead to 9-6.
In the bottom of the ninth, against closer Jonathan Broxton, the Phillies struck again. Polanco reached on a hit by pitch, and Sweeney and Werth walked to load the bases with no outs for Francisco. Francisco grounded to third baseman Casey Blake, who let the ball go between his legs for a two-run error.
Carlos Ruiz stepped to the plate with runners on first and second, no outs and the Phillies trailing 9-8. He crushed the third pitch off the very top of fence in left center, scoring Werth and Francisco to complete the comeback.
Myers was the unlikely hitting hero during Game 2 of the NLDS. Never in a million years did anyone expect Myers to hit even better in Game 2 of the NLCS.
In the second inning, Myers lined a single to center field off Chad Billingsley, scoring Carlos Ruiz. In the third, he singled to right field with the bases loaded, scoring Jayson Werth and Greg Dobbs. And in the fourth, he collected an infield hit off Jason McDonald.
Incredibly, Myers' three hits came on three pitches. Consider this, the pitcher’s edition of Reggie Jackson’s three home runs on three pitches in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series.
On Myers’ second at bat, he shrugged his shoulders after reaching first, as if to say he was as shocked as everybody else at his timely hitting. Consider this, the pitcher’s edition of the Michael Jordan shrug from Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals, when MJ nailed six three pointers in the first half.
And on Myers’ third at bat, he hit himself in the head with his bat on his follow through swing. Later in the dugout, he shut his eyes and pretended to swing, as if to demonstrate the reason for his success.
The Phillies led the Mets 9-6 entering the bottom of the ninth in Citi Field.
Then a three-base error by Ryan Howard put Angel Pagan on third. Luis Castillo reached on an error by second baseman Eric Bruntlett, cutting the lead to 9-7. Then David Murphy reached on an infield single to Bruntlett, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
The Mets executed a double steal. But on the pitch, Jeff Francoeur lined a ball up the middle. Bruntlett caught the ball and stepped on the base immediately. He turned around and tagged David Murphy for the third out.
Bruntlett's play marked the first time in National League history a game has ended on an unassisted triple play, and it helped him go from goat to hero in a single pitch.
The Phillies' four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds was the most incredible four-game series I have ever seen in my life, and it came when the Phillies were 43-40, with their season slowly slipping away.
In the first game, Brad Lidge blew a save, but backup catcher Brian Schneider won the game with a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 12th inning. The game also featured one of the craziest plays of the season, as Jimmy Rollins scored from first on a ground ball to the first baseman.
In the second game, the Phillies overcame a six-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth. After three hits and a run, Greg Dobbs hit a one-out, three-run homer off the right field foul pole. The Reds still led 7-5, when pinch-hitter Cody Ransom crushed a two-out home game-tying home run to right center field. In the 10th inning, facing the unhittable Arthur Rhodes, Raul Ibanez doubled, and Ryan Howard homered to left to end it.
In game three, Reds' rookie Travis Wood, who had made his major league debut nine days earlier, took a perfect game into the ninth inning. Carlos Ruiz spoiled perfection with a leadoff double but was stranded and the game went to extras, tied 0-0. In the bottom of the 11th, Ruiz doubled again and scored on a two-out single to right field by Jimmy Rollins. For the first time in team history, the Phillies won on an extra-inning walkoff hit in three straight games.
In game four, the Phillies won 1-0. Rollins drove in Ruiz for the game's only run in the third, and Hamels pitched 7.2 shutout innings. The Phillies held the Reds scoreless for the final 19 innings of the series.
In 2003, future Hall of Fame first baseman Jim Thome joined the Phillies and promptly smashed 89 home runs over the next two seasons. Unfortunately for Thome, the Phillies had a young power-hitting first baseman who would become an even better power hitter.
When Thome suffered an injury-plagued first half of the season in 2005, Howard stepped in and never looked back.
Howard played in just 88 games but hit 22 home runs and drove in 63 runs, with a .288 batting average. He hit 19 of those home runs in the second half of the season, including 11 in September.
In November, the Phillies traded Jim Thome to the White Sox, officially declaring Ryan Howard their starting first baseman.
The Phillies won one of the first two games of the NLCS in Los Angeles and returned home for the third game, against Dodgers' pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
In the first inning, the Phillies scored four, as Ryan Howard belted a two-run triple, and Werth hit a two-run homer. The Phillies added two more in the second, two more in the fifth and three more in the eighth on a Shane Victorino home run. They won 11-0.
Cliff Lee pitched eight shutout innings of three-hit ball. He struck out 10 and didn’t walk a batter.
Chad Durbin pitched the ninth to close out the biggest shutout victory in Phillies' postseason history.
Pat Burrell became just the fifth National League player to hit two home runs in a series-clinching game.
The Phillies won the game easily, 6-2, for their first postseason series win since the 1993 NLCS. They advanced to the National League Championship Series to play the surprising Los Angeles Dodgers.
Neither starting pitcher was effective in the third game of the NLDS. Phillies’ pitcher JA Happ, the runner-up for Rookie of the Year, allowed five hits and two walks for three runs in just three innings. Rockies’ pitcher Jason Hammel was even worse, surrendering four hits and three walks for four runs in 3.2 innings.
Chase Utley gave the Phillies an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins drove in runs to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead after one. Atkins added an RBI double in the fourth, but the Phillies scored three behind RBIs by Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz. The Rockies scored a single run in the fourth and seventh, the Phillies scored in the sixth, and the game reached the ninth tied 5-5.
Jimmy Rollins led off the ninth with a single, reached second on Victorino’s sacrifice, advanced to third on Utley’s infield single and scored on Howard’s mammoth sacrifice fly.
Brad Lidge, fresh off the worst season by a closer in baseball history, ran into some trouble in the ninth, walking Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton but retiring Troy Tulowitzki on a pop fly to seal the victory.
The game was the longest nine-inning game in postseason history (4:06), giving the Phillies a solid two games to one lead in the NLDS.
Chase Utley came to the plate in the top of the first inning of the first game of the World Series. He had Jayson Werth on first base with one out.
On a 2-2 count, Utley floated one over the right field fence that gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead.
Utley's home run was important because it was imperative for the Phillies to grab an early lead in both the game and the series, especially as the underdog. It also proved to be the difference for the Phillies, who won Game 1 by a 3-2 score.
The Phillies spent $13 million for the Brett Favre lookalike before the 2008 season.
During the season, Jenkins batted a disappointing .246 with nine home runs. He made the postseason roster, but went 0-3 in the NLDS and NLCS.
After the 46-hour rain that delayed Game 5 of the World Series, Geoff Jenkins led off the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 5 of the World Series as a pinch-hitter. Jenkins had been hitless in three previous postseason at bats that year.
Jenkins came through, driving a double to deep right center field. He eventually scored on a Jayson Werth single, giving the Phillies a 3-2 lead in a game they would eventually win 4-3.
Somehow, incredibly, the Phillies overcame a seven-game deficit in the final 16 games of the season. They entered the final game of the season tied with the hated New York Mets for first in the division.
The Mets played the Florida Marlins at 1:05, while the Phillies hosted the Mets at 1:35.
Future Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine turned in the worst start of his Major League career, allowing seven runs while recording just a single out.
He allowed a bases-loaded, three-run double to Cody Ross. He hit pitcher Dontrelle Willis with the bases loaded. Overall, he allowed five hits, two walks and a hit by pitch.
By the time the Phillies began their game at 1:35, they understood exactly what the 7-0 Marlins lead meant. Basically, they needed to just win their game to clinch the division title. And they did.
The Phillies and Brewers were tied 1-1, with a runner on third and two outs, when pitcher Brett Myers stepped to the plate against CC Sabathia. Sabathia had been easily the best pitcher in baseball over the last three months.
Myers swung and missed at each of Sabathia’s first two pitches. Then he drew a ball. Then he fouled off a pitch. Then a ball. A foul. A ball. A foul. And ball four.
By the sixth or seventh pitch of Myers’ at-bat, the Phillies’ crowd was on its feet, reacting to each foul or ball as if it was a home run.
When Myers finally worked a walk—maybe the most unlikely walk in history—the crowd exploded in cheers.
Myers ran with his head down, as if he was almost embarrassed to be on first base.
Two innings later, Myers flied out to center field after a 10-pitch at-bat against Sabathia. And he lined a one-pitch single in the sixth. For the day, he walked, flied out, and singled, and it was probably his single that was his least effective at bat.
But it was his second-inning walk, which led to, well, if you're a real fan, you'll remember.
Even Cliff Lee needs run support to win games, and second baseman Chase Utley did exactly that in the first game of the 2009 World Series.
Utley’s second home run would turn out to be the winning run in one of the biggest wins in Philadelphia Phillies’ history.
Before the Phillies began their streak of winning NL East titles every season, it was moments like this that we lived for as Phillies fans.
In the top of the first inning, the Mets had the bases loaded with two outs for Xavier Nady, who crushed a deep drive to center field.
Aaron Rowand sprinted back to the wall and made the catch right before slamming face first into the outfield wall. Rowand broke his nose and suffered severe lacerations to his face. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list and returned to play on May 27th.
The Phillies won the game—2-0. Rowand’s play saved a likely bases-clearing double or triple that would have won the game for the Mets.
Something wasn’t right with Roy Halladay in the fifth game of the 2010 NLCS. Although he pitched six innings and allowed just two runs, he wasn’t his usual dominant self.
Then after the game, Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel revealed that Halladay had suffered a groin pull in the second inning. Halladay dealt with the pain and pitched four more innings.
Had the Phillies won the NLCS, Halladay’s performance would rank among the most memorable “pitching through pain” experiences in baseball history.
It still helped to extend the Phillies' season, bringing hope to fans for one more game.
Throughout the entire postseason, the Phillies counted on Cliff Lee to win them ballgames. In Game 5 of the World Series, the Phillies needed him to save their season.
Lee responded, pitching seven plus innings. Although he allowed five runs (three in the eighth with the Phillies leading by six), the Phillies' offense backed him with eight runs.
Chase Utley delivered a big three-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the seventh, tying Reggie Jackson’s record for home runs in a single World Series.
The Phillies and Mets didn’t hate each other until Jimmy Rollins’ bold prediction in January 2007. Even then, the two teams didn’t immediately hate each other. But by late August, the rivalry was in full swing, as the Phillies hosted the Mets for a critical four-game series that would later determine the NL East race.
The first game was anti-climatic, as the Phillies crushed the Mets 9-2. In the second game, Ryan Howard crushed a walkoff two-run homer in the 10th inning, giving the Phillies a 4-2 victory. In the third game, the Mets trailed the Phillies 3-2 in the top of the ninth. With runners on first and third, pinch-hitter Shawn Green grounded into a fielder’s choice, with the tying run crossing the plate. But Marlon Anderson was called for interference on Chase Utley, resulting in a game-ending double play.
The fourth game is one of the most memorable regular season Phillies games of my lifetime. The Phillies led 5-0, but the Mets tied it 5-5. The Phillies led 8-5, but the Mets took a 10-8 lead. A Pat Burrell home run off the hated Billy Wagner in the eighth put the Phillies behind by one, 10-9, entering the ninth.
Jayson Werth led off with a single, and with one out, stole second and third on consecutive pitches, both without a throw. Pinch-hitter Tadahito Iguchi lined a game-tying single to left field. He then stole second. After a intentional walk to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley lined a single to right field, scoring Iguchi for a dramatic 11-10 victory.
The Phillies spent most of Game 4 of the NLCS trailing, until Shane Victorino lined a two-run homer to tie the game in the eighth inning. Two batters later, 40-year-old pinch-hitter Matt Stairs stepped to the plate.
Matt Stairs had one thought in his mind when he stepped to the plate against Dodgers' closer Jonathan Broxton. The same thing that was one his mind every time he stepped up to the plate—hitting a home run.
"I'm not going to lie. I try to hit home runs and that's it. I'm not going to not hit a single and steal second base," Stairs said.
Stairs came through, crushing a mammoth blast to right field to give the Phillies a 7-5 lead and an eventual three games to one lead in the NLCS.
Philly fans will always love Matt Stairs, so much, in fact, that they made shirts: "In Case of Emergency, Use Stairs."
The first game of the 2009 World Series featured one of the most anticipated pitching matchups in postseason history. CC Sabathia, the 2007 American League Cy Young winner, faced Cliff Lee, the 2008 American League Cy Young winner.
Lee had been dominant for the Phillies in the 2009 postseason, and he continued his success with a brilliant start in Game 1.
Lee pitched a complete game, allowing just six hits and no earned runs. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 10, for a Game Score of 83, one of the top marks in World Series history.
Lee also turned in two memorable fielding plays—a ho-hum catch of a popup in the sixth inning and a behind-the-back grab of a grounder in the eighth inning.
With the World Series tied at one game apiece, the Phillies needed to win the all-important third game of the Series.
Tied 4-4 in the ninth inning, pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett led off the ninth inning with a hit by pitch. He immediately advanced to second on a wild pitch and reached third on a poor throw to second base.
After Shane Victorino and Greg Dobbs were walked intentionally, manager Joe Maddon implemented a five-man infield for catcher Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz connected on a 2-2 pitch and dribbled a 35-foot dribbler down the third base line.
Evan Longoria charged the ball but his throw home sailed over catcher Dioner Navarro’s head and Bruntlett slid in with the winning run.
Ruiz’s hit was the first infield walkoff hit in World Series history. It was at this moment that I had no doubt the Phillies were going to claim their first World Championship in 28 seasons.
On September 27th, the Phillies faced the Washington Nationals on the second-to-last day of the season, with a chance to capture their second consecutive division title.
The Phillies led the Nationals, 4-2, heading into the ninth. But closer Brad Lidge, who hadn’t blown a save all season ran into trouble. He allowed a run on three singles and a walk.
With the bases loaded and one out, against the Nationals' best hitter, Ryan Zimmerman, shortstop Jimmy Rollins made a diving stop of a hot grounder up the middle.
Rollins flipped the ball to Chase Utley, who hurled a bullet to Ryan Howard, completing the double play, winning the game, clinching the division and saving Brad Lidge’s perfect season.
The Phillies led the Rockies two games to one in the NLDS but trailed 4-2 heading into the ninth inning of Game 4.
Jimmy Rollins singled with one out, but a Shane Victorino fielder’s choice left the Phillies’ chances of winning at just four percent, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Victorino stole second and Chase Utley walked, bringing up the Phillies’ best power hitter, Ryan Howard. Howard crushed a ball to deep right field, scoring both Victorino and Utley.
Jayson Werth then singled into right center field, scoring Howard for what proved to be the game-winning run. Brad Lidge closed out the ninth to send the Phillies to their second straight NLCS.
Second baseman Chase Utley is without a doubt one of the smartest baseball players in the game today. His play in the seventh inning of the deciding game of the 2008 World Series will forever be the signature play in a career that will one day equal a trip to Cooperstown.
The Rays had a runner on second with two outs in the top of the seventh. The score was tied 3-3 when Akinori Iwamura laced a grounder up the middle.
Chase Utley backhanded the ball, faked a throw to first, continued running past the second base bag and whipped a bullet home. Ruiz caught the ball and applied the tag on a diving Jason Bartlett to end the inning.
The Phillies won the game 4-3, so without Utley's brilliant play, it's likely that the game would have gone into extra innings.
Utley’s play was voted as the “Best Postseason Moment” by This Year in Baseball awards.
Ryan Howard capped off one of the greatest seasons by a Phillies hitter in history by winning the National League Most Valuable Player award.
Howard crushed 58 home runs, the most in team history, drove in 149 runs, and batted .313. He scored 104 runs, walked 108 times and led the league with 383 total bases.
He batted .355 with 30 home runs in the second half of the season. Despite earning a reputation as a poor fielder, he saved four runs with his fielding throughout the season.
Howard even won the Home Run Derby, hitting 23 home runs over three rounds. He edged out the Mets' David Wright 5-4 in the final round, becoming the second straight Phillie to win the Derby.
He earned 20-of-32 first-place votes and won the MVP over Albert Pujols—388 points to 347.
Roy Halladay was everything the Phillies wanted him to be in 2010.
He won 21 games and posted a 2.44 ERA. He threw nine complete games and four shutouts. He pitched 250.2 innings and struck out 219 batters.
And for one night, on Saturday, May 29th, in Dolphin Stadium, he was absolutely perfect.
Halladay retired all 27 batters, without needing a single standout defensive play. The final out, a hard grounder to former Phillie third baseman Juan Castro, is a play that is now forever etched in Phillies' lore.
After spending his entire career stuck on the Blue Jays and desperately yearning for the postseason, many had a feeling that Roy Halladay's first postseason start would be something special. But nobody was prepared for what really happened.
Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS. He allowed just one baserunner, a walk to Jay Bruce in the fifth. Halladay's no-hitter was so dominant that it didn't even require any phenomenal fielding plays.
The final out, made by All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips, a little 15-foot dribbler that Carlos Ruiz fielded and threw to first from his knees.
Halladay's no-hitter was just the second no-hitter in postseason history, and the first that wasn't a perfect game.
Third baseman Pedro Feliz stepped to the plate with the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 5 of the World Series.
Feliz’s job was to hit a grounder to the right side of the infield so Eric Bruntlett could score the go-ahead run from third base.
Feliz did one better. He drove a grounder up the middle for a base hit.
Bruntlett scored easily, and two innings later, Feliz’s RBI proved to be one of the biggest in Philadelphia Phillies’ history.
Brad Lidge was one of the most dominant closers in baseball for the Houston Astros in 2004 and 2005. Then he gave up a mammoth home run to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS and seemingly lost his touch, posting a 5.28 ERA in 2006.
The Phillies took a big gamble when they traded for Brad Lidge after the 2007 season. Lidge had posted a solid 2007 season, but there was no guarantee he would regain his form.
But he did. In 2008, Brad Lidge was absolutely perfect. He won two games and lost zero. He posted a 1.95 ERA (1.10 in save situations). He struck out 92 batters in 69.2 innings. And he converted all 41 regular season saves. Lidge finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting and earned two first-place MVP votes.
In the postseason, Lidge saved all seven opportunities, tying the NL record for saves in a single postseason. And in Game 5, he struck out Rays’ pinch-hitter with the tying run on second to clinch the Phillies’ second World Championship.
There was absolutely no doubt that the Phillies were going to lose Game 2 of the NLDS against Milwaukee Brewers' pitcher CC Sabathia. Acquired in a midseason trade, Sabathia had carried the Brewers into the postseason with an 11-2 record and a 1.65 ERA in the final two-plus months.
He had been the ultimate security blanket for the Brewers since July, and was a virtual lock to even the series at one game each.
Pitching on three days rest for the fourth straight start, Sabathia allowed a run in the first and loaded the bases with two outs in the second.
Shane Victorino, the 160-pound Flyin' Hawaiian, connected on a 1-2 hanging cutter for a dramatic grand slam—the first in Phillies' postseason history.
The Phillies jumped out to a 5-1 lead and won easily to take a two games to none lead in the NLDS.
No individual game from Cole Hamels was good enough to make this list, but there’s no way his contributions during the 2008 postseason can be ignored.
In the NLDS, Hamels threw eight shutout innings in Game 1, allowing two hits and striking out nine. He then started the first game of the NLCS, pitching seven innings of two-run ball and collecting his second victory. He was even better in the decisive fifth game, allowing a single earned run over seven innings of work.
Hamels won his fourth straight start in the first game of the World Series, allowing two runs over seven innings. This start made him just the 10th pitcher to win four games in a single postseason series. He also became the first pitcher to win three Game 1’s and a clinching game of a series in one October.
In the fifth inning of the World Series, Hamels allowed two runs in six innings. He threw just 75 pitches and couldn’t pitch the seventh because the game was delayed for rain for 46 hours. Had the game continued on Monday, October 27, 2008, I believe he would have picked up the victory. Even if he had pitched the seventh and given up a run, he would have been in position to become the first pitcher to win five starts in a single postseason.
Hamels earned NLCS MVP and World Series MVP honors, becoming just the fifth pitcher to win both honors in a single postseason.
The Phillies trailed the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth. With one out, the veteran Matt Stairs worked a four-pitch walk. A hit by pitch to Carlos Ruiz put runners on first and second with one out.
After Greg Dobbs lined out to third, Jimmy Rollins delivered the biggest walkoff hit in Phillies' history, a two-run double to right center field.
Rollins' hit was the 113th walkoff in postseason history. But it was just the 10th come-from-behind walkoff. And it was just the third come-from-behind, two-out, extra base hit to win a game.
Rollins' blow gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the NLCS. The Phillies wrapped up their second consecutive pennant with a dominating win in Game 5.
In January, fiery shortstop Jimmy Rollins shocked the world by announcing that the Phillies are the team to beat in the NL East. Rollins' comment seemed particularly shocking considering the 97-win Mets of 2006, who had advanced to within a game of the World Series. The Phillies hadn't even played in the postseason since 1993, so who was Rollins to talk?
Rollins backed up his words, though, batting .296 with 30 home runs and 41 stolen bases. He set a major league record with 716 at bats. He led the league with 139 runs and 20 triples. And he became just the fourth player in baseball history to top 20 doubles, triples, home runs, and stolen bases in the same season, adding his 20th triple in the season finale.
Rollins led the Phillies right into the postseason in dramatic fashion, as the Phillies overcame a seven-game deficit in the final 17 games. For his brilliant season, Rollins was rewarded with National League Most Valuable Player honors.
Why is Rollins' prediction rated so high? Because the Phillies were a team used to being just not good enough, and Jimmy put some much needed extra pressure on his teammates by challenging them to play for a division title.
In the turn of the decade, the Phillies seemed to play just to avoid disaster, to finish third or fourth—anything but last. Then for about five or six years, the Phillies played, it seems, to turn in a winning season. But the 2007 team entered spring training with a goal in mind, and that was actually making the postseason for the first time since 1993.
I don't think the Phillies would have won the division in 2007 if Rollins hadn't made his prediction. And lacking postseason experience may have prevented them from winning the World Series in 2008.
The Phillies trailed the Mets in the division by seven games with just 17 to play. So much for Jimmy Rollins' prediction. Even some of the Phillies’ own players admitted that they were just playing for the wild card.
However a powerful 12-4 surge, coupled with just five wins in 16 games from the Mets, left the Phillies tied for the division lead on the season's final day.
Against the Washington Nationals, 44-year-old Jamie Moyer, the oldest pitcher in baseball, pitched six quality innings of one-run baseball. The Phillies took a 6-1 lead into the ninth, before letting closer Brett Myers finish off the Nationals.
Myers' strikeout of Wily Mo Pena to clinch the division guaranteed Phillies postseason baseball for the first time since 1993. Harry Kalas's call of Myers' strikeout is without a doubt my favorite call of all time.
The Phillies entered Game 5 of the 2008 World Series needing a victory to clinch their second world championship in franchise history.
Shane Victorino provided a big bases loaded, two-run single in the bottom of the first inning. The Rays added single runs in the fourth and sixth, before massive amounts of rainfall caused the game to be suspended for 46 hours. This marked the first time in postseason history a game was suspended in the middle of play.
When play resumed, pinch-hitter Geoff Jenkins led off the bottom of the sixth with a huge double, and scored on Jayson Werth's single. The Rays tied the game with a Rocco Baldelli home run off Ryan Madson in the seventh inning, but Chase Utley threw out Jason Bartlett at the plate to end the inning.
Then the Phillies answered back. In his last at bat as a Phillie, Pat Burrell smashed a double off the center field fence. Pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett scored on Pedro Feliz's one-out single.
The Phillies used a big 6-4-3 double play in the eighth to enter the ninth inning with a 4-3 lead.
But the Rays weren't finished. After Evan Longoria popped out to Chase Utley in shallow center field, Dinero Navarro singled to right field. Pinch-runner Fernando Perez stole second, but Ben Zobrist lined out to Jayson Werth in right field for the second out.
Then Brad Lidge struck out pinch-hitter Eric Hinske to erase 25 years of heartbreak in Philadelphia sports. Brad Lidge's strikeout of Eric Hinske to end the 2008 World Series is arguably the greatest moment in the history of Philadelphia sports.