Philadelphia Phillies: Their 10 Greatest Playoff Moments
The Philadelphia Phillies have had some crazy moments in postseason play history, and some of those moments are so indelible that many of us are just waiting to find out what the next great chapter will be.
Today, I would like to take a walk down memory lane and discuss what I feel are the 10 best moments in Phillie postseason history.
Won't you join me?
10. 1983 NLCS: Gary Matthews
The 1983 NLCS series was highlighted and lit up by the series MVP, Gary Matthews.
In Game 2, Gary Matthews helped fuel the Phillies, hitting a solo shot off the mighty Fernando Valenzuela to tie the game for Philadelphia, despite losing outright.
In Game 3, Matthews struck again, providing nothing but sheer offense, including three hits, four RBI and his second home run of the series in a 7-2 clubbing of the Dodgers.
But it was in Game 4 where Matthews slammed a three-run homer in the first, and the Phillies rode that wave to the series victory 3-1.
9. Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS
One of the most memorable Phillies postseason moments was the one that came in the 2009 NLCS Game 4 thriller.
With two outs registered, the Phillies were not only looking at losing to the Dodgers and entering a tie with them, but also a pending coast-to-coast flight if they did in fact lose.
They were also facing the best closer in the business at the time, Johnathan Broxton and his famed "smoke ball."
Broxton wound up and delivered his 98 MPH menace, but it was Jimmy Rollins' keen eye that helped his legendary two-run double lift the Phillies over the Dodgers.
8. 1993 NLCS Game 5
The Phillies had seemingly had the game in the bag, against their divisional rival Atlanta, but once the ninth inning came rolling around, trouble reared its ugly head.
The Phillies were enjoying a 3-0 lead, when the Braves began chipping away at the Phillies off a second error made by third baseman Kim Batiste.
But the Phillies held the Braves to just three runs and entered the 10th on the shoulders of good ol' Lenny Dykstra.
Dykstra catapaulted Philadelphia back into the lead when he slammed a moon-shot off of Mark Wohler's fastball center field—with a full count, mind you.
The game would go down in history as a true nail-biting experience that many Phillie' fans still remember to this day.
7. 2008 World Series Game 5
After a rain-delay, a climatic series tie, and a game that ceased then restarted in a three-plus inning showdown, the Phillies and Rays battled in commanding fashion in yet another nail biting contest.
What makes this game special is the fact that it was won on Pat Burrell's double off the high wall that drove in two runs—prior to this crucial hit, Burrell was hitless in the series.
6. Matt Stairs: 2008
Matt Stairs was known as the pinch-hit king, because he did it so well.
So when the Phillies cooped him up in 2008, everyone agreed that the Phillies had added a nice piece to the puzzle, for clutch hitting situations.
Well sir, on October 29th, 2008, Stairs was called upon to do what he did best, he stepped up to the plate and imply belted a rocket, which became the game-winning hot that afforded the Phillies their 2008 World Series title.
5. 1980 NLCS Game 5
The 1980 NLCS featured a Houston Astros team that had never been to a World Series yet, and a Phillies team that was trying to advance beyond the NLCS for the fourth time in five years.
It was these two factors—among others—that set the tone for the series and this particular game, as each player was a stone's throw away from their coveted achievement.
The game was set in a tie, before being broke open in the seventh, and with a 5-2 lead and Nolan Ryan on the mound, many Astros fans felt secure.
Not quite so.
The Phillies battled back to tie the game up at five a piece, only to see the tie broke open again and re-tied—if you can believe this—for the fourth consecutive time at seven a piece, sending the game into extra innings.
But after a 10th inning double by Del Unser, it was Garry Maddux who drove Unser in for the game winning hit, providing some closure to one of the most thrilling games in Phillies history.
4. Game 1, 1980 World Series
After an exhilarating series against the Astros, the Phillies' next opponent was the mighty Kansas City Royals.
The Phillies made an unprecedented move by giving rookie Bob Walk the nod in Game 1, which would be the first time a rookie pitcher started a World Series since Brooklyn Dodgers' pitcher Joe Black in 1952.
The Royals got to the rookie early, but the Phillies rallied with a five-run third inning to set the tone for their Game 1 win.
3. Tug McGraw Shuts Down the Royals
One of the key marks on the 1980 World Series was the final contest between the Phillies and Royals, which all started with Mike Schmidt's single in the third that scored two.
But what really sealed this deal was the fact that despite a 4-1 lead in the eighth, the Royals just wouldn't go away and loaded the bases (also again doing so in the ninth, sending Willie Wilson to the plate), ultimately threatening to usurp the lead—and World Series win—away from Philadelphia.
But it was Tug McGraw who faced Willie Wilson, and it was McGraw who struck him out in a thrilling manner, providing the Phillies their first World Series win ever.
They were also the last of the original 16 to win a World Series.
2. Roy Halladay's No-No
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Don Larson can eat his heart out on this one!
Roy Halladay had already seemingly did it all before coming to Philadelphia—except play in a postseason game.
Halladay's response to his first postseason outing wasn't a bundle of nerves, or an expected jittery start; instead, the man went ahead and threw a no hitter against a formidable hitting team in the Cincinnati Reds.
The "New Red Machine"—as they were being called—had not one answer to Halladay's pristine outing, and it would go down in history as one of the most memorable moments in Phillies playoff history.
1. Brad Lidge Downs the Rays
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
I could probably go into a 2,500 word explanation as to the setting leading up to this pitch out of memory alone.
I sat there with my—at the time—nine-year-old son, as I had sat at age nine with my grandfather watching that Tug McGraw pitch in the 1980 World Series.
I remember the anticipation, the unrelenting nervousness that filled the air, and I remember the wind up.
What happened next has become the most indelible mark of Phillies' postseason history, and one of the most indelible marks on my own life.
Sometimes, what happens in sports becomes just as special as the events that personally surround it.
I hope you guys enjoyed, and go Phils!