After being swept out of the 2007 playoffs by the Colorado Rockies, the Philadelphia Phillies were determined to not repeat their failures in 2008. After clinching their second straight division title, the Phillies dispatched the hot Milwaukee Brewers and took out Manny Ramirez and the rejuvenated Los Angeles Dodgers. All that was left was a matchup with the Cinderella story from the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays.
For either team, the 2008 Fall Classic was going to be the perfect ending to a wonderful season. Philadelphia though was looking to capture its first world championship in any sport in a quarter century.
We continue our next "phlashback" series with a look at Game Two of the 2008 World Series, which took place in Tampa.
2008 World Series
Tampa Bay Rays (97-65) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (92-70)
Game Two: Rays win 4-2, Tie Series 1-1
Before heading to their home stadium, the Philadelphia Phillies were looking to put a firm grip on the World Series. A second win on the road would accomplish that, but it was not to be this time around. The young and feisty Tampa Bay Rays took advantage of some weak ground balls to bring home two runs in the first inning, and they held on to take Game Two of the World Series.
Brett Myers took the mound for the Phillies. Having put on a show with his bat in his first two games in the previous rounds, Myers would be all about pitching in Game Two of the World Series. After Myers walked Akinori Iwamura to start the bottom of the first inning, B.J. Upton hit a ground ball single to right field . Iwamura advanced to third base on a throwing error. Upton advanced to second to put two runners in scoring position with nobody out.
Back-to-back ground outs by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria brought home Iwamura and Upton and put the Rays on top 2-0 after the first inning. The Phillies put together a threat in the top of the second inning, but could not capitalize.
After Ryan Howard led off the second inning with a double and Pat Burrell walked, Shane Victorino popped out, failing to advance the runners. Greg Dobbs then struck out looking, failing to bring home Howard and Burrell from scoring position after each advanced a base on a wild pitch by Tampa Bay starting pitcher James Shields. Pedro Feliz lined out to end the inning.
In the next inning, the Rays continued to apply the pressure on Myers. After loading the bases with one out, Upton hit a two-out single to right field, scoring catcher Dioner Navarro; right fielder Rocco Baldelli tried to score but was out at home on a close play. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz held on to the ball and made the tag, which appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The inning ended with the Rays up 3-0.
The Rays tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth inning off of Myers, but Myers was doing a decent job of keeping the Rays in check and keeping the Phillies in the game. The Phillies just could not take advantage of lead-off runners, stranding lead-off runners in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings. Even in the sixth inning, the Phillies could not convert a pair of base hits into into any runs.
Eric Bruntlett, of all players, finally put the Phillies on the scoreboard with a two-out solo home run off of reliever David Price. The shot may not have fueled a comeback, but perhaps it sent a message that the Phillies wouldn't wither away from the Rays, despite their offensive struggles.
With three outs left to make some magic happen, the Phillies gave it a good shot. Ruiz led off with a double, but Jimmy Rollins failed to move him to third, popping up for the first out. Jayson Werth reached first base on an error, and Ruiz scored to cut the Rays' lead to two runs. With two outs to work with, the Phillies just needed to score two more times to tie things up. With Chase Utley and Howard up next, optimism was high for Philadelphia.
But Utley struck out and Howard grounded out to end the ball game, cutting short a promising rally in the final inning. Tampa Bay took Game Two by a score of 4-2, but the Phillies were still feeling confident.
They were ready to take care of business at home, starting in Game Three.
I originally recapped this game on my personal blog, before this site existed. To read it, click here.