After being swept out of the 2007 playoffs by the Colorado Rockies, the Phillies were determined to not repeat their failures in 2008. After clinching their second straight division title the Phillies dispatched of the hot Milwaukee Brewers and took out Manny Ramirez and the rejuvenated Los Angeles Dodgers. All that was left was a match-up 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 their first world championship in any sport in a quarter century.
We continue our next phlashback series with a look at game four of the 2008 World Series, which took place in Philadelphia.
2008 World Series
Tampa Bay Rays (97-65) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (92-70)
Game Four: Phillies win 10-2, Lead Series 3-1
After the Phillies pulled out a nail biter in game three to take a two-to-one series lead against the Tampa Bay Rays, the offense made sure that game four would hardly be in doubt. The Phillies sent their unsung hero, a mid-season acquisition, Joe Blanton to face the Rays batters. Blanton had pitched well in his first two post-season appearances, setting the Phillies up for an NLDS clincher and helping the Phillies build a 3-1 in the NLCS. Blanton sure did help the Phillies grab a commanding 3-1 lead on this night.
Blanton retired the first three batters for the Rays on 13 pitches. Jimmy Rollins and the rest of the offense got in gear and put the home team on the scoreboard first.
Rollins hit a lead off double to right field and moved to third base on a sac fly by Jason Werth. Chase Utley walked, setting up a controversial play for Ryan Howard. Howard grounded to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria who applied a tag on Rollins as he tried to not get caught in a run down. Howard was safe and Utley moved to second, and despite replays clearly showing that Longoria had made the tag for an out, Rollins was called safe, loading the bases for Pat Burrell. After a protest from manager Rays Joe Maddon failed to overturn the call, Burrell took ball four on a 3-1 count. Rollins came home and the Phillies were up 1-0 on a disputed run.
The Phillies took the 1-0 lead into the third inning, where they would extend the lead to 2-0. A single by Pedro Feliz scored Utley, who was safe on an error to lead off the inning. A Carl Crawford home run put the Rays on the board in the fourth inning, and cut the lead to 2-1. In the bottom of the fourth inning though, the Phillies took a firm hold on the game.
Rollins lead the bottom of the fourth inning off by reaching first base on an error. Werth walked to follow up Rollins and Utley struck out swinging. Howard stepped to the plate looking for a good pitch, and he nailed one. On a 2-1 pitch from Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine, Howard gave the Phillies a 5-1 lead with a three run home run to the opposite field.
Eric Hinske hit a two-out solo home run in the fifth inning off of Blanton to cut the lead for the Phillies to 5-2.
In the bottom of the fifth inning though, after Feliz and Carlos Ruiz recorded two quick outs Blanton came to the plate. Never known as an offensive threat, who would have though that Blanton would hit his first career home run in the majors? Probably nobody. But he did.
Blanton became the first pitcher since Ken Holtzman, of the Oakland A's in 1974, to hit a home run in the World Series. Blanton's majestic shot gave the Phillies a 6-2 lead and may have deflated the Rays to the point where a comeback was impossible.
The Phillies had struck the Rays but to their credit Tampa Bay had come back every time. After Blanton's shot though there was little fight from Tampa Bay for the remainder of the game.
The Phillies offense put four more runs on the scoreboard in the eighth inning with a pair of two run home runs from Werth and Howard. For Howard it was his second home run of the game, and third of the series.
The game had turned into a laugher and Phillies fans were fantasizing about a championship, which we all thought would come a day later. The Phillies won the game 10-2 and took a 3-1 lead in the series. While the emotions of the Phillies and their fans could not be hindered, the playing surface at Citizens Bank Park could.
Click here for my original game recap.