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2008 Phandom 25

The 2008 Phandom 25: From The Depths

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, January 13, 2009 09:59 PM Comments: 13

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

11. Back from the dead
Date: July 26, 2008

I wrote this in the game recap:

To be clear, it seemed like the meltdown game. It seemed like the game where the words “sell” and “dead” would immediately fly in conversation. But just as quickly as the Phils melted, they came from the dead and gave hope to everyone. Yet again. This game showed there’s reason to believe in this club in 2008. There’s no reason to give up, think about selling or predict death. These boys will be in it all the way home.

Talk about hyperbole — the Phillies were merely a game back of the Marlins at the time (the Marlins, remember, were in first place). But on this July afternoon, the Phillies finally began to step out from a summer-long offensive slump, thanks to a few key hits as part of an enormous comeback. From here out, it got really fun.

Of course, it didn’t start that way. Despite getting a 3-0 lead early (thanks to a Chris Coste two-run single and Chase Utley sacrifice fly), Cole Hamels stumbled, then completely flew off the cliff. After loading the bases, Hamels faced a game Omar Infante, who doubled to score two. Jeff Franceour recorded the first out with a fly ball, but also tied the game.  A surefire second out by Martin Prado became a Chase Utley error. And Mark Kotsay made the Phils pay with a single to take the lead. The wheels were falling off.

Then they flew off the axels. Pitcher Mike Hampton grounded one to Hamels, and while he had time to secure a double play, his throw to second went into left-center field, bringing home a run. Obviously shaken, Hamels let up a great bunt single by Gregor Blanco, before facing Mark Texieira. His bomb was still flying in South Philly, last time I checked. It capped off a nine-run Braves inning, deflating Hamels, the fans, and — in our eyes — the team’s chances at the postseason.

But the team wasn’t shaken.

In the fifth, the Phils got to Hampton with three consecutive singles. That brought in lefty Royce Ring to face Ryan Howard, who laced one through the shift, bringing home two. With Blaine Boyer at the hill, a Pat Burrell sacrifice fly made it a manageable 9-6. Jayson Werth kept it alive with a single, and Chris Coste brough home Howard to make it 9-7. There was life.

In my game recap, I relayed my story of following the game off and on during a four-hour drive. I tuned it for Coste’s single, and became excited that the game was reloaded. And with two on base and two outs, and three runs needed for a lead, and the pitcher’s spot coming up, it was obvious to everyone that Greg Dobbs would enter the game.

A few pitches later, as I listened somewhat reserved, Harry Kalas made the call:

“Long drive!”

It was Dobbs’ 20th pinch hit, breaking a single-season franchise record. It capped a seven-run inning that reclaimed the game for the Phils, a game they’d hold with all their might, thanks to the stellar bullpen. Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin and JC Romero walked tight ropes, but handed the one-run lead to Brad Lidge, securing the victory a day after Lidge had his worst outing as a Phillie (five runs without recording an out).

It was the kind of win the 2007 team would’ve pocketed — the 2008 Phillies just didn’t win that way. But when they needed a huge game, they picked it up. Coste was an unsung hero, but it was Dobbs who supplied the lumber. His shot renewed promise in the 2008 Phillies. It fueled the boys to bash Braves pitching the next day, then sweep the Nationals to get the final stretch started. And it fueled fans to go all in on the Phils for the stretch — a bet from which we’re still not completely cured.

The video: Dobbs brings us back

From the comments:

scot: and to think people thought i was crazy when i said just 5-6 days ago that cole hamels doesn’t win big games.

Phil: Looks like we’re finishing in 4th this year.

Scram: WOOO DOBBS!!! Thank god… this blog was starting to sound like WIP during the afternoon drive home…

Jamie: Phils win! Nice comeback – hopefully it’s what ignites this team

  • 13 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: Pat The Beast

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, January 13, 2009 12:23 AM Comments: 3

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

12. The Bat
Date: October 5, 2008

All Pat Burrell needed to do was size them up, and the Phillies were winning their first postseason series since the 1993 National League Championship Series.

The Phillies had Joe Blanton, while the Brewers had Jeff Suppan. The Phillies also had a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series, on the brink of their first playoff series win in years and a date with the Dodgers. The game didn’t necessarily seem in hand, but most fans had a feeling the Phils could win the series then. And they did. Thanks to The Bat.

Of course, Jimmy Rollins got the Phils off to the nice start, swatting a leadoff home run for a 1-0 lead. Blanton, meanwhile, pitched a very solid first few innings, keeping the Brewers from causing any trouble while locating his way through quick innings. With the score still 1-0 in the third, it was time for the good guys to break out.

With two outs and Shane Victorino sitting on third, Milwaukee interim manager Dale Sveum decided to intentionally walk Ryan Howard. Why? Burrell was hitless so far in the series, so Sveum thought he would be able to preserve the one-run disadvantage. Instead, he woke up the sleeping giant. With a 2-2 count, Suppan wanted to go high, but stayed middle-in, and Burrell buried it deep into the left field caverns. Jayson Werth would follow with a blast of his own, and suddenly the Phils were ahead 5-0. They wouldn’t look back.

There wouldn’t be scoring again until the seventh, when Prince Fielder blasted one off Blanton to make the score 5-1. But there wasn’t much reason to worry — not with the Phillies stellar bullpen finishing the job. And as we’d soon see, not when Burrell was coming back to the dish.

In the eighth, he surfaced with nobody on base and Guillermo Mota pitching — the first batter he faced. Burrell welcomed him with a titanic shot into left-center field. That was it. Pack ‘em up. The Phils had a 6-1 lead, and could count the outs until a berth to the NLCS.

Burrell would account for the difference in game four, a 6-2 win. Clearly, he had to steal one of the shows.

The video: A three-run monster to take a commanding lead

From the comments:

Greg B: YYYYYYYESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! HOLY DIVER!

NEPA: Pat the Bat, looks like he regained his stroke.

christopher: great game, great series, great team!! BRING ON THE DODGERS!!

  • 3 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: The Gift Win

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, January 12, 2009 01:24 AM Comments: 7

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

13. The little pop-up that could
Date: June 6, 2008

You’ve watched a game where your team needs one miracle to stay alive or win, and when the miracle doesn’t come, you hope maybe there was an error. Maybe they have to redo the play? Maybe there was a gaffe? Something? The game couldn’t be over, could it?

On June 6, it wasn’t over.

Chris Coste approached the bench with runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth inning of a 2-1 Braves lead at Turner Field. He popped up Blaine Boyer’s first offering near the first base line, and Kelly Johnson shifted back to make the easy final out. He seemed to have it aligned, and the ball fell in his glove. Then it fell out. As Johnson scrambled to recoup the ball, Eric Bruntlett came across the plate to tie the game. Though Pedro Feliz was thrown out at the plate afterward, the damage was done, the tables were turned, the game was still somehow alive.

That game looked like a lot of Phillies games between June and August. Great pitching — Jamie Moyer and the Phillies bullpen surrendered just two runs — but no offense to back it up — only a Chase Utley groundout made damage, and that was way back in the first.

But in the ninth, the Phils responded off a pretty poor back end of the Atlanta bullpen. With two outs, Geoff Jenkins walked to keep hope alive. Bruntlett pinch ran for Jenkins and stole second; Pedro Feliz walked, and up stepped Coste. And the pop-up that could really did.

Tom Gordon pitched the bottom of the ninth, and though he let up a double, he saw his way out of the pinhole with a strikeout of Mark Teixiera and pop-out of Jeff Franceour.

The Phils finally cut the glass in the 10th. Chris Snelling recorded his second-biggest hit as a Phillie, a double to deep center field. So Taguchi ran for Snelling, and Shane Victorino muted the substitution with a triple to right field. The Phils grabbed the lead. Utley added insurance with an easy double into the right field corner. With a two-run lead, Brad Lidge was entering and getting a great chance to secure the game for the Phillies.

It almost didn’t happen. Getting one out, Lidge unraveled and surrendered a pure single, then a bunt single by Gregor Blanco. After striking out Greg Norton, Lidge faced a second and third with two outs. At bat was Yunel Escobar, and for the first time, someone beat Lidge.

He singled up the middle, scoring one. Blanco trucked it for home, and Victorino met the ball and ripped off a laser throw to the plate. Chris Coste caught the ball, turned to his other side and swiped Blanco’s leg mere milliseconds before it could touch the plate. Final out recorded. Game over. The Phils ran out of Atlanta with a gift victory.

A miracle, for sure.

The video: Kelly Johnson can’t catch the ball

From the comments:

NEPA: HOLY SHIT! I was in the middle of congratulating Coste on the Jeltz award. Please let us come back and win this.

Matt: absolutely spectacular. Shane Victorino won this game single handedly

Phil: hahaha I agree give Kelly Johnson the Asburn Award.

  • 7 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: Werth x3

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, January 10, 2009 08:26 PM Comments: 15

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

14. Werth’s big bombs
Date: May 16, 2008

Jayson Werth was acquired in December 2006 — a minor move by all means. He was a player with a history of multiple injuries, having untapped potential somewhere in his athletic frame. The Phillies saw that potential — just as the Dodgers did when they took him — and hoped he could contribute in 2007.

He did. As the fourth outfielder, Werth was perfect. He hit eight homers and carried a respectable .298 average. But when Aaron Rowand departed for San Francisco, and Geoff Jenkins struggled early in 2008, the weight on Werth’s shoulders grew heavier. He had to take on the role of everyday starter — May 16, 2008 showed he could do that in spades.

It was a rain evening in Philadelphia, and the Phils were set to play odd rival Toronto. Werth went to work quickly, with his first at bat, in the second inning. The first home run, off David Purcey, was a strong-man’s blast. It fell into right field, clearing the fence off an outside fastball that Werth dug to hit. The three-run shot put the Phillies ahead 3-0.

One inning later, the Phils started pounding Purcey out of the game. Jimmy Rollins laid down a supreme bunt to start the inning. While Shane Victorino lost a rundown after a walk, Chase Utley responded with a single. Ryan Howard singled to score Rollins. Pat Burrell walked to load the bases, bringing Werth to the plate. And he delivered.

It was a no-doubt blast, landing a few rows back and bringing the fans to an uproar. Werth came out for a curtain call after the grand slam, putting a nice period on his seven-RBI evening.

But it wasn’t finished.

Werth faced Jesse Litsch with nobody on in the fifth. He saw an inside changeup and jumped on it, sending the ball deep into left field. This was a traditional power hitter’s homer, the kind that Werth hit with ease in 2008. The solo shot gave Werth eight RBI, tying the franchise record. What a show.

And he got a chance to make history, joining Mike Schmidt, Chuck Klein and Ed Delahanty in franchise lore. Brian Tallet had the occupation of facing Werth in the seventh, and he pitched it like it was game seven of the World Series. Firing off sure balls and off-plate strikes, he had Werth guessing and the fans booing crazily. Finally, Werth connected with a sore pitch, and popped it lightly to first base in foul ground. Despite the fans’ best effort of jeering the ball away, it was caught, and Werth was retired. He wouldn’t get another chance.

Still, an amazing feat, and one that illustrated Werth’s breakout 2008 season. He finished with 24 home runs, 67 runs batted in and a .273 average, filling the void that appeared when Rowand left.

  • 15 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: Beat The Mets

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, January 09, 2009 09:56 PM Comments: 6

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

14. So beautiful!
Date: July 22, 2008

It seems every time the Phillies play the Mets, they show up for 27 outs. And July 22, 2008 was no different.

The Mets threw Johan Santana out there against the Phils, and the ace delivered, as usual. He went eight innings, baffling the Phils for much of the night through two runs and eight hits. One came early — three consecutive singles brought a run home in the first. The second came late — Shane Victorino homered. But at that point it was 5-2. Tough to come back from that off Santana. Meanwhile, Joe Blanton made his first start for the Phillies, but struggled enough to be down so much.

Facing the top of the Phils lineup in the eighth, Santana had his way, surrendering only a double to Pat Burrell. With the three-run lead going into the ninth, Mets manager Jerry Manuel turned to his bullpen. Bad, bad move.

Duaner Sanchez was first in. Jayson Werth was first up. Single. Then pinch hitter Greg Dobbs. Single. Then Victorino. Single. Now it was interesting — bases loaded, no outs. Joe Smith was coming in.

That brought up Carlos Ruiz. He chopped one to Jose Reyes, who awkwardly decided to step on second to attempt a double play. But Reyes’ hesitation cost him, as Victorino slid in on time, kipped up, clapped and howled. Werth came across. 5-3.

Next was So Taguchi. And boy, did So come through, ripping a ball over Endy Chavez’s head to plate two and tie the game. As the ball got in to the diamond, Victorino stood valiantly at home, a conqueror and personification of his team’s fighting spirit.

In came Pedro Feliciano. And next was Jimmy Rollins. Smash down the left field line for a double, scoring two. The Phils led it 7-5. Confident? You bet they were.

Chase Utley followed with a groundout, and Burrell was walked to set up the double play. But Ryan Howard kept it going. He grounded one right to Feliciano, but the reliever bobbled the ball, canceling the double play and only getting one out. After Werth walked, Dobbs popped out. The damage was done — 8-5 Phillies. A complete turnaround in a matter of 15 minutes.

Brad Lidge entered for the save, and though he let in a run, he shut down the Mets with a couple groundouts. The Phils won, 8-6, one of their best comebacks of the season, and yet another rub in the face of the New York Mets.

The video: The Phils come back with six in the ninth

From the comments:

RiVLeZ: WOW Thank you Sanchez!

Gnomicide: Is Taguchi really the answer in this situation?

JoseJoseJoseJose!: this is fucking september all over again. i’m going to vomit

danny: They just showed Santana on the bench taking shots of Jack Daniels

fred: Just listen to that booing. That’s sweet music ! Goodnight gentlemen, see you tommorow :)

  • 6 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: What A Ninth!

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, January 08, 2009 10:31 PM Comments: 14

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

15. Houston, we have a comeback!
Date: April 15, 2008

Early season victories are normally overlooked in the scope of a season. Especially in the scope of a championship season. When the most recent victories came in the heat of battle, in a crucial do-or-die setting, fans won’t quite remember the rigors of April and May, those months when teams are still stepping lightly, testing rosters, configuring lineups. But sometimes, the early victories tell even more than the very last ones.

Take April 15, at home, against the Houston Astros, for instance. For eight innings, the game was purely lost for the Phillies. It was actually one of Adam Eaton’s better starts, but he was hit early. Miguel Tejada capped off a two-out rally with a run-scoring single to make it 1-0 Astros. Meanwhile, the bats were cold against Houston starter Shawn Chacon, poking only four hits off the converted reliever. It seemed ridiculous, but that’s baseball.

A 1-0 deficit turned into a 3-0 deficit with another turn through the heart of the Houston order. Geoff Blum singled home Lance Berkman, and Hunter Pence brought Carlos Lee home with a sacrifice fly. Meanwhile, Chacon continued to dazzle, baffling Phillie hitters into every kind of out possible. The game seemed all but finished. It was painfully obvious the Phils would drop a game to Shawn Chacon. Ridiculous.

The Astros turned to closer Jose Valverde to protect a 3-0 lead, with Chacon having thrown 109 pitches. And Valverde had the 2-3-4 hitters to face. But they had slumped all night, so it couldn’t be that difficult, right?

Pinch hitting for Carlos Ruiz (Yes, Ruiz hit second behind Jayson Werth) was Chris Snelling. The scarcely used outfielder found his way on the roster when Shane Victorino fell to injury, and made the absolute most of his time in Philadelphia. Valverde’s first pitch was a fastball inside. Snelling unloaded. The ball sailed into the right field seats, with Harry Kalas almost baffled by the whole moment: “Long drive!? Did he do it? It’s outta here!” He seriously couldn’t believe it — in his first pitch of the second at bat of his season, Snelling gave the Phils a slight of hope. 3-1.

Then the setup. Chase Utley — the gamer he is — fell victim to a Valverde pitch, taking first on the bruise. Was Valverde rattled? Nobody knew, but it brought Ryan Howard to the dish. However, the climax didn’t come — Howard struck out and Valverde resolidified his position.

That brought Pat Burrell up to the plate. He saw one strike, then Valverde delivered a fastball over the heart of the plate. Burrell jumped on it.

“Long drive! Could it be? Could it be?! Outta here!!!”

Now tied, the game was all Phillies. The momentum was all Phillies. It seemed completely evitable that now the Phillies were going to take it. And somehow, Valverde was still on the mound. So while Geoff Jenkins, mighty as he may be, took a bad hack, a passed ball put him on first. The winning run, ready to run 270 feet.

And that he would. Pedro Feliz was next, and with a 1-0 count, ripped the ball down the left field line.

“Here comes Jenkins … being waved around … the throw to the plate … he’s safe at home plate! Phillies win four to three with a four-run ninth inning!”

Jenkins was mauled at the plate, a gift for barreling 270 feet around the diamond and sliding a couple milliseconds earlier than the glove’s reach. The crowd, erupting, was rewarded for their dedication, staying even through the fact that Chris Snelling would be relied upon. Yes, improbable as hell, the Phils won it.

The 2007 Phillies made a living off these wins. The 2008 team had a couple — they were all amazing; but there was just a couple, because they found the formula for victory so easily. Still, these comeback wins are the wins that mean a lot early on. They’re the ones that set tones, that establish characters, that get a fan really pumped.

The video: Geoff Jenkins makes like the roadrunner

From the comments:

Mike T: I’m done watching this game – we look terrible.

Mike W: what a sick sick sick game. i stuck through it!

  • 14 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: Vote For Pedro

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, January 07, 2009 10:49 PM Comments: 10

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

16. Oh happy day!
Date: Aug. 24, 2008

Picking up steam back at home, the Phillies met the Dodgers for a crucial four-game series. In Los Angeles, the Dodgers had swept the Phils, so the good guys were searching for revenge. With a 2-0 lead in the series, game three would be won solely by one man: Pete Happy.

“Sunday Night Baseball” was in town again, and they got a treat between the two future combatants in the National League Championship Series. Scoring came at a premium early, with Joe Blanton’s moxie helping him only surrender one run in the first inning, despite a bases-loaded threat. Meanwhile, the Phils were being shut down by Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who had the Phils’ number throughout 2008. But in the sixth, with a Carlos Ruiz on second, Chase Utley broke through, poking a single into the outfield to score Ruiz.

Blanton wouldn’t get to the seventh, however, turning the game to the usually reliable Phils bullpen. This time, however, they weren’t so reliable.

JC Romero started and gave up a tough infield single to the speedy Juan Pierre, but he was caught stealing right away, erasing him from the sheet. A strikeout to Matt Kemp brought the seventh to a quick two outs. But Romero walked Andre Either, sending Charlie Manuel in to bring in right-handed Ryan Madson as part of a double switch. The other player brought in? Feliz.

So it did work.

But not right away, as Jeff Kent singled after seeing a wild pitch, allowing Ethier to score from second. With a 2-1 lead, Chan Ho Park and Hong-Chih Kuo took the Phils down in the seventh and eighth, making the game a very short three outs.

In that ninth, Shane Victorino — complete with Victobeard — led off with a single off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton. Eric Bruntlett was selected to pinch hit for the pitcher’s spot, and Bruntlett sacrificed the speedy center fielder to second. Jayson Werth stepped up with the game on the line, but the usually sure-batting Werth struck out swinging. That brought up another pinch hitter spot, and all that was left was Andy Tracy.

Tracy had four plate appearances all season, and this was unquestionably his biggest. Somehow, someway, he worked a walk. Now, it was up to Feliz, and he delivered, striking a ball into right centerfield, scoring Victorino and tying the game.

The 10th was as nailbiting as the ninth, with Chad Durbin surrendering two singles and a walk before you could scream for mercy. When it looked as if the game was clearly over, up stepped Casey Blake, and somehow, someway, Durbin unfurled a pitch that was smacked right to … of course … Feliz.

Step on third. Out. Throw home. Out. Double play. Breathe out.

Russell Martin flew out to end the inning, allowing the Phils to get an easy crack at a one-run win. The big boys couldn’t deliver, however, especially when Ryan Howard was caught straying off first base. So back to Durbin, who again gave up a leadoff single, but settled in and recorded three consecutive outs.

That brought the bottom of the 11th. As he had done all second half, Victorino led the charge with a big smack — a base hit to Manny Ramirez. But Ramirez played it so lazily that Vic busted for second, and … he beat it. The hustle gave the Phils all the momentum. Chris Coste walked, but Jayson Werth grounded out. That brought up pinch hitter Cole Hamels. Hero? No. Pop out.

So it was up to, again, Feliz. And there would be no disappointment:

“That ball is hammered! Deep left-center field! And … adios!”

Feliz’s walkoff came on the first pitch by Joe Beimel. No need to delay the inevitable.

Feliz’s line read like this: 5 Inn., 2-for-3, HR, 4 RBI. He was the main catalyst of the three biggest plays of the game, with both offense and defense playing a tremendous part. Moreover, he was the reason the Phils were able to find themselves a game from a four-game sweep, a game they’d easily win.

Somehow, someway, it was a happy day in Philadelphia.

The video: Feliz hits the game-winning home run

From the comments:

Tyler: .111 AVG, 9 AB, 3 K’s against Broxton in Feliz’s career.

danny: Casey Blake may have a strong chin, but DOUBLE PLAY BABY!

Manny: Pedro Feliz…can he do it again?? Ehhh I’ll keep my mouth shut

Jamie: Okay, back to Pedro. A Feliz walk-off would be not quite the same “titties,” but since they’re titties, they’re still pretty sweet.

that guy: Feliz just shoved a three foot piece of maple up tyler’s ass. Sideways.

  • 10 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: Being Brett

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, January 06, 2009 10:04 PM Comments: 4

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

17. The Re-Education of Brett Myers
Date: Aug. 20, 2008

The Brett Myers Show: It could be a reality TV show. A pretty damn successful one, at that. With his outspoken moments, his intriguing hobbies and love of guns, his fatherhood, his less-than-reputable husbandry and his ongoing battles with remaining a prominent major league pitcher, “The Brett Myers Show” would really have a following. And its 2008 season would’ve been its best yet.

It started with another Opening Day outing, another loss thanks to the bullpen. He’d find a groove against Houston, but turn completely bad from there — a slew of horrible starts mixed in with a couple choice outings (like his near no-hitter against Cincinnati). By mid June his train had run out of gas, and a wretched two-inning performance in Arlington, Tex., sealed his fate. Mr. Myers was leaving Philadelphia and heading to the Lehigh Valley, a castaway, a minor leaguer.

An incredible thing, really, that Myers had to become a minor leaguer. His career opened with a fantastic — hell, masterful start against the Cubs while facing fellow rookie fastballer Mark Prior. He’d been the consistent arm for the Phillies since 2002, the one constant in an ever-changing motley crue of has-beens and never wases. And suddenly, the man who had proven to be a solid but unspectacular starting pitcher was now a member of a triple-A ballclub. And the words of one William Joel rang pretty clear:

“And we’re waiting here in Allentown, for the Pennsylvania we never found. For the promises our futures gave if we were wise, if we behaved.”

Myers did anything but behave, and most times, was anything but wise. But he finished his stint in the minors and joined the Phillies on July 23, facing the Mets at Shea Stadium. He was wild, he was uncertain, and he finished with a five-inning line. Something to build on. His next start came in Nationals Park, where he ripped off a seven-inning, no-earned-run performance. Next up, Busch Stadium, and a six-inning, two-run job. Citizens Bank, for a welcome home against the Pirates: 7.2 innings, one run, five hits, and even some jawing when Charlie Manuel pulled him from the game.

Was Brett really back?

Dodger Stadium. Seven innings. Three runs. Eight strikeouts. Not bad. But his next start would tell the story.

The Nationals came into Citizens Bank Park, and the Phillies were reeling: Jimmy Rollins’ “frontrunner” comments had split the fanbase from the team, and while the team won on “Campaign Cheer” night, there was still much work to be done. Chase Utley was sliding. Ryan Howard was non-existent. Pat Burrell was out to pasture. Shane Victorino was burning up, but the Phillies needed more to prove their worth to the fans. They needed a leader, a veteran leader — a guy who knew the city, played like the city worked, held their emotions in the palm of his hand. They needed Brett.

Myers assumed his spot on the mound, fired his first pitch and never looked back.

Early it was his fastball, as he established it across the strike zone, then backed it up with a sweet changeup that dropped at the last possible moment. He gave up a few shots because of suspect defense, but wiggled out of the threats and settled in by the fourth inning, racking up strikeouts while barely giving the Nats a few singles. He did this by bringing the hook — clearly his best pitch, the curve came in high, dropped low, looked breathtaking.

And the help came, too. With a 1-0 lead, Greg Dobbs lashed a two-run home run in the fifth, and later, Jayson Werth added a bloop double in right field. The Phils had a 4-0 lead thanks to its unsung heroes, and Myers had everything he needed to finish the deed.

Ryan Zimmerman led off the eighth with a single, bringing up the ever-dangerous Lastings Milledge. He smoked one toward Rollins’ left, and the Gold Glove shortstop made another beautiful play: a diving stab and toss to Utley. Chase turned it with one-hand, quickly, and secured the gorgeous double play. Myers rewarded that work by striking out Rafael Belliard to end the eighth.

The ninth was a certainty. After getting Jesus Flores to ground out, Myers uncorked a curve to sit down Austin Kearns. A single by Anderson Hernandez led Myers to Aaron Boone. With a 2-2 count, Myers tossed a fastball to the outside part of the plate, catching Boone swinging through it and ending the game, a masterpiece 4-0 win.

Myers followed that performance by shutting out the Dodgers in seven innings, then keeping the Cubs at bay for seven more. After that, he shut out the Mets in eight before slipping a bit to close the season. But it was official: Brett Myers was back, and he could claim victory at any time, against any team.

His postseason featured three starts, one very good (against Milwaukee), one with some hiccups (against Los Angeles) and one square in the middle (against Tampa Bay). And of course, his bat probably did more damage in the playoffs than his arm — nothing to deter from his pitching, but his hitting was that damn good. But on a nice August night in Philly, Myers had reclaimed himself. He had brought “The Brett Myers Show” to a fitting, happy climax.

The video: Myers is masterful against Washington

From the comments:

TJ: Brett Myers has been just straight nasty after his “fun” little trip. He has been freezing guys all night, I’m loving it.

NC Jason: WHAT A GAME BY MYERS! I give him so much credit for going down to AAA and getting his stuff right.

ryan: brett has been pitching great since his recall. if he continues to pitch this well, i would equate this to the brewers picking up sabbathia (maybe not quite as good but you get the point) or the cubs getting harden.

  • 4 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: The Night It All Began

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, January 05, 2009 11:06 PM Comments: 3

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

18. Twisting and turning with the Snakes
Date: July 11, 2008

On a warm summer evening in Philadelphia, the Phillies started their 2008 postseason run. Yes, it started this night, just before the All-Star break, against one of baseball’s better teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks. It came after the doldrums of Interleague Play, during a Ryan Howard hot streak, and just as the team was starting to shape its playoff look. It was the game Shane Victorino started his ascention to stardom, and the game that defined how the Phils would run course until hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy in October.

And, more importantly, it was a great game.

Howard put the Phillies ahead early with a solo home run in the second inning, and for a while, Kyle Kendrick kept the Diamondbacks at bay with the help of some solid defense from Chase Utley and Howard. But in the sixth, Chad Tracy delivered the tying hit to start the ballgame over with three frames to play.

That’s when the real fun began.

Pedro Feliz walked and Shane Victorino doubled with two out in the sixth, bringing up Carlos Ruiz. But he didn’t have to do anything — starter Doug Davis uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Feliz for the lead. After walking Ruiz intentionally to bring up Kyle Kendrick, Charlie Manuel attempted some trickery. Ruiz booked for second, and Arizona catcher Miguel Montero fired to throw him out; at the same time, Victorino left for home. Ruiz, meanwhile, slowed up and backed for first base, allowing Victorino to score before the out could be recorded and handing the Phils a huge 3-1 lead.

But the D-Backs came right back off Kendrick. Emillio Bonifacio smashed a hit down the left field line, scoring two, thanks in part to Pedro Feliz cutting off Pat Burrell’s attempt at throwing out a runner at home. Kendrick’s night was over, and RJ Swindle came in to battle Stephen Drew. But Drew beat Swindle with a single, handing Arizona the lead, 4-3.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Phils put men at the corners with one out, thanks to singles by Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth. So when Chase Utley hit a blister up the middle, it seemed like a game-tying knock. Instead, Orlando Hudson swallowed it and flipped it, and Drew turned the double play to end the threat.

The eighth brought in Chad Durbin, and with two outs and a man on first, Alex Romero smashed a fly to center. But Victorino leaped at the wall and robbed Romero of a home run; of course, he did drop the ball, allowing the scored run to count. However, Vic was quick on his feet and fired the ball back in, getting the relay and throwing out Romero, trying to stretch his hit into a triple.

But that wasn’t all for Vic. Yes, a new clutch player was emerging in Philadelphia, one who’d run with a hot second half and turn it into a postseason for the ages. He strode to the plate with two on and one out in the eighth (this time Howard walked and Pat Burrell singled), and sliced a ball down the right field line. Both runners scored, and the hitter, Victorino, ended at third. The game-tying triple started Vic on his path to Phillie legend. To wit, before the game, Vic’s average stood at .268, practically its lowest all season. After this night, he wouldn’t dip below .275 again, and would finish with a team-best .293 mark.

Sadly, the Phils couldn’t further capitalize, turning the game into a battle of bullpens. First Brad Lidge defused the D-Backs in the ninth. Then Leo Rosales — despite the best efforts of a hustling Utley — stopped the Phils. Then Clay Condrey shrugged off a Tracy double to end the 10th. Then Rosales again walked a tightrope against Victorino, but slithered out. Then JC Romero took the D-Backs down in the 11th. Then Connor Robertson took care of the Phils. Then Rudy Seanez brushed off Arizona in the 12th.

Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, Roberston lined up against So Taguchi. And the downtrodden Taguchi got his licks, singling to start the Phils half. Chris Coste moved him over. Jimmy Rollins received a free pass, bringing up Jayson Werth. And Werth finally ended the drama:

“Base hit, right field! Taguchi rounds third. The throw will not be in time! Phillies win!”

It ended a crazy game of highs and lows, comebacks and blowups. Watching at the Grey Lodge in Northeast Philly, I groaned, then yelped, then groaned, then yelped with each new sip of beer. It felt as if days passed between the eighth and 12th.

But these were the kinds of wins the Phillies needed if they wanted to be ready for the postseason. These were the wins that allowed Victorino and Matt Stairs to pull through against Los Angeles, and “Chooch” to nub one down the line against Tampa Bay. This night was really where all the fun started.

The video: Werth singles home the winner

From the comments:

Geoff: only shane victorino drops that one. garbage

Thom: no comment this game sucks tonight

TJ: Thank you Shane.

Dave: Okay… Bottom 12. Time to win this fucking game.

  • 3 Comments
 

The 2008 Phandom 25: Mixing It Up Near The Mississippi

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, January 05, 2009 12:48 AM Comments: 3

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

19. Playoff baseball!
Date: August 3, 2008

During a regular season, playoff teams play games that, naturally, feel like playoff games. Two teams take sides, exercise clutch hitting, superb defense, gutsy putching, even solid managerial skills. It happens very rarely — there are about a dozen or so of these games each season in the entire league. The Phils happened to play two of these games. One we’ll get to later. But this one, now.

ESPN was in Saint Louis for its Sunday Night Baseball telecast, as the Phils readied against the Cardinals under the Gateway Arch. Brett Myers was set for his biggest test since returning from the minor leagues. The Cards boasted a fine offense, and Myers was coming off a solid start against Washington. Previously in the series, the Cards bashed Cole Hamels, but Joe Blanton tied the set with a solid game-two performance. Game three had all the potential to be a great game.

The Cardinals skated to an early lead off Myers, as Troy Glaus singled home Ryan Ludwick, on a tear at the time. Need proof? He homered in the fourth, making it 2-0 Cards. Other than those hiccups, Myers pitched well, throwing 46 of his 64 pitches for strikes in a six-inning, no-walk performance. He’d need some help, however.

And he got it, thanks to the team’s best player. Chase Utley knocked his 28th home run off St. Louis starter Todd Wellemyer (remember him?) in the sixth inning. But the Cards would keep the Phils at bay.

That’s when it got hot. Between the seventh and ninth innings, Tony LaRussa used six pitchers. Once Wellemyer walked Pat Burrell, Ron Villone came in and got Shane Victorino to fly out. But he walked Greg Dobbs. In came Kyle McClellan, who struck out Chris Coste and induced a groundout by So Taguchi to end the seventh.

After Chad Durbin worked a scoreless seventh, the Phils started the eighth with a sembelance of a rally. With one out, Jayson Werth singled. LaRussa went back to the phone, bringing in Jaime Garcia. He got Utley to ground into a fielder’s choice, but couldn’t’ retire Ryan Howard, who singled to keep the inning alive. With Pat Burrell on deck, LaRussa went to righty Russ Springer.

Bad move. Burrell singled to tie the game.

Next came Shane Victorino. And he made LaRussa pay even more for bringing in Springer, bashing a homer to right field for the 5-2 lead. Suddenly, the Phils were a Romero-Lidge six-inning parlay away from a big Sunday night victory.

But Charlie Manuel elected to stick with Durbin, who let up a leadoff single. Then came Romero, who this time, couldn’t fulfill his role. He balked, moving the runner to second. After a groundout to move the runner to third, Nick Stavinoha grounded one to Howard. What do you think happened? Run in. 5-3. After Romero hit John Mather with a pitch, he was finished, bringing in Ryan Madson. After walking Albert Pujols, the bases were sacked for the dangerous Ryan Ludwick.

And in one of the biggest plays of the year, Madson induced the 5-4-3 double play from Ludwick, ending the inning and eighth-inning threat.

But that wasn’t the end. With nobody out in the ninth, Brad Lidge faced Troy Glaus, and Glaus beat him. Home run to deep left. 5-4.

With one out, Lidge started to unravel. Aaron Miles singled. Rick Ankiel singled. Cezar Izturis hit by a pitch. Bases jacked. One out. One run down.

But in the highest-tension save of the regular season, Lidge buckled down, centered his chi, found his groove, and sat down a green Stavinoha, then made Mather look silly to end the game. When we finally recovered, we saw the Phils had won, 5-4, in one of the best games of the year. Truly a playoff-type game.

The video: Shane Victorino takes it out

From the comments:

Greg V.: This game is crap! The Phils must be on their way to a record when it comes to leaving runners in scoring position!

NEPA: I hate LaRussa’s over management bullshit.

keith: fucking victorino, who thought it would be good to trade him, he has been awesome the last month or two

Greg V.: I need a shot! Jack Daniels all around!

  • 3 Comments
 
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