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:
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