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.