Until March 27, we’ll be counting down the 50 greatest Phillies games of the last 50 years. This is 50 of 50.
And this is No. 35.
THE DATE: Oct. 19, 2009
THE GAME: Phillies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pa.
THE STAKES: Game 4, National League Championship Series
THE GREAT: It seems almost strange to be calling this one of the best games in Phillies’ history, because for eight innings, it sounded more like a wake, not a celebration.
Sitting in the upper deck along the right field line, the Dodgers and starter Randy Wolf had completely taken the air out of Citizens Bank Park after a first-inning two-run homer from Ryan Howard. And that was with the regional cult favorite Bruce Springsteen cover band the B-Street Band playing a show in the Wells Fargo parking lot. How can that not keep you pumped up for three hours of game time?
Yet, after Howard’s homer and what seemed like an endless stream of offensive ineptitude, fans sat on their hands pretty much all night. We acted like a spoiled bunch of Braves fans or something. But even as each moment of possible elation ended with disappointment through eight innings, the Phils only trailed 4-3 headed to the ninth with an old friend on the mound: Jonathan Broxton. The same Jonathan Broxton that gave up the winning home run to Matt Stairs in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS. The same Jonathan Broxton that completely and utterly melted down in an extra-inning August 2008 game at Citizens Bank Park, a Phillies win they had no business getting.
He got Raul Ibanez to start the ninth, but when Stairs walked, the fans finally made some noise and Broxton started to unravel. He plunked Carlos Ruiz, as the bottom of the Phillies order scratched out a way to get leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins to the plate with two outs and men on first and second.
Rollins delivered with a booming gapper to right center, scoring pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett from second and Ruiz all the way from first to walk-off with a win in the game and give the Phils a 3-1 series lead that just minutes before had looked a lot like a 2-2 series tie and a trip back to Los Angeles for at least one game.
The Phillies wrapped up the series the next night in Philadelphia, then took on the Yankees in the World Series. We’ll stop talking about that now.