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.
10. The big man blasteth
Date: September 16, 2008
Need any proof of why Ryan Howard is the most feared slugger in baseball? Look at Sept. 16, 2008 as your first example.
Coming off the big four-game sweep of the Brewers, the Phillies drove into Atlanta looking to take first place in the National League East. They were a half-game back of the Mets going into the night, when Jamie Moyer took the mound for the good guys. Quickly, the game turned into an offensive showdown, with the Phils scoring three via a Chase Utley double and Jayson Werth home run. Howard singled to prolong the inning, but didn’t score.
The Braves shot right back off Moyer, as Brian McCann and Casey Kotchman each punched singles to tie the game at three. Carlos Ruiz responded right away with a homer of his own, and before you knew it, the score was 4-3 Phillies.
Then it turned miserable. Moyer self destructed in the sixth by giving up a single to Jeff Franceour, then walking two in a row to load the bases. He surrendered a one-out groundout to tie the game, but his night was over. Chad Durbin entered and showed his September struggles by letting up a two-run Kelly Johnson single. Scott Eyre allowed a McCann single to tack on a run, and suddenly the Phillies were behind 7-4.
But response was quick, again.
With one out and a man on first, Howard stepped in an tripled on a deep ball to left field. Dude was feeling it. 7-5. With two outs, Shane Victorino proved clutch and singled Howard home. 7-6. An error against Pedro Feliz and a walk to Greg Dobbs loaded the bags for Matt Stairs, but he grounded out to end the threat. The Braves held the lead. But not for long.
Ryan Madson defused the Braves in the seventh. After two quick outs to start the eighth, the Phils broke through against reliever Julian Tavarez with a Werth walk. That brought up Howard, who had been murdering the ball all night. Bobby Cox countered with Mike Gonzalez. It really didn’t matter. Howard was Mr. September.
One moonshot later, and the Phils led 8-7.
It was Howard’s biggest home run of 2008 — a homer that handed the Phillies a first place hold in the NL East, a hold they would retain (okay, they did drop a half game a few days later) until they walked off Citizens Bank Park with the Commissioner’s Trophy in hand. And it was a homer that proved Howard’s worth to the Phillies, an MVP shot of titanic proportions.
That Brad Lidge finished it off in nail-biting fashion was a forgone conclusion. This time he struck out Gregor Blanco after walking the bases loaded. Phew.
But this was all about Howard: Mr. September.
The video: Howard cements his calendarian legacy
From the comments:
Greg V.: The game isn’t over yet Kyle. We’ve come back from worse.
CT: woooooo! Howard is on fire!
Griffin: Howard against a lefty. yikes.
Griffin: I’m eating my words, yes baby!!!!