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.