Nine years ago today, October 29, the Phillies won the 2008 World Series. Since then the team has changed drastically, hoping to return in the near future.
It has been almost a month since the last Phillies game and it will still be about five months before any real action again, so it is the perfect time to reminisce about the past. No better time, in fact, then today, the nine-year anniversary of when they won the World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.
Game Five was one of the more eventful World Series games in recent history. Before it even started Oct. 27 , former commissioner Bud Selig ruled that a team cannot clinch a championship in a shortened game with torrential rain in the forecast. That became official during the offseason as the owners agreed that no postseason or tiebreaker games could be deemed complete before nine innings are completed.
Once the actual game started, Shane Victorino put Philadelphia ahead early with two RBI in the bottom of the first inning. The Rays scored a run in the fourth before tying it up in the top of the sixth inning as the rain started to get heavy. The umpires called for a delay in the middle of the inning, and it was eventually suspended until the weather cleared up two days later Oct. 29.
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After it resumed, the Phils immediately re-took the lead with a pinch-hit double from Geoff Jenkins who later scored on a Jayson Werth single. However, Rocco Baldelli tied up the game in the top of the seventh inning with a solo home run off of Ryan Madson.
The end of the top of the seventh became one of the defining moments of the series.
The Rays had Jason Bartlett on second with two outs and were poised to take the lead. The speedy Akinori Iwamura hit a ground ball to the middle of the infield. Chase Utley fielded it backhanded but didn’t have a play at first. Utley made a heads-up play, instead faking a throw to first base and fooling Bartlett into running home. Utley then threw home to Carlos Ruiz, who applied the tag and kept the game tied at three.
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Pat Burrell opened up the bottom of the seventh with a double, and Charlie Manuel had Eric Bruntlett pinch-run as the go-ahead run. He went over to third on a Victorino groundout before scoring on a Pedro Feliz single.
That proved to be the deciding run as the score held through the rest of the game. Brad Lidge came in to secure his 48th save of the year and did just that, completing his perfect season. When he struck out Eric Hinske, he fell to his knees and the party began in Philadelphia.
Since that win, the Phillies were able to sustain enough success to win the NL East every year until 2011. However, they weren’t able to return to the World Series after 2009 and exited a round earlier in the playoffs every year since then. As the core players started to leave or age, the team started to lose more and more games before crashing all the way to the bottom of the league.
Now, they are hoping to build a new core that can get them back to the playoffs in the near future. Hopefully, that core can lead them to the World Series.