Philadelphia Phillies Retro Scorecard Recap: April 25, 1998

Mark McGwire #25 swings in front of Philadelphia Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal
Mark McGwire #25 swings in front of Philadelphia Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal / Al Bello/GettyImages

Welcome back for the fifth and final season of my Philadelphia Phillies retro scorecard recap articles, where I discuss a Phillies game of yore on the anniversary that it was played and which I attended and kept score. I'm happy to have moved this feature over to That Ball's Outta Here for its last few installments as we take some strolls down Phillies memory lane.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of a Saturday night clash between the Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals on April 25, 1998. Wow, has it really been a quarter century? Let's go back in time.

The Phils and Cardinals meet one night after the Phillies have taken the opener of this 3-game set, an 8-4 Phillies win that saw them ride a 7-run fifth inning to victory — an inning that featured two hits by my man, Desi Relaford. Clearly, anything can happen in baseball. On this night, Matt Beech takes the ball for the Phillies, while Manny Aybar toes the rubber for the visitors.

Next to nothing happens for the first few frames, so we flash forward to the third inning, when Rico Brogna puts the Phillies on the board with a two-run double. Meanwhile, Beech continues to carefully navigate the Cardinals' potent lineup, and the Phillies extend their lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning when Mike Lieberthal knocks in a run.

The good times keep rolling in the bottom of the sixth, with Doug Glanville slamming a two-run home run to stake the Phillies to a 5-0 lead. Things are going great. Then the music stops.

Beech has cruised through six, throwing only 72 pitches so far, but the floodgates open in the seventh. Gary Gaetti leads off with a home run to left field, and it's 5-1. (Fun fact: Gary Gaetti homered in his first MLB at bat, off of Charlie Hough in 1981.) Anyway, no reason to panic yet here. But the Cards keep comin', and a 2-run double by Royce Clayton knocks Beech from the game.

Terry Francona summons Jerry Spradlin into the game, and he is immediately greeted by Ray Lankford, who drives in Clayton to make it 5-4. Then, the coup de grâce. Mark McGwire steps to the plate, and you know where this is headed. Bombs away to dead center field, and it's 6-5 St. Louis. This is McGwire's tenth tater of the 1998 season, and he'd go on to hit quite a few, if you recall. According to Baseball-Reference, the Cardinals' win probability for the game has gone from 3% at the start of the inning to 65%.

That's essentially all she wrote. The Cardinals tack on single runs in each of the next two innings, and Jeff Brantley retires the Phillies in order in the bottom of the ninth, including a strikeout of Gregg Jefferies to cap a brutal 0 for 5 day at the plate for him. St. Louis wins 8-5. Apparently, the Phillies were so impressed with Brantley that they signed him to a $2.8 million contract for 1999, only to watch him get hurt after 10 appearances, and then re-signed him amid a flurry of pitching moves that worked out astonishingly badly.

Looking back at these old Philadelphia Phillies scorecards never fails to disappoint. Except when it does.