Your Cart is Empty

October 26, 2022 6 min read

The Phillies are headed back to the World Series!! They’ll face the Astros in the best-of-seven series beginning on Friday, October 28 in Houston. The Phillies limped into the postseason, squeaking in as the third Wild Card. Once they got in, they turned on the afterburners. They walked through the Cardinals in two games. They beat the defending Champion Atlanta Braves 3-games to-1 in the NLDS. They followed that up by wiping out a dynamic San Diego Padres team 4-games to-1 in the NLCS. There has been no shortage of excitement leading up to this point.

The Phillies seem to have something special going on this year, just as they did in 1980 and 2008. Just as most Champions are made, big moments lead to big wins. Sometimes they come from the top paid players, but typically that’s mixed in with contributions throughout the lineup. Unlikely stars emerge in the postseason.

This year we’ve already seen big moments occur when you least expect it. Jean Segura with the 2-run single in the 9th put the Phillies up on the Cardinals in the Wild Card round and they never looked back. Tyler Kepner of the NY Times:

The Phillies became the first team ever to enter the ninth inning of a postseason game with no runs and then erupt for so many. They are built on power, but patched together the winning rally with, in order: a single, two walks, a hit batter, a single, a fielder’s choice, a single and a sacrifice fly.

“That was the most exciting inning I’ve ever been a part of, and it didn’t even take a big home run,” said catcher J.T. Realmuto, whose one-out hit to left started the stampede. “The moment was there for us, and multiple guys stepped up when they needed to and took advantage of it.”

As offense goes, small ball got the Phillies moving, home runs have kept them there. The boos were mounting for Rhys Hoskins after some defensive blunders, but nothing like a 2-homer game in the postseason to erase the bitterness. To manager Rob Thomson’s credit, he never wavered in his faith of Hoskins, refusing to move Hoskins down in the order. The move, or lack thereof, paid off. Paul Casella of MLB.com:

Hoskins turned in the eighth multihomer postseason game in franchise history and Schwarber tacked on his third home run of the series in a wild come-from-behind 10-6 victory over the Padres in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.

"I think our manager has a really good ability to keep things going the right way," said Bryce Harper, who followed both of Hoskins' homers with an RBI double, including the decisive knock in the fifth. "[Rob] never panics, never really sits there and thinks, 'Oh, I need to move this guy or I need to move that guy.'"

The 2008 Championship run had an assortment of timely homers by players not named Utley, Howard, Werth and Burrell. While all of them certainly did their share, the most memorable homers came off the bats of Shane Victorino, Matt Stairs and starting pitcher Joe Blanton, of all people.

Victorino’s grand slam against the Milwaukee Brewers in the game 2 of the NLDS against the Brewers wouldn’t have been possible without Phillies starter Brett Myers and his epic at bat against Brewers starter CC Sabathia.  With Pedro Feliz on base, Myers worked a nine-pitch walk off the seasoned veteran and Citizens Bank Park went nuts!! Jimmy Rollins followed with a walk of his own. That's when Victorino stepped to the plate. Bleacher Report recalls the moment:

The big blow came next, as Shane Victorino, whom manager Charlie Manuel has shrewdly moved up to the two-hole for game two, launched a 1-2 slider into the leftfield seats for his first career grand slam, giving the Phillies a 5-1 lead.

For the rest of the game, Myers continued the dominant form he had displayed in the second, leaving after seven having allowed only two runs on two hits and three walks. 

The Stairs homer came in Game 4 of the NLCS versus the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The blast by the 40-year old Stairs put the Phillies up 7-5. They went on to win that game and the next, sending the Phillies to their first World Series since 1993. NBC Sports Network recalls the moment:

Stairs, who had been acquired late in the regular season for moments just like this, worked the count to 3-1 and looked for a fastball. He got one, 95 mph. He swung hard, as he always did, and hit it halfway to Pasadena. As the ball rose off Stairs’ bat in a majestic arch, the huge crowd of 56,800 fell completely silent. All these years later, I can still hear that sound of silence interrupted by only a few cheers coming from the Phillies family section under the press box.

The most unlikely home run in Phillies postseason history came off the bat of starting pitcher Joe Blanton in Game 4 of the World Series against the Rays. Ryan Howard had already hit a big 3-run bomb in the fourth inning to put the Phillies up 5-1. The Rays got one back in the top of the fifth, but the crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park was still buzzing when Blanton stepped to the plate in the bottom half of the inning. Mercury News:

Blanton, with a Greg Luzinski body type that’s a throwback to an era of pudgy pitchers, gave up four hits — including solo homers to Carl Crawford and pinch hitter Eric Hinske — struck out seven and walked two in six-plus innings. 

Just 2 for 33 (.061) with one RBI in his career to that point, Blanton homered in the fifth off Edwin Jackson. It was just the 15th home run by a pitcher in the Series, and the first since the A’s Ken Holtzman in 1974. No N.L. pitcher had homered since the St. Louis Cardinals’ Bob Gibson in 1968. 

“I just close my eyes and swing hard in case I make contact,” said Blanton, who thought he hadn’t homered since high school. “Better to be lucky than good, I guess.”

While these were all big moments in Phillies history, the biggest homer of them all happened on October 23, 2022 off the bat of Bryce Harper. David Schoenfield of ESPN:

As Harper walked up to the on-deck circle, he had some words for hitting coach Kevin Long: "I said, 'Let's give them something to remember.'"

"I didn't want to get back on that flight back to San Diego. I just didn't want to get on a 5½-hour flight," Harper said. "I wanted to hang out at home and enjoy this at home with these fans."

He then thanked Realmuto for getting on base in front of him to make the moment possible.

"That's the reason we signed [Harper], the city loves him, and you can't say enough about the guy," said Game 5 starter Zack Wheeler, who allowed two runs over six-plus innings of work. "He just has the thing in him. He just has that in him where he steps up in big moments. I don't know, he's always been a dude. It was always fun to compete against him, but it's a lot more fun when he's on your team."

The crowd exploded. First baseman Rhys Hoskins described the scene as "pure chaos. I don't think anyone was surprised. This guy has a knack for coming up in big moments. It is what he has done his whole career. We have seen it so many times, obviously not on this stage. MV3."

While we’re recalling the biggest plays in Phillies history, we can’t leave out perhaps the biggest defensive play ever. It was in the 1980 World Series and the Phillies are facing the Royals at Veteran’s Stadium. With the Phillies up 4-1 in the top of the 9th, the Royals are threatening. They have the bases loaded with one out. Frank White hits a pop fly in foul territory. Catcher Bob Boone and 1st Baseman Pete Rose go after it. Former Phillies player, assistant GM and GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. was a bat boy for the team, at the time. He had a front row seat from the steps of the dugout as the play unfolded. He recalled the story:

“I was kind of leaning on the steps, since there wasn’t much room in the dugout. As they got closer, some of the players stepped forward to make sure these players didn’t fall into the dugout. It was really a play Pete Rose should have made in the first place. Boonie went to catch it. It was an “I got it, you take it” exchange between the two of them. Boonie came a long way. Rose peeled off a little bit. The priority goes to the first baseman in that situation. As sure handed as Boone was, he wasn’t able to hold onto it and Pete was standing there to pick up the pieces. It was amazing to think about how far Boonie had to go to make this play.”

It’s exciting to think about what we’re in store for when the Phillies and Astros take the field. The Phillies are underdogs, but they like it that way. They’ve never come by their successes easily, so why start now. This is a team that nobody is counting out at this point. It should be great fun to watch.