From 2006-2011, The Phillies had assembled one of baseball’s best rosters. Although there isn’t much success to show from it, 2008 is an exception. In 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies finished 92-70, winning the NL East, and eventually winning the World Series, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in 5 games. This season will be remembered forever amongst Phillies fans, full of legendary moments and legendary players. Join us as we relive the Phillies 2008 season, nearing the 15th anniversary of the Fightins’ historic run.
After winning the NL East in 2007, the Phillies proceeded not to win a single game in the postseason, being swept by the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS. Such a disappointing end to an otherwise successful 2007 season called for some change in the offseason. The first move the Phillies made in the 2007-2008 offseason was a big one, trading Michael Bourn, Mike Costanzo, and Geoff Geary to the Houston Astros for closer Brad Lidge and utility man Eric Bruntlett. Now, who just brought back some amazing memories reading the name ‘Brad Lidge’?
Brad Lidge had potentially the most remarkable season a Phillies closer has ever had, saving 41 regular season games and 7 postseason games, including a clinching Game 5 of the World Series. Oh, and did we mention he didn’t blow a single save? Lidge was not only perfect throughout the entirety of 2008, but he also posted a 1.95 ERA, with 92 strikeouts and 32 walks in 69.1 innings, earning him an all-star nod. Lidge also finished 4th in NL Cy Young voting, behind only starting pitchers Tim Lincecum, Brandon Webb, and Johan Santana, and also finished 8th in NL MVP voting. Brad Lidge will live on in the hearts of Phillies fans everywhere because of his 2008 season, but at the plate is where the Phillies thrived.
The Phillies had one of the best lineups in baseball in 2008, headed by back-to-back NL MVPs Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, alongside perennial all-star Chase Utley. The lineup consisted of excellent contact all around and some big slugging where needed. This is what the Phillies lineup looked like in 2008:
|Jimmy Rollins||SS||.277||.786 (104)||11||38||59|
|Jayson Werth||RF||.273||.861 (122)||24||16||67|
|Chase Utley||2B||.292||.915 (136)||33||41||104|
|Ryan Howard||1B||.251||.881 (125)||48||26||146|
|Pat Burrell||LF||.250||.875 (125)||33||33||86|
|Shane Victorino||CF||.293||.799 (107)||14||30||58|
|Pedro Feliz||3B||.249||.705 (82)||14||19||58|
|Carlos Ruiz||C||.219||.620 (63)||4||14||31|
|Geoff Jenkins*||RF/DH||.246||.694 (79)||9||16||29|
|Greg Dobbs*||3B/DH||.301||.824 (112)||9||14||40|
|Chris Coste*||C/DH||.263||.748 (93)||9||17||36|
|Eric Bruntlett*||UTIL||.217||.594 (56)||2||9||15|
This lineup was absolutely loaded; it has everything you want an elite lineup to have: Power, Consistency, Contact, and some elite fielding. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino both earned Gold Glove awards in 2008, and Chase Utley earned a Silver Slugger award for his 33 home runs and 41 doubles season. However, this lineup really took off in the 2008 postseason. Let’s take a deep dive into the postseason run for the ages.
NLDS – 3-1 vs. Milwaukee Brewers
The Phillies opened the 2008 postseason in a battle with the 90-72 Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee was a significant threat going into the 2008 postseason, with players like Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way for the Brewers. Game 1 was a breeze for the Phils, ending 3-1 in favor of Philadelphia. Cole Hamels pitched a gem, and Chase Utley had a 2 RBI day to lead the Phillies to a 1-0 series lead. Game 2, however, was more of a challenge for the Phils. Ace C.C. Sabathia was on the mound for Milwaukee that game, and it was going to be very hard for Philadelphia to string together hits. Shane Victorino had something to say about that. Tied 1-1, in the bottom of the 2nd inning, with the bases loaded, Victorino had maybe the biggest hit of his career, a grand slam off of one of the best pitchers in all of baseball to take a commanding 5-1 lead (see below). The Phillies would go on to win the game 5-2 after Victorino’s grand slam. Now leading the series 2-0, it was smooth sailing for the Phillies. Although Philadelphia would lose Game 3, 4-1, they would bounce back and win Game 4, 6-2, to send themselves to the NLCS.
NLCS – 4-1 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Next up for the Phillies were the 84-78 Los Angeles Dodgers. This team wasn’t nearly as good as the Brewers team Philadelphia had faced a round prior, but the Phillies were still in for a challenge. Cole Hamels once again started Game 1, showing how much the Phillies trusted him in big moments. The Phillies were down 2-0 going into the bottom of the 6th inning, then two massive home runs from Chase Utley and Pat Burrell resulted in 3 runs for the Fightins, which led to a Game 1 victory. Game 2 was a high-scoring one, with the Phillies scoring 8 runs in the first three innings. Philadelphia would go on to win 8-5 after a massive start to the game. Game 3 was a big loss for the Phillies, losing 7-2. However, Game 4 is where magic happened. The Phillies and the Dodgers were in a slugfest. However, tied 5-5 in the top of the 8th inning, a mid-season acquisition became a Phillies legend with just one swing. Pinch hitting, Matt Stairs stepped up to the plate, with a runner on first, and two outs, and “ripped one into the night” (see below). Easily the most significant swing of Stairs’ career, it propelled the Phillies to a 7-5 Game 4 win to take a 3-1 series lead. The Phillies would then win convincingly in Game 5, with a final score of 5-1, to clinch their first World Series berth in 15 years.
World Series – 4-1 vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Last up for the Phillies in 2008 was the 97-65 Tampa Bay Rays. Game 1 of the 2008 World Series was started by none other than NLCS MVP Cole Hamels. Was there really any other option? Game 1 started hot, with Chase Utley hitting a two-run shot into deep right field to give the Phillies an early 2-0 lead. Hamels’ elite pitching would once again be the factor in this game, with a final score of 3-2. The Phillies once again won Game 1 of a series, making Cole Hamels 4-0 in the 2008 postseason. Game 2 was a bit disappointing for Philadelphia, with Tampa Bay scoring three runs in the first two innings. The Phillies would start to rally towards the end of the game, scoring two runs in the 8th and 9th innings, but it was just too late. The game would end 4-2 in favor of the Rays. Game 3 of a tied, 7-game series is always a crucial factor in who wins it all, so both teams came out to play. The Phillies would end up hitting three home runs in this game, one each from Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz, but the Rays would not give up. Going into the top of the 7th inning, the Phillies were up 4-1, and the Rays managed to tie the game up by the end of the 8th inning. However, the Phillies had a hero that night. With bases loaded at the bottom of the 9th inning, catcher Carlos Ruiz stepped up to the plate. Ruiz spiked a ball in the ground towards 3B Evan Longoria, who could not make the play at home, resulting in a walk-off 5-4 Phillies win. Game 4 of the series was blown out of the water super fast, with the Phillies eventually winning the game 10-2 to take a 3-2 series lead. The unsung hero of Game 4 was starting pitcher Joe Blanton, who struck out seven batters and even got involved at the plate, hitting a home run in one of the most electric moments of the 2008 postseason. Going into Game 5, the Phillies had one thing in mind, do not let this series head back to Tampa Bay. Cole Hamels once again started in Game 5 and once again pitched an absolute gem, only allowing one run in 6 innings. The Phillies would once again get things going early, with a two-run first inning on the back of a huge rally from the middle of the lineup. The game ended up tied at 3-3, and going into the top of the 7th inning; the Rays were looking to make a splash. SS Jason Bartlett would end up in scoring position with 2 outs, and then something insane happened. 2B Akinori Iwamura would step up to the plate and proceed to hit a ground ball right past the pitcher’s mound. Chase Utley would catch up to the ball but would not have a play at first. Instead of forcing the throw to Ryan Howard, Utley pump faked and threw the ball home, catching Bartlett and his aggressive base-running red-handed (see below). That play not only saved a run but would end up being the deciding factor for the rest of the game. The Phillies would end up winning Game 5, 4-3, with Brad Lidge saving the game in the bottom of the 9th inning, creating an iconic moment every Phillies fan will remember forever. To nobody’s surprise, Cole Hamels would win the World Series MVP, solidifying him as a Philadelphia icon.
The Phillies would go on to have some very successful seasons from 2009-2011, but none quite as successful as 2008. The following year, the Phillies would return to the World Series but would eventually lose to the New York Yankees in six games. To this day, Phillies fans remember where they were when Brad Lidge got that final out in Game 5 and how the parade felt as they were crowded on Broad St. 1993 was the last time the Phillies had made the World Series before 2008, a 15-year difference. 15 years later, the 2023 Phillies look to be contenders once again, with potentially their best roster since 2011. Can the Phillies make history once again 15 years later? Only time will tell. We hope you enjoyed this path down memory lane.