October 27-29, 2008: Phillies wait and wait … and finally win second World Series championship

This article was written by Steve Ginader

LidgeBradOn October 27, 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies were on the verge of winning the second World Series championship in their history. With only their 1980 title since the club’s inception in 1883, another generation of fans was anxiously waiting for another title.

Two wins at Citizens Bank Park had given the Phillies a commanding lead of three games to one over the Tampa Bay Rays. With a win in Monday night’s Game Five, they could clinch the championship at home and avoid traveling back to St. Petersburg. Their top starter, Cole Hamels, aiming for his fifth straight win of the postseason, was scheduled to pitch. The one factor out of their control was the weather. The forecast called for rain, wind, and cold temperatures.

Before the game began, Phillies fan and meteorologist Joe Bastardi posted in his Accuweather blog, “Cancel the game tonight, and even tomorrow, and then play this when it’s warmer, less windy, and there is no precipitation in the air. It’s the World Series, for goodness sakes. …”1 Major League Baseball and Fox Sports Network wanted to play the game, so with a light mist falling, the game started on time.

Hamels breezed through the first inning, retiring the Rays in order on seven pitches. Rays starter Scott Kazmir was not as effective in the bottom half. With one out, Jayson Werth walked and Chase Utley was hit by a pitch. Ryan Howard stuck out, but Kazmir, struggling to throw strikes, walked Pat Burrell on five pitches to load the bases. On a 2-and-1 count, Shane Victorino produced the first Phillies’ hit, a line-drive single to left that plated Werth and Utley. Pedro Feliz followed with another line-drive single to left, advancing Burrell to third and Victorino to second. On Kazmir’s 29th pitch of the inning, however, Carlos Ruiz flied to left field for the third out.

Both starters pitched efficiently in the second and third innings as the light rain continued to fall. Hamels allowed two baserunners, Dioner Navarro (walk in the second) and Akinori Iwamura (single in the third), while Kazmir allowed only a single to Werth in the second.

In the fourth, the forecast heavier rain arrived and the field conditions deteriorated. Hamels surrendered his first run while pitching through the raindrops. Carlos Peña doubled to right and scored on Evan Longoria’s single up the middle, cutting the deficit to 2-1. Kazmir’s early-game wildness returned in the bottom of the fourth. Ruiz grounded a one-out single to left and Jimmy Rollins and Werth walked to load the bases. As in the first inning, they remained loaded when Utley grounded out to end the inning.

Hamels set the Rays down in order in the fifth After Kazmir walked Howard and Feliz to start the bottom of the inning, Rays manager Joe Maddon  replaced Kazmir with Grant Balfour. Kazmir threw 103 pitches but surrendered only the two first-inning runs. “Just first-inning woes, every time,” Kazmir said. “Everything felt good after the first inning.”2 Balfour retired the Phillies quickly on nine pitches to strand both runners. Philadelphia had stranded 10 runners in the first five innings.

By the end of the fifth, the field was deteriorating quickly as the grounds crew worked furiously to shovel more dirt on the infield. Hamels cruised into the sixth with a low pitch count and a one-run lead. After two quick outs, however, B.J. Upton grounded a ball toward shortstop that Rollins couldn’t track down. Upton reached first on the single and stole second as Ruiz had trouble getting a grip on the wet ball. “It’s hard to feel the ball in your hands,” Ruiz said afterward.3 Pena stroked a single to left to score Upton with the tying run. Longoria flied out to end the inning.

With the score 2-2 and 5½ innings in the books, the tarp was rolled out to cover the field. Umpire crew chief Tim Welke explained why they ordered a delay: “They groomed the field every half-inning and they were keeping up with it. Then the velocity of the rain made it such when we were playing in the top of the sixth, it became harder and harder.”4 After waiting 30 minutes, Commissioner Bud Selig declared the game suspended. He said play would be resumed whenever appropriate to guarantee safety and fair competition. “We are not going to resume until we have decent weather conditions,” the commissioner said.5

The rain continued throughout the night and into the next day. By Wednesday the rain had stopped, and even though temperatures remained frigid, the game could restart. The Phillies were feeling confident before they took the field. Matt Stairs said, “We’re not going to have any problems coming back being fired up. It’s not going to affect us.”6 Pitching coach Rich Dubee commented, “We are in a good situation. We’re coming up in the bottom of the 6th in a 2-2 game. We like our bullpen.”7

During warm-ups, Maddon said that Balfour would remain in the game. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel countered with Geoff Jenkins, batting for Hamels. Jenkins stroked a fly ball to deep center field for a double. Rollins’s bunt down the third-base line moved Jenkins to third with one out. With the infield drawn in to cut off the run, Werth popped a ball up the middle just out of reach of the infielders for an RBI single. “It was just out of our range,” Maddon said. “They just put us into some very difficult moments.”8 That hit drove Balfour from the game; J.P. Howell came in to strike out Utley and retire Howard on a popup to third.

Ryan Madson replaced Hamels to start the seventh. He struck out Navarro looking, but Rocco Baldelli hit a long home run on the next pitch, tying the game again. Jason Bartlett singled and was sacrificed to second by Howell. Left-hander J.C. Romero replaced Madson to face the lefty-hitting Iwamura. He grounded a ball up the middle that Utley fielded ranging far to his right. He faked a throw to first as Bartlett rounded third heading for home. Utley wheeled the other way and threw home, where Ruiz tagged Bartlett for the third out.

In the bottom of the seventh, Howell remained in the game to face Burrell, who was hitless in the series. On a 1-and-1 pitch, Burrell doubled off the wall in deepest center field. “It was a nice piece of hitting,” Howell said. He knew I was going away with a curveball, and he poked his chin in and got it.”9 Side-arming right-hander Chad Bradford replaced Howell on the mound and pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett replaced Burrell. Victorino moved Bruntlett to third with a grounder to second and Maddon pulled his infield in to cut off the run. Right-handed-hitting Feliz remained in the game to face Bradford. “Pedro doesn’t strike out a lot. He’s a low-ball hitter. I liked Pedro there,” said Manuel.10 Feliz rolled a grounder up the middle, through the drawn-in infield, to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.

Romero and David Price each pitched a scoreless eighth inning, then Brad Lidge was summoned in the ninth to secure the victory. Lidge had converted all 41 of his regular-season save opportunities and was 6-for-6 in the postseason. A successful save here would keep his record perfect and bring a championship to Philadelphia. Longoria popped to second for the first out, then Navarro lined a single to right. Fernando Perez ran for Navarro and Ben Zobrist batted for Baldelli. On the third pitch to Zobrist, Perez stole second. Zobrist lined Lidge’s next pitch to right but it hung up enough for Werth to catch. The pitch was a high slider and Lidge said he told himself, “Can’t leave another one there.”11 Three straight sliders to Eric Hinske and the game was over and the championship won. “It was indescribable, Lidge said. I just knelt down to my knees. Thanked God. Thanked the fans.”12

The weather, and its effect on the game, dominated the first 5½ innings played on Monday. When the weather cleared and play was resumed on Wednesday, the focus was on the play on the field. The managers’ decisions, coupled with the players’ clutch hitting and pitching, determined the outcome. Two days later, on October 31, the weather was sunny and 60 degrees as the Phillies paraded on Broad Street to celebrate their championship.




This article was fact-checked by Russ Walsh and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball Reference and Retrosheet for pertinent information, including the box score and play-by-play.





1 Bill Conlin, “On a Rainy Night in Philly, MLB Drops the Ball,” Philadelphia Daily News, October 28, 2008: 6.

2 Marc Narducci, “Again, Kazmir Unable to Last,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 28, 2008: E3.

3 Todd Zolecki, “Suspended in Middle of Nowhere, for Now,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 28, 2008: E1.

4 David Murphy, “Suspended Resignation,” Philadelphia Daily News, October 28, 2008: 3.

5 Conlin.

6 Zolecki.

7 Murphy.

8 Paul Hagen, “A Look at Ebb, Flow of Last Few Innings,” Philadelphia Daily News, October 30, 2008: 20.

9 Tony Fabrizio, “Reliable Relievers Not Quite On in Finale,” Tampa Tribune, October 30, 2008: 5.

10 Marcus Hayes, “Feliz Rewards Manual’s Faith With Clutch Hit,” Philadelphia Daily News, October 30, 2008: 26.

11 Marcus Hayes, “Somewhere, Tug Was Watching Lidge’s Heroics,” Philadelphia Daily News, October 30, 2008: 22.

12 “Somewhere, Tug Was Watching Lidge’s Heroics.”

Additional Stats

Philadelphia Phillies 4
Tampa Bay Rays 3
Game 5, WS

Citizens Bank Park
Philadelphia, PA


Box Score + PBP:

Corrections? Additions?

If you can help us improve this game story, contact us.