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The two greatest defensive plays in Phillies franchise history

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Carlos Ruiz tags out Jason Bartlett in 2008 World Series

For my money it has always been one of the two greatest defensive plays in Philadelphia Phillies history, both of which were made during situations in which the fielders were facing tremendous pressure.

It came during Game 5 of the 2008 World Series between the Phillies and visiting Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park, and was started by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who will be feted on Friday night when he officially retires with the organization.
You may be able to look back over the history of this now 137-year-old ball club and find more spectacular or technically difficult plays. But it would be hard to find two that combine those aspects of difficulty and spectacle with sheer importance in a championship-level setting.
The players at the center of these two phenomenal defensive moments also just happen to be arguably the most popular players among the fan base in the entire history of the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

WHITEY’S STRIKE

The first of those two greatest defensive plays came all the way back in the final game of the 1950 regular season, and was pulled off by Baseball Hall of Famer and Phillies Wall of Famer Richie Ashburn. There were no playoffs in those days. If you finished in first place, you won the pennant and advanced to the World Series.
On that Sunday, October 1 afternoon at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, the Phillies were battling the host Dodgers. The two teams were tied at 1-1 into the bottom of the 9th inning. A victory by the home side would mean they would tie for first place, forcing a playoff for the National League pennant.
The first two batters, Cal Abrams and Pee Wee Reese, reached base against Phillies right-hander Robin Roberts. The future Phillies Wall of Famer and Baseball Hall of Famer had turned just 24-years-old the previous day, but was already the ace of the staff. But now he was in trouble, and the pennant was in jeopardy.
Next up for the Dodgers was their own 24-year-old future Hall of Famer, Duke Snider. On the first pitch, Snider sent a clean base hit into center field, where the 23-year-old Ashburn fielded the ball and came up firing.
Abrams never hesitated, rounding third and heading for home as the potential game-tying run. Ashburn’s throw to catcher Stan Lopata was true, and Abrams was out as he slid for the plate. For its importance at that moment, and for what happened next, Ashburn’s strike to the plate may still be the greatest defensive play in Phillies franchise history.
Roberts would intentionally walk the next batter, Jackie Robinson, to load the bases. With the pennant-winning run now in scoring position, Roberts proceeded to get Carl Furillo on a pop fly to first baseman Eddie Waitkus, then retired Gil Hodges on a fly ball to right fielder Del Ennis to wriggle his way out of the jam.
The game moved into the top of the 10th inning, where Dick Sisler would drill a one-out, three-run homer off Don Newcombe to put the Phillies up 4-1. Roberts set the Dodgers down in order in the bottom of the frame, and he was then mobbed at the mound by his ‘Whiz Kids’ teammates in celebration of just the second NL pennant in franchise history.
UTLEY’S DEKE
As stated earlier, this play by Utley took place in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. The only reason that I rate it equivalent to the Ashburn play is that it actually took place in the Fall Classic, where plays such as this make the difference between winning and losing an actual championship.
The Phillies led the Tampa Bay Rays by three games to one, and were just a win away from only the second world championship in franchise history. This fifth game between the two teams had been suspended by torrential rains that spilled through the Philadelphia area for the last two days.
The visiting Rays were desperate for a win at Citizens Bank Park. It would give them life, sending them back home to Tampa trailing 3-2 in the series, but with the final two games in front of their home fans.

Jason Bartlett was a heads-up shortstop with the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. His daring spring home in the decisive game of the World Series was overcome by Utley’s Deke. (imagesbyferg on Flickr)
In the top of the 7th inning, Tampa Bay right fielder Rocco Baldelli blasted a one-out solo home run off Ryan Madson to tie the game at 3-3. The following batter, shortstop Jason Bartlett, grounded a single to left off Madson. Bartlett was then moved up to second base on a sacrifice bunt, and he stood there as the go-ahead run with two outs.
Up to the plate stepped Rays’ leadoff man Akinori Iwamura. The 28-year-old second baseman had signed with Tampa Bay a year earlier after nine years playing professionally in his native Japan, and was a dangerous contact hitter. Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel countered by bringing in southpaw reliever J.C. Romero to face the left-handed hitting Iwamura.
Romero got in front with a strike. But on the second pitch, Iwamura connected with a breaking ball and grounded it back through the middle. Bartlett had a good lead and took off running. Off the bat, and even as it rushed towards center field, the ball looked like it was a base hit.
Utley was playing Iwamura in the hole, shaded towards first base, and was roughly twenty feet from the ball as it rolled through the infield. But the Phillies then 29-year-old, six-year veteran second baseman bolted smoothly and confidently to his right. He backhanded the ball, and in one motion made a jump-throw in an attempt to get the speedy Iwamura at first.
And then he didn’t. In a play that epitomized Utley’s uncommon baseball instincts, the Phillies second baseman never threw the ball to first. As he cross behind shortstop Jimmy Rollins and the second base bag towards the left field side of the diamond, Utley realized he had no play on Iwamura.
But then he spotted Bartlett breaking for home. In one motion, Utley deked a throw to first, turned on a hop, and fired a one-hopper that was a bit up and behind the third base line to catcher Carlos Ruiz.
The Phillies catcher fielded the ball and dove for Bartlett, who had taken off in a head-first slide attempt to the front of the plate. “Chooch” applied the diving tag to Bartlett’s outstretched shoulder, and umpire Jeff Kellogg stutter-stepped around the pair to pump his fist in the “out” call as the home fans at Citizens Bank Park exploded.
The play has become known by various names to Phillies fans over the years, most frequently as “Utley’s Deke”, even though it has to be pointed out that the fantastic play by Ruiz on the back end is often over-looked.
In the bottom of the inning, Pat Burrell would lead off with a booming double high off the center field wall in what would be his final plate appearance in a Phillies uniform. Two batters later, Pedro Feliz singled home pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett to put the Phillies in front by 4-3. In the 9th, closer Brad Lidge would strikeout Eric Hinske to end it, sinking to his knees where Ruiz, Utley, and their teammates would pile up as World Series champions.
As the Phillies remember and celebrate the many great moments of the brilliant 13 seasons spent by Chase Utley in a Phillies uniform, “Utley’s Deke” is sure to be front-and-center. It is my personal favorite play by “The Man”, and remains one of the two greatest defensive plays in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise.

Phillies improved but still missing a strong lefty arm in bullpen

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Paredes signed as a free agent and has pitched well this spring

The best Phillies teams of the last half-century, a period of time in which bullpen usage has become more and more critical in Major League Baseball, have featured strong left-handers helping the team get through the late innings and close out tight ball games.

Most famous of all was the late screwballer and Phillies Wall of Famer Tug McGraw. The popular Tugger blew a fastball past Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals to close out the 1980 World Series.
That 1980 team also got 40 appearances from Kevin Saucier and dealt for veteran southpaw Sparky Lyle, who was a tremendous help during the push to the NL East crown in September.

Three years later, the ‘Wheeze Kids’ reached the World Series with a trio of lefties in McGraw, Al Holland and May trade acquisition Willie Hernandez.
In 1993, a surprising Phillies club captured another National League pennant with lefty Mitch Williams as their closer. That club also featured left-hander David West coming out of the bullpen to appear in a staff-high 76 games.
The Phillies emerged in the early 21st century from years of losing, beginning a run of more than a decade as a postseason contender. Lefty Rheal Cormier was a key member of the bullpen during the entirety of the first-half of that decade. Veteran Dan Plesac joined him to close out the Veteran’s Stadium years in 2002-03.

Wall of Famer Tug McGraw pitched for the Phillies from 1975-84 and closed out the 1980 World Series.
For the 2004 season and the opening of Citizens Bank Park the Phillies acquired lefty closer Billy Wagner. For the next two seasons, fans became electrified at each 100 mph fastball that blazed from the diminutive fireballer’s left arm.
As the Phillies team of that mid-2000’s era tried to step up from near-miss contender to actual playoff team, a June 2007 trade brought in left-hander J.C. Romero via trade. He would spend much of the next five years helping the Phillies become a champion, earning a pair of wins in the 2008 World Series.
Scott Eyre was acquired in a 2008 August waiver trade and became a key situational left-hander out of Charlie Manuel‘s bullpen for two straight Phillies pennant-winning teams.
When the 2011 Phillies set a franchise record with a 102-win regular season the bullpen contributions of young left-hander Antonio Bastardo were crucial.
During this recently completed off-season the Phillies management and ownership checked off a number of boxes in helping push the club back to contending status. But those checks came mostly in the positional lineup as the team added outfielders Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, shortstop Jean Segura and catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Those were fantastic additions to be sure. But many felt that the team could really use both a veteran starting left-handed pitcher and a strong bullpen left-hander to really fill out a true championship contender.

The proven bullpen lefty was out there in free agency if they wanted him. But on January 11, Zack Britton surprised many by choosing to return to the New York Yankees. He’ll have a chance to win championships with the Bronx Bombers and is being paid $13 million per season. Many felt that he would leave for a chance to close, which he will not get in New York, at least not in the short-term.
Now more than halfway through the 2019 Grapefruit League season the Phillies have a group of southpaws battling for a chance to come out of Gabe Kapler‘s bullpen when the regular season begins.
There are currently five lefty relievers still with the club. Adam Morgan is the lone holdover from last season. Trade acquisitions James Pazos and Jose Alvarez and non-roster invitees Edward Paredes and Jeremy Bleich also remain. Here is a look at a few of their key numbers entering Saint Patrick’s Day:
Morgan and Paredes were clearly the most effective of the group heading into the Sunday game in Clearwater against the Yankees. The 29-year-old Morgan has been with the organization since his selection in the third round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He remains under club control through arbitration over the next two years.
Paredes signed as a free agent with the Phillies back on January 11. The 32-year-old has pitched in 15 games across the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched in 10 minor league seasons with the Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Cleveland Indians. Paredes has also pitched for 10 years during the off-season in his native Dominican Republic.

Edward Paredes is a 10-year minor league veteran who appeared in 15 games with the Dodgers in 2017-18. (Th3TruthPhotos/WikiCommons)
Paredes has an 11:2 K/BB over 6.1 innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs. Morgan brought an 8:1 K/BB ratio over 5.2 innings during which he allowed just one earned run and four hits into Sunday. That production had to give the club hope.
Unfortunately, Morgan looked bad on Sunday. He surrendered four runs, three of those earned, on three hits and a walk while also committing an error over 1.1 innings. Morgan hurt himself, throwing away a dribbler back to the mound with one out in the top of the 7th inning. Troy Tulowitzki followed with a long two-run homer onto the roof of the Tiki Bar in left at Spectrum Field on a hanging curve ball.
You can pretty much count on the Phillies bullpen having a half-dozen right-handers on Opening Day: Seranthony DominguezDavid RobertsonHector NerisPat NeshekJuan NicasioEdubray Ramos. Depending on whether the club wants to carry a seven or eight-man pen to open the season, that leaves room for one or two more relievers.
Things can certainly change based on injuries and late performances, as Morgan’s implosion today demonstrated perfectly. As things stand right now you have to like the chances of Paredes, a long-shot when camp opened in February, lining up for introductions at Citizens Bank Park on March 28.

Phillies Fall Classics XI: 2008 World Series Game Four

The Philadelphia Phillies met the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series, and the crucial Game Four took place at Citizens Bank Park in South Philly.

In the 2008 Fall Classic, the Philadelphia Phillies had scratched out a walk-off victory in Game Three at home to take a 2-1 lead over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays, setting the stage for a pivotal Game Four.
The Fightin’ Phils were in the World Series for the sixth time in club history, but now in the franchise’ 126th season there was still just the lone 1980 series win.
The Rays were in just their 11th season of play, and had become champions of the American League after experiencing their first-ever winning season in 2008.
Still, the young and talented Rays had been made the series favorites over the more seasoned and experienced Phillies by many prognosticators.
The Phils were trying to take advantage of having split the first two in Tampa. Now having taken a 2-1 lead, they were trying to put a stranglehold on the club’s second-ever world championship.
Manager Charlie Manuel had thrown his top two starters, Cole Hamels and Brett Myers, in the first two games down in Florida, and then went with the seemingly ageless Jamie Moyer for the third game.
The Phillies’ fourth starter was Joe Blanton, obtained from the Oakland Athletics in a deal just two weeks prior to the non-waiver deadline in exchange for three prospects.
During the regular season, the Phils had used 24-year-old Kyle Kendrick and 30-year-old veteran Adam Eaton at the back-end of their rotation.
However, Eaton began falling apart in late June, and Kendrick was in his first full season. After Eaton suffered back-to-back horrendous starts in early July, the Blanton deal was struck.

Blanton proved a fine addition, going 4-0 over 14 starts with the Phillies, three of those wins coming down the stretch in September as the club rallied past the New York Mets to win a second straight NL East crown.
Phillies
In 13 regular season starts, the University of Kentucky product allowed just 66 hits over 70.2 innings.
So it was the 27-year-old right-hander who Manuel chose to send to the mound at Citizens Bank Park on a chilly Sunday night at Citizens Bank Park for Game Four of the 2008 World Series.
Joe Maddon, the Rays’ third-year manager, opted to go with 25-year-old Andy Sonnanstine on the mound. In his second season in the big leagues, the righty was known as a control artist who didn’t beat himself.
The Phillies’ aggressiveness and some uncharacteristic wildness from Sonnanstine would get the home side on the board first.
Jimmy Rollins, the Phils’ veteran shortstop, led off the bottom of the first inning with a double down the line. With one out, Chase Utley drew a four-pitch walk.
Ryan Howard then topped a grounder back to Sonnanstine, who tried to get Utley at second. Hustling all the way, the player known as “The Man” beat the throw, and the Phillies had the bases loaded with one out.
That brought veteran slugger Pat Burrellto the plate, and “Pat the Bat” worked Sonnanstine for another walk, this one forcing in Rollins with the game’s first run.
In the home third, the Phillies scratched out another run. Utley led off by reaching on an error by Rays’ second baseman Akinori Iwamura, moved to third on a base hit from Howard, and then scored on a two-out single from third baseman Pedro Feliz to make it a 2-0 game.
The Rays pulled one back in the top of the fourth when left fielder Carl Crawfordripped a two-strike Blanton offering out to right-center for a solo homer, cutting the Phillies’ lead in half at a 2-1 margin.
In the bottom of the fourth, Iwamura again opened the door for the Phillies with his second error in as many innings, this one allowing Rollins to reach base as the leadoff hitter.
After Jayson Werth worked yet another walk from Sonnanstine, the Rays righty struck out Utley, bringing Howard to the plate with two runners on and one out.
“The Big Piece” worked himself into a 2-1 hitter’s count, and then did what he did best in his heyday, taking Sonnanstine out to left field for a three-run home run that opened up a 5-1 lead for the Phillies.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Eric Hinske pinch-hit for Sonnanstine, and sent his own 2-1 count homer over the fence for the Rays. It was just a solo job, so the Phillies still had a 5-2 lead.
Maddon brought in 25-year-old righty Edwin Jackson to pitch at that point. Jackson had been in the Rays rotation all season, but had been moved into the bullpen for the postseason.
Jackson retired the first two batters he faced, and it was Blanton’s turn at the plate. Manuel decided to stick with his starter rather than go to his bench for a pinch-hitter. The result? A little of that October baseball magic.
Blanton had just 36 regular season and five postseason plate appearances in his career, and had recorded just two hits.
With a 2-1 count, Jackson grooved a 93-mph fastball over the heart of the plate. Blanton swung and made perfect contact, blasting a no-doubter solo home run deep into the left-center field seats.
Blanton’s homer was the first by a pitcher in the World Series since Ken Holtzmanhad gone yard all the way back in 1974. He and the Phillies now had a 6-2 lead.
That lead held up into the top of the seventh, where Manuel finally decided to go to his bullpen as well as make some defensive changes.
Over six innings and 99 pitches, Blanton had allowed two earned runs on just four hits. He struck out seven while walking two batters. And of course, there was the home run.
Manuel would use three pitchers, righties Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson, and lefty Scott Eyre, to get through that seventh inning without a blemish. Madson would stay on to shut the Rays down in the eighth inning as well.
In the bottom of the eighth, his hitters decided to put the game out of reach. First, Rollins ripped a one-out double off reliever Dan Wheeler and scored ahead of a two-run homer off the bat of Werth that made it an 8-2 game.
Then after Utley worked a four-pitch walk from lefty reliever Trevor Miller, Howard deposited his second homer of the night over the right-center field wall to up the Phillies’ lead to 10-2 and complete the scoring.
That season, Phils closer Brad Lidge had gone a perfect 48-for-48 in save chances. The group of relievers who got the ball to him from the sixth through eighth innings had become known as the “Bridge to Lidge”, including Durbin, Eyre and Madson.
With this now a non-save situation, Manuel opted to give his closer a night of rest, and went to another key member of that bridge, lefty J.C. Romero. Romero would strike out the final two Rays batters of the night, and the Phillies had taken a 3-1 lead in the World Series.
Game Five was set for the next night, a Monday night on which the weather forecast was calling for the likelihood of rain.
The Phillies would be hoping to put the finishing touches on a World Series victory, while the Rays would try to force the series back to Tampa. Little did either team know just how much of a role the weather would play in what was about to come next.
That will be the story of the next entry in this “Phillies Fall Classics” series, coming on Thursday: Game Five of the 2008 World Series.

Phillies Fall Classics X: 2008 World Series Game Three

After the Philadelphia Phillies had gotten off to a good start by taking the opener of the 2008 World Series against the host Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in a tight 3-2 decision, the host Rays evened things up, holding off the Phils for a 4-2 win in Game Two.
With their backs to the wall in that 2nd game, Tampa had scratched out four early runs off Phillies’ starter Brett Myers
Holding a 4-0 lead, Rays’ manager Joe Maddon turned to rookie lefty David Price with two outs in the top of the 7th.
Just a year earlier, Tampa had made Price the top overall pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft. He quickly rose to become the best pitching prospect in the game, and made his big league debut that year on September 14th, pitching in five games down the stretch as Tampa held off the Boston Red Sox to win their first AL East crown by two games.
In the ALCS, Price had pitched in three games. He got the win in Game Two with a clutch 11th inning performance as Tampa tied that series with the Red Sox. 
Then in the decisive 7th game, Price pitched 1.1 innings to get the Save in a dramatic 3-1 win that moved the 1998 expansion franchise into their first-ever World Series appearance.
The Phils would get to the talented rookie with a two-out solo home run by Eric Bruntlett to cut the lead to 4-1, and then put two of the first three runners on in the 9th, scoring another run on a Tampa error to make it 4-2. 
But Price had toughened up, striking out Chase Utley swinging and getting Ryan Howard on an easy grounder to 2nd to tie up the World Series at a game apiece.

This was the setup to the pivotal Game Three as the 2008 World Series headed north from the indoor climate-controlled dome of the Trop in sunny Florida to the late October cold of Citizens Bank Park.
For Game Three, Maddon would send out 24-year old righthander Matt Garza. Considered one of the game’s better up-n-coming pitchers, Garza had appeared in the two previous seasons with his original team, the Minnesota Twins.
In late November of 2007, Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett had been dealt to Tampa as part of a 6-player deal, with Delmon Young highlighting the package back to the Twins. In his first full season, Garza had gone 11-9 over 30 starts with the Rays.
At the polar opposite end of the age spectrum, Phillies’ skipper Charlie Manuel was opting for his 45-year old lefty, the apparently ageless Jamie Moyer
A local product who had played his college ball at Saint Joseph’s University in Philly during the 1980’s, Moyer was in his 23rd MLB season, his 3rd with the Phils after coming in a late-season 2006 trade with the Seattle Mariners.
In 2008, Moyer had really seemed to discover the Fountain of Youth. That year he fashioned a 16-7 record over 33 starts in which he tossed 196.1 innings with a solid 3.71 ERA. He was the definition of a grizzled veteran.
Jimmy Rollins got the rally towel-waving crowd whipped up into an early frenzy with a leadoff single in the bottom of the 1st. 
That frenzied crowd let out a roar when Jayson Werth followed with a walk, and then a Garza wild pitch allowed the runners to move up to 2nd and 3rd as the heart of the Phillies’ order was due up.
Garza settled down admirably in the madhouse. Rollins scored when Utley grounded out to 1st base as Werth moved to 3rd base. 
But then Garza struck Howard out swinging and retired Pat Burrell on a fly to center. The Phillies had a 1-0 lead, but Garza and the Rays had dodged a major bullet.
Tampa would even it up right away in the top of the 2nd inning. Carl Crawford led off with a double, then stole 3rd base with one out, and scored when right fielder Gabe Gross followed with a sacrifice fly to center.
Garza quickly retired the first two Phillies’ batters in the bottom of the 2nd, but then catcher Carlos Ruiz ripped a solo homer to put the Phils back on top by 2-1. 
That would remain the score as the veteran Moyer and the young Garza battled into the bottom of the 6th inning.
In that home 6th, the crowd would get not just one, but two opportunities to roar again. Both Utley and Howard, the Phillies’ #3 and 4 hitters in their batting order, slammed solo homers to start the inning, pushing the lead up to 4-1.
Moyer wouldn’t be able to hold that lead fully. In the top of the 7th, the Rays immediately began a rally that would drive him from the game. 
Crawford got it started again, this time with a perfectly placed drag-bunt single between the pitcher’s mound and 1st base. 
Tampa catcher Dioner Navarro then doubled to left field, and Gross followed with an RBI ground out to cut the Phillies lead down to 4-2.
That was all for Moyer, who threw 96 pitches over his 6.1 innings, striking out five and walking one while allowing just five hits. 
Chad Durbin came on in relief. He got Bartlett to ground out to shortstop, but Navarro came in to score on the play, cutting the lead down to a slim 4-3 margin.
With both teams into their bullpens into the top of the 8th, Manuel went to his setup man, righthander Ryan Madson, who allowed a leadoff single to the speedy B.J. Upton. 
The Rays’ 23-year old center fielder, who is now known as ‘Melvin Upton’, had stolen 44 bases during the regular season. With one out, Upton stole 2nd base, then 3rd base, and scored the tying run when Ruiz threw the ball away on the latter.
The Phillies’ late-inning lefty, J.C. Romero, retired Tampa in order in the top of the 9th, and the two teams moved into the bottom of the 9th with the game knotted at 4-4 and the World Series tied at a game apiece.
Maddon had brought in reliever J.P. Howell in the 8th, and the tough righty had struck out two batters surrounding a big pick-off of Werth to keep the Phillies off the board after the Rays had evened the score. 
Still in the game to start the 9th, Howell hit Bruntlett on a 2-1 pitch to put the potential winning run aboard.
That prompted Maddon to make the move to his fiery Australian reliever Grant Balfour
After getting ahead of Shane Victorino with a first strike, Balfour uncorked a wild pitch. Bruntlett took off for 2nd base, and Navarro retrieved and threw to try to nail him. Instead, the throw went wild, allowing Bruntlett to advance all the way to 3rd base.
Now the Phillies had that potential game-winner just 90 feet away with nobody out. Maddon chose to make the strategic decision to intentionally walk Victorino. 
When Manuel sent up lefty Greg Dobbs to pinch-hit for Pedro Feliz, Maddon had him intentionally walked as well to load the bases.
The plan, of course, was to set up a force out at any base, including home plate, as the slow-footed Ruiz came to the plate. Balfour and ‘Chooch’ battled to a 2-2 count. 
Then with the crowd on its feet and roaring with every pitch, Ruiz topped a slow roller towards 3rd baseman Evan Longoria.
The Rays’ star raced in to field the ball as Bruntlett broke well from 3rd base and got a great jump towards the plate. Longoria fielded and threw home as Bruntlett slid in, but the throw went high.
The throw wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Bruntlett’s great jump and the slow speed of the ball off the bat combined to give the Phillies’ baserunner an advantage that the Rays’ 3rd baseman could not overcome. 
As Bruntlett slid in safe with the game-winning run, teammates mobbed both he and Ruiz, and the Phillies had not only a 5-4 walkoff win, but more importantly had pushed ahead by two games to one in the World Series.
The two teams would have to quickly recover from the emotionally draining game, as the next installment in this Fall Classics series would come the following night. That Sunday night in South Philly would contain none of the drama of this one.