Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at the team’s run through the NLCS and World Series.
The 2008 Phillies featured a blend of talents. There were homegrown contributors such as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Madson. There were those such as Jayson Werth, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin and Pedro Feliz who came in shrewd free-agent signings. There was a Rule 5 pick – Shane Victorino — who turned to gold and a handful of players such as Brad Lidge, Jamie Moyer, Matt Stairs and Joe Blanton who came in trades.
The contributions made by trade acquisitions Lidge, Moyer and Stairs to the 2008 Phillies have been well documented. But Blanton’s impact on that club should not be forgotten. The Phils acquired him for three minor-league prospects in mid-July and his addition proved huge as he stabilized the back end of the rotation by making 13 starts down the stretch. The Phillies won nine of them.
Blanton got the ball for Game 4 of the World Series, but he made more noise with his bat than his arm. He hit one of the Phillies’ four home runs as the team cruised to a 10-2 win over Tampa Bay at Citizens Bank Park to take a three-games-to-one lead in the series.
Howard blasted two home runs — a two-run shot and a three-run shot — and Werth hit one as the Phillies looked very much like the team that led the NL with 214 homers during the regular season.
“It’s the kind of stuff you dream about as a kid,” Howard said of his two-homer, five-RBI game.
Blanton hit one home run in 230 at-bats in a 13-year career and this was it. Talk about doing it on a big stage. Before his improbable home run, Blanton had just one hit in 16 at-bats with the Phillies. He was the first pitcher to homer in a World Series game since Ken Holtzman of the 1974 Oakland A’s.
On the mound, Blanton pitched six innings of two-run ball for the win.
The victory improved the Phillies to 54-33 overall at Citizens Bank Park on the season. They had finished the regular season with eight wins in the final 10 home games and were 6-0 at home in the postseason with one more game remaining at home in 2008 — Game 5 of the World Series.
The Phils were one victory away from taking it all and they were in the place they wanted to be with the guy they wanted on the mound, Cole Hamels. The lefty was already 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA in four starts in that postseason and his legend was about to grow.
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