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.
Coming out of St. Petersburg and heading to Philadelphia after the first two games of the World Series, the Phillies were braced for bad weather. But they survived a 91-minute rain delay to win Game 3 behind Jamie Moyer and Carlos Ruiz and cruised to a big win behind the bats of Joe Blanton (he hit the only home run of his 13-year career) and Ryan Howard in Game 4.
The Phils were poised to win the city's first pro sports title in 25 years in Game 5 and they had a lot going for them heading into the game. Howard had come alive with three homers in the previous two games and the kid on the mound, Cole Hamels, had been brilliant — 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA — in his four starts that postseason.
But the Phillies’ plans for a celebration were put on hold in a most memorable way that night.
The Rays rallied in the rain to tie Game 5 at 2-2 in the top of the sixth inning and the game was suspended moments later because the field had become a quagmire.
So what would have happened if the Phils had maintained their lead and taken it into the bottom of the sixth? Would they have been awarded a win?
"There is no way I would have let a World Series game end that way," said Commissioner Bud Selig, who was on hand for the game, fretting nervously about the bad weather. "I would have delayed it till Thanksgiving if I had to."
Officials from both teams were aware of Selig’s feelings well before the suspension, before the game, in fact, because the forecast was bad.
Much to the delight of the huge crowd of 45,940, the Phillies got out to a quick start as Shane Victorino made Tampa Bay starter Scott Kazmir pay for two walks and a hit batsman with a two-run single in the first inning.
Hamels took a 2-1 lead into the sixth. Rain had been falling for a while and the field was getting sloppier and sloppier with each pitch. With two outs, B.J. Upton hit a ball up the middle that on a dry field would have been eaten up by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. But on a muddy track, Rollins could not make a play and Upton was on first with an infield hit.
The whole ballpark knew that Upton, who had 44 steals during the regular season, was going to try to swipe second and he did — with a memorable, mud-splattering slide into the base. It was a huge play because Carlos Pena then stroked a single to left, allowing Upton to sprint around third base and tie the game moments before umpires called for the tarp and the game had to be suspended.
The rain meant the end of Hamels’ night — and his brilliant work in the World Series. The pitcher, then 24, was philosophical afterward, saying, “Both teams had to play in the rain, both pitchers had to pitch in it. We’ll come back tomorrow and try to win the World Series.”
The rain continued to fall the next day and there was no baseball. When the game finally resumed two days after it was paused, the marathon that is the baseball season turned into a sprint that no Phillies fan will ever forget.
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