Phillies

The night Ryan Howard powered the Phillies to heaven's doorstep

Phillies

The 2008 Phillies led the National League with 214 home runs.

Ryan Howard led the majors with 48 that season.

Both Howard and the Phillies played to their strength in Game 4 of the '08 World Series.

After three close games, and two one-run victories, the Phillies finally had an offensive bust-out in winning Game 4 by a score of 10-2 over the Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park.

The win put the Phillies up three games to one in the series with Cole Hamels set to start what would be the Game 5 clincher.

Check out a full replay of Game 4 of the series Thursday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia. You will see a power display as the Phillies clubbed four home runs.

Three of the Phillies' homers came from likely sources. Howard slugged two of them and Jayson Werth added one.

The Phillies' fourth homer came off the bat off pitcher Joe Blanton, who tossed six innings of two-run ball for the win.

Blanton's solo homer into the left-field seats against Edwin Jackson in the fifth inning gave the Phils a 6-2 lead.

Blanton had joined the Phillies in a deadline trade from Oakland. Before his improbable home run, he 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.

While Blanton's home run was certainly important, it was an unexpected bonus. The right-hander was acquired to bolster the back end of the pitching rotation and he did a remarkable job in that role. Including the postseason, he made 16 starts for the '08 Phillies. The team won 12 of them.

 

In his prime, Howard was a guy who hit home runs in bunches. His two-homer performance in Game 4 came after he had hit one in Game 3. Howard drove in five of the Phillies' 10 runs in Game 4.

"It's the kind of stuff you dream about as a kid," he said afterward.

Howard's three-run homer in the fourth inning capped a nice at-bat against Tampa Bay starter Andy Sonnanstine. Howard took two curveballs then a fastball to run the count to 2-1. Sonnanstine's next pitch was another curveball. Howard waited, kept his weight back and swatted the pitch to his favorite spot in the ballpark, the left-field seats, as the Phils took a 5-1 lead. 

The Game 4 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.

With Howard and Blanton leading the way, 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. Hamels was already 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA in four starts in that postseason and his legend was about to grow.

But first, enjoy Game 4. Again.

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