Phillies

A Phillies World Series walk-off win you won't need to wait 4 hours for this time

A Phillies World Series walk-off win you won't need to wait 4 hours for this time

All these years later, these eyes can still see Jamie Moyer sloshing through puddles while making his way to the bullpen before the biggest start of his career.

Weather was a big subplot in the 2008 World Series. 

Surely, you remember how rain impacted the decisive Game 5 and how the Phillies had to wait around for an extra day before their coronation.

But rain also had an effect on Game 3.

The start was delayed 91 minutes and Moyer did not throw the first pitch until 10:06 p.m.

Three hours and 41 minutes later, way past everyone's bedtime, the Phillies pulled out a dramatic, 5-4, walk-off win over the Tampa Bay Rays to go up in the series two games to one.

You won’t have to endure a rain delay to relive Carlos Ruiz’s heroics in Game 3. Just tune into NBC Sports Philadelphia on Wednesday night for a re-airing, first pitch to last. We’ll make sure you stay dry.

Moyer made his only start of the series in Game 3. He did not get the win, but delivered 6 1/3 innings of very valuable three-run ball.

Even though he had to endure a long rain delay before throwing his first pitch, Moyer lived a dream on that night. The 45-year-old pitcher had grown up in the Philadelphia suburbs and skipped school to attend the parade after the team won the World Series in 1980. He had often told his younger teammates what it was like to be at that parade and what it would feel like to have one of their own.

With his help, the young Phillies were just two wins away from finding out.

“I think it exceeded every dream that I had,” Moyer, then in his 22nd major-league season, said after his first World Series start.

Moyer joined the Phillies late in the 2006 season in a trade from Seattle. He quickly established himself as a mentor to several young pitchers, including Cole Hamels, the MVP of the '08 World Series.

But Moyer was also a mentor to Ruiz, who was in his second year as the team’s regular catcher in 2008. Years later, Ruiz won a lot of praise for his game-calling from Roy Halladay. Ruiz often credited Moyer for helping him hone his game-calling skills.

Game 3 of the World Series was Ruiz’s center stage. A decade earlier, he had signed with the Phillies out of his native Panama. He had been a second baseman at the time. Phillies scouts were only so-so on him as an infielder. Ruiz said he could also catch a little. Phillies scouts worked him out behind the plate and decided to sign him — for the bargain price of 8-grand.

That investment paid off many times over the years, including in Game 3 of the World Series. Ruiz homered in the second inning. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard also homered as the Phils ran out to a 4-1 lead.

Tampa Bay rallied for two in the seventh then tied the game in the eighth. The run was set up on a throwing error by Ruiz.

Ruiz got his shot to atone in the bottom of the ninth. Eric Bruntlett was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and moved to third on a wild pitch and an error. The Phils had the winning run 90 feet away. Rays manager Joe Maddon ordered a couple of intentional walks to load the bases and called for a five-man infield. 

Up came Ruiz.

With the game on the line and a cold, wet crowd of 45,900 on its feet, Ruiz tapped a slow roller toward third base. Bruntlett broke on contact and slid home safely with the winning run as Ruiz reached base on an infield hit that traveled maybe 60 feet. 

Long ball. Short ball. Ruiz did it all that night.

“No matter if it's an infield hit or whatever, I'll take it,” he said after the game. “I'll take the win."

Amazingly, Ruiz’s infield hit was the Phillies’ only one in five chances with a runner in scoring position. They were a feeble 2 for 33 with runners in scoring position in the first three games of the series but still managed to have the lead.

Something special was brewing.

Check it all out one more time Wednesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia. And don’t miss Game 4 on Thursday night and Game 5 on Friday night.

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Phillies’ season resumes tonight with major challenge against Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium

Phillies’ season resumes tonight with major challenge against Gerrit Cole at Yankee Stadium

The only pitcher last offseason who joined a new team on a contract richer than Zack Wheeler’s was Gerrit Cole, the ace the Phillies face tonight at Yankee Stadium. 

Cole, who's won his first two starts this season, is a major challenge on any night but particularly when his 98 mph fastball and filthy breaking ball are being thrown to hitters who haven’t seen live pitching in eight days like the Phillies. The Phils’ bats likely need to shake off some rust. Good luck with that tonight. 

Cole signed a nine-year, $324 million contract in December just days after the Phillies signed Wheeler for $118 million over five years. The other big-name pitcher on the market was Stephen Strasburg, who followed a historic postseason by re-upping with the Nationals for $245 million over seven years. Cole’s AAV is $36 million, Strasburg’s is $35 million and Wheeler’s is $23.6 million. It will be interesting to see which starting pitcher gives his team the best bang for its buck over these next five years.

While Cole’s deal is for $11 million less than Bryce Harper’s in total, his AAV is much higher than Harper’s $25.4 million. Given that a position player plays five times more games in a normal season than a starting pitcher, Harper could end up providing his team more value during the life of his contract than Cole ... but let’s talk again in a decade.

If Cole indeed helps the Yankees win their first World Series since 2009 and second this millennium, nobody will question whether he was worth the money. Think back to that offseason before ‘09 when the Yankees committed $423.5 million to free agents CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett. 

Teixeira hit just .248 with the Yankees with an .822 OPS, far below expectations. But he also was the AL MVP runner-up in 2009 and the Yankees won it all his first season. 

Burnett had a 4.79 ERA in 98 career starts with the Yankees. But he also dominated the Phillies in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series to prevent his team from falling behind, at home, 2-0.

Big picture, both were worth it simply for the result of that season. The Yankees’ expectation with Cole is to win more than once, but even one title would probably make the deal worthwhile. 

The Phillies, with Harper, are a lot farther away, both because they haven’t acquired and/or developed young talents like Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres, but also because the Yankees have probably the best bullpen in baseball and the Phillies might have the worst. Pay close attention to that in the four games this week. The Yankees have elite lefties Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton, devastating righty Adam Ottavino and flamethrowing Tommy Kahnle. All four would be, by far, the best pitcher in a Phillies bullpen that has only one somewhat proven late-inning reliever: Hector Neris.

The Yankees have been ahead of the curve over the last handful of years building deep and uber-talented bullpens. And while it’s been more than a decade since they won it all, their GM Brian Cashman has done a remarkable job of building a major-market powerhouse that develops as well as it spends.

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Have any Phillies considered opting out of MLB season after Yoenis Cespedes, Lorenzo Cain, Francisco Liriano?

Have any Phillies considered opting out of MLB season after Yoenis Cespedes, Lorenzo Cain, Francisco Liriano?

Left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano, a surprise cut by the Phillies days before the regular season began on July 24, has opted out of the 2020 MLB season, according to Robert Murray.

The 36-year-old Liriano looked poised to win an important spot in the Phillies' thin bullpen but was granted his release on July 18. The Phillies cited a desire to look at younger arms, though there also appeared to be financial matters at play regarding guaranteed money in this altered 60-game season.

Even at 36, Liriano could still have been a capable left-handed specialist in someone's bullpen this season. According to Murray, Liriano had multiple guaranteed offers but decided not to play.

The timing of his opt-out comes the same weekend that Brewers centerfielder Lorenzo Cain opted out of the 2020 season. The Brewers-Cardinals series has been postponed all weekend as numerous Cardinals have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

The Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes also opted out Sunday after no-showing his team’s game against the Braves. He went 5 for 31 with two homers the first week of the season. The Phillies and Mets are set to meet 10 times, the first series coming in mid-August at Citizens Bank Park with the other seven games in September.

The Phillies had all seven of their games postponed this week. They're set to make up all four against the Yankees this Monday through Thursday, and they could make up the Blue Jays series later in the season with doubleheaders when the teams meet Sept. 18-20.

Asked over the weekend if he knew of any Phillies players considering opting out, manager Joe Girardi said this:

"No, that has not happened in our clubhouse. The chatter I hear is guys saying, 'Let's go, we're ready to go, let's go.' That's the chatter I've heard so far. And again, if a player chooses to opt out, I fully support him because playing this game is hard enough and if your mind has concerns in other places, it's really gonna be hard."

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