As we wrap up a look back at the 2008 Phillies World Series run, it would be remiss not to note how Joe Blanton could go down in history. If the new proposal of a National League designated hitter becomes permanent, Blanton could be the last starting pitcher to hit a home run in the World Series. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most notable home runs by a pitcher in baseball’s postseason. Fittingly, two of them are Phillies.
Game: 1978 NLCS Game 3 off Don Sutton
Carlton's three-run home run at Dodger Stadium gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead and it helped them capture their only win of the four-game series. Fun fact: Carlton hit just 13 homers in a little more than 1,700 at-bats over a 24-year career, but none bigger than the one in Los Angeles.
Game: 2008 World Series Game 4 off Edwin Jackson
This was not the most recent pitcher-belted homer in the postseason overall, but it was the most recent in a World Series. Sure, Blanton’s home run made it a 6-2 game in the fifth en route to an eight-run win for the Phillies. But being the last to do something is a fun distinction and one that Blanton could hold for years to come, especially as a starting pitcher. Yes, in a crazy 15-inning game, a pitcher may be used for an at-bat with a DH in play. But if the DH in the National League becomes a permanent reality, JoeB will likely be the last starting pitcher to knock one out of the park in the postseason. I also love Blanton’s mindset at the plate in that Game 4. “I just close my eyes and swing hard in case I make contact." Brilliant.
Game: 2003 NLCS Game 7 off Mark Redman
This one was a doozy. Tensions were running high at Wrigley Field on this night. Not only was it the game after the “Bartman” incident. But the Cubs watched their 3-1 series lead over the Marlins collapse into a winner-take-all Game 7. The Cubs were trying to get to their first World Series since 1945. Wood did his best to give Chicago a chance when he knocked out a game-tying two-run homer the second inning, but it wasn’t enough. In keeping with the trend for that series (and for the 100+ years of their curse), the Cubs eventually blew a 5-3 lead to fall to the Marlins.
Game: 2016 NLDS Game 3 off Madison Bumgarner
As cursed as the Cubs were in 2003, they were fortunate in 2016. Everything seemed to go their way, eventually shaking off that 108-year World Series drought. Current Phillie, Jake Arrieta came through in Game 3 with a three-run home run off one of the best postseason pitchers ever. Sure, the Giants won this game in extras, but the Cubs got the last laugh and championship rings in the end. Fun fact: Just days before Arrieta, pitcher Travis Wood belted a home run of his own in Game 2. When you’re hot, you’re hot and the Cubs certainly were in 2016.
Dave McNally and Bob Gibson
I grouped these two players together because they have the great distinction of being the only two pitchers to hit home runs in the postseason twice. And they both did it in the World Series, in back to back years. McNally, pitching for the Orioles, belted a homer in Game 5 of the 1969 World Series and hit one again in the 1970 World Series in Game 3. Gibson hit his homers for the Cardinals in Game 7 of the 1967 World Series and then did it the following year, Game 4 of the 1968 World Series. And they both won one World Series and lost one.