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.
Mother Nature didn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat as the 2008 World Series shifted from domed Tropicana Field to Citizens Bank Park. Surely, you remember how rain impacted the decisive Game 5. But it also had an effect on Game 3.
A cold rain fell in Philadelphia throughout the early evening, but baseball officials were confident it would stop at some point and the game would be played. So fans waited and waited. They huddled under the concourse and watched the Penn State-Ohio State football game on TV.
At about 9:20, with rain still falling, there was a sign that there would be baseball soon: A Phillies batboy emerged from the clubhouse and brought a carafe of coffee out to the bullpen. Fifteen minutes later, starting pitcher Jamie Moyer popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen. I can still see the television close-up of his feet splashing through standing water in the outfield as he made the walk.
Ninety minutes after the scheduled start time, the rain stopped and Moyer delivered the first pitch to catcher Carlos Ruiz. Moyer joined the Phillies late in 2006 and forged a bond with the young catcher. In fact, in later years, Ruiz credited Moyer for helping him hone his game-calling skills.
On this night, in Game 3 of the World Series, Ruiz seemed to be in the center of it all. He belted a solo homer in the second inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead but made an error in the eighth inning that set up the tying run.
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. Rays manager Joe Maddon ordered a couple of intentional walks to load the bases. Up came Ruiz. He played long ball earlier in the game. This time, with the game on the line and a cold, wet crowd of 45,900 on its feet, he played small ball. Facing hard-throwing Grant Balfour, Ruiz stroked a slow chopper toward third base. Bruntlett broke on contract and slid home safely with the winning run as Ruiz reached base on an infield hit that traveled about 65 feet. The 5-4 victory gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the series.
Amazingly, Ruiz’s hit was the Phillies’ only one in five chances with a runner in scoring position. That left them at a feeble 2 for 33 with runners in scoring position for the series, but they still managed to have the lead.
Moyer did not get the win in Game 3, but he kept his club afloat with 6⅓ innings of three-run ball. The whole night was a dream come true for the 45-year-old pitcher who had grown up in the Philadelphia suburbs and skipped school to attend the parade after the team won the World Series in 1980. Moyer had often told his younger teammates what it was like to be at that parade and what it would feel like to have their own. With his help, they were just two wins away from finding out.
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