An entertaining 2008 Phillies win and a visit with Shane Victorino's proud father


Game 2 of the National League Division Series — which will be re-aired on NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday night — was one of the most entertaining of the Phillies' 2008 World Series championship run.

A roaring crowd of 46,208 — the largest ever at Citizens Bank Park to that point — watched the Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-2, to go up two games to none in the series.

The Phillies scored all of their runs in the second inning against Milwaukee ace CC Sabathia, who had previously been spectacular, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts after joining the Crew in a mid-season trade with Cleveland.

Phillies starting pitcher Brett Myers helped make it an entertaining night for the fans when he worked Sabathia for an unforgettable nine-pitch walk to keep the second inning alive.

Myers looked like a woodchopper as he fouled off pitches to prolong the at-bat and the full house loved it. The crowd and the length of the at-bat clearly weighed on Sabathia because he walked the next batter, Jimmy Rollins, on four pitches to load the bases.

As important as Myers' remarkable showdown against Sabathia was in Game 2, it was not the most memorable moment of the game for these eyes.

That would come two batters after Myers' walk, one batter after Rollins' walk, when Shane Victorino stepped to the plate and launched a dramatic grand slam to cap a five-run inning.

In my mind's eye, I can still see Victorino pick up that 1-2 pitch, a sweeping breaking ball, out of Sabathia's hand.

I can still see him turn on the pitch and sprint around the bases to the thunderous reaction of the crowd.

And I can still see him cross home plate and point to his dad in the stands.

"I saw it," Mike Victorino said that night. "I was tearing up."

Mike Victorino had flown all day from Hawaii and arrived in Philadelphia just a couple of hours before the game.

A few innings after his son's grand slam, I wandered down into the stands and found him.

Shane had a big night, three extra-base hits, including the decisive one, in the Phillies' win and Mike Victorino was thrilled to be in the house for it all.

"Shane had a fabulous night," Mike Victorino, wearing a red Phillies cap, said that night. "I'm so happy and proud to be here and share in this with him.''

After the grand slam, Mike pulled out his cell phone and called his wife back home in Maui. Jocelyn Victorino could not make the game because of a work commitment, but she saw her son's heroics on television.

"I didn't make a reservation until (the day before)," Mike said that night. "I wasn't sure if I was coming. Mom said, 'You go.' She hopes the Phillies make the next round so she can be here."

Cole Hamels was that October's MVP, Brad Lidge was perfect, and Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were the best ever at their positions in Phillies history. But that great Phillies team was loaded with key complementary talent — players like Victorino, Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Madson, Matt Stairs and others — and the title doesn't happen without them.

Victorino was 27 when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. The Phils were his third organization. He was basically rejected by the Dodgers and Padres before landing in Philadelphia and becoming an All-Star.

"Shane was always one of the smallest guys, but he always worked hard to be as good as the bigger guys," Mike Victorino said that night. "He was never the automatic first pick. He always had great stick-to-it-iveness.''

On that happy October 2008 night, Mike Victorino could not say enough about how much the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia meant to him and his son.

"I like this town for him," Mike Victorino said. "It's a blue-collar town and we're blue-collar people. Our family has worked in the pineapple and sugar cane industry. My other son is a longshoreman. This has been a great place for Shane.

"His mom and I feel like he's really matured and blossomed here. People ask me what I think of his career and I tell them he has put it together because the Philadelphia Phillies gave him a chance.

"In our hearts, Shane's mom and I thank the Phillies for giving him a chance, and we thank this town for supporting our son."

In later years, Shane Victorino gave back to the city of Philadelphia. He made a generous donation to the Boys and Girls club in the Nicetown section of North Philadelphia and the facility now bears his name.

Interesting little note about Victorino's heroics in Game 2: He batted sixth the day before in Game 1 of the series. In Game 2, he batted second. Manager Charlie Manuel liked the way Victorino swung the bat from the right side against hard-throwing lefties like Sabathia so he adjusted the lineup. Two doubles and a grand slam later, Manuel looked like a savant and the Phillies had a commanding lead in the series.

Check it out Tuesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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