2008 World Series
Worst to first easily describes the Tampa Bay Rays who finished in last place during the 2007 regular season, but made it to the Fall Classic in an exciting Cinderella style throughout the 2008 regular and post season. Even more remarkable are the Devil Rays, as they were known for the previous ten seasons, had never even had a winning season until 2008.
The Philadelphia Phillies come into the 2008 World Series with a franchise ring, yet it was earned during the 1980 World Series, before most players on this electrifying roster were even born. One hundred twenty-five years of history and only one ring? Both teams will certainly be hungry as the games begin.
Game 1, the first ever played in Tropicana Field, featured deafening cowbell sounds as fans clanged and clanged and clanged them endlessly in support of their hometown Rays. The Phillies feature though was Cole Hamels who brought to town his best change-up and held the Rays scoreless through three. The Rays fans and team had spirit and rallied for a run in the fourth and fifth, but it wasn't enough to rattle Hamels or his bullpen — who held them Rays hitless in the final two frames.
What to do when your down 0-1? Put your pitcher nicknamed "Big Game James" on the mound and let him do his job. Rays' ace James (Shields) scattered seven hits across 5 2/3 innings, but nobody ever crossed the plate while he was on the mound. Leaving only four men on base during Game 2, the Rays' batters drove in four with their seven hits leaving the field with a 4-2 win.
Tied 1-1, the Series left sunny Florida and was met with a 91-minute rain delay, some say designed to slow down the running Rays. It didn't work as the Rays seemed to effortlessly steal base after base and get runners into scoring position. The Phillies didn't need to steal a bag, because they broke out the big sticks and went deep three times with three solo homers in three different innings. The Rays stole back and tied up the game in the eighth inning courtesy of baserunning skills. After some interesting plays in the ninth, the bases were loaded for the Phillies and the force play at the plate was setup. The Rays brought in right fielder Ben Zobrist, stationed him behind second base, prompting Ryan Howard to quip later that night, "It looked like they were about to blitz." The blitz never happened as Carlos Ruiz scraped a dribbler about thirty feet down the third base line scoring the winning run with a World Series first ever walk-off infield single.
Oakland A's ace hurler Ken Holtzman was mentioned during Game 4 because of a home run he hit during the 1974 World Series, the last by a pitcher until the Joe Blanton from the Phillies hit the a home run in the fifth inning, the second of four hit that day by the Phils who easily outscored the Rays 10-2 and put them one win away from their first World Championship since 1980.
The absolutely magical ride of the Tampa Bay Rays ended after a three-day contest called Game 5, the first ever suspended World Series Game. Cole Hamels took the mound once again and did not disappoint, allowing only two runs spread across six strong innings and earning himself a World Series Most Valuable Player Award. Though the Phillies bats didn't go deep like they did in Game 4, they did drive in one more than the Rays did after the contest was delayed for two days due to a rain delay and scheduling conflicts.