Rocco Baldelli

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Posted by bender 03/28/2009 @ 17:11

Tags : rocco baldelli, baseball players, baseball, sports

News headlines
Ortiz gets encouragement - Boston Globe
Rocco Baldelli said he could play, and "that was all I needed to hear," Francona said. The last time Baldelli played shortstop was "probably a scrimmage game in high school, maybe," he said. But he played first base in high school, and he often took...
Baldelli back home with PawSox, but hopes his stay is short - Providence Journal
By JOE McDONALD Rocco Baldelli's return to Rhode Island has generated a lot of attention, but the rehabbing outfielder wants to remain focused on getting back to the big leagues. PAWTUCKET –– The last time Rocco Baldelli stood on the field at McCoy...
Humble Bailey enjoying roller coaster existence - Boston Globe
He joined the Red Sox this year when Rocco Baldelli went on the disabled list, and became an essential player when Kevin Youkilis injured his left oblique. Bailey's importance grew Tuesday when the Sox placed Youkilis on the 15-day disabled list....
Red Sox journal: Baldelli volunteers to be emergency infielder - Providence Journal
Outfielder Rocco Baldelli, however, was all ears -- and volunteered for duty as the emergency infielder. "Was kind of looking around, I said to [bench coach Brad Mills], 'Are you thinking who's going to be our infielder here?...
Red Sox activate Baldelli - Sports Network
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox activated outfielder Rocco Baldelli off the 15-day disabled list and he drove in two runs in the team's 13-3 rout of Cleveland Thursday night. Baldelli had been sidelined since April 21 with a strained...
Baldelli Hits First Homer Of The Season - Hartford Courant
By DOM AMORE BOSTON - — Rocco Baldelli did what nearly every boy growing up in Rhode Island would love to do — hit a home run over The Green Monster at Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform. "I don't hit that many," Baldelli said....
Play by play - USA Today
Single: Pinch-Hitter Rocco Baldelli singled to right. Runners on first and second with one out and Jeff Bailey due up. Out: Jeff Bailey struck out looking. Runners on first and second and with two outs and Jason Varitek due up....
Recap: Boston vs. Cleveland - MiamiHerald.com
Rocco Baldelli, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, added a two-run single, while Jeff Bailey notched a two-run double in the sixth. George Kottaras singled home two runs during the big uprising. Julio Lugo chipped in three hits and...
Matsuzaka and Baldelli will be at McCoy Stadium this week - Providence Journal
Daisuke Matsuzaka will be joined by Rocco Baldelli at McCoy Stadium on Tuesday night. Baldelli will actually begin his short rehab from a sore hamstring injury on Monday. He'll play again on Tuesday but if all goes well he could be activated and rejoin...
Red Sox journal: Ortiz is out with a stiff neck, but Baldelli returns - Providence Journal
With Ellsbury out, Francona gave Rocco Baldelli his second start of the season in center field. Baldelli, who is hitting .231 on the season, was activated earlier Thursday off the disabled list. Jonathan Van Every was sent back to Pawtucket....

Rocco Baldelli

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Rocco Daniel Baldelli (born September 25, 1981 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island) is a Major League Baseball outfielder for the Boston Red Sox.

Rocco Baldelli attended the PEGASUS Gifted and Talented middle-school program at La Salle Academy in Providence before switching to Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, Rhode Island, for high school. There he posted a 4.25 grade point average and often tutored other students in physics. He was also a three sport star, excelling at baseball, basketball, and volleyball and was selected in the first round of the 2000 amateur draft. He has said that if he had not signed with Tampa Bay, he would have attended Wake Forest University, rather than Princeton.

Baldelli made his major league debut on March 31, 2003. In 2003, he and New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui were among the early contenders for AL Rookie of the Year. Matsui - a Japanese baseball star who spent many years in Japan's professional league - and Baldelli both fell short of winning the award, losing out to Angel Berroa of the Kansas City Royals. Several members of the BBWAA contested Matsui's rookie eligibility, and two left him off their ballots, ensuring the win for Berroa. Baldelli finished the 2003 season with an impressive line, batting .289 with 11 home runs, 78 runs batted in, 89 runs scored and 27 stolen bases.

In 2004, Baldelli had a similar season, batting .280 with 16 home runs, 74 runs batted in, 79 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. He led all major league center fielders in range factor (3.03).

According to professional baseball scouts, Baldelli shared many similarities to Hall of Fame outfielder Joe DiMaggio ever since his days as a prep star. This can be attributed to Baldelli's athletic ability, their shared position (center field), wearing the same uniform number (5), and their Italian-American heritage. Al LaMacchia, a professional scout for over 50 years, went so far as to call Rocco "Joe's twin" .

Baldelli started the 2005 season on the disabled list because he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee while playing baseball with his brother in the offseason. He was initially expected to be back by the All-Star break, but while rehabilitating he injured his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery, which forced him to miss the entire 2005 season.

After missing almost a full season and a half, Baldelli returned to the Rays lineup against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 7, 2006. Baldelli played frequently for the rest of the 2006 campaign and hit .302 with 16 home runs, 57 runs batted in, 57 runs scored and 10 stolen bases in only 364 at bats.

In spring training before the 2007 season, however, Rocco pulled his hamstring. This injury would linger. After appearing in only 35 games early in the season, Baldelli was placed on the DL again. He reaggravated the injury while on a rehab assignment in the minor leagues and remained inactive for the remainder of the baseball season.

In the following offseason, Baldelli underwent extensive medical testing to determine the reasons for his muscle problems and extreme fatigue after even brief workouts. Doctors discovered some "metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities" but were unable to provide an exact diagnosis.

Baldelli attempted to return to game action during spring training in 2008 but was unable to do so. On March 12, he held an emotional press conference in which he announced that he would be once again placed on the disabled list in an attempt to overcome his mysterious medical issues. Though he did not retire, the future of his baseball career was in doubt. Accordingly, on April 1, 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays declined Baldelli's contract option for 2009, potentially making him a free agent after the season unless a new contract is signed with the club.

After more medical consultations, Baldelli began taking a combination of medications and nutritional supplements that seemed to improve his condition. On May 29, 2008, he began playing in extended spring training games, and in mid-June was sent to play in the Rays' minor league system for further rehabilitation and conditioning in the hope that he might return to the majors during the 2008 season.

During the 2008-09 offseason, further testing indicated that Baldelli suffers from a form of channelopathy, which makes his condition less serious and more treatable than previously thought.

Finally, on August 10th, 2008, Rocco was activated and started in right field for the Rays in a game against the Seattle Mariners. Baldelli had been growing a beard for months as a "symbol of his rehabilitation" and shaved it off before playing. In the contest, he had an RBI single as well as a diving catch before coming out of the game after the 5th inning.

Baldelli ended up appearing in 28 games for the Rays in 2008, mainly as a DH and pinch hitter but occasionally playing in right or left field. He hit .263 with 4 home runs and 13 RBI, and was deemed valuable enough to be included in the Rays' postseason roster as they made the playoffs for the first time.

Baldelli made an impact in his limited post-season playing time. In Game 3 of the 2008 American League Championship Series, Baldelli hit a three-run home run off Boston's Paul Byrd in the eighth inning to help the Rays take the lead in the series. And in game 2 of the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Baldelli made the first-ever double play in World Series history from outfield to infield by catching a fly ball and throwing back to first baseman Carlos Pena in time to beat Jayson Werth .

Overall, Baldelli hit .200 in 20 postseason at-bats with 2 HRs and 6 RBIs . While improved, his medical condition prevented him from playing in back-to-back games, and he sometimes sat down to rest on the field during breaks in the action.

On January 8, 2009 Baldelli signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. Baldelli will wear number 5, the first Red Sox player to wear that number since the departure of Nomar Garciaparra from the team in 2004. The deal is reported to be worth a base of $500,000 plus up to $6.75 million in incentives.

In 2004, Baldelli was inducted into the Rhode Island Italian-American Hall of Fame.

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Tampa Bay Rays

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The Tampa Bay Rays are a Major League Baseball franchise based in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the reigning 2008 American League Champions. The Rays are a member of the Eastern Division of MLB's American League. Since their inception in 1998, the Rays have played in Tropicana Field and have finished out of last place only twice: once in 2004, when they finished fourth in their division, and again in 2008, when they won their first division title, entered the playoffs for the first time in team history, and qualified for the World Series.

With the name change, the teams' primary colors were also changed from black, green, and blue to navy blue, Columbia blue, and gold.

Civic leader and St. Petersburg Times publisher, Jack Lake, first suggested St. Petersburg pursue a Major League baseball team. The notable influences Lake held in the sport are what led to the serious discussions that changed St. Petersburg from a spring training location to a major league city. He spoke to anyone who would listen about his desire to see the city of St. Petersburg have a Major league baseball team. His colorful direction dominated the mindset in both sports and business circles dating back to 1966. He was said to have the foresight and prominence to make it happen.

Local leaders made many unsuccessful attempts to acquire a major league baseball team in the 1980s and 1990s. The Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners all considered moving to either Tampa or St. Petersburg before deciding to remain in their current locations. The Florida Suncoast Dome (now named Tropicana Field) was built in St. Petersburg in 1990 with the purpose of luring a major league team. When MLB announced that it would add two expansion teams for the 1993 season, it was widely assumed that one of the teams would be placed in St. Petersburg. However, the teams were awarded to Denver (Colorado Rockies) and Miami (Florida Marlins) instead.

In 1992, San Francisco Giants owner Bob Lurie agreed in principle to sell his team to a Tampa Bay based group of investors led by Vince Naimoli, who would then move the team to St. Petersburg. However, at the 11th hour, MLB owners nixed the move under pressure from San Francisco officials and the Giants were sold to a group that kept them in San Francisco.

Finally, on March 9, 1995, new expansion franchises were awarded to Naimoli's Tampa Bay group and a group from Phoenix (the Arizona Diamondbacks). The new franchises were scheduled to begin play in 1998.

The Tampa Bay area finally had a team, but the stadium in St. Petersburg was already in need of an upgrade. In 1993, the stadium was renamed the Thunderdome and became the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team and the Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football League team. After the birth of the Rays, the naming rights were sold to Tropicana Products and $70 million was spent on renovations.

The Devil Rays began to build their organization shortly after the franchise was awarded in 1995 by naming former Atlanta Braves assistant general manager Chuck LaMar the senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager. The franchise's first minor league games took place in the 1996 season. On November 7, 1997, Larry Rothschild was named the team's first manager. The team acquired 35 players in the Expansion Draft on November 18, 1997. Tony Saunders from the Florida Marlins was the first player drafted by the Devil Rays. The team also drafted future star Bobby Abreu and promptly traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Kevin Stocker, who had very little success for the Rays. Before the 1998 season, star players Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, and Wilson Alvarez were acquired.

The Devil Rays played their first game on March 31, 1998 against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field before a crowd of 45,369. Wilson Alvarez threw the first pitch and Wade Boggs hit the first home run in team history that day, and although the Devil Rays lost their opening game 11–6, they actually got off to a good start. Miguel Cairo is the last remaining player from the Devil Rays opening day roster, although Randy Winn also spent time with the team later in the 1998 season. The Devil Rays were 11–8 after 19 games before losing six straight, falling below .500, never to recover to that level again in their inaugural season. They would go on to lose 99 games that year. José Canseco was signed prior to the 1999 season. One of the most memorable moments in franchise history occurred on August 7, 1999 when Wade Boggs tallied his 3000th career hit on a home run, the only player to ever do so. Boggs retired after the season and is the only Ray with his number retired (ironically, he spent more time with the Red Sox and Yankees yet neither team has hung up his jersey). He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.

The Devil Rays acquired sluggers Vinny Castilla and Greg Vaughn on December 13, 1999 and dubbed McGriff, Canseco, Castilla, and Vaughn the "Hit Show." As it turned out, however, all of these players were past their prime, and the team continued to struggle in 2000. Prior to the 2001 season, the Rays changed their team colors and uniforms and also acquired highly-touted outfielder Ben Grieve from Oakland but neither move improved their luck in the standings. On April 18, Larry Rothschild was fired as manager and was replaced by Hal McRae, and McGriff was dealt to the Chicago Cubs, interestingly taking nearly a month to decide whether to enforce his no-trade clause or to leave his hometown of Tampa for Chicago, which was in a heated divisional race. By the 2002 season, the Devil Rays decided to build with younger players and drastically reduced the team payroll. Randy Winn, Aubrey Huff, Toby Hall, and Carl Crawford began to emerge as key players. However, the 2002 season would prove to be the worst in franchise history to date. McRae was moved to a front office position after the season.

Before the 2003 season, the team traded Randy Winn to the Seattle Mariners for the right to negotiate with manager Lou Piniella, a Tampa native, who managed winning teams at every stop in his managerial career, including the New York Yankees, the Cincinnati Reds (whom he led to a World Championship in 1990), and the Mariners (whom he led to American League Runner-Up finishes in 1995, 2000, and 2001). Piniella was attracted to the Tampa Bay job because of the proximity to his family and the chance to build a losing franchise into a winner as he had done in Seattle. Piniella's first team still finished last, but was seven games better than the 2002 team. A highlight of the 2003 season was the emergence of Rocco Baldelli, a native of Rhode Island, as one of the top rookies in the major leagues. A bizarre incident occurred in 2003 when, in an interleague game against the Chicago Cubs, Sammy Sosa's bat broke on a pitch from Devil Rays pitcher Geremi González, revealing it was corked.

Expectations were low for the team entering the 2004 season, but the team surprised most baseball experts by finishing with the best record in team history, 70–91. It was the first time the Devil Rays won 70 games in a season and they also finished in 4th place in the American League East, out of last place for the first time ever. Their record was 10–28 coming into May when they made their run in which they won 30 of 40 games, including a team-record 12 games in a row. The Rays had a 42–41 record after 83 games, within 5 games of the American League wild card. However, the team soon returned to its losing ways, leading to a final record of 21 games below .500. The season was highlighted by the continued development of Aubrey Huff, Carl Crawford, and Rocco Baldelli into some of the top young hitters in baseball. The front office produced a major accomplishment on July 30, 2004 when pitcher Victor Zambrano was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Scott Kazmir, who has since become the team's best pitcher and one of the top young pitchers in all of baseball.

After a 28-61 record at the All-Star Break in 2005, the Devil Rays turned it around in the second half of the season, going 39-34, for a final record of 67-95. Rocco Baldelli missed the entire 2005 season due to injury, but Carl Crawford and newcomers Jorge Cantu and Jonny Gomes led a productive offense that finished third in the American League in team batting average. To counterbalance that, however, the pitching staff had the second worst ERA in the American League. During their strong second half, the Devil Rays played spoilers in September, with timely victories over contenders such as the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Despite the promising finish, Lou Piniella became frustrated with what he perceived as an insufficient commitment to winning by the ownership group, and he reached a settlement with the team to release him from the last year of his contract.

Shortly after the season ended, Stuart Sternberg, who bought into the ownership group in 2004, took over from Vince Naimoli as managing general partner, thus taking over executive control of the team. He immediately fired Chuck LaMar, who had been the team's general manager since the team's first season, and most of the front office. Matthew Silverman was named the team president, and Andrew Friedman took the role of Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. Gerry Hunsicker, former General Manager of the Houston Astros, was named the Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, with the responsibility of advising the younger Friedman. Sternberg decided not to have a de jure General Manager, calling the position "outdated." Friedman and Hunsicker share the role of team representative at MLB functions.

The team focused its rebuilding efforts around young stars such as outfielders Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and Jonny Gomes, infielder Jorge Cantu (who hit 28 home runs and drove in 117 runs in 2005) and pitcher Scott Kazmir (who finished in the top 5 in the American League in strikeouts). Baldelli missed the entire 2005 season with injuries, but returned to the team in 2006. Also figuring into the Rays' future plans were Delmon Young and B.J. Upton, considered two of the best prospects in all of baseball.

In December 2005, Joe Maddon, the former bench coach for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was named the new manager of the Devil Rays, the fourth in team history, replacing Lou Piniella in that role.

During the offseason, the new front office invested $10 million in improvements to Tropicana Field. Among the major changes were new club seating on the first base side, a 35-foot, 10,000 gallon touch tank holding 30 live cownose rays behind the right-center field fence, and the addition of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, relocated from Citrus County. Other changes to increase attendance and fan interest included free parking at all home games, allowing tailgating in the parking lot before games, allowing fans to bring their own food and drinks into Tropicana Field, lower ticket prices and concession prices, and an increased number of promotions and give-aways.

With the change of ownership and the strong finish to the 2005 season, Tampa Bay fans were optimistic about the 2006 season. On April 10, the official attendance at Tropicana Field for the Rays' home opener was 40,199, the highest turnout since the 1998 Inaugural Season home opener.

An unfortunate event occurred on April 26, when Delmon Young, playing for the Triple-A Durham Bulls, was ejected from the first inning of a game for arguing a third strike, and tossed his bat at the umpire, striking him in the chest protector. The umpire was not injured, but Young was suspended indefinitely the next day by the International League. Young ultimately was suspended for 50 games without pay and performed 50 hours of community service.

The Devil Rays struggled in the second half, going 22–51 to finish the season with a 61–101 record, the worst in the major leagues. The team's poor play in the second half was attributed to the trades of veterans for prospects, injuries to key players such as Scott Kazmir and Ty Wigginton, and slumps by several players (notably Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu). Another factor was that the Devil Rays played extremely poorly on the road, winning only 3 out of 39 road games after July 1. This matched the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics for the least number of road wins after the All Star break in baseball history. Overall, the Rays went 20-61 on the road, the third lowest number of wins on the road by any team since 1961. On top of that, they led the major leagues in the number of leads blown with 94 and set a new American League record by losing 60 games that they had led. The Rays led in 121 games, but won only 61.

The Devil Rays were involved in two unusual triple plays in 2006; one they hit into, the other they executed themselves. On June 11 against Kansas City, they hit into the third triple play in major league history, and first since 1937, that involved an appeal. Russell Branyan flew out to center, Rocco Baldelli tried to advance to second base and was thrown out, and then Aubrey Huff was called out when the umpires ruled that he left third base early when he tagged up. Then, on September 2 against Seattle, the Rays executed a 2–6–2 triple play where the ball never touched the bat, something that had never been done before. The triple play, against the Seattle Mariners, involved a strikeout and two baserunners caught off base. Tampa pitcher J.P. Howell struck out Raúl Ibáñez. Catcher Dioner Navarro fired the ball to shortstop Ben Zobrist, who tagged out Adrián Beltré trying to steal second base. During that throw, José Lopez tried to go home from third, but Zobrist returned the ball to Navarro in time to put Lopez out at the plate, completing the first 2-6-2 triple play in MLB history.

On the positive side, the Devil Rays finished with a winning record at home (41–40) for the first time ever. Also, home attendance increased by 20% over 2005 to 1,372,193. This was the Rays' highest attendance since 2000.

During the 2006 offseason, Erik Walker, a 23-year-old pitching prospect for the Hudson Valley Renegades who had recently gone 3–1 with a 0.48 ERA during his first professional season, died in a canoeing accident on the New River in Grayson County, Virginia.

On November 15, 2006, the Devil Rays won the rights to negotiate a contract with Japanese infielder Akinori Iwamura. He was signed to a three-year, $7.7-million contract on December 15, and ultimately made the 2007 Opening Day active roster. The Devil Rays paid $4.55 million USD (around ¥538 million) to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows for the rights to Iwamura.

In an effort to court the Orlando, Florida, market, the Devil Rays played a series at The Ballpark (now called Champion Stadium) at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in the 2007 season. The series selected was the May 15-17 series versus the Texas Rangers. The Devil Rays swept the Rangers in that series.

The Devil Rays had the youngest starting line-up since the 1983 Minnesota Twins. One of those young players, Elijah Dukes, was put on the temporary inactive list when a St. Petersburg Times report alleged he threatened to kill his estranged wife and their children. Dukes didn't play again for the remainder of the season. On the other hand, the Rays had bright spots on the year as they were led by pitchers James Shields and Scott Kazmir, who were both exceptional. Shields put in 215 innings and would have been close to 20 wins had he not endured multiple bullpen collapses. Meanwhile, Kazmir struck out a career high 239 batters with an ERA of 3.48.

Offensively, the Devil Rays may have had their best year to that point. Tampa Bay was third in the AL in home runs (187) notably behind the New York Yankees. They also posted 131 stolen bases which also placed them third in the AL. They were led by Comeback Player of the Year, Carlos Peña who batted .282 and set Rays records in home runs (46), RBIs (121), walks (103), on-base percentage (.411), and slugging percentage (.627). He ranked fourth in the Majors in home runs and sixth in RBIs. They were also led by BJ Upton, All-Star Carl Crawford, and rookies Delmon Young and Akinori Iwamura.

With their improved offense the Devil Rays were one of baseball's best six-inning teams, but the absence of a steady bullpen wrecked many quality starts. The bullpen problem was at its worst during the first half, when the likes of Casey Fossum, Jae Seo and Edwin Jackson were just as likely to pitch two innings as five, which taxed an already mediocre bullpen by forcing them to log extra innings.

The Devil Rays compiled the worst record in baseball (66–96), finishing last in the American League East for the ninth time in their 10-season existence. The Rays signed manager Joe Maddon to a contract extension, with the club picking up the 2008 and 2009 club options.

New uniforms for the 2008 season were officially revealed on November 8, 2007.The unveiling coincided with a name change for the team, as the team was now officially called the "Tampa Bay Rays." The new team colors are "navy, Columbia blue and a touch of gold". The new team logo features a bright yellow sunburst that represents the Sunshine State of Florida. The logo and the cap insignia use the font Georgia in bold. In the original press release, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said "We are now the 'Rays' - a new and improved version of the Devil Rays." "We Are One Team," the pitch for the 2008 season was announced February 22, 2008. The phrase, as president Matt Silverman says, refers to the idea of an improved and talented team allied with the fan base across the Tampa Bay area.

While the Rays began the 2008 season with much the same lineup that ended the 2007 season, several key trades and free agent signings improved the team. The Rays traded Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie to the Twins for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan. The Rays signed a two-year deal with veteran relief pitcher Troy Percival who took over closer duties. Al Reyes became the team's set-up man, until he was released mid-season. The Rays signed Cliff Floyd, who has split time at designated hitter and right field. Top third-base prospect Evan Longoria was expected to be the starter at the hot corner while the Rays also signed the #1 pick in the draft last year, pitcher David Price, who was widely recognized as one of the top players in college baseball.

The Rays finished spring training with 18 wins, a club record. They also finished with the highest winning percentage in the Grapefruit League, and tied for the highest of all teams in spring training with the Oakland Athletics. They began the regular season with a win on the road in Baltimore. This snapped a 7-game losing streak in road openers for the franchise, which was the longest active streak in the league until then.

As they did during the 2007 season, the Rays played a regular season home series at Champion Stadium in Walt Disney World for the April 22-24 series against the Toronto Blue Jays. As in the Orlando series in the previous season, the Rays won all three games.

The Rays suffered through many injuries during April and had hovered just above .500 until the end of the month. However, the sweep of the Blue Jays was followed by the team's first-ever sweep of the Boston Red Sox in Tropicana Field. In the series finale, James Shields pitched a complete game 2-hit, no walk shutout and was named AL Player of the Week. Evan Longoria was originally cut from the 25-man roster in Spring Training, but was called up early into the season. He signed a contract worth $15 million over six years. Longoria would quickly become a fan favorite by being one of the team's more productive players throughout the season.

The Rays continued their winning ways into May. At the end of play on Memorial Day, the traditional 1/3 point of the baseball season, the Rays were in first place in the AL East and owned the best record in all of major league baseball at 31-20. The Rays became the first team in modern Major League history (since 1900) to hold the best record in the league through Memorial Day, having the worst record in the league the year before. This was, by far, the best start in franchise history and marked the first time ever that the team was 11 games over .500. The Rays finished the month 12 games over .500, had the best record in the American League, and led the AL East by one game.

In June, incidents over the course of two consecutive games led to a benches clearing brawl against the Boston Red Sox increasing hostility between the two teams, which was also fueled by a tight division race between them. Carlos Peña was out for three weeks with a fractured left index finger. The Rays went 16-10 for the month of June, sporting an overall record of 50-32, were 18 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history, and led the division by 1½ games.

Within the first week of July the Rays stretched their division lead to 5½ games, but then lost seven consecutive games heading into the All-Star Break. Trailing the Red Sox for the division lead by ½ game, they still led the Wild Card. Scott Kazmir and Dioner Navarro were selected to play in the All-Star Game. Evan Longoria was voted into the roster by the fans in the Final Vote. This (3) was the most players the Rays had ever sent to the All-Star Game. In another franchise first, Longoria was a participant in the Home Run Derby, but was eliminated in the first round hitting only three home runs, the least of all competitors.

After going 13-12 during the month of July, the Rays, with a 63-44 record, held a division lead of 3 games over the Boston Red Sox. The Rays did not make any deals prior to the trade deadline. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, would stress that despite no trade activity, the Rays organization had confidence in the players that had given them the best record in the division at the conclusion of July.

In August, the Rays surpassed their previous franchise record of 70 wins in one season. On August 29, they secured their first winning season, notching their 82nd victory against the Baltimore Orioles, in a 14-3 win. Despite injuries to several key players in early August including Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, and Troy Percival, the Rays finished August on a 5-game winning streak, compiling a record of 21–7 for the month, the best single month in franchise history. With an 84-51 overall record, the best in the league, their lead in the division grew to 5½ games going into the final month of the season.

On September 20, the Rays, with the best home record in Major League Baseball, clinched their first-ever postseason berth in franchise history. The following week, on September 26, though the Rays lost that day, they were finally able to clinch their first ever division title due to the Boston Red Sox loss to the New York Yankees.

On October 6, the Rays defeated the Chicago White Sox in Game 4 of the ALDS to capture their first playoff series victory and advance to the ALCS.

On October 19, the Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS to go to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

On October 29, despite having home field advantage in the series, the Rays lost to the Philadelphia Phillies four games to one in the World Series.

The Rays' turnaround has been mostly credited to much improved defense and pitching, especially from the bullpen. While the 2007 bullpen and defense were historically bad, stats for 2008 were among the best in the majors, and the best in franchise history.

Players who left the Rays for free agency included Eric Hinske, Cliff Floyd, and Trever Miller. Jonny Gomes' contract was non-tendered, making him a free agent as well. Rocco Baldelli, who had been with the Rays organization since being drafted, left to sign with his hometown team, the Boston Red Sox. Edwin Jackson was involved in a trade that sent him to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Matt Joyce.

The Rays signed more veterans to join them for the 2009 season, such as Gabe Kapler, Morgan Ensberg, and Adam Kennedy. Their biggest move of the offseason was signing Pat Burrell, who was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies squad that defeated the Rays in the World Series, making him the fifth player since 1970 to play for a team in the first game of a season after having defeated that team in the previous World Series.

With the Rays' new payroll total above $60 million, principal owner Stuart Sternberg held a press conference shortly after the start of spring training saying that unlike previous seasons, the Rays had no more flexibility to make any more additions during the upcoming season. He did add however, that "you never say never" and things may be different come mid-season. In the 2008 season, it was made well known in the media that despite the Rays being contenders the entire season, attendance was still among the lowest in the league. Sternberg stated in his press conference that after doing research, the only team that did not have an average attendance higher than the league average in the season following a World Series appearance was the Florida Marlins, who did so twice after each of their championship seasons. He accepted that the Rays might become the third occurrence, saying about the 2008 season, "it wasn't the best year to win," because of the current state of the economy.

These statistics are current as of October 30, 2008. Bold denotes a playoff season, pennant or championship; italics denote an active season.

Tampa Bay's primary rivals are the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The rivalries from these teams stem from the number of fans in the Tampa Bay area who are transplants from these two locations and continue to root for these teams, as well as the Yankees making Tampa their spring training home. Prior to the 2008 season, Red Sox and Yankee games often drew considerably higher attendance figures to games at Tropicana Field versus the average for other games, the result being a fan bias for these teams on the road. The Florida Marlins are also a rival due to their in-state proximity, though this rivalry is only really visited upon in the Interleague period each season.

As of the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame election, Wade Boggs (3B, 1998-1999) is the only inducted member to have played for the Rays franchise. Boggs is depicted on his Hall of Fame plaque wearing a Boston Red Sox cap.

The Tampa Bay Rays have retired two numbers. These numbers are displayed to the left of the center field scoreboard and "K Counter" on a small wall.

Jackie Robinson's number 42 was retired by all of Major League Baseball.

As of 2009, the Rays' flagship radio station is WDAE 620 AM. The announcers are Dave Wills and Andy Freed. Rich Herrera is the pregame and postgame host, and the radio producer. This team replaced Paul Olden and Charlie Slowes as of the 2005 season. Slowes went to the Washington Nationals, while Olden pursued a photography career. Rays games have been aired on WFLA 970 AM (1998-2004) and WHNZ 1250 AM (2005-2008) in the past.

Fox Sports Florida broadcasts the Rays' games on television. Through the 2008 season, many games also aired on Ion Television affiliate broadcast stations throughout the state of Florida, with WXPX in Tampa as the flagship. However, after the 2008 season, Fox Sports Florida signed an agreement to become the exclusive local broadcaster of the Rays, and will air 155 games per year through 2016. Dewayne Staats (play-by-play) and Joe Magrane (color commentary) had been the TV team from the Rays' inception until the end of the 2008 season. Todd Kalas, the son of Philadelphia announcing legend Harry Kalas, serves as the pregame and postgame host as well as a field reporter during games. Todd also hosts magazine shows and specials on FSN Florida and its sister station, Sun Sports, throughout the season. Dick Crippen and Whit Watson have both filled in for Todd Kalas in the past.

Joe Magrane left the Rays television network in November 2008 to take a position at the MLB Network. On February 16, 2009, it was announced that Kevin Kennedy would replace Magrane, but split the duty with Brian Anderson and Todd Kalas. Anderson and Kalas had been in the booth for a few games with Staats while Magrane was in China for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Staats, Magrane, Kalas, Wills, Olden and Slowes were all nominated for the Ford C. Frick Award, the broadcasters' path to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 2008.

Fox Sports Florida began broadcasting a portion of the schedule in HD beginning in 2007, after Tropicana Field's broadcast equipment was upgraded for in-house HD production. About 44 games were carried in HD in 2007, and 58 games were carried in HD in 2008 (not including nationally-televised games).

Most households in the Greater Orlando area could not see Rays games aired on Fox Sports Florida in the past because its primary cable provider, Bright House Networks, refused to carry the network. However, Bright House in Orlando finally placed FS Florida on the air for digital cable subscribers on 2009-01-01.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were featured in the movie, The Rookie, a 2002 drama, directed by John Lee Hancock. It is based on the true story of Jim Morris, who had a brief but famous Major League Baseball career.

Morris (at the age of 35) had the ability to repeatedly throw the baseball at 98 miles per hour (158 km/h), a feat that less than ten professional baseball players at the time could accomplish. This ability affords him the opportunity to play professional baseball and he signs on with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization. He is initially assigned to the minor league Class AA Orlando Rays (now the Montgomery Biscuits) but quickly moved up to the AAA Durham Bulls, later to be called up to the "bigs" during the September Roster expansions.

James Morris spent two seasons with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, as a relief pitcher. He pitched 15 innings in 21 games, with an earned run average of 4.80.

The Rays' Cowbell was originally a promotional idea thought up by principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who got the idea from the Saturday Night Live sketch. Since then, it has become a standard feature of home games, something akin to the Sacramento Kings of the NBA and the bells their fans ring during games. Road teams have often considered the cowbell a nuisance. Once a year the Rays hold an annual "cowbell night" and give away free cowbells. Cowbells are available for purchase throughout the year as well. The most famous proponent of the cowbell is Cary Strukel, who is known as "The Cowbell Kid." Strukel can be seen at most home games sitting in right field and wearing some kind of costume, typically topped with a neon colored wig or Viking horns. The cowbells are rung most prominently when the opposing batter has two strikes, when the opposing fans try to chant, and when the Rays make a good play.

Rays games are frequently visited by professional wrestlers, as there are a large number of wrestlers living in the Tampa Bay Area. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags), Brutus Beefcake, and Hulk Hogan all appear on a semi-regular basis at Rays games. John Cena appears on occasion.

The Rays held a "Legends of Wrestling Night" on May 18, 2007, featuring several wrestling matches after the game, an 8–4 loss to the Florida Marlins. Outfielder and wrestling fan Jonny Gomes ran interference for the Nasty Boys during the main event.

A second "Wrestling Night" was held on April 19, 2008, after a 5–0 win over the Chicago White Sox. Gomes participated again, this time making a post-match save for the Nasty Boys.

Dick Vitale has been a season ticket holder for the Rays ever since the team's inception in 1998. Currently, he sits behind home plate on the third base (visitor's) side.

9=8 (spoken as "nine equals eight") was the mantra used by the Rays during the 2008 season. The phrase was originally created by manager Joe Maddon while riding his bike after the 2007 season. The meaning of the phrase was that if nine players play nine innings of hard baseball everyday, that team would become one of the eight teams who qualify for the playoffs. Prior to 2008 season, the Rays had never had a winning season in franchise history, much less a playoff appearance.

After a slow start to the 2008 season, the Rays began to pick up speed and found themselves among the best teams in the league that year. Maddon had blue t-shirts made with the phrase on the back in yellow, representing the team's new colors, and gave them to the players during the season. His idea to put the slogan on the back of the shirt, rather than the front, was that a person who was walking behind someone wearing the shirt would see it.

Rays right fielder Gabe Gross, who was acquired by the team through a trade early into the 2008 campaign, said it was as much 9=8 as it was more along the lines of 13=8, because the Rays had many players contributing to the team's success that season.

The Rays played well enough throughout the year, that they surpassed their previous team record for wins in a single season by more than 20 wins, and ultimately clinched a spot in the 2008 MLB Playoffs for their first postseason appearance in franchise history. As the phrase 9=8 had come to fruition, Maddon stated that the phrase also meant that theory and reality had come together.

With each level the Rays reached, the equation was changed. After they clinched their playoff spot, it became 9=4, to represent the teams advancing to the LCS. When they won the ALDS, it became 9=2, for the teams advancing to the World Series. When they won the ALCS, it became 9=1, representing the possible World Series Championship. In the end, they did not win the World Series, losing to the Philadelphia Phillies four games to one.

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2008 World Series

2008 Major League Baseball World Series logo.png

The 2008 World Series was the 104th World Series between the American and National Leagues for the championship of Major League Baseball. The Philadelphia Phillies as champions of the National League and the Tampa Bay Rays, as American League champions, competed to win four games out of a possible seven.

The Series began on Wednesday, October 22, and, after weather delays had postponed the end of Game 5, concluded the following Wednesday, October 29. The American League's 4–3 win in the 2008 All-Star Game gave the Rays home field advantage for the series, meaning no more than three games of the possible seven would be played at the Phillies' stadium, Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won their second championship in their 126-year history, taking the series four games to one.

The Philadelphia Phillies advanced to the World Series after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League's Divisional and Championship Series, respectively. The team won its position in the playoffs after its second consecutive National League East title. This was the Phillies' first World Series appearance in fifteen years. The Tampa Bay Rays advanced to the World Series after defeating the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox in the American League's Division and Championship Series, respectively. The team earned its first trip to the post-season in franchise history after winning the American League East title, only one season after finishing in last place. Since each team had come first in its respective division during the regular season, this was the first Series since 2001 without a wild-card team.

Philadelphia opened the season by posting a winning record in the opening month of April. The team scored 60 runs over a five game span in late May and went 14–4 into the beginning of June. The team lost 9 of 11 games to end June, but came out of the All-Star break with a 9–6 record following the midseason hiatus. The Phillies posted the best road record in the National League, at 44–37. Philadelphia traded sweeps with the Los Angeles Dodgers in August and went 13–3 in their last 16 games, to win National League East title for the second consecutive season. They defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in the Division Series 3–1, and the Dodgers in the Championship Series, 4–1 to book their place in the 2008 Fall Classic. This was the Phillies' first World Series appearance in fifteen years.

The Tampa Bay Rays also began the season with a winning record in the opening month of April. The Rays became the first team since 1903 to have the league's best record on Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) after finishing in last place the previous season. The team went 16–10 in June, but lost seven consecutive games leading up to the All-Star break. In August, the Rays lost seven games to finish out the month with an overall record of 84–51. The team concluded the season, albeit with a 13–14 record in September; they won the American League East title for the first time in franchise history. The Rays beat the Chicago White Sox 3–1 in the American League Division Series. In the American League Championship Series, Tampa Bay defeated the Boston Red Sox in seven games (4–3), to advance to their first World Series in franchise history.

The Philadelphia Phillies scored the first runs of the Series when Chase Utley hit a home run with Jayson Werth on base in the top of the first inning. The Phillies loaded the bases in the second inning, but were unable to score when Shane Victorino was thrown out at home plate by B. J. Upton. The Tampa Bay Rays loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning; however, Upton grounded into an inning-ending double play and the score remained 2–0. The Phillies extended their lead when Carlos Ruiz batted in Victorino in the fourth inning. In the bottom of the inning, a solo home run from Carl Crawford pulled the Rays within two runs. The Rays added their second run the following inning when a double by Akinori Iwamura scored Jason Bartlett. Tampa Bay starting pitcher Scott Kazmir was removed after six innings; J. P. Howell and Grant Balfour combined to shutout the Phillies for 1⅓ innings. Ryan Madson relieved Phillies' starter Cole Hamels in the eighth inning, pitching a single perfect inning. In the top of the ninth inning, two Phillies' runners reached base. Tampa Bay's Trever Miller was brought on and threw four pitches—striking out Ryan Howard—before he was relieved. Philadelphia stranded two runners, on second and third base, and entered the bottom of the ninth inning ahead by one run. Philadelphia's Brad Lidge struck out the first two batters he faced and retired the third batter to get the save.

Tampa Bay scored the first runs of the game in the first inning when Akinori Iwamura and B. J. Upton scored on consecutive ground outs by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria respectively. The following inning Upton singled, scoring Dioner Navarro. Rocco Baldelli attempted to score from second base, but was thrown out by right fielder Jayson Werth, keeping the Rays lead at 3–0. Cliff Floyd extended the Rays lead to four runs after leading off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single, advancing to third base, and scoring on a Jason Bartlett sacrifice bunt. Rays starter James Shields shutout the Phillies through 5⅔ innings, before being relieved by Dan Wheeler who pitched an additional scoreless inning. Eric Bruntlett hit a home run in the top of the eighth inning to bring the score to 4–1. The Phillies added a second run in the top of the ninth inning, but were unable to score any more runs; Tampa Bay's win tied the Series at one game apiece.

The third game of the Series was delayed for an hour and 31 minutes because of rain. The Phillies scored in the bottom of the first inning after Jimmy Rollins led off with a single and eventually scored when Chase Utley grounded out. In the next half inning, Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford doubled, stole third base and scored on a Gabe Gross sacrifice fly to center field. Carlos Ruiz gave the Phillies their second lead of the night when he hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning. Starting pitchers Matt Garza and Jamie Moyer pitched six and 6⅓ innings respectively. The 2–1 score remained unchanged until the sixth inning when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit the 14th back-to-back home runs in World Series history. Crawford scored his second run of the game in the top of the seventh inning when he was batted in by Gross again. Dioner Navarro continued the rally by scoring on a Jason Bartlett ground out—bringing the score to 4–3. In the top of the eighth inning, B.J. Upton led off with a single, stole second and third, and scored on a throwing error to tie the game. Eric Bruntlett was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the ninth, moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a throwing error. Tampa Bay intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases, and brought in Ben Zobrist from right field to play as a fifth infielder behind second base. However, Bruntlett scored the winning run on Ruiz's 45-foot infield single, the first walkoff infield single in World Series history, giving the Phillies a 2–1 lead in the series.

Philadelphia took a 1–0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Jimmy Rollins led off with a double and scored when Pat Burrell later walked with the bases loaded. The Phillies doubled their lead in the third inning when Chase Utley reached base on a fielding error and scored on Pedro Feliz's single. The Rays scored their first run when Carl Crawford hit a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning. Ryan Howard's three-run home run in the bottom of the inning brought the score to 5–1. Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske hit a pinch-hit home run to bring the Rays within three runs, but Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton responded with a home run of his own to re-extend the lead to four; it was the first time a pitcher hit a home run since Ken Holtzman in the fourth game of the 1974 Fall Classic. Blanton pitched six innings, giving up two runs on four hits to acquire his first win of the Series. Jayson Werth hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning—the Phillies third of the game—to bring the score to 8–2. Later in the inning Ryan Howard's second home run, and fifth RBI, increased the Phillies lead to eight runs. Philadelphia's four relief pitchers combined for three shutout innings, giving up one hit. Due to the late completion of the previous game, Games 3 and 4 each ended on the same calendar day.

Philadelphia scored in the first inning for the third consecutive game, taking a 2–0 lead when Shane Victorino batted in Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell. Tampa Bay cut the lead in half in the fourth inning; Carlos Peña doubled and was batted in on Evan Longoria's single, both players' first hits of the Series. The Rays then tied the game in the sixth inning when B. J. Upton scored from second base on a Peña single. The game was suspended after the top of the sixth inning due to rain, making it the first game in World Series history not to be played through to completion or declared a tie.

After the game was suspended, home plate umpire Tim Tschida told reporters that he and his crew ordered the players off the field because the wind and rain threatened to make the game "comical." Chase Utley agreed, saying that by the middle of the sixth inning, "the infield was basically underwater." Rain continued to fall in Philadelphia on Tuesday, further postponing the game to Wednesday, October 29.

The game resumed with the Phillies batting in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pinch hitter Geoff Jenkins led off with a double and was bunted to third by Rollins. Jayson Werth then batted in Jenkins to take the lead for the Phillies, 3–2. In the top of the seventh inning, Rocco Baldelli re-tied the game at three runs with a solo home run. Later in the inning, Utley faked a throw to first, then threw Bartlett out at home for the third out in a play later described as having saved the Series for the Phillies. In the bottom of the seventh, Pat Burrell led off with a double. Eric Bruntlett, pinch-running for Burrell, scored on a single by Pedro Feliz to put the Phillies up by a run again, 4–3. In the top of the ninth, Brad Lidge gave up a single and a stolen base, but was able to shut out the Rays for the Phillies' second World Series championship.

Under normal conditions, games are considered to be official games after five innings, or four and a half if the home team is leading at that point. However, post-season games are operated by the Commissioner's Office, thus are subject to the Commissioner's discretion of how to handle the scheduling of the games. So, with rain in the forecast for Philadelphia, Commissioner Bud Selig informed both the Rays and the Phillies management before the game began that a team would not be allowed to clinch the Series in a rain-shortened game.

Because of the rainfall, Game 5 was suspended after the top of the sixth inning. Rain continued to fall in Philadelphia on Tuesday, October 28, and the game ultimately resumed on Wednesday, October 29, at Citizens Bank Park. Official MLB records will show that even though the game was finished on October 29, the game was officially played two days earlier, and was completed on that date.

This was the first game in World Series history to be suspended. There had been three tied games in the history of the World Series: 1907, 1912, and 1922, all of them called due to darkness. In general, no ties would be needed under modern rules, which provide for suspension of a tied game and resumption of it at the next possible date. Weather has caused numerous delays and postponements in Series history (notable postponements beforehand coming in 1911, 1962, 1975, 1986, 1996 and 2006), but never any suspended games before 2008.

Although not officially a suspended game, the most notorious postponement of a World Series due to natural events was the 1989 World Series in which the start of Game 3 was delayed ten days, the longest in World Series history, due to the Loma Prieta Earthquake striking the San Francisco Bay Area.

Several Nevada sports betting agencies treated the suspended game as a completed game and a win for the Phillies on Monday, October 27. Under Nevada house rules, the final score of a baseball game is determined by reverting to the last completed full inning, and the Phillies led 2–1 at the end of the fifth inning. Game 5 side bets on Philadelphia were paid off while bets on totals and run-line bets were refunded.

During the following offseason, Selig's interpretation of the rules became codified, as the 30 Major League Baseball club owners approved a rule change stipulating that all "postseason games and games added to the regular season to determine qualifiers for the postseason" become suspended games if they are called before nine innings are played, regardless of whether the game would otherwise qualify as an official game, or the score at the time the game is called. The game is resumed when conditions permit at the same location from the point of suspension.

Games 3 and 5 of the World Series were delayed by rain storms in Philadelphia, with the start of Game 3 on Saturday, October 25 being delayed an hour and 31 minutes (with that game ending at 1:47 am EDT Sunday, October 26). Game 5, begun on Monday, October 27, was suspended after 5½ innings and resumed Wednesday, October 29. Wet weather which affected Game 5 continued into Tuesday in the Philadelphia area, as Major League Baseball officials studied radar data to determine when Game 5 of the World Series would continue under conditions deemed "appropriate." Up to this point, there had never been a rain-shortened game in Series history, and this was the first suspension. As a result, had it been necessary to play them, Games 6 and 7 in St. Petersburg, originally scheduled for October 29 and October 30, were postponed until a later date.

With temperatures plummeting to the mid-40s Fahrenheit and a cold rain falling at Citizens Bank Park, some of the Phillies and Rays players opted for an "Elmer Fudd" look, wearing specially made caps with built-in ear flaps. The caps, manufactured by New Era, were introduced during this year's spring training but were not used on the field until Game 5. New Era also supplied regular ball caps to both teams, which some players continued to wear despite the cold weather.

The games were televised on FOX in the United States with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver as booth announcers and Chris Myers and Ken Rosenthal as field reporters. Jeanne Zelasko hosted the pre-game and post-game show with Kevin Kennedy and Mark Grace (Games 1, 2) or Eric Karros (Games 3, 4, 5). Fox Sports en Español did the simulcast of the Series in Spanish with Angel Torres, Miguel Morales and Cos Villa behind the microphones.

On radio, the Series was broadcast nationally by ESPN Radio with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan announcing, and a Spanish broadcast on ESPN Deportes Radio. Dave Wills and Andy Freed called the Series in English for the Rays on WHNZ-AM in Tampa, with Ricardo Tavaras and Enrique Oliu working the Spanish broadcast on St. Petersburg's WGES-AM. Harry Kalas, Scott Frankze, Larry Andersen, and Chris Wheeler called the Phillies' English broadcasts on WPHT-AM in Philadelphia, with Spanish announcers Danny Martinez, Bill Kulik and Juan Ramos on WUBA-AM. Following their contractual obligations, the non-flagship stations on the teams' radio networks carried the ESPN Radio broadcasts.

For international viewers, MLB International carried the feed, with commentators Rick Sutcliffe and Dave O'Brien.

Game 1 was watched by 10.1 million viewers in the United States; Commissioner Bud Selig stated he was satisfied with the ratings. Overall viewership was 25% lower than the previous World Series.

One strike away, nothing-and-two to Hinske... Fans on their feet, Brad Lidge stretches... the 0–2 pitch...Swing and a miss; he struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball! Brad Lidge does it again and stays perfect for the 2008 season, 48-for-48 in save opportunities... And let the city celebrate! Don't let the forty-eight hour wait diminish the euphoria of this moment and celebration! Twenty-five years in this city that a team has enjoyed a world championship and the fans are ready to celebrate. What a night! Phils winning, 4–3, Brad Lidge gets the job done once again!

I always thought we could win the World Series, I knew we could beat anybody in our league. I look at what I see in our guys, I see chemistry and attitude and our makeup and how much we like to play and how much the Philadelphia fans back us, I know we can win the World Series.…This is for Philadelphia! This is for our fans! I look around here and who's the world champions? I thank you!

In Game 2, home plate umpire Kerwin Danley appealed a call to the first base umpire after calling strike three; the first base umpire called ball four to award Rays Rocco Baldelli a walk. Baldelli indicated that the calls did not come up in the locker room, and he did not believe they had an effect on the results.

In Game 3, Phillies' pitcher Jamie Moyer threw the ball to Ryan Howard to force out the Rays' Carl Crawford at first base, despite umpire Tom Hallion calling Crawford safe in the game.

In Game 4, Evan Longoria tagged Rollins at third base, though umpire Tim Welke had ruled Rollins safe. The league admitted these errors between Games 4 and 5.

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2008 Tampa Bay Rays season

The Rays and Red Sox brawl at Fenway Park, 2008.

The Tampa Bay Rays' 2008 season, the 11th season in franchise history, marked the change of the team's name from the "Tampa Bay Devil Rays" to the "Tampa Bay Rays", as revealed on November 8, 2007. The change in name also came with a change in logo and uniforms, with new team colors of Columbia blue, Navy blue and gold. The new logo, colors and name were leaked on September 20, 2007, and were confirmed officially on November 8, 2007, when an official announcement was made in downtown St. Petersburg.

This was the third season with Joe Maddon managing the club. The club had built upon the improvements made in 2007, and had secured the franchise's first winning record, playoff berth, and American League pennant.

The Rays played another series at Champion Stadium at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in 2008, making it the second year that a series had been moved to the Greater Orlando area. The April 22-24 series against the Toronto Blue Jays was selected for the move. Neither the MLB — nor the Blue Jays, who were 10-17 at Tropicana Field over the previous three seasons — resisted the idea. The series move was successfully voted on by the City of St. Petersburg, who holds the lease to Tropicana Field, on January 24, 2008. This was similar to the 2007 series against the Texas Rangers, in which the Rays also won all three games.

The Rays, with their off-season acquisitions and continued prospect development, fostered high hopes both within the organization and from analysts that the team would perform well during the 2008 season. Their performance on the field during spring training justified those hopes. On March 23, they won their team-record 15th spring training game, and finished with a record of 18-8 with two ties and two cancellations due to rain, along with having the highest winning percentage of all teams in spring training.

There were lingering questions, however. Ace pitcher Scott Kazmir had been dogged with arm soreness all spring, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 21. He was expected to be ready in early May. Ben Zobrist, who had been groomed for a super-utility role, suffered a broken thumb during the second week of spring training. Rocco Baldelli, after missing most of the 2007 season with a hamstring injury, was sidelined indefinitely due to chronic fatigue believed to be caused by mitochondrial disease, and placed on the 60-day disabled list just days before the start of the season.

Elliot Johnson, a infielder prospect on the 40-man roster who spent the previous season with the Durham Bulls, made headlines during a game against the New York Yankees when he crashed into Yankees prospect catcher Francisco Cervelli in a play at the plate. He was tagged out, but the collision led to Cervelli breaking his wrist. While the Yankee organization said the move was uncalled-for, most analysts claimed that it was a good baseball play. Johnson himself stated he never intended to hurt Cervelli. The act is believed to have led to heightened tensions in their next game on March 12, leading to an incident where Yankees outfielder Shelley Duncan slid with his spikes high into Akinori Iwamura, leading to a fight between Duncan and Jonny Gomes. During the bench-clearing brawl, Melky Cabrera punched Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. Duncan, Cabrera and Gomes were suspended for three, three, and two games respectively. All three dropped their appeals, and had their suspensions reduced by a game.

Pitcher David Price, the #1 pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft, made his spring training debut on March 8 (prior to the Elliot Johnson incident), accidentally hitting Francisco Cervelli on the arm before striking out 2 to get through the inning. His fastball reached 99 mph on radar guns. After three appearances, he was officially assigned to High-A Vero Beach but is expected to advance quickly through the minor leagues.

The initial starting rotation for the Rays was James Shields, Matt Garza, Andy Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel.

April turned into feast-or-famine for the Rays. The bullpen, which was derided as the worst in baseball in 2007, was the best in the league at the end of the month, with a 2.52 ERA. New closer Troy Percival saved 5 games, and did not allow a single run.

Carlos Peña was bringing the lumber that made him a superstar in 2007, having six home runs in the first 20 games, but finished the month with 31 strikeouts, and had difficulty getting on base with a batting average of just .200. The bigger surprise has been Eric Hinske. Appearing in 25 games, he hit .293 with 6 home runs and 15 RBI. On April 22, against the Toronto Blue Jays in Orlando, he was a single away from hitting for the cycle, which would have made him the first Ray to ever accomplish such a feat. For the second year in a row, the Rays won a sweep during the home series at Champion Stadium.

Evan Longoria was one of the last cuts in spring training, surprising Rays fans. He was called up on April 11 after their chosen third baseman, Willy Aybar, went on the disabled list. After six appearances, he was signed to a six-year, $15 million contract. His future seems promising for the season, with a .250 average and 3 home runs in April. In one game against the Yankees, Longoria hit a home run that capped a 5-run inning to tie the game, and a few weeks later, he homered off of Josh Beckett of the Red Sox, which provided a cushion for the team to complete their first sweep of the Boston Red Sox in franchise history.

James Shields, with the absence of Scott Kazmir, became the team's ace pitcher. In 6 starts, he went 3-1, with the one loss coming to the New York Yankees, opposite their ace Chien-Ming Wang. On April 27, he pitched his first complete game of his career in a game against the Red Sox, where he allowed only 3 batters to reach base. Just a few days after his career outing, he was named AL Player of the Week.

In 26 games during the month, the Rays went 14-12, which marked the first time in franchise history that the team had a winning record for the month of April. After their sweep of the Red Sox, the Rays were 14-11, which was the latest the team had ever been 3 games over .500 in a season.

After winning a series in Baltimore on May 1, the Rays were 16-12, the first time ever the team was 4 games over .500. Although they suffered a sweep to the Red Sox at Fenway Park immediately following, they bounced back with a series win against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre and a sweep of the Angels at Tropicana Field. After a win over the Yankees in extra innings Hank Steinbrenner, Senior Vice President and part-owner of the New York Yankees, expressed his frustration with his team at the time, saying that the Yankees "got to start playing the way the Rays are playing," and that he wished the Rays were in a different division. Hank also stated that he was happy for the Rays, but that he wished they played in the National League instead.

Following a win on Memorial Day, the Rays became the first team in over 100 years to hold the best record in the league through Memorial Day, having the worst record in the league the year before. The last team to do it was the New York Giants in 1903.

Closer Troy Percival was placed on the disabled list for precautionary measures following his removal from a game in which he felt tightness in his hamstring after striking out a batter and then falling to the ground. Percival threw several warm-up pitches but then left the game.

Scott Kazmir set a new franchise record for the most wins in one month. Kazmir lost his first start of the season in Boston, but then won his next five starts following that loss, also sporting a 1.22 ERA in all six starts. Because of this, he was named American League Pitcher of the Month.

The Rays finished May with a 34-22 record, the best record in the American League, leading the division by one game over the Boston Red Sox, and had their first winning record in the month of May (19-10).

Carlos Pena fractured his left index finger on June 4, and was placed on the disabled list. He returned to the team on June 26, wearing a protective padding outside of his left batting glove to help ease impact. Rays manager Joe Maddon stated that once the Rays finished interleague play, and returned to playing American League teams, Pena would consider putting Pena in the Designated Hitter role to help ease the workload on his left index finger, as the Rays were more concerned about his ability to throw the ball, more than having to swing the bat.

The next night, Rays pitcher James Shields hit Crisp below the waist on the first pitch in Crisp's first at-bat of the game. Crisp then charged the mound, punches were thrown by both players, and both teams' benches emptied onto the field. Shields and Crisp were ejected from the game, as well as Rays Designated Hitter Jonny Gomes.

Following the brawl, suspensions were given to players on both teams. For the Rays, Shields was given a suspension of 6 games, and for their actions in the fight, Gomes and pitcher Edwin Jackson were given 5 game suspensions, Left Fielder Carl Crawford was given a 4 game suspension, and Iwamura was given a 3 game suspension. For the Red Sox, Crisp was suspended for 7 games, and for their actions in the fight, pitcher Jon Lester was given a 5 game suspension, and 1st Baseman Sean Casey was given a 3 game suspension.

Both Crisp and Iwamura appealed their suspensions. On June 27, it was announced that Iwamura's suspension was upheld, while Crisp's was reduced to 5 games, no longer making him the longest suspended player of all involved. Iwamura was unhappy that his suspension was upheld so that he would miss the first game of the next series against the Red Sox. Rays manager Joe Maddon stated that the decision "baffles" him and that he will seek an explanation from the appropriate decision-makers. Both suspensions started the following day, and the decision caused Crisp to miss the next series against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

On June 12, it was reported that Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon had made comments about the incident stating that in his opinion, it was "a bunch of bull what did. All I got to say is what comes around goes around, man. Payback's a b----, I'll tell you what," and that "this thing isn’t all settled and done." Papelbon also said that things would be different at Tropicana Field the next time the Red Sox were there, as opposed to the last time in which the Red Sox were swept by the Rays for the first time in franchise history. In that series from June 30 to July 2, the Rays swept the Red Sox at home for the second time in the season, and Papelbon never pitched in the series.

On June 19, the Rays swept the Chicago Cubs in a 3-game series. It was the first time in franchise history that the Rays had swept a team with the best record in baseball, as the Cubs entered the series with the best record in the league at 45-25.

The Rays went 16-10 in June, improving to 50-32 overall and leading the division over the Red Sox by ½ game.

Troy Percival was placed on the Disabled List once again on July 1, due to re-injuring his hamstring, this time after running to backup a throw to 3rd base. Percival and Rays manager Joe Maddon had a brief argument over Maddon's decision to take Percival out of the game, but Percival eventually walked off the field and understood Maddon's concern.

On July 2, the Rays completed a 3-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox, which was the first series between the two teams since their altercation in early June. It was the second home sweep by the Rays of the Red Sox in the season, and increased their division lead to 3.5 games over the Red Sox, as well as giving the Rays the best record in the league.

Pitcher Scott Kazmir and Catcher Dioner Navarro were named to the American League All-Star team on July 6. It was Navarro's first selection, while Kazmir had been selected previously in 2006.

3rd Baseman Evan Longoria was named to the American League All-Star roster on July 10. This meant that it would be the first time the Rays would ever send three players to the All-Star Game. Longoria was voted into the roster by the All-Star Final Vote, where fans vote for one of five players for each league to be the final players selected for the All-Star Game. The chance to vote began on July 6 after the initial All-Star lineups were announced. Longoria was reported to have received over 9 million votes out of 47.8 million total votes cast. He won over Jermaine Dye, Jason Giambi, Brian Roberts, and José Guillén.

Longoria also took part in the Home Run Derby, the first Ray to ever do so. He was quickly eliminated, hitting only three home runs in the first round, the least of any competitor.

The Rays went into the All-Star break with a 7-game losing streak. They had won 7 straight before then. The losing streak caused the Rays to fall to 2nd place in the AL East, but by only half a game behind the Boston Red Sox. Even though the Rays lost the division lead, they still led the Wild Card spot by 2½ games.

Barely managing a winning record for the month of July at 13-12, the Rays would nonetheless go into August with the AL East division lead having an overall record of 63-44.

The Rays acquired relief pitcher Chad Bradford on August 8 from the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later. To make room for Bradford on the roster, relief pitcher Al Reyes, who was the Rays' closer from the 2007 season and had 26 saves in that role, was designated for assignment.

On August 9, against the Seattle Mariners, the Rays equaled their franchise record, set in 2004, of 70 wins in a season. The following day, the Rays won again meaning at the season's conclusion, the Rays will have won more games in one season than in any other season in franchise history.

The injury bug would bite the Rays a few times in August. On August 3, Shortstop Jason Bartlett was hit by a pitch on his right index finger, the result of a failed bunt attempt. Bartlett was not placed on the Disabled List but missed several days before returning to the lineup as the designated hitter. He would not return to his position in the field until August 15. Left Fielder Carl Crawford was placed on the Disabled List on August 10, with a hand injury. Crawford's injury was called by the Rays as a "tendon subluxation" in the middle finger of his right hand, simply meaning that the tendon is not in its normal position. Crawford would opt to have surgery, deciding not to place a splint on his hand instead. An initial report stated that there was a possibility that Crawford would miss the rest of the season, but after it was announced that he would undergo surgery, he was reported to "likely, though not absolutely" miss the rest of the regular season. One day after placing Crawford on the Disabled List, the Rays would place Third Baseman Evan Longoria on it as well, retroactive to August 8. The injury to Longoria's right hand, suffered from being hit by a pitch, was at first thought to be just a bruise, but turned out to be a fracture. Executive Vice President, Andrew Friedman, stated that Longoria was expected to be out for three weeks. Closer Troy Percival was removed from another game on August 14, because of a right knee sprain which he suffered from fielding a bunt and tagging the runner out. After further evaluation, it was reported that there was "cartiledge involvement" in Percival's injury, but it was not a tear. The following day, Percival was once again placed on the Disabled List. When the announcement was made that he would not have surgery, Percival revealed that he may return sooner than expected.

Because of Crawford's injury, Rocco Baldelli was finally activated to take his place on the roster. On August 10, Baldelli started the day's game in Right Field, his first Major League game since May 15, 2007.

On August 29, the Rays recorded their 82nd win of the season, needing just 133 games to reach the milestone, and thus clinching the first winning season in franchise history.

By the end of the month, the Rays' entire starting rotation, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine, and James Shields had recorded at least 10 wins.

On the last day in August, shortstop Jason Bartlett hit his first home run as a member of the Rays, and his first home run overall since August 27, 2007, spanning 471 at-bats.

Despite the injuries to Longoria, Crawford, and Percival, the Rays had the best single month in franchise history, going 21-7 for the month of August. With an 84-51 overall record, the Rays went into September with the best record in baseball, a 5½ game lead in the division, and eyeing their first playoff appearance in franchise history. As Jason Bartlett stated, the Rays were "pumped" for the final month of the season, "no one wants to play us, especially at home," and the team was determined to prove that they were a legitimate postseason contender.

Troy Percival was activated from the disabled list on September 2. In Toronto for his second outing since his return, he allowed a walk-off grand slam with two outs when the Rays were ahead by a single run and in position to win the game in extra innings. Against Boston during another extra inning game, Percival came in to close with a three run lead and allowed the first three batters to reach base. He was removed from the game in favor of Jason Hammel, who had never recorded a save at the MLB level, and was the only remaining reliever available for the Rays in the game due to its length. Hammel converted the save opportunity, but many questioned if Percival should remain as the team's closer. The reason for Percival's removal from the game against Boston was a stiff back, and not for the game's situation, or for any sort of leg injury that had plagued him throughout the year. Percival stated that because of warming up multiple times throughout the game, only to not come in until the Rays took a lead, was what pained his back. Percival acknowledged that he knew he didn't feel well, and that he should have called for his own removal, but decided that with the lead the Rays had, he would be able to get the job done. As a result of the game, the Rays decided to not use Percival too often on consecutive nights, and using him in a tie game if the situation of the game changes while he is warming up. He would still be listed as the team's closer.

Instant Replay made its debut in Major League Baseball at Tropicana Field on September 3 after Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees hit a ball near the left-field foul pole that was initially ruled a home run by third base umpire Brian Runge. Rays manager Joe Maddon argued that the ball was foul and asked for a review. After a conversation among the umpires, though all agreed the play was ruled correctly, crew chief Charlie Reliford allowed the replay to take place and after review, upheld the home run call. On September 20 at Tropicana Field, instant replay would overturn a call on the field for the first time ever in Major League Baseball. A fly ball hit by Rays' first baseman Carlos Pena, the umpires ruled, was interfered with by a fan sitting in the front row of the stands, when the ball hit the hands of the fan and fell back onto the field of play. After Joe Maddon requested the umpires hold a conference to discuss the play, the umpires, headed by Gerry Davis, decided to look at instant replay. Just over four minutes later, Davis returned to the field and signaled that the ball was a home run.

David Price, the Rays' first overall pick in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft, was called up from Triple-A class Durham on September 12. Price made his way up through the ranks, accumulating a 12-1 record, and a 2.30 ERA in 19 starts. He would make his first career start against the Baltimore Orioles on September 22, pitching 5⅓ innings, allowing four hits and two runs (one earned), while striking out three, but did not pick up a decision in the Rays 4-2 win that night.

Third baseman Evan Longoria made his return to the Rays as a starter on September 13 in the first game of a doubleheader against the New York Yankees, more than a month after being hit by a pitch in his hand, causing a fracture.

On September 18, it was reported that left fielder Carl Crawford would miss the rest of the regular season due to a finger injury suffered in the previous month. Joe Maddon stated that the concern was over Crawford's inability to swing a bat, and that if he were to be used at all before being completely healed, it would be for defense and baserunning. Crawford said that if the Rays were to make the ALCS or the World Series, he would have a chance to come back.

On September 20, the Rays clinched their first playoff berth in franchise history, after a 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins. On September 24, St. Petersburg mayor Rick Baker declared 2008 the "Year of the Rays" in the city. On September 26, despite losing that day, the Rays clinched their first ever AL East Division Championship when the Boston Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees.

Going 13-14 for the month, the Rays suffered their only losing month of the season.

The Rays finished the regular season 2 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox for the division championship with a 97-65 record, the third best record in the league, and 31 games better than their finish in the 2007 season. They also surpassed the record for most wins by a team in a single season having finished with the worst record in the previous year, set by the Atlanta Braves in 1991 who went 94-68 after finishing 65-97 in 1990.

The Rays began their first playoff run in franchise history against the AL Central division champion Chicago White Sox, who finished the regular season 89-74 and advanced to the playoffs after defeating the Minnesota Twins in a one-game playoff to decide the winner of their division. In the regular season, the Rays were 5-2 against the White Sox. The Rays had home-field advantage for the series.

On September 30, it was announced that Carl Crawford would start for the Rays in his regular left field position, his first start in nearly two months after injuring his right hand and undergoing surgery thereafter.

In Game 1, Rays first baseman Carlos Peña started the game, but left after his first at-bat after reportedly having blurry vision because of an eye injury suffered at his home the previous night. Rays third baseman Evan Longoria hit a solo home run in the 2nd inning on the first pitch of his first career post-season at-bat, giving the Rays the early one run lead. White Sox left fielder DeWayne Wise hit a 3-run home run in the next inning to put Chicago ahead 3-1. The Rays came back in the bottom half of the 3rd inning with three runs of their own, including another home run by Longoria, putting the Rays back on top 4-3. Two more RBI singles in the 5th inning gave the Rays a 6-3 cushion. In the 7th inning, Rays relief pitcher Grant Balfour appeared to get into an argument with White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera. After Balfour's first pitch to Cabrera, which was a ball to Cabrera's far side, Cabrera kicked some dirt in Balfour's direction. Balfour, who is known to get fired up by shouting to himself, may have yelled something that Cabrera took offense too. After words were exchanged between the two, play continued and Balfour finished the at-bat by striking out Cabrera. Cabrera later stated that he was unaware of Balfour's tendency to pump himself up, and that "it was just heat of the moment." Dan Wheeler would come in close for the Rays in the 9th inning. After giving up a leadoff home run, he retired the next three batters, capping off a 6-4 win for the Rays in their first playoff game in franchise history, giving them a one game lead in the 5-game series.

Peña was expected to start Game 2, but was scratched before the first pitch. Still, the Rays continued to shine. After starter Scott Kazmir allowed the bases to become loaded in the 1st inning, and gave up two runs to put the Rays in an early hole, the pitching staff would not allow another run as the Rays' offense came through strong for the second consecutive night. In the 2nd inning, Dioner Navarro cut the deficit to 2-1 on an RBI single. Akinori Iwamura hit a 2-run home run in the 5th inning to put the Rays ahead 3-2. Adding some insurance runs in the 8th inning from three RBI singles by Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and Navarro, the Rays had a comfortable 6-2 lead going into the final inning. Chad Bradford came in to finish the game off, and did so by striking out Jim Thome of the White Sox to give the Rays a commanding two games to none lead in the best-of-five series, with a chance to win their first ever playoff series, and a trip to the ALCS in Game 3 as the series moved to Chicago.

The Rays looked to be in shape to win the series early in Game 3, after Akinori Iwamura hit an infield single to bring in the game's first run, but starter Matt Garza allowed the White Sox to tie the game in the 3rd inning, and then take a 4-1 lead in the 4th inning. Juan Uribe of the White Sox added an RBI single in the 6th inning to increase the lead for Chicago. B.J. Upton hit a 2-run home run for the Rays in the 7th inning to make the game a bit closer, but the Rays could not get their bats going enough. The White Sox would take Game 3 by a final score of 5-3, living to play another day only down two games to one in the series.

In Game 4, B.J. Upton hit two solo home runs in his first two at-bats which gave the Rays an early 2-0 lead. Cliff Floyd added an RBI double, followed by a Dioner Navarro RBI single in the 4th inning put the Rays ahead by 4 runs. Paul Konerko put the White Sox on the board with a solo home run in the 4th inning, but was answered in the 5th inning by a Carlos Peña single that scored one run, giving the Rays a 5-1 lead. Jermaine Dye had a solo home run in the 6th inning, but once again the Rays answered back with another RBI single by Peña in the 7th inning. Grant Balfour came in to close the game and struck out Ken Griffey Jr. to end the game, and in their first playoff series in franchise history, the Rays took the series three games to one, and advanced to the American League Championship Series.

The Rays' next round opponent would be their division rivals, the Boston Red Sox. Boston won the American League wild card, and advanced to the ALCS by defeating the team who had finished the regular season with the best record in baseball, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, three games to one in their ALDS series. The Rays won the season series against the Red Sox 10-8. In those 18 games, the visiting team won only three times.

In Game 1 neither team scored until the 5th inning when Jed Lowrie of the Red Sox hit a sacrifice fly that scored a run from 3rd base. Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka held a no-hitter through six innings until a hit by Carl Crawford ended that bid with a leadoff hit in the 7th inning. Following Crawford's base hit, Cliff Floyd would single, advancing Crawford to a scoring position. The Rays however, could not capitalize as the next three batters were retired to end the inning. In the 8th inning, Kevin Youkilis hit a fly ball to left field for the Red Sox, which went off the end of Carl Crawford's glove, scoring Dustin Pedroia from 1st base and giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. The 8th inning for the Rays saw the first two batter reach base to send Carlos Peña to the plate with none out. With three balls and no strikes, Rays manager Joe Maddon gave Pena the green light to swing away, a move which would backfire as Peña flew out to Right Field. Evan Longoria then grounded into an inning ending double play. The Red Sox would hold on to their lead and shut out the Rays by a score of 2-0, taking the first game of the series.

While the first game of the series was a pitchers' duel, Game 2 was the exact opposite. The scoring opened up quickly, as the Red Sox put on a 2-out rally against Rays starter Scott Kazmir in the 1st inning from a Jason Bay double that scored Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz to put the Red Sox up 2-0. The Rays answered in their half of the 1st inning off Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, with a 2-out home run by Evan Longoria which also brough in Carlos Peña, evening the game at 2-2. Dustin Pedroia hit a solo home run to Left Field in the 3rd inning, which was again answered by the Rays with B.J. Upton hitting a solo home run of his own to Left Field to tie the game back up at 3-3. Carl Crawford would hit a single to score Evan Longoria, and the Rays took their first lead of the night at 4-3. Cliff Floyd went deep to Center Field in the 4th inning to give the Rays a 5-3 lead. The Red Sox would hit three solo home runs in the 5th inning, including Dustin Pedoria for his second long ball of the night, Kevin Youkilis, and Jason Bay, respectively, putting the Red Sox back on top at 6-5. The Rays would also score three separate times in the 5th inning, off of a single from Carlos Pena, a double by Evan Longoria, and a single by Carl Crawford, retaking the lead at 8-6. The Red Sox would not go away quietly as Jason Bay hit a bases loaded single to Center Field and cut the Rays' lead to 8-7. With Dan Wheeler in to pitch for the Rays in the 8th, a wild pitch would score Dustin Pedroia from 3rd base to again tie the game at 8-8. The game would need extra innings, where in the 11th inning, and Dan Wheeler still pitching for the Rays, walked a batter with one out, and rookie David Price came in for the Rays. Price would walk the first batter he faced but stuck out Mark Kotsay, and was able to get Coco Crisp to ground into a force out at 2nd base. For the Rays in the 11th inning, Dioner Navarro walked to lead off, and Fernando Perez came in to pinch run. Ben Zobrist then walked, and a ground out by Jason Bartlett advanced the runners. The Red Sox would intentionally walk Akinori Iwamura to set up a double play chance, but B.J. Upton would hit a fly ball to Right Field deep enough to score Fernando Perez from 3rd base on a sacrifice fly, ending the game in the Rays' favor 9-8, knotting the series at one game each as the series shifted to Fenway Park for the next three games. The time that the game took to complete was 5 hours and 27 minutes.

Game 3 would play out very well for the Rays. Red Sox starter Jon Lester threw four pitches in the 1st inning, but gave up one run in the 2nd inning to put his team in an early hole. In the 3rd inning, the Rays distanced themselves from their opponents. B.J. Upton hit a 3-run home run, and two batters later, Evan Longoria added a solo home run to put the Rays up 5-0 in Boston. Rays starter Matt Garza held the Red Sox scoreless until a sacrifice fly scored a run in the 7th inning, the Rays still having a 5-1 advantage. Rocco Baldelli and Carlos Peña would put the final nails in the Red Sox' coffin as far as Game 3 was concerned, Baldelli with a 3-run home run, and Peña with a solo shot in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively. The Rays would go on to win 9-1, taking a two games to one lead in the series.

It was more of the same for Tampa Bay in Game 4, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning on Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield with a 2-run home run by Carlos Peña, immediately followed by a solo home run by Evan Longoria. Willy Aybar added a 2-run home run of his own in the 3rd inning to make it 5-0. Kevin Cash put the Red Sox on the board in the bottom half of the 3rd inning with a solo home run. The Rays however, were not finished with their offensive explosion, putting together a lead of 11-1 through six innings. The Red Sox would score a run in the 8th inning, causing Rays manager Joe Maddon]] to pull starter Andy Sonnanstine. Both teams would score two runs in the 8th inning, but the Rays' lead proved to be insurmountable for the Red Sox, as the Rays would take the game by a final score of 13-4. On October 19, Tampa Bay dethroned the previous World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, and are now going to their first World Series. The final score was 3-1.

Game 5, for the longest time, looked as if it would be the series clinching win for the Rays. B.J. Upton hit a 2-run home run in the 1st inning to make it 2-0. Carlos Peña would hit one of his own in the 3rd inning, immediately followed by a home run by Evan Longoria, giving the Rays a 5-0 lead. Upton would double in the 7th inning, scoring two more runs, increasing the lead to 7-0. In the bottom half of the 7th inning, with Rays starter Scott Kazmir having been removed from the game by manager Joe Maddon, the Red Sox would begin to rally. Boston would score four runs in that inning by virtue of a Dustin Pedroia RBI single, and a 3-run home run by David Ortiz which cut the Rays' lead to 7-4. With the Rays' bats quiet in the 8th inning, J.D. Drew hit a 2-run home run to bring the Red Sox within one run, and Coco Crisp would single home the tying run to make the score even at 7-7. In the 9th inning, with the score still tied and two out, Kevin Youkilis hit a ground ball to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria who made an errant throw which allowed Youkilis to advance to 2nd Base. After an intentional walk issued by the Rays, J.D. Drew came up big for Boston once again, sailing a fly ball over the head of Right Fielder Gabe Gross which fell to the ground and then bounced over the Right Field wall, scoring Youkilis on the ground rule double and capping off the largest comeback by a team facing elimination in postseason history. The Rays series lead was now down to only one game heading into Game 6, but would now return home as the series shifted back to Tropicana Field.

Game 6 began well for the Rays, with B.J. Upton continuing his postseason emergence with a solo home run in the 1st inning and giving the Rays the first lead of the night. The Red Sox returned that with a solo home run by Kevin Youkilis, leveling the score at 1-1. Youkilis would give the Red Sox the lead in the 3rd inning by grounding out, but scoring Dustin Pedroia from 3rd Base. In the 5th inning, Jason Bartlett would hit his second home run of the entire season, another solo shot which tied the game at 2-2. Again, Boston would quickly answer back, with a solo home run by captain Jason Varitek, his first base hit of the ALCS, Boston now having a 3-2 lead. Later in the inning, Coco Crisp singled, and in the next at-bat, Jason Bartlett committed a throwing error to First Base, allowing Crisp to advance to 3rd Base. David Ortiz would then hit a single to give the Red Sox a 4-2 cushion, having scored Crisp. The Rays were unable to make a comeback, and lost the game by that score, their series lead now erased as a Game 7 would now have to be played to decide the series.

The starting pitchers of Game 7 were Jon Lester of the Red Sox, and Matt Garza of the Rays, a rematch of Game 3. Lester, who was the losing pitcher in Game 3, had never lost consecutive outings in his career. Dustin Pedroia wasted no time, homering off of Garza for the early 1-0 lead in favor of Boston. After that, Garza was almost unhittable until his departure. Lester was also great early, retiring the first nine batters he faced before allowing a single in the 4th inning. Later in the inning, Evan Longoria dropped a double into Right Field, and scored Carlos Peña all the way from 1st Base to tie the game at 1-1. Rocco Baldelli knocked a single into Left Field in the 5th inning, scoring Willy Aybar from 2nd Base and putting the Rays ahead for the first time in the game, 2-1. With one out the 6th inning for the Red Sox, with Dustin Pedroia on 1st Base and David Ortiz at the plate, Matt Garza was able to get "Big Papi" to swing and miss for the strikeout, and Dioner Navarro gunned down Pedroia at 2nd Base, who was attempting to steal on the pitch, and ending that half of the inning. Willy Aybar would belt a solo home run for the Rays in the 7th inning to give them a slightly more comfortable lead at 3-1. Garza was removed with one out in the 8th inning, having allowed only two hits and striking out nine batters, and receiving a standing ovation from Rays fans at the game as he left the field. The defending world champion Red Sox would not go away though, loading the bases in that inning. Joe Maddon elected to go with rookie David Price in hopes of ending the threat. Price would do just that by striking out J.D. Drew on a check swing. Price would return to close out the game in the 9th inning, and after two strikeouts and a walk, Jed Lowrie hit a ground ball to Rays Second Baseman Akinori Iwamura, who stepped on 2nd Base to make the final out and send the Tampa Bay Rays to their first World Series in franchise history, defeating the Boston Red Sox four games to three. Garza, who had won two games in the series, was named ALCS MVP.

The Rays now stood only four wins from their first world championship, with only the Phillies in their way. Philadelphia won the NL East division title, disposed of the Milwaukee Brewers in their division series in four games, and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS in five games. The Rays had home field advantage because of the American League's win in the 2008 All-Star Game.

In Game 1, Rays starting pitcher Scott Kazmir did not get off to a good start to the Rays' first ever World Series game, giving up a 2-run home run to the Phillies' Chase Utley in the 1st inning. The Rays had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the 3rd inning with the bases loaded and one out, but would not score as B.J. Upton hit into a double play. The Phillies would add another run in the 4th inning on an RBI groundout, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Carl Crawford the longest tenured Ray on the team's roster, would give the Rays their first run in World Series history, by hitting a solo home run off of Phillies' starter Cole Hamels in the 4th inning, cutting the deficit of 3-1. In the 5th inning, Akinori Iwamura hit an RBI double to bring the Rays within one. The Rays would not be able to put up any more offense, with the Phillies relief pitchers retiring the Rays' last six batters and winning the game 3-2, taking the first game of the series.

Game 2, saw an impressive performance by the Rays' "Big Game James" Shields. In this game, it was the Rays taking a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning, on two consecutive RBI groundouts, each scoring a runner from 3rd base. In the 3rd inning, B.J. Upton singled home Dioner Navarro, with Rocco Baldelli being thrown out at home plate after the score, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead. Shields was taken out of the game in the 6th inning after getting into a jam, but he did not give up any runs to the Phillies in the game. David Price would eventually come into the game for the Rays in the 7th inning, and would allow the Phillies to get on the scoreboard from a solo home run by pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett to make the score 4-1 with the Rays still ahead. Price would finish the game, with the Phillies making it a bit interesting by scoring a runner from 2nd base because of an error by Rays' Third Baseman Evan Longoria, who deflected the ball into shallow Left Field. Already with one out, Price would then strike out Chase Utley, and retired Ryan Howard on a groundout to end the game and give the Rays the 4-2 win. The series would now move to Philadelphia and Citizens Bank Park, tied at one game for each team.

With the start of Game 3 delayed by rain for an hour and 31 minutes, the series finally resumed in Philadelphia just after 10 pm EST. Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher to start a World Series game, facing off against ALCS MVP Matt Garza. Philadelphia was on the board early, as Chase Utley was put out on a ground ball that scored a runner from third. The Rays would even the game at one run each in the 2nd inning as Gabe Gross flew out on a sacrifice fly. The Phillies would take the lead back in the 2nd inning after a solo home run by Carlos Ruiz. The Phillies would make it 4-1 in the 6th inning from back-to-back home runs by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Gabe Gross scored Carl Crawford by grounding out, and Jason Bartlett would do the same to score Dioner Navarro during the next at-bat to make the score 4-3 Philadelphia. In the 8th inning for the Rays, B.J. Upton would single to reach base. During Evan Longoria's at-bat, Upton would steal 2nd base, and later steal 3rd base in the same at-bat. Trying to throw out Upton at 3rd base, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz made a throwing error which allowed Upton to score and tie the game at 4-4. The 9th inning went sour for the Rays defensively, as Phillies batter Eric Bruntlett was hit by a pitch. When Bruntlett attempted to steal 2nd base, Rays catcher Dioner Navarro made a throwing error which allowed Bruntlett to advance to 3rd base. The Rays intentionally walked the next two batters, which loaded the bases with no outs. Carlos Ruiz would hit a soft ground ball down the 3rd base line, which was fielded cleanly by Rays 3rd baseman Evan Longoria, but trying to toss to Navarro at home to make a forceout, sailed the throw over the catcher's head, and the winning run was scored by the Phillies to win the game 5-4, and take a two games to one series lead. Because of the game's late start, it was not completed until 1:47 am EST.

The Phillies scored in the 1st inning of Game 4 on a bases loaded walk, and never looked back. Pedro Feliz drove in a run in the 3rd inning to make it a 2-0 Phillies lead. In the 4th inning, Carl Crawford hit a solo home run to cut the deficit in half to just one run for the Rays, but in the bottom half of the inning, Ryan Howard knocked a 3-run home run to make it a 5-1 game. Eric Hinske hit a solo home run to make it 5-2, but Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton hit a solo home run of his own to make it 6-2. In the 8th inning for the Phillies, Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard each hit 2-run home runs, finishing off the Rays in the most one-sided game the series had seen by a score of 10-2. The Phillies now had the Rays on the ropes, needing just one more win to become World Champions.

Game 5 was perhaps the most interesting game of the series. The Phillies scored in the 1st inning again, on a bases loaded single by Shane Victorino to make it 2-0. Evan Longoria scored Carlos Peña to make it a 2-1 game.

At one point, it began to rain, and the weather conditions would get worse as the game continued. There was much speculation, including that from FOX baseball commentators Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, that the game may be called early because of the weather. Major League Baseball rules state that the game could have been called after the 5th inning, ending the game and resulting in the Phillies winning the World Series. MLB commissioner Bud Selig had made it clear to both teams prior to the game anyway, that the game would not be called early under any circumstance, as he would not allow such an important game like this to be ended before the 9th inning. However, such a controversy was prevented from happening because of the events on the field, when in the 6th inning, Carlos Peña scored B.J. Upton to tie the game at 2-2.

Following the completion of the top of the 6th inning, the tarps were pulled over the infield, and the game was delayed until 11:10 pm EST, when it was officially announced that the game would be suspended, making it the first time a World Series game had ever been suspended. It would not resume the next day, as it continued to rain in Philadelphia, but the day following that, the game would resume.

The Phillies had scored in the 1st inning in each game of the World Series in Philadelphia, and essentially did the same again as Jayson Werth singled on a pop up that scored a run in the bottom of the 6th inning to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead. Rocco Baldelli kept the Rays in it with a solo home run in the 7th inning to tie the game again. Pedro Feliz would answer that home run with an RBI single that ended up being the game winner, as Phillies closer Brad Lidge would strike out Eric Hinske in the 9th inning to end the game. The Philadelphia Phillies had defeated the Rays four games to one to win their second World Series title, and first since 1980. Cole Hamels was named MVP of the series.

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2008 Philadelphia Phillies season

Chase Utley led Major League Baseball with 11 home runs in April.

The Philadelphia Phillies' 2008 season was the 126th season in the history of the franchise. The team finished with a record of 92–70, first in the National League East. During the season, they were managed by Charlie Manuel.

The Phillies opened the season by posting their first winning April since 2003. They also scored 60 runs over five games in late May in a sweep over the Colorado Rockies and accrued a 14–4 record over 18 games entering the month of June. The Phillies' performance declined in late June, but they improved after the All-Star break, going 9–6 immediately following the midseason hiatus. Closer Brad Lidge earned eight saves in those games, and did not blow a save throughout the season and the postseason. Philadelphia traded sweeps with the Los Angeles Dodgers in August and went 13–3 in their last 16 games, taking advantage of a late swoon by the New York Mets for the second year in a row to capture the division crown. The team won its position in the playoffs after its second consecutive East Division title.

Philadelphia defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Division Series (NLDS), 3–1, and the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), 4–1 to book their place in the 2008 Fall Classic. Lastly, the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win their first World Series in 28 years; this was the first major sports championship for Philadelphia since the 76ers won the 1983 NBA Finals and ended the Curse of Billy Penn. The Phillies also posted the best road record in the National League, at 44–37. Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels was named the most valuable player of both the NLCS and the World Series.

Statistical leaders in batting for the 2008 team included right fielder Shane Victorino (batting average, .293), first baseman Ryan Howard (home runs, 48; runs batted in, 146), and second baseman Chase Utley (runs scored, 113). For their accomplishments, Howard won the Josh Gibson Award for the National League, presented by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and Utley won his third consecutive Silver Slugger Award, presented by Louisville Slugger. Pitching leaders included left-handed starting pitcher Hamels (innings pitched, 227⅓), left-hander starter Jamie Moyer (wins, 16), and right-handed relief pitcher Lidge (saves, 41). Lidge won the DHL Delivery Man of the Year and the Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year awards for his performance during the season. Victorino and shortstop Jimmy Rollins also won Gold Glove awards for their play in the field.

On October 29, 2007, Charlie Manuel signed an extension to manage the Phillies for two more years. All of the coaches from the 2007 division championship season were also retained. However, Davey Lopes underwent treatment for cancer and had to be replaced on an interim basis in the early part of the season. The Phillies re-signed J. C. Romero to a new two-year contract after a dominating 2007.

Outfielder Michael Bourn and right-handed pitcher Geoff Geary were traded to Houston for closer Brad Lidge and infielder Eric Bruntlett on November 7, 2007. Outfielder Chris Roberson was traded to Baltimore for cash in January 2008, while third baseman Pedro Feliz, outfielder Geoff Jenkins, and outfielder So Taguchi arrived as free agents; Feliz was signed on January 31, while Jenkins and Taguchi signed the month before. In the broadcast booth, Tom McCarthy also returned to the team after two years as a radio announcer for the New York Mets.

On November 29, 2007, the team announced that in honor of the franchise's 125th anniversary of playing in Philadelphia, the Phillies would wear an alternate home uniform based on their 1948 uniforms for all day home games during the season. The cap formerly used for interleague play, a red-crowned cap with a blue bill and a star within the "P" logo, was retired.

The Phillies opened the season against the Washington Nationals at home on March 31. They failed to win any of their first three series, losing two of three against the Nationals and New York Mets, with a four-game split against the Cincinnati Reds between those series. The Phillies won their next two series against the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros. After dropping a second series to the Mets, the Phillies finished the month with 15 wins and 12 losses. They did not achieve a three-game sweep against any team in the opening month, nor were they swept. By winning at least one game in each series, the Phillies were able to achieve their first winning April in several seasons, and only their fourth since their last World Series appearance in 1993.

With a batting average of .360 and his Major League Baseball-leading 11 home runs, Chase Utley paced the team's offense, followed closely by a resurgent Pat Burrell and his 25 runs batted in. Though team speed was hampered by the loss of Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins to the disabled list, the latter for the first time in his career, the Phillies still pushed forward to a 15–13 record, including their Opening Day loss to Washington. The pitching rotation was led by ace Cole Hamels, who led the team in wins (3), earned run average (ERA) (2.70), and innings pitched (43⅓). Reliever J. C. Romero and new closer Brad Lidge both went the entire month without sacrificing a single run, over 12⅓ and 11 innings respectively.

The Phillies did not achieve their first three-game series sweep until almost the end of May, taking two from the San Francisco Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks (splitting the series 2–2), the Atlanta Braves, and the Nationals, and dropping two to the Giants, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Astros. However, the Phillies' first sweep was achieved in dramatic fashion, as the offense broke out for 60 runs in five games, including a 20–5 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Though several fill-in players, including Brad Harman and T.J. Bohn, substituted during Victorino's and Rollins' absence, none was more valuable to the team during May than Jayson Werth. Expected to be primarily a platoon player coming into the season, Werth showed positive form. While Utley slowed down, Werth had a game with three home runs and stole four bases in the month. However, as Rollins and Victorino returned, Werth was lost to the disabled list. Ryan Howard broke out of his early-season slump, batting .245 in May, nearly an 80 point increase from his average in April, and hitting ten home runs. Hometown pitcher Jamie Moyer also became the sixth pitcher in Major League Baseball history to defeat all 30 teams in the league on May 26 in a 20–5 Phillies win over Colorado.

June was a tale of two halves for the Phillies, as they started June with a strong combination of offense and pitching. From May 26 to June 13, the team posted a 14–4 record, starting their run with a 15–6 win over the Astros and ended with a 20–2 win over the Cardinals, as their record reached a first-half high of 13 games over .500 at 41–28. However, the offense took a downturn as the Phillies pitchers began to sacrifice more runs in the latter part of the month. The Phillies went 3–11 over the remainder of June, with the pitchers allowing an average of 4.79 runs per game, to the offense's 3.36 runs scored per game. This was punctuated by a season-high six-game losing streak. The poor records coincided with the Phillies' stretch of interleague play for 2008, as they were swept by the Angels, and lost their series with the Red Sox, A's, and Rangers, in addition to dropping two NL series against the Cardinals and Marlins. While Hamels and Kyle Kendrick each managed to post a 3–1 record in the rotation, the other starters (Moyer, Adam Eaton, and Brett Myers) were not so lucky. Myers' poor performance received arguably the most scrutiny, based on management's decision to move him back to the rotation from the bullpen after the 2007 season. Myers would eventually accept an option to Triple-A to work on his mechanical issues and confidence.

July began with the announcement that Chase Utley and Brad Lidge would represent the team at the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, with Utley garnering the most votes of all National League players. Pat Burrell was also selected as a "Final Vote" candidate, but lost out on the opportunity for his first All-Star appearance to Milwaukee outfielder Corey Hart. The Phillies went 8–5 in July before the All-Star break, compiling a four-game win streak, a four-game losing streak, and winning four of their last five. The team posted a sweep of the Braves, a series loss to the Mets, and series wins over the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks.

In a move to bolster their starting rotation in preparation for the pennant race, the Phillies traded three minor league players, including second baseman Adrian Cardenas, pitcher Josh Outman, and outfielder Matthew Spencer to the Oakland Athletics for starting pitcher Joe Blanton on July 17. The move would prove necessary, as Blanton's start was the only game of their next series against the Mets that the Phillies would win, with the bullpen earning the victory (Chad Durbin) or suffering the loss (Ryan Madson and Romero) in each game of the series. The Phillies managed to go 7–5 after the All-Star break within their own division, dropping series to the Marlins and Mets, but besting the Braves and sweeping the Nationals. Brad Lidge posted a save in six straight Phillies wins, and the team ended the month on a five-game winning streak, with a final record of 15–10.

The Phillies opened August by taking two of three from the Cardinals, though they followed that by dropping a series to the Marlins. On August 7, the Phillies acquired left-handed reliever Scott Eyre from the Cubs. After taking two of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies went west for their first trip to Dodger Stadium, dropping three consecutive games to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first game saw the team sacrifice a 7-run lead that they could not overcome, and the second two of the series were both blown by the bullpen. The Dodgers' sweep in Los Angeles was completed as the Phillies dropped the last game of the series, leaving them out of first place in the division. However, the Phillies struck back, taking two of three from both the Padres and the Nationals, and completing a revenge sweep of the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. The following evening, the Phillies saw starter Jamie Moyer give up seven runs over the first three innings of their game against the Mets. However, the offense made up that deficit by scoring the tying run in the ninth; catcher Chris Coste capped the comeback by going four-for-four coming off of the bench and driving in the winning run with a bases-loaded single to deep center in the bottom of the 13th inning. They ended up splitting the short series with the Mets and the next four-game series against the Cubs to close out the "dog days" of summer.

With a nearly-full slate of division rivals in the final month, the Phillies opened by dropping series to the Nationals and Marlins, with a 2–1 series win over division leaders New York between the two losses. However, they pushed back into contention on the back of strong pitching, sweeping the Brewers over a four-game set while allowing only eight runs. Brett Myers' return to the rotation in late July bolstered the strength of the Phillies' starters toward the end of the season; he carried a 7–2 record and a 1.80 ERA into the beginning of September. Taking their winning ways south to Atlanta, the Phillies completed a series sweep of the Braves; the Phillies also swept the Braves at Turner Field for the season and handed the Braves franchise its first nine-game home losing streak against a single team since 1909. With an 8–4 win over the Washington Nationals on September 26, the Phillies secured their first 90-win season since 1993. The next day, the Phillies clinched the NL East Division title for the second consecutive season, beating the Nationals by a score of 4–3. Jamie Moyer contributed a one-run, six-hit performance over six innings and Jayson Werth led off the fifth inning with a home run. They won the division title as Brad Lidge earned his 41st consecutive save on a game-ending double play. Having gone an entire season without losing a save opportunity, Lidge was rewarded as 2008's National League Comeback Player of the Year.

All players who made an appearance for the Phillies during 2008 are included.

Following their four-game sweep of Milwaukee in the beginning of September, the Phillies recorded their first playoff win since their 1993 World Series appearance on October 1, defeating the Brewers in Game 1. Cole Hamels was the victor, earning his first career playoff win. Hamels allowed no runs and two hits over his eight innings of work. Chase Utley batted in two runs, while Ryan Howard walked three times in the game. In Game 2, Shane Victorino's grand slam was all the run support starter Brett Myers needed, as he pitched seven innings and allowed only two runs. The Phillies' second consecutive victory was also supported by a pair of doubles from Victorino and from Jayson Werth. In a reversal of fortune, the Brewers scored two runs in the first inning of Game 3, and it proved to be enough to win the game. Brewers starter Dave Bush and closer Salomón Torres were able to hold off the Phillies despite a rally in the top of the ninth inning, keeping the Brewers alive for Game 4. However, the Phillies defeated the Brewers in Game 4 at Miller Park to win the series, 3–1. Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell all hit solo home runs, and Burrell contributed a three-run homer as well. Joe Blanton struck out seven Brewers, holding the team to one run on five hits through six innings.

Facing off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS for the fourth time in history, Derek Lowe stifled the Phillies' offense for the first five innings of Game 1; however, the Phillies came from behind to score three runs in the sixth on home runs by Utley and Burrell. Hamels followed his stellar NLDS performance with a seven-inning, two-run outing, and Brad Lidge earned his 44th consecutive save in 2008. Manny Ramírez' home run could not overcome the Phillies' potent offense in Game 2, who scored four runs in both the second and third innings to win the game, 8–5. Starting pitcher Brett Myers was 3 for 3 at the plate, driving in three runs to help his own cause. He was supported by two-hit performances from Victorino and Greg Dobbs, who started at third base. Tensions escalated the following night in the third inning. After a beanball and a throw-behind by the Phillies in the previous game and no retaliation from the Dodgers, Los Angeles starter Hiroki Kuroda threw a fastball up and in to Shane Victorino, narrowly missing his head. Victorino gestured angrily warning Kuroda to throw at other parts of his body, but not his head. This soon escalated to clearing the benches, and the Dodgers rode their momentum to the end of the game, defeating the Phillies 7–2 after posting five runs in the first inning. The Phillies staged another comeback in the following game. Down 5–3 in the eighth inning, two home runs by Shane Victorino and pinch-hitter Matt Stairs plated four runs and put the Dodgers in a hole out of which they could not climb; the Phillies went on to win the game 7–5. In the first decisions of the series for either bullpen, right-handed reliever Ryan Madson got the win for Philadelphia, while Cory Wade suffered the loss for Los Angeles. Dodgers fans were psyched for a possible comeback in game five; however, Jimmy Rollins spoiled the party early with a leadoff homer off of Chad Billingsley, who did not get out of the third inning alive thanks to a pair of Phillies runs. Philadelphia added two runs on a trio of Rafael Furcal errors in the fifth. Ramírez did bring the Dodger Stadium crowd to life with a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth, but the Dodgers never threatened after that. The Phillies won the series in five games; winning pitcher Cole Hamels was named the series MVP. Thus, the Phillies advanced to reach the World Series for the first time since 1993.

The Phillies played in their first Fall Classic in fifteen years which began on October 22 against the Tampa Bay Rays. The first two games were played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, followed by three games at Citizens Bank Park. The Rays had home field advantage for the series, due to an American League victory in the 2008 All-Star Game. The Phillies defeated Tampa Bay, four games to one. Starting pitcher Cole Hamels (4–0, 1.80 ERA, 30 K in the postseason) was named the series MVP.

Philadelphia scored the first runs of the series when Chase Utley hit a home run with Jayson Werth on base in the top of the first inning. Tampa Bay loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning; however, Upton grounded into an inning-ending double play and the score remained 2–0. The Phillies extended their lead when Carlos Ruiz batted in Victorino in the fourth inning. A solo home run from Carl Crawford pulled the Rays back within two runs. Tampa Bay added their second run the following inning on an RBI double by Akinori Iwamura. Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels pitched seven innings and allowed only two runs, while Brad Lidge nabbed his 47th consecutive save in 2008.

Tampa starter James Shields shut down the Phillies lineup, scattering seven hits and allowing no runs in 5⅔ innings of work. Outfielder B. J. Upton (2 for 4, one run scored, one RBI) and catcher Dioner Navarro (2 for 3, one run scored) led the offensive charge for the Rays as Brett Myers gave up four runs (three earned) while notching two strikeouts and three walks. Rather than power-hitting Matt Stairs, Charlie Manuel opted to go with Greg Dobbs as the DH; Dobbs was 1 for 3 for the Phillies, while Victorino and Howard supplied two hits each. Cliff Floyd extended the Rays' lead to four runs after leading off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single, advancing to third base, and scoring on a Jason Bartlett sacrifice bunt. The Phillies' loss tied the series at 1–1.

After a 91-minute rain delay, the offenses fought back and forth, taking run after run in a back-and-forth affair in Philadelphia. Ryan Howard ended his home run drought, hitting his first round-tripper since the end of September. Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz also hit home runs for the Phillies, while Carl Crawford and Dioner Navarro contributed a double each for the Rays. Philadelphia starter Jamie Moyer turned in his first strong performance of the post-season, allowing three runs over 6⅓ innings. His counterpart Matt Garza allowed four runs over six innings, but neither would factor in the decision. After the Rays tied the game in the top of the eighth, the Phillies loaded the bases on two intentional walks with Eric Bruntlett on third base. Even with a five-man infield, Ruiz was still able to engineer some late-game heroics, sneaking a dribbling ground ball down the line to score Bruntlett. Philadelphia took a 2–1 series lead.

The Phillies' offensive woes seemed a distant past as the lineup broke out in a big way for Game 4. Led by Ryan Howard's 3 for 4, 2 home run performance, as well as home runs by Jayson Werth and starting pitcher Joe Blanton, the Phillies pushed 10 runs across the plate. Blanton became the first World Series pitcher to hit a home run in 34 years, in addition to a strong performance on the mound, pitching six innings and allowing two earned runs on four hits. Roster addition Eric Hinske hit a home run for the Rays, as did left fielder Carl Crawford, his second of the series.

Philadelphia scored in the first inning for the third consecutive game, taking a 2–0 lead when Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz batted in Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell respectively. Tampa Bay cut the lead in half in the fourth inning; Carlos Peña doubled and was batted in on Evan Longoria's single, both players' first hits of the Series. The Rays then tied the game in the sixth inning when B. J. Upton scored from second base on a Peña single. The game was suspended after the top of the sixth inning due to rain, making it the first game in World Series history to not be played through to completion or declared a tie.

After the game was suspended, home plate umpire Tim Tschida told reporters that he and his crew ordered the players off the field because the wind and rain threatened to make the game "comical". Chase Utley agreed, saying that by the middle of the sixth inning, "the infield was basically underwater." Rain continued to fall in Philadelphia on Tuesday, further postponing the game to Wednesday.

Under normal conditions, games are considered to be official games after five innings, or four and a half if the home team is leading at that point. However, both Rays and Phillies management knew before the first pitch that Commissioner Bud Selig, who is responsible for the scheduling of post-season games, would not allow a team to clinch the Series by winning a rain-shortened game. Thus, the game resumed on October 29 in the middle of the sixth inning at Citizens Bank Park, with the Phillies batting in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pinch hitter Geoff Jenkins led off with a double and was bunted to third by Rollins. Batting third, Jayson Werth batted in Jenkins to give the Phillies the lead, 3–2. Rocco Baldelli re-tied the game at three runs with a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Jason Bartlett was thrown out at home to end the inning on a fake throw-over by Utley, who could not get the ball to first in time to catch the speedy Akinori Iwamura. In the bottom of the seventh, Pat Burrell led off with a double; Eric Bruntlett entered as a pinch runner and scored to put the Phillies up by a run again. Brad Lidge gave up a single and a stolen base but struck out Eric Hinske for the final out, sealing the Phillies' first World Series championship since the 1980 World Series, and the city's first major sports championship in 25 years.

The curse of Billy Penn was an alleged curse sometimes used to explain the failure of professional sports teams based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to win championships since the March 1987 construction of the One Liberty Place steel-and-glass skyscraper, which exceeded the height of William Penn's statue atop Philadelphia City Hall. For many decades, a "gentlemen's agreement" stated that the Philadelphia Art Commission would approve no building in the city which would rise above this statue. This ended in March 1987, when One Liberty Place opened three blocks away. The curse had gained such prominence in Philadelphia that a documentary film entitled The Curse of William Penn was produced about it.

The curse ended on October 29, 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series, a year and four months after a statuette of the William Penn figure atop City Hall was affixed to the final beam put in place during the June 2007 topping-off of the Comcast Center, then the tallest building in the city.

Closer Brad Lidge was named the Major League Baseball Comeback Player of the Year and the DHL Delivery Man of the Year for his perfect 48-for-48 performance throughout the 2008 regular season and postseason.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins and center fielder Shane Victorino were honored by Rawlings with Gold Gloves, honoring their defense in 2008. Rollins posted a fielding percentage of .988, compiling 193 putouts and 393 assists while making only seven errors; Victorino's fielding percentage was even higher, at .994, notching 7 assists from the outfield along with 328 putouts.

Clean-up hitter and first baseman Ryan Howard was named the recipient of the National League's Josh Gibson Award. Howard hit 48 home runs in 2008, more than any other player in the National League. Howard also batted in 146 runs, and finished the regular season with 11 homers and 32 RBIs during September. Second baseman Chase Utley also won his third consecutive Silver Slugger award, given annually to the best hitter in each league at his position.

Four of the This Year in Baseball Awards, which are voted on by the fans, also went to the Phillies. Lidge was rewarded as the Closer of the Year, while Utley won the Postseason Moment of the Year award for his fake throw to first base which allowed him to pick off Rays' shortstop Jason Bartlett at home plate during the World Series. Manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Pat Gillick were also named Manager of the Year (distinct from Major League Baseball's Manager of the Year award) and Executive of the Year, respectively, for their leadership of the 2008 team and for winning the World Series.

All statistics are current through the 2008 regular season.

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Source : Wikipedia