Looking back at a Philadelphia Phillies loss to the Boston Red Sox 22 years ago today.
I’m blowing the dust off another old Philadelphia Phillies scorecard as part of this series, and this time I’ll be looking at the conclusion of a split four-game “series” between the Phils and Boston Red Sox on June 25, 1998.
It’s a Thursday night at Veterans Stadium, and the Phils are looking to win their fourth straight game against the Sox, having taken the first two games at Fenway Park and then the previous night’s contest at the Vet. The Phillies are actually killing it lately, going 9-2 in their last 11 games to push their record three games over the .500 mark. Tonight, it’ll be Matt Beech‘s turn to keep the good times rolling.
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Sox third baseman John Valentin has other ideas, though, smacking a home run in the top of the first to stake Boston to a 1-0 lead. Then, Damon Buford leads off the second with another bomb, and it’s 2-0. The Phils’ bats, meanwhile, can’t do anything against Bret Saberhagen. The veteran hurler keeps them scoreless through the first five innings, allowing only four hits in the process.
In the sixth inning, they finally make some noise, albeit in the cheapest of fashions, as Rico Brogna and Mark Parent (who replaced Mike Lieberthal earlier in the game) reach base on successive errors. A Bobby Abreu single plates Brogna, and it’s a 2-1 game through six innings.
And that’s when the problems start.
Beech, settling in after the two early home runs, gives up singles to Mo Vaughn and Buford to start the inning. Then, Phils second baseman Mark Lewis boots a ball to load the bases. Big trouble. Beech walks Jason Varitek to force in a run, and he’s surprisingly left in the game by skipper Terry Francona. To his credit, Beech gets back-to-back strikeouts, and it looks like the damage might be minimized.
But Darren Lewis (no relation to Mark) foils those plans with a two-run single to make it a 5-1 game. Beech is finally done, one batter too late. The BoSox go on to score two more runs in the top of the ninth against mop-up reliever Darrin Winston, and it’s 7-1 headed to the bottom of the ninth.
Those two runs would prove to be important.
Tom Gordon, having himself a career season, takes the hill for the Sox as he looks to get some work in during a blowout game. But he walks Desi Relaford, allows a double to Ruben Amaro Jr., walks Doug Glanville, then gets tagged for a 2-run double by Scott Rolen (following a Gregg Jefferies strikeout). I’m exhausted just reading that; it’s like 30 years of Phillies history all compressed into part of an inning.
Anyhow, Gordon gets the hook in favor of Ron Mahay, who retires Brogna. Parent then delivers a 2-run single, and all of a sudden it’s a 7-5 game and the tying run is coming to the plate in the form of Bobby Abreu. Ol’ Bobby goes down on strikes, however, and the Phils drop this one after nearly coming all the way back. In the process, they were so impressed by Tom Gordon for some reason that they signed him seven years later.
Oh, those Philadelphia Phillies. Don’t ever change. If we ever get back to playing baseball, that is.