Through the years, the Phillies have found a number of different and interesting ways to lose playoff games.
In 1950, they lost the first three games of their World Series against the Yankees by one run. In 1977, there was Black Friday. In '81, Steve Carlton got outdueled by Montreal's Steve Rogers in Game 5. And more recently, pretty much every loss in the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals was a punch in the gut.
And then there was the 1993 World Series. Sure, that Game 6 loss to Joe Carter and his more talented Toronto Blue Jays will forever be remembered as perhaps the most crushing loss in team history.
It was bad. I cried afterwards. Literal tears. I was a mess.
But today, October 20, marks the 22nd anniversary of a loss that may have been even worse.
On this date in 1993, the Blue Jays and Phillies played the highest-scoring game in World Series history. pic.twitter.com/w7vfTSylVO— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 20, 2015
Game 4. 1993. 15-14.
If you saw it, if you watched it live, it scarred you forever.
The line score on the old Vet Stadium facade tells the story. The Phils should never have lost that game, played on a dark, dank, cold, wet night that only added to the aura of it all.
Yes, it was the highest scoring game in World Series history. And that's all well and good for people not from Philadelphia. I'm sure it was a blast to watch. But to us, it was much more than that.
It was the introduction to a new generation of Phillies fans, like myself, to what true heartbreak was all about.
Phils starter Tommy Greeene had nothing. Nothing at all in this one. The Jays jumped out on top with three in the first inning, something that had done routinely in the series. However, Todd Stottlemyre walked four guys in the first, and Milt Thompson smoked a ball to left center that gave the Phils a 4-3 lead after one.
It would go on like this. Greene was brutal and couldn't make it through the third, although his walk of Stottlemyre in the second, and Stottlemyre's subsequent faceplant into the dirt trying to go first to third, resulting in a bloody chin, was a moment of high comedy.
The Phils took a 6-3 lead in the second thanks to a homer by Lenny Dykstra, but Greene coughed it all back up, allowing the Jays to take a 7-6 lead going into the bottom of the third.
Apparently, back in 1993, teams didn't like going to the bullpen at the first sign of trouble.
By the bottom of the fifth, the score was 7-7. A Dave Hollins bunt (he was an unusually good bunter for a power hitter) followed by a Darren Daulton two-run homer put the Phillies back on top 9-7. Jim Eisenreich followed with a single and was doubled home by the suddenly unstoppable Thompson to make it 10-7.
One out later, Lenny Dykstra, who earlier had walked, stole a base and scored a run, hit a homer and just missed another with a double off the wall, hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot, to put the Phils up 12-7.
At that point, the Phils' win expectancy was 92%. The Phillies were on their way to evening this series up.
Both teams scored again, making it 13-9 to start the seventh, and it was at this point the Blue Jays officially gave up. They allowed relief pitcher Tony Castillo to bat for himself, aiming to save the bullpen for the rest of the series.
Cito Gaston gave up, guys. He gave up.
But the rest of the Toronto lineup didn't. The Phils entered the eighth inning up 14-9. Larry Andersen, in his second inning of work, got the first out, which put the Phils' win expectancy at 99%.
Folks, this is as close at it gets to a lock. But the Blue Jays would not die, and the Phils' shaky bullpen was simply not able to shut down a dominating offensive team.
Andersen gave up a single to Joe Carter. John Olerud followed with a walk. OK, no big deal, the Phils were still 97% to win the game when Paul Molitor came to the plate. However, he doubled on a grounder to Hollins that he misplayed badly, scoring Carter and making it 14-10.
Enter Mitch Williams, three words pretty much no one wanted to hear at that time. He was on fumes, unreliable, and everyone was done with him. We knew bringing Mitch into a tight game, even though he was the closer, was akin to throwing gasoline onto a bonfire made up of explosives.
The Phils were still a virtual lock to win the game, according to the odds, but no one felt good. That's because Win Expectancy didn't have a Mitch Williams mitigating factor in their algorithms.
Mitch gave up an RBI single to Tony Fernandez. That made it 14-11. He then struck out Ed Sprague, and suddenly, with two outs, the Phils could see their way out of the inning.
Then disaster struck. Williams gave up a two-run single to Rickey Henderson, making it 14-13. And then, Devon White hit what looked like a lazy fly ball to center field that Dykstra misplayed, taking a horrible route to the ball, letting it bounce all the way to the wall for a two-run triple.
15-14. Below is the Win Expectancy Chart, courtesy of Baseball Reference, for that nightmarish eighth inning.
|Score||Outs||Hitter||Pitcher||Play||WE PHI||WE TOR||Swing|
|14-9||0||R. Alomar||L. Andersen||Groundout||99%||1%||1%|
|14-9||1||J. Carter||L. Andersen||Single||98%||2%||-1%|
|14-9||1||J. Olerud||L. Andersen||Walk||97%||3%||-1%|
|14-9||1||P. Molitor||L. Andersen||RBI Double||92%||8%||-5%|
|14-10||1||T. Fernandez||M. Williams||RBI Single||87%||13%||-5%|
|14-11||1||P. Borders||M. Williams||Walk||80%||20%||-7%|
|14-11||1||E. Sprague||M. Williams||Strikeout||91%||11%||11%|
|14-11||2||R. Henderson||M. Williams||2-run Single||76%||24%||-21%|
|14-13||2||D. White||M. Williams||2-run Triple||26%||74%||-50%|
|14-15||2||R. Alomar||M. Williams||Groundout||30%||70%||4%|
After the Sprague strikeout, the Phils were still 91% to win the game. But the Henderson single cut those odds from 91% to 76%, a swing of -21 points for the Phillies. And the White hit was a swing of -50, putting Toronto in the driver's seat.
That White triple, a ball that would have been caught by a competent defensive center fielder, seemed to suck the life out of the Phils. And after bashing the ball around the yard all night, the Phillies went 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth innings.
By the end of it all, people who tried to keep score had scorecards that looked as if they were used by a mental patient. The box scores were ridiculous.
And at the end of a wildly entertaining game for virtually everyone else in the world, the Phillies found themselves down 3-1 in the World Series.
Perhaps it would have been better had Curt Schilling not pitched the game of his life in Game 5, forcing the series back to Toronto for another soul-crushing loss. Perhaps a quicker end to that madness would have been better.
And look, the Blue Jays were a much better team than the Phils. They were fortunate to get that far, but that didn't ease the pain one iota.
When most people think back to the '93 World Series, Game 6 is obviously the first thing that comes to mind. But Game 4 was a far more improbable, and frankly, a far more brutal loss than The Joe Carter Game.
And hey, if you're a masochist, below is the 1993 World Series video, courtesy of YouTube. Fast forward to the 35:00 mark (if you have the stomach for it).