Date of Game: Sunday, May 9, 1993
Location: Veterans Stadium
Opponent: St. Louis Cardinals
Final Score: Phillies 6, Cardinals 5
Winning Pitcher: Mark Davis
Losing Pitcher: Lee Smith
Save: Mitch Williams
Home Runs: Gregg Jefferies, Mariano Duncan
Phillies Starting Lineup
Lenny Dykstra, cf
Mickey Morandini, 2b
John Kruk, 1b
Dave Hollins, 3b
Darren Daulton, c
Wes Chamberlain, rf
Milt Thompson, lf
Mariano Duncan, ss
Curt Schilling, p
Cardinals Starting Lineup
Ray Lankford, cf
Ozzie Smith, ss
Gregg Jefferies, 1b
Mark Whiten, rf
Todd Zeile, 3b
Luis Alicea, 2b
Ozzie Canseco, lf
Hector Villanueva, c
Bob Tewksbury, p
About This Game: Usually when I do these Random Past Phillies/Games/Seasons posts, they're a celebration of the obscure. I find it to be a fun look back at times that were often forgettable and seeing if any readers have their own stories to tell about certain players or events. This time, however, I've chosen a game that is far from obscure if you followed the Phillies through the magical 1993 season. In a year that was filled with memborable wins, this one ranks right up near the top, especially among regular season games.
The Phillies entered play on this Mother's Day in an unfamiliar position. Instead of taking their usual place among the league's also-rans, the Phils boasted the best record in Major League Baseball at 21-7, good enough for a 5.5 game lead over the Montreal Expos. The St. Louis Cardinals were running third with a 15-14 record, 6.5 games out. This Sunday afternoon tilt would be the conclusion of a three-game weekend set at the Vet. The Phils had taken the first two games of the series, but it was hardly a cakewalk as both were decided by one run. The Cardinals jumped to a 3-1 lead in the series opener, but a two-run homer by Dave Hollins off Joe Magrane in the fifth inning put the home team ahead by a 4-3 score which ultimately proved to be the final. The '93 Phillies didn't often get involved in pitchers duels, but that's exactly what the middle game of the series produced as southpaws Terry Mulholland and Rheal Cormier locked horns. The future Phillie Cormier allowed a run on five hits in nine innings, but had to settle for a no-decision when the St. Louis offense could only manage a run itself in regulation time. Mulholland bent but didn't break, yielding ten hits but allowing just a single run while staying on the hill for all ten innings. He would get a complete game victory when pinch-hitter Ricky Jordan (batting for Mulholland) singled Milt Thompson home to give the Phillies a 2-1 decision the bottom of the tenth. In the series finale, the Phils would send budding ace Curt Schilling to the mound against the established ace of the Cardinals staff, veteran righty junkballer Bob Tewksbury.
The day got off to an auspicious start for the home team. The Cardinals were unable to take advantage of a Mariano Duncan error in the top of the first, while Lenny Dykstra led off the bottom of the frame with a double and came around to score when John Kruk singled one out later. At first, it appeared as though that would be all the offense Curt Schilling needed as he set the first eight St. Louis hitters down in order. The first baserunner for the Cards was Schilling's mound adversary, Bob Tewksbury, who singled with one out in the third. That appeared to unnerve Schilling a bit, as Ray Lankford followed with a walk. Ozzie Smith flied to right for the second out of the inning, but Gregg Jefferies put the Cardinals ahead when he unloaded for a three-run homer to make it 3-1. St. Louis would add a run in the top of the fourth when Todd Zeile led off with a double and scored on a single by the next batter, Luis Alicea. The Phillies followed suit in the bottom of the fourth when Darren Daulton doubled with one out and came home on a two-out single by Milt Thompson, who subsequently stole second but was stranded there when Duncan struck out to retire the side. The fifth Cardinals run was unearned, as Alicea doubled to score Zeile, who had reached on a Dave Hollins error leading off the sixth. When Tewksbury stranded two Phillies runners in the seventh and retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth, it appeared as though the Phils and the Mother's Day crowd would be left saying "two out of three ain't bad." But a game never seemed to be lost for the 1993 Phillies until the final out was recorded, and this day would prove to be a prime example of that.
The eighth inning uprising for the Phillies began innocently enough when Darren Daulton singled with two outs and nobody on base. Dutch would advance to third when Wes Chamberlain followed with a double and just like that, the tying run was stepping to the plate. Cardinals skipper Joe Torre took no chances and lifted Bob Tewksbury in favor of Lee Smith, who at the time was baseball's all-time saves leader. The first batter Smith faced was Milt Thompson, who worked the count full before taking a 3-2 fastball just wide to load the bases. That set the stage for Mariano Duncan, owner of seven hits in 14 lifetime at-bats against Smith to that point. Duncan jumped all over a first-pitch fastball and sent it to the seats in left-center for a grand slam and a 6-5 Phillies lead. The crowd of 43,648, which had more or less been lulled to sleep by Tewksbury's offspeed offerings, was suddenly whipped into a frenzy. The always unpredictable Mitch Williams got the call in the ninth. Ray Lankford kept the Cardinals alive with a two-out single, but the Wild Thing finished off the three-game sweep when he got Ozzie Smith to pop out appropriately enough to Duncan at shortstop.
Mark Davis got the win after working a scoreless eighth in relief of Curt Schilling, with Lee Smith taking the loss. It was the first decision on the season for both Davis and Smith, while the save for Mitch Williams was his 13th. Even at this early point of the season, it was pretty obvious the Phillies were on their way to something special. They'd go on to win the National League East with a 97-65 record and ultimately defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS before falling to the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series. The Cardinals recovered enough to make a midseason run at first place, but another three-game sweep by the Phillies at the Vet in late July finished St. Louis once and for all. They'd end up in third place at 87-75, ten games behind the Phils.
Personal Recollection: Taking into consideration the fact I was two months old when the Phillies won the 1980 World Series and a little more than three years old when they won the NL Pennant in 1983, this was arguably my greatest moment as a fan up to this point. It wasn't uncommon for the Phils to be pretty much out of the race by Mother's Day back then. Even though it was still extremely early in the season, the buzz surrounding the team was palpable. Keep in mind, this wasn't exactly a Golden Era for Philadelphia sports. A little over a month earlier, the Eagles had lost Reggie White to free agency and many key players would follow in the near future. The Flyers had missed the playoffs for the fourth of what would become five consecutive seasons. The 76ers had completed their worst season in nearly two decades, would soon waste the second overall pick in the NBA Draft on Shawn Bradley, and wouldn't return to the postseason until 1999. The Phillies hadn't reached the postseason since 1983 or even finished above .500 since 1986, so everyone rode the wave all season.
As for the game itself, I was there in section 344 on the Sunday plan. It was a gorgeous day, and I remember Dan Baker must have had a good feeling about things when he was doing the pregame announcements. He said something like, "What a beautiful day! Look at the sky! Look at the standings!" Maybe the Cardinals didn't take too kindly to that. Bob Tewksbury was frustrating as usual, the exact kind of soft tosser the current team seems to struggle against. As the game entered the late innings, you couldn't help but think "well, at least we got two of three." The Phillies kicked up a fuss in the eighth, but there was always that groan when Lee Smith would come in. Lee Arthur (as Harry would call him) probably hung around a couple years too many at the end, but he was still close to automatic in '93. Still, you started to get a good feeling when Smith walked Milt Thompson on a pitch I was amazed Uncle Milty was able to lay off. It was definitely off the plate, but Thompson stood in the batter's box an extra second just to make sure he got the call. Mariano Duncan's slam was gone off the bat, but you still couldn't believe what you were seeing.
Being at the game, I didn't get to hear Harry's call live but eventually caught it on the news. "Well hit...WELL HIT! IT MIGHT BE! IT COULD BE! GRAND SLAM! A GRAND SLAM, MAR-I-AN-O DUN-CAN! THE PHILLIES LEAD 6 TO 5 IN THE EIGHTH!" That of course was accompanied by Whitey's ooohs and aaahs in the background. The sheer joy of Harry's call and Whitey's reaction are something I and so many Phillies fans still miss dearly to this day. Duncan would hit one other grand slam in 1993, on September 28 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh off Denny Neagle. That one gave the Phils a 9-4 lead in the seventh inning of a game they'd go on to win 10-7 to give them their first National League East title in ten years. It was fitting for Duncan to seal the Division with his second slam of the season, since the first was one that convinced a lot of people the ballclub was headed in that direction.
In 2003, I wrote a weekly Phillies column for a site that no longer exists. Throughout that season, I had a countdown of the top 25 Phillies games I'd ever attended. I believe the May 9, 1993 game ranked fourth or fifth. We've been lucky that the Phils have provided a plethora of memorable moments in the years since then. Still, if I had to do the list all over again to include the current era, I imagine this game would still rate in the top ten or very close to it.
That's my story on May 9, 1993. Do you remember this game? If so, feel free to share your own recollections!