The Finale in the 15th
By the 14th inning, Stanton had already made a plate appearance, singled, and was actually in scoring position (on 3rd base) when that inning concluded. Now here he is up again in the 15th… albeit with two outs and runners on 1st and second.
Sanders then did what Sanders does… he stole third (uncontested) on the third pitch. Now there’s at least the chance of a ball in the dirt scoring him without making Stanton wield his weapon.
Now I have no idea how this next play was then orchestrated, but with a 2-1 count, Stanton did something… very odd.
Batting left-handed, with the crowd making a lot of noise, Stanton looked like he might have tried to drag a bunt down the first baseline in an attempt to beat it out. Except that isn’t what happened.
Tom Quinlan was playing 3rd for the Phillies at that point, and he was drawn in a bit… more or less even with third base. His initial instinct on contact was to charge in, yet he still had to range at least 15 feet to his left.
It was that initial move that was his fatal error. Stanton had hit the ball just hard enough to get over Quinlan’s reach. Once the ball found dirt (barely), it was all over as shortstop Mariano Duncan was inexplicably positioned too far toward second base to be able to help at all.
Don Sutton put the cap on this, saying (after his recovery from laughing uncontrollably) “That’s like a Shar-Pei puppy – it was so ugly it’s beautiful.”
Sanders scored, winning the game. Stanton was 2-2 on the night with an RBI and a pitching win after being pressed into service for 4 innings. He struck out 3 and gave up 3 hits while walking 2. Not the greatest line of all time, but probably the greatest game he will remember for the rest of his life.
Most importantly, though: that 9th inning comeback was validated as the Braves punished the Phillies for not being able to finish off the game… just like the Mets did to them last night.
But this was one huge 9-8 win back in 1994… a heckuva highlight for an otherwise dark season that was never actually finished. Then again, we love beating up on the Phillies… with every possible chance we get.