PHILADELPHIA -- The sight of Joe Blanton's surprising but fitting home run stomp spoke to the theme: The 2008 World Series has skewed heavily in Philadelphia's favor.
Sunday night's 10-2 walloping of Tampa Bay in Game 4 rocked Citizens Bank Park and placed the Phillies one win away from the big trophy. Somewhere amid the scent of frying cheesesteaks is the pleasant aroma of the franchise's second World Series championship.
"Championships don't just roll through town every year or every other year," said Jamie Moyer, who knows a thing or two about the wait, playing in his first World Series at age 45. "We're going to appreciate it if we get there, but we have to win another baseball game. Hopefully, it happens."
"I'm going to go on the mound and do snow angels," Brett Myers said. "It's going to be emotional."
After Blanton's solo homer and a couple of more predictable blasts by Ryan Howard pushed them to a Game 4 rout, the Phillies hope to end the season with a celebration for their starved city by putting the ball in ace Cole Hamels' hands in Monday's Game 5. That's Cole Hamels of the 4-0 record with a 1.55 postseason ERA. Yes, they feel pretty good about that.
Hamels will have the chance to bring the first major sports championship to the city since the 76ers won the NBA title in 1983. If the ace lefty delivers, he'll enhance his credentials for World Series MVP honors.
The prize is the franchise's second World Series championship in its 125-year history.
"Our team has worked so hard to achieve this," Hamels said. "But I know when I get on the mound, everything will disappear, and I'll have a job to do. It's a tremendous moment that not too many people have the opportunity to do."
One win away
Teams with 3-1 leads in the World Series since 1969 have gone on to win the Series 13 of 15 times, including the last six. The breakdown:
Mets in 5
Orioles in 5
Athletics in 7
Athletics in 5
Yankees in 6
Pirates in 7
Orioles in 5
Tigers in 5
Royals in 7
Dodgers in 5
Blue Jays in 6
Blue Jays in 6
Braves in 6
Yankees in 5
Cardinals in 5
The anticipation is thick. Howard -- who collected five RBIs in Game 4 -- knows there's work to be done, but imagines the scene.
"It'll be bedlam," said Howard. "It will be one of the craziest places on earth. It's scary to imagine."
"We're one game away, but we're still one game away," Jimmy Rollins said. "If we get that game, we'll be happy, the city will be happy, there will be a big parade and, I guess [we'll] get that monkey off our back for that championship drought."
Blanton brought them to the verge Sunday night, by waltzing high-socks style through a powerful Rays lineup, only surrendering solo homers to Carl Crawford and pinch-hitter Eric Hinske. The Rays set an American League record with 25 postseason homers -- but only three have come against the Phillies.
The two hit Sunday by the Rays were footnotes.
Continuing the Phils' run of solid starting pitching in the playoffs, Blanton retired the first five hitters, fanning three. Never in trouble, the righty pitched with a lead from the second inning on.
And held it.
The early advantage came courtesy of a tone-setting, first-inning run. Rollins laced a leadoff double and advanced to third on a fly to right. Chase Utley walked and Howard hit a chopper to the mound.
Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine caught Rollins in a rundown between home and third, but threw late to third baseman Evan Longoria, making it appear to third-base umpire Tim Welke that a tag wasn't made. Rollins was called safe, though replays showed him to be out.
A walk to Pat Burrell put the Phillies up, 1-0. An error by Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura leading off the third helped the Phillies increase their lead to 2-0, and Howard smacked a three-run homer in the fourth for a 5-1 lead.
Adding to his big night, Blanton smacked an Edwin Jackson pitch to the left-field seats in the fifth, the first home run of his career, and the first World Series home run by a Phillies pitcher.
"I just stuck with my same approach since I got here: Close my eyes and swing hard and hope something good happens," Blanton said.
GAME 5: JUST THE FACTS
Citizens Bank Park, Monday, 8 p.m. ET
Rays starter: LHP Scott Kazmir
2008: 12-8, 3.49 ERA
2008 on road: 4-6, 4.10 ERA
2008 vs. Phillies: 0-1, 4.50 ERA
Career vs. Phillies: 1-1, 4.09 ERA (two starts)
2008 WS vs. Phillies: 0-1, 4.50 ERA
2008 postseason: 1-1, 4.15 ERA (four starts)
Career postseason: 1-1, 4.15 ERA (four starts)
Phillies starter: LHP Cole Hamels
2008: 14-10, 3.09 ERA
2008 at home: 7-7, 2.99 ERA
2008 vs. Rays: 1-0. 2.57 ERA
Career vs. Rays: 1-1, 5.91 ERA (two starts)
2008 WS vs. Rays: 1-0. 2.57 ERA
2008 postseason: 4-0, 1.55 ERA (four starts)
Career postseason: 4-1, 2.02 ERA (five starts)
Phillies lead series, 3-1. Teams that hold a 3-1 lead have won the Series 36 times and lost just six times. The last team to come back from 3-1 was the 1985 Royals over the Cardinals.
Did you know? The Phillies have a chance to become the first team since the 1999 Yankees to finish a postseason undefeated at home.
It was also the first Fall Classic homer by a pitcher since Ken Holtzman in 1974 and the 15th overall. Philadelphia has one other postseason homer, by Steve Carlton in Game 3 of the 1978 National League Championship Series.
"Off the bat, I thought, 'Wow, that ball has a chance,'" Howard said. "As soon as it left, I had to grab on to the rail, because I just jumped up too fast."
The ball exited quickly and Blanton stutter-stepped uncomfortably -- seemingly embarrassed -- around the bases to thunderous roars from 45,903 towel-waving fans. He was mobbed by teammates when he reached the dugout.
He was fine on the mound, too, allowing two earned runs in six-plus innings.
"[Catcher Carlos] Ruiz did a fantastic job behind the plate," Blanton said. "[He was] just on point the whole night, and that really helped me get in a good rhythm."
The Phillies added four more runs in the eighth, on two-run homers from Jayson Werth and Howard.
"To hit two home runs in the World Series, that's the kind of stuff you dream of when you're a teenager," Howard said. "Being able to do something like that and just to help my team win, it's a great feeling."
With a lead and 27 more outs, they might be primed for an unbelievable feeling, one for which they've been waiting.
"This moment started when I was eight," Scott Eyre said. "Everybody that aspires to be where we are right now thinks about this when they're a kid. You think about throwing the pitch and 'Yeah, you win the World Series.' I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
No one will appreciate it more than Moyer.
"The longer you wait for things, the more you appreciate it, if it does happen," Moyer said. "I've earned a lot of things in my career, and I don't expect to be given a whole lot. Our fans are the same way. They supported us. It's exciting because you feel like you're doing this together with a city. It's going to be easy to get up tomorrow. I don't care how little or how much sleep I get."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.