THE 35 TIMES WHERE A POST SEASON SERIES COULD HAVE WON BY EITHER TEAM ON THE SAME PITCH (Updated for 2016 World Series)


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Mike Montgomery faced Michael Martinez with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th inning. Rajai Davis was on base. The Cubs led by one. The World Series had come down to an obscure middle reliever and a defensive replacement outfielder.

If Montgomery got out Martinez, the Cubs would be the World Series Champs.

If Martinez homered. the Indians would be World Series Champs.

When the ball left Montgomery’s hand, the fate of the two tortured franchises were on the line.

How many times has this happened? How many times has a post season series come down to a moment where a single pitch could have clinched for either side?

I originally did this post for the Giants and Royals finishing the 2014 World Series. I am updating it for last night’s game.

While figuring this out, I picked a team where a hit, including a homer, would yield a walk off clincher for the home club.

I also took a visiting team where an out or a realistic double play would end the series. If a runner is on third with 1 out, the chances of a double play would be slim at best.

The list will not include memorable series like the 1960 World Series, 1975 World Series, 1980 NLCS, 1986 World Series, 2004 ALCS nor 2011 World Series. Oddly enough those years did not yield this scenario. The losing team and winning team were never on the verge of clinching at the same time in any of those years.

So lets find them, the ultimate post season at bats. This list will include One Game Playoffs, Wild Card Games, Division Series, League Championship Series and of course World Series.

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1912 World Series
New York Giants at Boston Red Sox
Game 8 (Series included 1 tie.)

Bottom 10. Giants 2 – Red Sox 1.
1 out. Runners at first and third.
Double Play would win World Series for Giants.
Extra Base Hit would win World Series for Red Sox.

Giants Pitcher – Christy Mathewson.
Red Sox Batter – Tris Speaker.

Result – Speaker singled to right field to tie the game 2-2.
Red Sox would win the World Series two batters later when Larry Gardner hit a walk off sacrifice fly to drive home the winning run.

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1926 World Series
St. Louis Cardinals at New York Yankees
Game 7

Bottom 9. Cardinals 3 – Yankees 2.
2 outs. Runner at first.
Out would win World Series for Cardinals.
Home Run would win World Series for Yankees

Cardinals Pitcher – Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Red Sox Batter – Bob Meusel.

Result – Babe Ruth, the runner at first, is caught stealing to end the game and clinch the World Series for the Cardinals.

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1951 National League Playoff
Brooklyn Dodgers at New York Giants
Game 3

Bottom 9. Dodgers 4 – Giants 2.
1 out. Runners at first and third.
Double play would win Pennant for Dodgers.
Home Run would win Pennant for Giants.

Dodgers Pitcher – Ralph Branca.
Giants Batter – Bobby Thomson.

Result – Thomson homers to left field. The Giants Win the Pennant (The Giants win the Pennant.)

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1962 World Series
New York Yankees at San Francisco Giants
Game 7

Bottom 9. Yankees 1 – Giants 0
2 outs. Runner at first.
Out would win World Series for Yankees.
Home Run would win World Series for Giants

Yankees Pitcher – Ralph Terry.
Giants Batter – Willie Mays.

Result – Mays doubles to right field. Baserunner Matty Alou is held at third base.

Bottom 9. Yankees 1 – Giants 0
2 outs. Runners at second and third.
Out would win World Series for Yankees.
A single or an error would win World Series for Giants

Yankees Pitcher – Ralph Terry.
Giants Batter – Willie McCovey.

Result – McCovey lines out to second baseman Bobby Richardson to clinch World Series for the Yankees.

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1972 American League Championship Series
Oakland A’s at Detroit Tigers
Game 5

Bottom 9. A’s 2 – Tigers 1
1 out. Runner at first.
Double Play would win Pennant for A’s.
Home Run would win Pennant for Tigers.

A’s pitcher – Vida Blue.
Tigers batter – Mickey Stanley.

Result – Stanley grounds to shortstop. Runner is forced out but Stanley reaches first.

Bottom 9. A’s 2 – Tigers 1
2 outs. Runner at first.
Out would win Pennant for A’s.
Home Run would win Pennant for Tigers.

A’s pitcher – Vida Blue.
Tigers batter – Tony Taylor.

Result – Taylor flies out to center field. A’s win the pennant.

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1972 World Series
Oakland A’s at Cincinnati Reds
Game 7

Bottom 9. A’s 3 – Reds 2
2 outs. Runner at first.
Out would win World Series for A’s.
Home Run would win World Series for Reds.

A’s pitcher – Rollie Fingers.
Reds batter – Pete Rose.

Result – Rose flies out to left center field. A’s win World Series.

Yankees Red Sox Playoff Game 1978

American League East Division One Game Playoff

New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

Bottom 9. Yankees 5 – Red Sox 4
1 out. Runner at first.
Double play would win Division for Yankees.
Home Run would win Division for Red Sox.

Yankees pitcher – Rich Gossage.
Red Sox batter – Jerry Remy.

Result – Remy singles to right field. Rick Burleson moves to second.

Bottom 9. Yankees 5 – Red Sox 4
1 out. Runners at first and second.
Double play would win Division for Yankees.
Extra base hit would win Division for Red Sox.

Yankees pitcher – Rich Gossage.
Red Sox batter – Jim Rice.

Result – Rice flies out to right field.

Bottom 9. Yankees 5 – Red Sox 4
2 outs. Runners at first and second.
Out would win Division for Yankees.
Extra base hit would win Division for Red Sox.

Yankees pitcher – Rich Gossage.
Red Sox batter – Carl Yastrzemski.

Result – Yastrzemski pops up to third baseman Graig Nettles. Yankees win Division.

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1981 National League Championship Series
Los Angeles Dodgers at Montreal Expos
Game 5

Bottom 9. Dodgers 2 – Expos 1
2 outs. Runner at first.
Out would win Pennant for Dodgers.
Home Run would win Pennant for Expos.

Dodgers pitcher – Fernando Valenzuela.
Reds batter – Larry Parrish.

Result – Parrish walks. Pinch runner Jerry Manuel moves from first to second.

Bottom 9. Dodgers 2 – Expos 1
2 outs. Runners at first and second.
Out would win pennant for Dodgers.
Extra base hit would win Pennant for Expos.

Dodgers pitcher – Bob Welch.
Reds batter – Jerry White.

Result – White grounds out to second. Dodgers win pennant.

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1992 National League Championship Series
Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves
Game 7

Bottom 9. Pirates 2 – Braves 1
1 outs. Runners at first and second.
Double Play would win Pennant for Pirates.
Extra base hit would win Pennant for Braves.

Pirates pitcher – Stan Belinda.
Braves batter – Damon Berryhill.

Result – Berryhill walks. David Justice moves to third. Sid Bream moves to second.

Bottom 9. Pirates 2 – Braves 1
1 outs. Bases Loaded.
Double Play would win Pennant for Pirates.
Single would win Pennant for Braves.

Pirates pitcher – Stan Belinda.
Braves batter – Brian Hunter.

Result – Hunter pops up to second baseman.

Bottom 9. Pirates 2 – Braves 1
2 outs. Bases Loaded.
Out would win Pennant for Pirates.
Single would win Pennant for Braves.

Pirates pitcher – Stan Belinda.
Braves batter – Francisco Cabrera.

Result – Cabrera singles to left. Justice scores the tying run. Sid Bream somehow scores the winning run. Braves win NLCS.

 (AP Photo/Hans Deryk)

(AP Photo/Hans Deryk)

1997 World Series
Cleveland Indians at Florida Marlins
Game 7

Bottom 9. Indians 2 – Marlins 1
1 outs. Runner on First.
Double Play would win World Series for Indians.
Home Run would win World Series for Marlins.

Pirates pitcher – Jose Mesa.
Braves batter – Charles Johnson.

Result – Johnson singles to right field. Moises Alou runs from first to third.

Bottom 9. Indians 2 – Marlins 1
1 outs. Runner on First and third.
Double Play would win World Series for Indians.
Extra base hit would win World Series for Marlins.

Pirates pitcher – Jose Mesa.
Braves batter – Craig Counsell.

Result – Counsell lines to right field. Alou tags and scored to tie the game.

Marlins would win World Series in bottom of the 11th.

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2001 World Series
New York Yankees at Arizona Diamondbacks
Game 7

Bottom 9. Yankees 2 – Diamondbacks 1
1 outs. Runners on First and Second.
Double Play would win World Series for Yankees.
Triple or Home run would win World Series for Diamondbacks.

Pirates pitcher – Mariano Rivera.
Braves batter – Tony Womack.

Result – Womack doubles to right field. Pinch runner Midre Cummings scores to tie the game.

Diamondbacks would win the World Series two batters later on Luis Gonzalez’s single.

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2002 American League Division Series
Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics
Game 5

Bottom 9. Twins 5 – Athletics 4
2 outs. Runner on First.
Out would win Division Series for Twins.
Home Run would win Division Series for Athletics.

Twins pitcher – Eddie Guardado.
Athletics batter – Ray Durham.

Result – Durham hits a foul pop to the second baseman. Twins win Division Series.

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2002 National League Division Series
San Francisco Giants at Atlanta Braves
Game 5

Bottom 9. Giants 3 – Braves 4
1 out. Runners on First and third.
Double play win Division Series for Giants.
Home Run would win Division Series for Braves.

Giants pitcher – Robb Nen.
Athletics batter – Chipper Jones.

Result – Jones hits into a double play to the first baseman. Giants win Division Series.

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2003 American League Division Series
Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics
Game 5

Bottom 9. Red Sox 4 – Athletics 3
2 outs. Runners on Second and third.
Out would win Division Series for Red Sox.
Single would win Division Series for Athletics.

Red Sox pitcher – Derek Lowe.
Athletics batter – Chris Singleton.

Result – Singleton walks.

Bottom 9. Red Sox 4 – Athletics 3
2 outs. Bases loaded.
Out would win Division Series for Red Sox.
Single would win Division Series for Athletics.

Red Sox pitcher – Derek Lowe.
Athletics batter – Terrence Long.

Result – Long strikes out looking. Red Sox win Division Series.

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2006 National League Championship Series
St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets.
Game 7

Bottom 9. Cardinals 3 – Mets 1.
1 out. Runners on Second and third.
Double play would win Pennant for Cardinals.
Home run would win Pennant for Mets.

Cardinals pitcher – Adam Wainwright.
Mets batter – Jose Reyes.

Result – Reyes lines out to centerfield.

Bottom 9. Cardinals 3 – Mets 1.
2 outs. Runners on Second and third.
Out would win Pennant for Cardinals.
Home run would win Pennant for Mets.

Cardinals pitcher – Adam Wainwright.
Mets batter – Paul LoDuca.

Result – LoDuca walks to load the bases.

Bottom 9. Cardinals 3 – Mets 1.
2 outs. Bases loaded.
Out would win Pennant for Cardinals.
Extra base hit would win Pennant for Mets.

Cardinals pitcher – Adam Wainwright.
Mets batter – Carlos Beltran.

Result – Beltran strikes out looking. Cardinals win pennant.

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2009 American League Central Division Playoff
 Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins.
 

Bottom 10. Tigers 5 – Twins 4.
1 out. Runners on first and third.
Double play would win Division for Tigers.
Extra base hit would win Division for Twins.

Tigers pitcher – Fernando Rodney.
Twins batter – Matt Tolbert.

Result – Tolbert singles, scoring Michael Cuddyer to tie the game. Alexi Casilla moves to third.

Twins would win game, and Division, in the bottom of the 12th.

Sergio Romo

2012 National League Division Series
San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds.
Game 5

Bottom 9. Giants 6 – Reds 4.
1 out. Runners on first and second.
Double play would win Division Series for Giants.
Home run would win Division Series for Reds.

Giants pitcher – Segio Romo.
Reds batter – Jay Bruce.

Result – Bruce flies out to left.

Bottom 9. Giants 6 – Reds 4.
2 out. Runners on first and second.
Out would win Division Series for Giants.
Home run would win Division Series for Reds.

Giants pitcher – Segio Romo.
Reds batter – Scott Rolen.

Result – Rolen strikes out. Giants win Division Series.

Wild Card Game - Oakland Athletics v Kansas City Royals

2014 American League Wild Card Game
Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals

Bottom 9. Athletics 7 – Royals 6.
1 out. Runner on second.
Double play would win Wild Card for Athletics.
Home run would win Wild Card for Royals.

Athletics pitcher – Sean Doolittle.
Royals batter – Nori Aoki.

Result – Pinch runner Jarrod Dyson steals third. Aoki hits game tying sacrifice fly.

Royals win Wild Card in bottom of 12.

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2014 World Series
San Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals
Game 7

Bottom 9. Giants 3 – Royals 2.
2 out. Runner on third.
Out would win World Series for Giants.
Home Run would win World Series for Royals.

Giants pitcher – Madison Bumgarner.
Royals batter – Salvador Perez.

Result – Perez pops up to the third baseman. Giants win the World Series.

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2016 National League Division Series
Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals
Game 5

Bottom 9. Dodgers 4 – Nationals 3.
1 out. Runner on first.
Double Play would win Division Series for Dodgers.
Home Run would win Division Series for Nationals.

Dodgers pitcher – Kenley Jansen.
Nationals batter – Jayson Werth.

Result – Werth walks. Bryce Harper moves to second base.

Bottom 9. Dodgers 4 – Nationals 3.
1 out. Runner on first and second.
Double Play would win Division Series for Dodgers.
Extra Base Hit would win Division Series for Nationals.

Dodgers pitcher – Clayton Kershaw.
Nationals batter – Daniel Murphy.

Result – Murphy pops up to second base. Runners do not advance.

Bottom 9. Dodgers 4 – Nationals 3.
2 outs. Runner on first and second.
Out would win Division Series for Dodgers.
Extra Base Hit would win Division Series for Nationals.

Dodgers pitcher – Clayton Kershaw.
Nationals batter – Wilmer Difo.

Result – Difo strikes out. Catcher Carlos Ruiz throws to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez after the ball was dropped. Dodgers win the Division Series.

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2016 World Series
Chicago Cubs at Cleveland Indians
Game 7

Bottom 10. Cubs 8 – Indians 7.
2 outs. Runner on first.
Out would win World Series for Cubs.
Home Run would win World Series for Indians.

Cubs pitcher – Mike Montgomery.
Indians batter – Michael Martinez.

Result – Martinez grounds out to third baseman Kris Bryant who tosses to first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the final out. Cubs win the World Series.

 

It has happened 35 times in 21 different games.

7 times, the game continued when a batter reached base. 6 times the second out of the inning was recorded.

12 times, the clinching out was recorded.

6 times, the game was tied. In each of those 6 instances, the team that tied the game would go on to win the series.

2 times, the Thomson homer and the Cabrera single, the home team got a walk off game winning hit.

So when BOTH teams face a situation where they can clinch, it has gone 13-8 in favor of the pitching team.

Five Hall of Fame batters came up in the situation (Speaker, Mays, McCovey, Rice and Yaz) not including Pete Rose and Chipper Jones, who hit into the only series ending double play from this scenario.

Four Hall of Fame pitchers were on the mound in these moments (Mathewson, Alexander, Fingers and Gossage.) Mariano Rivera will eventually make it five Hall of Fame pitchers. Madison Bumgarner could very make it six. Clayton Kershaw will probably make it seven.

Mathewson faced Speaker, Fingers faced Rose and Gossage faced Rice and Yaz in the ultimate match ups of greatness.

And Babe Ruth was the only player caught stealing to end it, spoiling Bob Meusel’s chance at immortality.

So next October, take a look to see if we get to see another match up like this, one where a single pitch could mean glory or never ending agony for both teams.

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