6. Mets vs. Astros, October 15th 1986: “The Marathon to end all Marathons”
The Mets were the National League’s best team in 1986, finishing with 108 wins and a chance at the pennant. All that stood in their way were the Astros and their Cy Young starter, Mike Scott. Going into Game 6, up 3-2 in the Series, the Mets desperately needed a victory, or else they’d have to face Scott in Game 7.
But starter Bob Ojeda gave up a quick three runs to the Astros in the first inning, and Astros Bob Knepper looked unbeatable, holding the Mets scoreless for 8 innings. In the top of the ninth, Knepper was sent out to complete his complete game shutout.
Lenny Dykstra led off with a triple, and 4 of the next 5 batters got on base, cutting the lead to 3-2 and loading the bases. A sac-fly tied the game, setting up extra innings. The tie wouldn’t be broken for 4 more innings until a Wally Blackman RBI single in the 14th gave the Mets a lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, Billy Hatcher tied it with a clutch home run. MORE BASEBALL!
Finally, in the top of the 16th, the Mets busted it open, scoring three runs and taking a 7-4 lead. Game over, right? Not so fast.
A walk and 3 singles made it 7-6, and David Bass stepped up. In what might be the most infamous at-bats in baseball history, Jesse Orosco struck out Bass on a 3-2 breaking ball to win the pennant.
A true marathon.
5. Dodgers vs. Astros, October 29th 2017: “Astros Out-Slug Dodgers in 10” Out of all the games on the list, this might be the true best. But, compared to others, the lack of historical significance knocks it down a bit. But, no matter. The World Series in 2017 may have been the best ever. The powerhouse Dodgers rolled over the NL to face the 101-win Astros. Going into Game 5 the series was tied 2-2, and set up for a great pitching matchup–Kershaw vs. Keuchel. Neither lasted very long. The Dodgers jumped out 3-0 before the home team could even bat, stringing together 3 runs on 2 hits, 2 walks and an error. They added another in the top of the fourth while Kershaw shut down the Astros. But, in the bottom half, the Astros surged back tying the game 4-4, capped by a 3-run homer. This became a trend. In this game, the Dodgers led 4-0, 7-4, and 8-7, and each time the Astros fought back 4-4, 7-7, and 8-8. Then, finally, LA’s bullpen let the floodgates open. Following a game-tying homer from George Springer, Jose Altuve doubled to take the lead 9-8 and then Carlos Correa homered giving the Stros an 11-8 lead. The Dodgers got one back in the 8th, but a Brian McCann home run matched it, putting the score at 12-9. Top of the 9th, All-Star closer Ken Giles on the mound, nothing will go wrong, right? Wrong. The Dodgers started off the 9th with a walk, and a batter later cut the lead to 11-12 on a Yasiel Puig home run. Then, down to their final strike, Chris Taylor knocked home Austin Barnes to tie it up. To extras. In the bottom of the tenth, after 5 hours and 17 minutes of baseball, 10 innings, 14 pitchers, 417 pitches, 25 runs, 7 home runs, 5 lead changes, and 4 ties, Alex Bregman ended it with a walk-off double. The Astros went on to win the Series in 7. If someone ever tells you baseball is boring, tell them to watch this game. It’s in your best interest to watch this in its entirety
4. Rangers vs. Cardinals, October 27th 2011: “We Will See You Tomorrow Night”
Commonly known as the “David Freese” game, the Cardinals were able to narrowly escape losing the Series, down to their final strike not once, not TWICE.
In 2011, the Cardinals and Rangers met in the World Series. After a playoff full of heroics from both sides, the Rangers found themselves a game away from the ultimate prize: up 3-2 in St. Louis.
The game was quickly 2-2 at the end of the second inning, then 3-3 at the end of the 4th. Finally at 4-4 at the end of the 6th, the Rangers broke out. Back-to-back home runs put it at 6-4. They added another to make it 7-4. Two innings to glory. The Cards got one back in the 8th, but were pushed to the edge in the ninth.
Down two, facing star closer Neftali Feliz. Here’s where the legend of David Freese begins.
With two out, in a 1-2 count, Freese roped one into right field for a triple. Both runners on scored tying the game. But in the top of the tenth, MVP Josh Hamilton hit a monster of a home run to give the Rangers the lead, again. 9-7. Once again, the Cardinals were down to their final strike and once again, they revived themselves.
A Lance Berkman single tied the game again. Then a shutout inning from St. Louis’s Jake Westbrook set up one Mister David Freese to lead off. On the game’s 7th lead change, Freese hit an iconic homer into deep center to force Game 7, a game in which the Cardinals were able to win, giving them their 11th championship.
3. Cubs vs. Indians, November 2nd 2016: “The Cubs End the Drought”
In 1908, the Cubs, led by Johnny Evers and Frank Chance, won the 5th ever World Series. It was their 2nd in as many years, as the Cubbies had become an early MLB powerhouse. But, as time would tell, the Cubs’ early success would not last. Fast forward to 2016: 108 years had passed and the Cubs still hadn’t won. But that could change.
The 2016 Cubs were in the World Series in Game 7. Their opponent, the Indians (who hadn’t won since 1948). This set up one of the greatest game 7s in sports history, complete with a comeback, a rain delay, and LeBron James.
The Cubs lead-off hitter, Dexter Fowler, set the tone during the game’s first at-bat by hitting a lead-off home run. Game on. The Indians immediately sent the run back in the bottom half with a Carlos Santana RBI single. From that point, except for a two-run passed ball, it was all Cubbies.
A two-run 4th and a two-run 5th made it 5-1, and then 39-year-old catcher, David Ross, hit a solo shot in the 6th to make it 6-3. The Indians offense had been hopeless. That is, until the bottom of the 8th.
With flamethrower Aroldis Chapman on the mound, the Tribe’s Jose Ramirez hit a measly two-out single. The next batter, Brandon Guyer, hit an RBI double. 6-4. Then Rajai Davis came up. Davis was and still is a seasoned veteran, who has spent his career on numerous teams. Still, safe to say, this was the biggest at-bat of his career. And, well…
Davis goes deep. Tie game. The 9th goes quietly, except for one thing–a rain delay. This might be the most significant rain delay in history. The 15 minute break sucked the momentum from the Tribe.
In the top of the 10th, the Cubs immediately jump on a tired Indians bullpen. On a string of base hits the Cubs take the lead 8-6. Chicago can taste it. In the bottom half the Indians get one back but not both. It’s over. 108 years worth of pain on the North Side is over. The Cubs win the World Series.
2. Red Sox vs. Mets, October 25th 1986: “The Bill Buckner Game”
This is the most infamous moment in baseball history. The Red Sox, like the Cubs, experienced a long drought. For 86 years, starting with their sale of a young Babe Ruth in 1920, the Red Sox were unable to emerge champions until they won in 2004, their first since 1918. That run had a few incredible games of its own, but for now we’ll focus on a certain game that continued their drought: the Buckner game.
The 1986 Red Sox were good. Really good. They were 95-66 and were a win away from history against the Mets (see No. 6). Game Six was tight. A close game all through the night, and an 8th inning sac fly by the Mets tied the game for the second time and led to extras. In the top half of the tenth, the Red Sox came out swinging.
Dave Henderson led off with a home run, then, after two straight strikeouts, a double and single put the score at 5-3. Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi got two quick outs. The camera crew was already set up in the locker room, and champagne was wheeled in.
But before the celebration began, Gary Carter hit a single. OK. Still one out. Two pitches later, Kevin Mitchell singles. Whatever. Still just one good pitch and it’s over.
Bring up Ray Knight. Down 0-2, the Mets were a strike from elimination. But Knight slapped a single up the middle. Three straight singles, Carter scores, 5-4. 1st and 3rd. In a panic, John Macnamara (Red Sox coach), sends closer Bob Stanley onto the mound. The next hitter is Mookie Wilson. The at bat, well it’s a long one. Wilson fouls off 4 of the first 6 pitches.. A similar sinking feeling is being beaten into the gut of life-long Red Sox fans. Then, for the 4th pitch in the inning, a strike away from immortality, the seventh pitch gets away from Stanley. MItchell scampers home. Tie game. BoSox fans sit back down. They’ll have to wait a bit longer.
(This is a good time to point out the Red Sox first baseman. His name is Bill Buckner. Buckner is a terrific hitter, and normally a formidable fielder, but is injured. The fact he hasn’t been subbed out for a replacement is beyond anyone.)
Two more foul balls later, Wilson knocks a dribbler down the first base line. Buckner sets up behind the bag. The ball hops three times, then just before Buckner it doesn’t. Instead it trickles through his legs. Knight, who was running on the play scores easily. Game 6 is over, the Mets have won. And, believe it or not, the Mets won the next night. The curse continues. The Game goes down in history.
1. Braves vs. Twins, October 27th 1991: “The Best Game 7”
This is the Game to end all games. Instead of being a slug-fest or a comeback, it was your classic mono-e-mono pitchers’ duel. One for the ages. It was Twins versus Braves.
The Twins took the first two games, but the Braves stayed resilient. A young team, led by their terrific pitching, had taken down the favored Pirates to get to the World Series, and weren’t going to go down easy. They took three straight and went back to Minnesota a win away from it all. But, an 11th inning walk-off victory by the Twins forced a game 7. The match-up was set. Twins veteran ace, Jack Morris, would face the young flamethrower, John Smoltz. And they lived up to the hype.
Both Smoltz and Morris whipped through the opposing lineup. The closest anyone got to scoring in the first 7 innings was a 1st and 3rd 1-out rally by the Braves. But Morris got Terry Pendleton to pop out and then struck out Ron Gant.
Then in the 8th, the Braves let a real opportunity slip by. Lonnie Smith led off the top of the 8th with a single. The next batter lifted a deep fly ball into left center. Smith, unfortunately, didn’t see where the ball went. With incredible quick thinking, Twins 2nd baseman, Chuck Knoblach, acted as if he was fielding the ball and turning a double play. Smith, confused, stopped at second peering into the outfield. Realizing his mistake, he started to sprint to third, but was held up. Smith, a speed demon, could have easily scored on the double, but instead was held up. The next batter grounded out, and then after a walk, the Twins got a double play. Smith was stranded on third.
In the bottom half, Smoltz exited the game, leaving 2 runners on base. The Braves escaped the jam, and Smoltz’s line was, well…brilliant. In Game 7, he went 7.1, shutting out the Twins on 105 pitches.
Morris remained in the game. The score remained 0-0. Tension mounted with every pitch, and both teams cruised through regulation and into extra innings. Morris, having the night of his life, went out to pitch the top of the tenth. He threw eight pitches and went 1-2-3.
In the bottom half, the Braves third pitcher of the night, Alejandro Pena, went out to shut down the Twins. Dan Gladden led off with a double. The next batter, Knoblach, laid down a bunt, moving the run to end all runs 90 feet away. The Braves opted to intentionally walk the next two batters, loading the bases. The next batter, Gene Larkin, took the first pitch into the gap in left center. Gladden scored easily and the World Series was over. The Twins had walked it off. Morris had pitched 10 innings, allowed 7 hits, struck out 8, and thrown 126 pitches. Incredible. What a game.