Sunday, October 6, 2019
It Ain't Over til It's Over
I'm not going to sugarcoat it - things look bad right now for the Minnesota Twins, facing an 0-2 deficit to the New York Yankees in the ALDS. The first two games could hardly have been much worse, thankfully none of the Twins were injured, save for their pride. HOWEVER! The Yankees haven't won that 3rd game yet, and the series turns to Minnesota tomorrow. It might be unlikely, but why don't we take a look at what unlikely looks like? Why not take a look at some ways that a series can turn around? It might make me feel better, OK? Rays fans, I see you too - hope this helps a bit.
1981 NLDS - Dodgers come back against the Houston Astros
1981 included a Divisional Series because of the strike that split the season into two parts. The Dodgers actually had the home-field advantage, though they lost games 1 and 2 on the road. Not much of an advantage when Houston only had to win one in LA.
But the Dodgers were up to the task, thanks to stalwart starting pitching, including a complete game from Fernando Valenzuela in Game 4, leading to a duel between Jerry Reuss and Nolan Ryan, who was working on regular rest and was Nolan freakin' Ryan. Reuss tossed a shutout, and the Dodgers bats had just enough to win 4-0. Garvey would hit .368 in the series including a game 3 homer that sparked the comeback. The Dodgers did it without Ron Cey, though he would be back in time for the World Series, where he was the MVP.
1982 ALCS - Brewers defeat the California Angels
Don Sutton tossed 7 scoreless innings in Game 3, Ben Oglivie blasted a homer and Cecil Cooper hit a 2-run single in Game 5 to power "Harvey's Wallbangers" to a series victory. The series was so close that the ALCS MVP ended up being Angels OF Fred Lynn in a losing cause. Robin Yount struggled for the Brew Crew in the series, with a .250 average and no extra base hits.
1984 ALCS - Padres defeat the Cubs
Game 4 - Postseason vet with ice in veins, Steve Garvey, blasts a 2 run walkoff homer, setting up a winner-takes-all finale.
Game 5- Carmelo Martinez draws a 4 pitch walk, a bunt moves him to 2nd, then Tim Flannery gets a key hit right through the wickets of Leon Durham. Goose Gossage locks down the win by pitching the last two innings.
1995 ALDS - Seattle Mariners defeat the New York Yankees
Now in the Divisional Series era, the ALCS and NLCS is stretched to 7 games, but the new Division series remains best of five. The Yankees jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against a Seattle team that had already tested their mettle in a tie-breaker game over the Angels.
Back in the Kingdome, the Mariners leaned on Randy Johnson for a gutsy seven innings. He struck out 10, and the Mariners won 6-4. Game 4 was a seesaw game until Edgar Martinez crushed a grand slam in the 8th off John Wetteland.
The Game 5 finale was one of the best games in playoff history. The lead would change hands 6 times, David Cone threw 140 pitches for the Yankees, Randy Johnson came in to relieve in extra innings, but the final rally came in the bottom of the 11th. Joey Cora singles, backed by a Griffey single, and Edgar Martinez was back again to be the hero, lacing a liner down the left field line, scoring both runners in an epic finish.
1999 ALDS - Red Sox defeat Cleveland
The format of the 5 game series was now the current 2-2-1 version by the time this series was played.
Both teams won their home games in decisive fashion, including a ridiculous 23-7 rout in game 4 by the Red Sox, in which John Valentin drove in 7 runs. Nomar hit over .400 for the series.
Game 5 included quite a lot of early offense, including 2 homers by Jim Thome. Troy O'Leary matched Valentin's 7 RBI in the game, but the real story was the relief appearance of Pedro Martinez. Martinez was coming off 4 scoreless innings in Game 1 before leaving due to injury. In Game 5, Martinez came in to an 8-8 tie game, and no-hit Cleveland for 6 relief innings, pitching on fumes but still striking out 8 batters.
2001 ALDS - Yankees beat A's
oh. The Yankees are on this list, too? Do I have to? Fine.
People remember "The Flip" by Derek Jeter, but Mike Mussina out-dueled Barry Zito (When Zito was Zito!) in that game, and the only run came on Jorge Posada's Solo homer.
Mariano Rivera was at his best, closing out a pair of the final three games in his usual dominant fashion.
2003 ALDS - Red Sox over the A's
The Red Sox are free to share some mojo with the Twins this year, I'm sure they won't mind if it means beating the Yankees.
In 2003, it was Jason Varitek with a key block of the plate that started a chain reaction of base running blunders that swung momentum back to the Red Sox in Game 3. David Ortiz had a clutch 2 run double in Game 4, and Pedro dominated in Game 5, with Manny Ramirez providing the offensive production to give the Sox the series win.
2012 NLDS - Giants defeat Reds
Ryan Vogelsong gave the Giants a boost with a gutty performance in Game 3, with the win ultimately going to Sergio Romo in relief. Game 4 had a Pedro-like relief appearance by started Tim Lincecum, and Buster Posey crushed a grand slam in Game 5 that proved to be deciding runs, with Romo coming back to get the save.
The Giants would go on to win the whole thing, taking the World Series crown, just like the Dodgers did in 1981. Twins, take notes, and ask Romo for tips.
2015 ALDS - Toronto defeats the Rangers
At this point the pattern becomes familiar - Marco Estrada comes up big in game 3, with Troy Tulowitski providing a key hit. Game 4 included big offense from the Jays winning 8-4 behind an R.A. Dickey start (and in spite of a disastrous David Price Relief appearance.). Game 5 is remember for Bautista and the bat flip heard round the world, but Marcus Stroman provided 6 strong innings for the Jays to keep the game close.
So! That's encouraging. Never mind that the team going up 2-0 will win the series about 90% of the time. Just need to get something started for Game 3 - a strong start, some timely hitting, and then worry about game 4 after that.