You’ve made it. 162 games later, the postseason is just one day away.
As we prepare to enter the most baseball’s most dramatic and emotional month, we figured the first day of no baseball since the All-star break is a great time to reflect on some great moments of the past. From the playoff regulars to those with tortured October histories, every franchise has had a does of that Fall magic at least once. So we decided to rank the greatest postseason moment in history for all 30 teams. Tell us if you agree!
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – “7th Heaven” – Game 7, 2002 World Series
The Anaheim Angels were just six outs away from elimination in game six of the 2002 World Series, and an incredible comeback that saw them put up six runs between the 7th and 8th innings sent the series onto a winner-take-all game seven. The Angels never looked back after Garrett Anderson hit a bases clearing double to break a 1-1 tie in the 3rd inning of the do or die contest. Six innings later, Daren Erstad caught Kenny Lofton’s deep fly ball to clinch the Angels’ first and only World Series title as Bengie Molina and Troy Glaus mobbed Troy Percival on the mound.
Houston Astros – “Burke’s 18th inning blast” – Game 4, 2005 NLDS
Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS was nothing short of a marathon. With a 2-1 series lead, the Houston Astros found themselves tied with the Atlanta Braves at six apiece at the end of nine innings, thanks to a Brad Ausmus solo shot that tied the game in the bottom of the innings. The stalemate would last all the way until the 18th inning, but Chris Burke would save the day when he launched a pitch off rookie Joey Devine into the left field bleachers, giving Houston a walk-off series win. The Astros would make it all the way to their first and only World Series appearance that season, only to be swept by the Chicago White Sox.
Oakland Athletics – “Three-peat” – Game 5, 1974 World Series
The A’s took home back to back titles in 1972 and 1973 with a roster chalked full of talent such as Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers. When 1974 rolled around, the A’s found themselves back in the World Series for a third straight season, this time up against a California rival in the form of the Los Angeles Dodgers. LA was a formidable opponent with 102 wins on the season, but it didn’t matter. The A’s dominated the Dodgers, winning the series in five games to become only the second team in history at the time to three-peat as World Series champions. Fingers was named the World Series MVP.
Toronto Blue Jays – “Touch ’em all, Joe” – Game 6, 1993 World Series
Whelp, this was an easy one. It’s pretty remarkable that the Jays were even in position for this magical moment to occur, as Toronto blew a 5-1 lead in the 7th inning and entered the 9th trailing 6-5. But baseball is scripted, right? Indeed it is. With one out and two on, Joe Carter came to the plate and launched a 2-2 pitch just over the left field wall, giving Toronto the magical walk-off and sending the Jays to their second straight World Series title. To this day, Carter’s blast remains the most recent of only two World Series clinching walk-off homers in baseball history.
Atlanta Braves – “Sid’s slide” – Game 7, 1992 NLCS
You could argue that the Braves’ first and only World Series title in 1995 was the pinnacle for the team of the 1990s, but this moment sticks with us much more. After taking a commanding 3-1 series lead in the ’92 NLCS, the Brave slipped as the Pittsburgh Pirates won two straight, sending the series to a deciding game seven in Atlanta. The Braves were three outs away from elimination, down 2-0 entering the bottom of the 9th inning. The Pittsburgh bullpen would collapse though, loading up the bases with no outs. The Pirates appeared to be escaping the jam though, striking out the next batter before allowing a sac-fly to make it a 2-1 game and only needing one out to advance to their first Fall Classic in 13 years. But Bobby Cox and the Braves had other plans. Cox pinch hit rarely used utility-player Francisco Cabrera, who drilled a high fast-ball on a 2-1 count into left field. David Justice scored the tying run easily from third base, and moments later Sid Bream would be flying home all the way from second base, trying to beat out the throw from Pittsburgh All-Star left fielder Barry Bonds. With a frantic stomach first slide, Bream beat out Bonds’ throw by inches, sending the Braves back to the Fall Classic for the second year in a row.
Milwaukee Brewers – “Nyjer Morgan sends the Brewers on” – Game 5, 2011 NLDS
Coming off their best regular season in franchise history, the expectations were sky high as the Milwaukee Brewers entered the 2011 postseason. All systems appeared to be a go as the Brewers jumped out to a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS, but the DBacks would storm right back to win both games in the desert, sending the series to a winner-take-all game five in Milwaukee. Game five itself was nearly a microcosm of the series, as the Diamondbacks would tie the game with a run in the ninth inning to send the game into extras. But Carlos Gomez would hit a double in the 10th inning, and the next at bat later, Nyjer Morgan singled in Gomez to give Milwaukee the walk off victory. It was the first time the Crew had won a playoff series in 19 years.
St. Louis Cardinals – “Deep Freese” – Game 6, 2011 World Series
After dropping game five in Arlington, the St. Louis Cardinals trailed the Texas Rangers 3-2 as the 2011 World Series headed back to the gateway city. In game six, the Cardinals were down to their last out, down two runs as David Freese came to the plate with two runners on. Down their final strike, Freese launched a fly ball to the warning track in right field, but Nelson Cruz misplayed the ball, allowing both runners to score as Freese recorded a game tying stand-up triple. The 10th inning would be yet another roller coaster, as the Rangers would take a 9-7 lead on a Josh Hamilton homer before the Cardinals stormed back once again down their final strike, with a game tying single by veteran Lance Berkman after the Texas bullpen faltered a second time. In the bottom of the 11th inning with the game still tied at 9, Freese came back up to the plate to lead off the inning. On a full-count, Freese connected on Derek Lowe’s pitch, sending the ball over the center field wall for a walk-off solo home run. The heroics from Freese would propel the Cardinals to a game 7 victory the next night, giving the Cardinals their 11th World Series title in franchise history.
Chicago Cubs – “Sweet redemption” – Game 5, 1907 World Series
Yeah, we had to go a little ways back on this one for obvious reasons. Anyhow, the Chicago Cubs first reached the World Series in 1906 after they posted 116 wins that season, only to lose the series 4-2 to their crosstown rivals; the Chicago White Sox. The following year, the Cubs would return to the World Series, and this time the result was much happier. They swept the Detroit Tigers in 5 games (game one was called a tie due to darkness), giving the Cubbies their first title in franchise history. The would go on to repeat in 1908, and well, you know the rest of the story from there.
Arizona Diamondbacks – “Gonzo’s bloop” – Game 7, 2001 World Series
As the 2001 World Series entered the ninth inning of game seven, the Yankees were just three outs away from becoming the first team in MLB history to four-peat as World Series champions, and with All-Star closer Mariano Rivera on the mound, it looked to be all but a certainty. But little did the baseball world know that the improbable was immanent. Mark Grace would give the DBacks hope with a lead-off single up the middle on a 0-1 count. The next batter later, Damian Miller laid down a perfect bunt, but when Rivera attempted to throw to second to get the lead runner, the ball went past the reach of Jeter and into center field. A force out would be made at third when Jay Bell bunted immediately after, but Tony Womack then laced a double down the right field line to tie the game and put runners and 2nd and 3rd. The next batter, Craig Counsel, would then get hit by a pitch, loading the bases up for Luis Gonzales still with only 1 out. On a 0-1 pitch, Gonzalez hit a blooper up the middle just beyond the reach of Derek Jeter, delivering a walk-off World Series win for the Diamondbacks in only their 5th season of existence.
Los Angeles Dodgers – “I don’t believe what I just saw!” – Game 1, 1988 World Series
How do call a game one moment the greatest postseason moment in a team’s history? Well let me ask you this. How exactly can you top an injured player in the form of Kirk Gibson hitting a walk off home run in the World Series against the best closer in the game at the time in the form of Dennis Eckersley? Yeah that’s what I thought. Ask any Dodger fan and they will tell you that Gibson’s walk-off with the soundtrack of Jack Buck screaming “I don’t believe what I just saw!” tops Orel Hershiser’s series clinching strikeout in game five.
San Francisco Giants – “The Giants win the pennant!” – Game 3, 1951 NLCS
Yes, it was game three, because back then the NLCS only existed when teams were tied at the end of the season. It probably shouldn’t have happened too, because the Dodgers had a 12.5 game lead over the Giants that summer, with Dodgers manager Charles Dressen infamously saying “The Giants is dead.” But the Dodgers collapsed in the stretch and the Giants caught fire, sending them to three game stand with a trip to the Fall Classic on the line. It looked like the Dodgers would get away with their collapse when they led 4-1 entering the 9th inning of game three, but the Giants wouldn’t let up easy against their arch rivals. The two lead off batters for Giants would get on base, and a one out double by Whitey Lockman made it a 4-2 game. That brought Bobby Thomson to the plate, and an 0-1 count, Thomson connected on a fastball that went sailing into the left field bleachers for a game and pennant-winning three run home run. Just like that, the Giants-Dodgers rivalry soared to new heights and Russ Hodges’ call “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!” became one of the most famous in sports history.
Cleveland Indians – “World Champs again” – Game 6, 1948 World Series
The Indians have not won a World Series in 68 years and have endured their fair share of heartbreak in the postseason ever since, which makes their six game victory over the Braves in 1948 one of their high points in franchise history. It ended a 28 year title drought and made the tribe 2-2 in their World Series history at the time, but that perfect record came to an end when the lost the 1954 World Series to the New York Giants.
Seattle Mariners – “Griffey Jr. is sent home” – Game 5, 1995 ALDS
Comebacks were a theme for the Mariners in 1995. First they came back from a 13 game deficit to win the AL West in a do-or-die game 163 vs Angels. Then, down 0-2 against the Yankees in the ALDS, Seattle stormed right back by taking the next two games to force a deciding game five at the Kingdome. It was a thriller, as the two teams would be tied at 4 apiece after nine innings. In the top of the 11th, the Yankees went ahead 5-4 on a Randy Velarde base hit, but the lead would be short lived. A lead-off bunt single in the bottom of the inning was followed up by a Ken Griffey Jr. single, and with still no outs, Edgar Martinez ripped a double down the line that scored Joey Cora easily from 2nd base to tie it at 5-5. Before anyone knew it, Griffey was rounding third base as the winning run, and he slid into home safely as the Mariners advanced to the ALCS in dramatic fashion.
Miami Marlins – “Renteria to the rescue” – Game 7, 1997 World Series
As the night grew long in south Florida, game seven of the 1997 World Series saw the Indians and Marlins head to extra innings in the do or die contest after the Marlins tied up the game at two apiece in the bottom of the ninth inning. Then in the bottom of the eleventh inning, the Indians loaded up the bases with two outs and Edgar Renteria came to the plate for the Marlins. Renteria connected on an 0-1 slider from Charles Nagy, sending the ball off Nagy’s glove and into the outfield for a series-winning walk off single. It was at the time the fastest time for any expansion team to win a World Series since their inception (4 years), and it would be the first of two World Series winning hits for Renteria in his storied career.
New York Mets – “And the Mets win it!” – Game 6, 1986 World Series
The Mets would defeat the Red Sox in seven games to win the 1986 World Series, but it was game six that gave Mets fans all the thrills they could ask for. The Mets trailed in the series 3-2 heading back to Queens, and game six would be an extra innings thriller after the teams were tied at three after nine innings. When the 10th inning rolled around though, it seemed as if all was lost for the Mets as they surrendered two runs to Boston in the top of the inning. After two pop outs to lead off the bottom of the 10th, the Mets were soon down to their final out of the series. But they weren’t done. New York would hit three straight singles, the third down to their last strike and scoring a run, putting runners on the corners. Then the unbelievable happened. After a pitching change, the Red Sox were down to their final strike only for reliever Bob Stanley to throw a wild pitch on a 2-2 count that allowed New York to tie the game.
And then on the next at bat….
New York went on to win game 7 for their second World Series in franchise history.
Washington Nationals – “We are not Werthy” – Game 4, 2012 NLDS
Even with their time in Montreal, the Nationals franchise has only been to postseason a few times and has never won a playoff series to this date. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been dramatic moments. The most noteworthy of such occurred against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2012 NLDS. Facing elimination in game four on a cold October night in our nation’s capital, the Nats were in a 1-1 stalemate with the Cards entering the ninth inning. Washington would refuse to go to extra innings though. Leading off the bottom of the ninth was power hitter Jason Werth, and on the 13th pitch of the at bat, Werth launched a heater from Lance Lynn over the left field wall for a walk off solo homer to force a winner take all game five.
Baltimore Orioles – “How sweep it is!” – Game 4, 1966 World Series
It may have not been the most dramatic instances in baseball history, but man were the O’s dominant in their four game sweep of the Dodgers in 1966 to win their first World Series in franchise history. The O’s did not allow a single run the final 33 innings of the series, AKA three straight shutouts to end it, and we may never see a World Series team pitching performance again that was a dominant as this one. The four heroes for Baltimore on the mound in those games: Moe Drabowsky, Jim Palmer, Wally Bukner and Dave McNally.
San Diego Padres – “Steve Garvey’s shot” – Game 4, 1984 NLCS
In the final year of the five game format in the LCS, the Chicago Cubs were a win away from advancing to their first World Series in 78 years when they took the first two games against the San Diego Padres. San Diego would win game three in a 7-1 blowout, but the Cubs would not go down without a fight in game four when they scored twice in the eighth inning to tie the game 5-5. After a scoreless bottom of the eight and top of the ninth, the Cubs sent ace Lee Smith to the mound in the bottom of the ninth to get the game into extras. Davis would get the first out, but Tony Gwynn would single on the next at bat, bringing up Steve Garvey to the plate. Not fazed by Smith, Garvey smashed a fly ball right over the 370 foot marker in the outfield for a dramatic walk-off home run. The Padres would go on to win game five with four run seventh inning comeback and advanced to their first World Series in franchise history, continuing the Billy Goat Curse for the Cubs to this very day.
Philadelphia Phillies – “77 years in the making” – Game 6, 1980 World Series
The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the older franchises in all of sports, and yet they encured 77 straight seasons without a championship after winning the 1903 World Series. But all things come to an end, and for the Phillies, that moment was game six of the 1980 World Series. Powered by stars such as Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia defeated George Brett and the Kansas City Royals in six games, with game six retaining the title of the most watched game in World Series to this very day.
Pittsburgh Pirates – “Mazeroski’s walk off” – Game 7, 1960 World Series
Only once has a World Series ended on a walk off homer run in a do or die game seven. It’s the ultimate fairy tale ending in baseball, and Bill Mazeroski was the one man that was lucky enough to experience it. Battling the New York Yankees in a tightly contested series, it looked like Pittsburgh had it won until the Yankees scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to tie the contest at five apiece. But we all know how it ended. Mazeroski stepped up to the plate for Pittsburgh to lead off the bottom of the inning, and on a 1-0 count, he launched a blast over the left field wall to win the series in what is arguably the most dramatic ending to a World Series all-time.
Texas Rangers – “A pennant at last” – Game 6, 2010 ALCS
Looking for their first trip to the World Series in franchise history, the AL West winning Texas Rangers took on the red-hot New York Yankees in the 2010 ALCS. The Yankees would steal game one on the road with a six run comeback, but the Rangers responded with three straight wins, including two in the Bronx. The Yankees would force a game six back in Arlington, but the Rangers would win with ease, striking out former Ranger Alex Rodriguez for the final out to advance to their first ever Fall Classic.
Tampa Bay Rays – “Series Bound” – Game 7, 2008 ALCS
Long the laughing stock of the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays were finally able to make noise under the leadership of Joe Maddon in 2008 by winning the AL East, the franchise’s first division title in history. Facing the defending champion Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, the Rays were in for a shell shock when up 3-1 in the series, they lost a potential-clinching game five after the Red Sox battled back from a 7-0 deficit to win in extra innings. The Red Sox would win game six to force a do or die game seven, but this time the Rays would hold off a late rally attempt by Boston, and advanced to their first and only World Series to this date.
Boston Red Sox – “The Curse is Reversed” – Game 4, 2004 World Series
From the Bill Buckner error to the Aaron Boone walk-off in game 7, the Boston Red Sox had endured 86 years of torture entering October 2004, having not won a World Series since 1918. The Sox appeared to be dead once again when they were entered the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 4 of the 2004 NLC S trailing, already down 3-0 in the series to their hated rivals, the New York Yankees. Of course, the greatest comeback in baseball history, sparked by a Dave Roberts stolen base, propelled the Red Sox to their first World Series in 18 years, becoming the first team to ever rally down from a 3-0 deficit in postseason history. The Sox would proceed to win the first three games of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, and they would find themselves up 3-0 in the ninth inning with two outs in game 4. Edgar Renteria hit a soft ground ball right back to Red Sox pitcher Keith Foulke. Foulke tossed the ball underhand to first baseman Kevin Millar, and just like that, the Red Sox were World Champs, and the Curse of the Bambino was long at last broken.
Cincinatti Reds – “The Machine is born” – Game 7, 1975 World Series
The Reds were three outs away from winning the 1975 World Series in game six, carrying a three run lead over the Red Sox into the bottom of the ninth inning. We all know the narrative in that one, as Boston rallied for three runs to tie it before Carlton Fisk hit his epic homer off the fould pole as he waved his hands fair. The Reds looked like they would complete the collapse in game six when they encountered an early 3-0 deficit. They would chew their way back though to tie it in the seventh inning, and in the top of ninth when two runners on and one out, Joe Morgan sent the Reds to the promised land with a bloop single to take a 4-3 lead. The Reds retired the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the ninth to win the first of back-to-back World Series in thrilling fashion, dubbed “The Big Red Machine.”
Colorado Rockies – “The Lone Pennant” – Game 4, 2007 NLCS
After squeezing into the playoffs as the wildcard and upsetting the Phillies in the NLDS with a sweep, the Rockies continued their miracle run with a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks to advance to the World Series for the first and only time in franchise history. Matt Holiday was named the MVP as Colorado went 7-0 to begin a postsesaon for the first time since the Reds did so in 1976. Their undefeated postseason came to an end in the World Series, but it was an exciting time for baseball fans in Colorado, which is something we just don’t see all that often.
Kansas City Royals – “The Comeback” – Game 6, 1985 World Series
The Royals, looking for their first World Series title in history, seemed doomed for defeat when they trailed the St. Louis Cardinals by one run entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Then the tables turned when leadoff hiter of the inning, Jeorge Orta, was incorrectly ruled safe at first base on a tight throw. The Cardinals argued the call, but it stood, and the Royals had life. Immediately after the botched call, St. Louis dropped a pop up in fould territory before Steve Balboni singled. Instead of two outs and nobody on, there were two runners on with nobody out. An ensuing ground out would result in Orta being forced out at third base (it would have been the first out) but nonetheless the Royals still had two runners on with one out instead of the game and series potentially being over. An esuing pass ball would allow the runners to advance, bringing Dane Lorg to the plate. He blooped a single off Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell, scoring the tying run before Jim Sundberg barely beat out Andy Van Slyke’s throw to the plate. The Royals had won, and they would go on to win game seven to overcome a 3-1 series deficit and capture their first of two titles.
Detroit Tigers – “Magglio’s moonshot” – Game 5, 2006 ALCS
The Tigers have had their fare share of postseason strife, now 32 years removed from their last World Series title. But in 2006, the Tigers joined the designation of becoming one of only four teams in history at the time to clinch an LCS with a walk off homer, when Magglio Ordonez sent Oakland A’s closer Huston Street’s pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning deep into the Detroit night for a three run shot that sent the Tigers to their first World Series appearance in 22 years. The Tigers would go on to lose the World Series to the Cardinals, 4-1, but it was one of most memorable emotional high’s in Tigers history, and Ordonez will always be remembered for his heroics.
Minnesota Twins – “And we’ll see ya tomorrow night!” – Game 6, 1991 World Series
Dubbed the “greatest World Series of all time” by ESPN, the Minnesota Twins found themselves in an extra inning stalemate in game six of the 1991 World Series, heading into extra innings and trailing the Atlanta Braves 3-2 in the series. Twins outfielder Kirby Puckett had already made an incredible leaping catch earlier in the game against the Metrodome’s hockey rink-like plexiglass that lined the left field wall in outfield, saving what would have been the series winning run for the Braves. It wouldn’t be the last time he played hero in game six. With the ballgame tied 3-3 in the bottom of the 11th, Pucket led things off for the Twins. On a 2-1 count facing Braves ace starting-pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, Puckett smashed a pitch to left field, sailing over the wall for a dramatic walk off homer. The win would propel the Twins to yet another walk off win in game seven to clinch the World Series, and now we all get to cherish Jack Buck’s memorable call: “And we’ll see ya tomorrow night.”
Chicago White Sox – “White once again” – Game 4, 2005 World Series
Entering the 2005 season, the Chicago White Sox had not taken home Baseball’s prized possession in 88 years, plagued by the Curse of the Black Sox that had been bestowed upon them after throwing the 1919 World Series. But a year after the Red Sox broke their 86 year old Curse of the Bambino, the White Sox were able to follow suit in a truly magical run that saw they reach that saw them sweep the Houston Astros for their first World Series in nearly a century. All it took was approximately 365 days to erase a combined 174 years of misery between baseball’s sox, giving Chicago a blank slate moving forward.
New York Yankees – “Don Larsen is Perfect” – Game 5, 1956 World Series
The Yankees have 27 world series titles, so its hard to determine which one really means the most (aside from the first one, but very few people are alive who can actually remember that day 93 years ago). Even then there are still tons of other great postseason moments, from Chris Chambliss and Aaron Boone hitting ALCS clinching walk-off homers to Reggie’s three homer game. But there is one moment in Yankees postseason lore that has never been matched, and that feat belongs to Don Larsen. In game five of the 1956 World Series, Larsen became the first and only pitcher to this day to record a perfect game in the postseason, retiring 27 Brooklyn Dodgers batters in a row to take a 3-2 series lead. The Yankees would go on to win the World Series in 7 games, but what everyone really remembers is the magical moment on the mound two games earlier. 60 years later, we have yet to see Larsen’s performance matched, and we may never see such a spectacle again.