When I set out to write this three-part series of moments and memories in the World Series so many memories came out of the woodwork. I have taken suggestions from friends and family along with those of my own and I have come to realize that I’m going to need a bigger blog! I have decided to extend the series to a fourth part which I will publish this coming Sunday.
Tonight at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, it will be winner take all! The Dodgers and Astros go into tonight tied at three games apiece, tonight’s winner will be the 2017 World Series Champion. There is nothing like a Game 7 in a World Series, Stanley Cup Final or NBA Final. The Super Bowl in and of itself in a winner take all championship competition. Somebody will be crowned the Kings of Baseball, someone will go home a little short.
Tonight’s game gave me an idea for tonight’s article. I’ve come up with three of the most memorable seven game World Series’ in my lifetime. These aren’t necessarily about Game 7 itself, some of these moments caused a Game 7.
The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate a victory in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series.
Our first stop is the year 2011, the Texas Rangers won their second consecutive American League title that year. The Rangers lost the 2010 Series to the San Francisco Giants in five games. Their opponents in 2011 were the St. Louis Cardinals who were making their first appearance since 2006.
The story here is not about the seventh game, history was made in Game 6. The Series returned to St. Louis on October 27th with the Rangers holding a 3-2 lead after taking 2 of 3 at home. The game was originally scheduled for October 26th but was rained out. The score was tied going into the seventh inning when Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn was greeted by back to back homers by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. This gave Texas a 6-4 lead. Ian Kinsler would add an RBI to put the Rangers up by three runs. Allen Craig would hit a solo home run for the Cardinals in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 7-5.
Rangers closer Neftali Feliz came on in the bottom of the ninth to seemingly nail down the Rangers first ever World Championship, this is where history started to be made. Albert Pujols took the Texas closer’s first pitch and deposited into center field for a double. After intentionally walking Lance Berkman, Feliz got Craig to strike out. This brought the Rangers within one out of a World Championship. David Freese took a 1-2 pitch (the Cardinals had been down to their last strike) and hit it off the wall for a triple to tie the game at 7-7!
Josh Hamilton’s two run blast in the top of the tenth gave the Rangers a 9-7 lead going into the bottom of the inning. Ryan Theriot grounded out with runners on second and third scoring Daniel Descalso to bring St. Louis to within a run. Following an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman ran the count to 2-2. The Rangers once again were a strike away from winning the Series. Berkman singled on the next pitch to score Jon Jay with the tying run. Texas had now blown two chances to close out the Cardinals. Freese would hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eleventh to send the series to Game 7. The Cardinals won the series the following night.
The Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate winning the 2001 World Series over the Yankees in seven games.
The year was 2001, the United States had been the victims of the deadliest terrorist attack on its soil on September 11th. It was fitting that the Yankees won the American League Championship that year. The Arizona Diamondbacks joined the National League as an expansion team in 1998. After only three years, Arizona had a National League Champion! What followed was arguably one of the greatest World Series’ of all time.
Every game of the 2001 World Series was won by the home team. The Diamondbacks took games 1 and 2 by uneventful scores of 9-1 and 4-0. When the series shifted to Yankee Stadium in New York it got interesting.
President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch prior to Game 3 as a commemoration of the awful events that occurred in New York barely a month earlier. Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera limited Arizona to three hits in a 2-1 Yankees victory to close the gap to 2-1.
The following night was Halloween, and the ghosts of Yankees past were looking down on the men in pinstripes. The Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the ninth down by the score of 3-1. The Diamondbacks were three outs away from a commanding 3-1 series lead. Then the ghosts of Ruth, Gehrig, and Mantle awoke. With one out in the inning, Paul O’Neill got New York going with a base hit. Bernie Williams struck out and brought Arizona within an out of a win. Tino Martinez extended the game when he deposited Arizona closer Byung-hyun Kim’s first pitch into the center-field bleachers to tie the game at 3-3! Derek Jeter would earn the nickname “Mr. November” when he came to bat after midnight (making it November 1). With two out and a 3-2 count, the Yankee captain hit a walk off home run to tie the series!
Game 5 seemed a lot like Game 4. The Yankees again came to bat in the ninth down two runs. This time it was Scott Brosius’s turn to be the hero. He tied the game with a two run shot to send the game into extra frames. Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single in the bottom of the twelfth gave the Yankees a 3-2 series lead heading back to the desert.
The Diamondbacks forced game seven with a 15-2 blowout in game six. This set up one of the greatest Game Seven’s in World Series history.
Game 7 began as a pitcher’s duel between Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling. It remained scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning when Danny Bautista’s RBI double put Arizona on the board. New York would plate single runs in the seventh and eighth to take a 2-1 lead. That would hold up going into the bottom of the ninth.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera took the hill in the eighth inning. Rivera was arguably the greatest closer in Major League Baseball history, so the Yankees were seemingly in good hands. This night, however, would be different. Mark Grace lead off the ninth with a single. Rivera would throw wild to second base after a bunt attempt to move David Dellucci (who came in to run for Grace) to second. As a result, Arizona had runners on first and second. Jay Butler would bunt to move the runners over. Rivera threw Dellucci out at third, but third baseman Scott Brosius held onto the ball rather than complete the double play with a throw to first. Tony Womack would double to tie the game, giving Rivera a very rare blown save. Rivera’s troubles continued when he hit Craig Counsell to load the bases. Luis Gonzalez lofted a single over a drawn in infield that reverberated across the Arizona desert! The Diamondbacks were World Champions!
Finally, we go back one year ago for a World Series that matched the battle of lovable losers. The Chicago Cubs reached the World Series for the first time since 1945. The Cubbies hadn’t actually won the Series since way back in 1908. The Cubs would face the Cleveland Indians, a team that last won a World Championship in 1948.
After 108 long years the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series.
In a series that culminated with an epic Game 7, it appeared at one point that it would become a 109 year drought. The Indians won 3 of the first four games, but a three run rally in the fourth inning of Game 5 kept the Cubs alive. The only problem was, they needed to go back to Cleveland with their backs to the wall. Game 6 turned out to be all Cubs as they won 9-3. This set up one of the all time epic Game Sevens.
Chicago center-fielder Dexter Fowler lead off the game with a solo home run that echoed around the Windy City. Cleveland would tie the game in the third, courtesy of a Carlos Santana RBI single. The Cubs would take the lead back in the top of the fourth inning by scoring two runs and each team would plate two runs in the fifth.
Cubs catcher David Ross hit a solo home run in the sixth to give Chicago a 6-3 lead. In the bottom of the eighth, Indians center-fielder Rajai Davis tied the game with a home run off of Aldoris Chapman. You could hear a pin drop on Waveland Avenue in Chicago, as the Cubs had blown a 3 run eighth inning lead.
The game would remain tied through the end of the ninth inning. The baseball gods would throw one more curve into the hopes and dreams of the Cubs and Indians faithful…a 17 minute rain delay!
When play resumed, Kyle Schwarber led off the tenth with a base hit. Schwarber would be lifted for a pinch runner (Albert Almora). After Kris Bryant hit a long fly to center-field, Almora tagged up at second and advanced to third. Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked and Ben Zobrist lit up the Windy City with an RBI double to give the Cubs the lead. Addison Russell was intentionally walked, and Miguel Montero followed with an RBI single to give Chicago an 8-6 lead.
Nothing comes easy on the Near North Side, the Indians would counter in the bottom of the tenth. Rajai Davis was the hero again with an RBI single bringing the Tribe to within one run. The city of Chicago would explode when Michael Martinez grounded to Kris Bryant at third base. Finally after 108 long years the Chicago Cubs were World Champions!
I hope you enjoyed tonight’s blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. What chapter in history awaits us tonight?