You just never know what you're going to see in a postseason baseball game, even when a relief pitcher grabs a bat and strides to the plate.:: NLCS schedule and results ::Brewers reliever Brandon Woodruff, spending his first full season as a Major Leaguer, made the memory of a lifetime when
You just never know what you're going to see in a postseason baseball game, even when a relief pitcher grabs a bat and strides to the plate.
:: NLCS schedule and results ::
Brewers reliever Brandon Woodruff, spending his first full season as a Major Leaguer, made the memory of a lifetime when he homered off one of the greatest living pitchers in Clayton Kershaw in the third inning of Friday night's National League Championshop Series Game 1 at Miller Park. Woodruff, just the third relief pitcher in history to knock a postseason dinger, answered Manny Machado's laser shot for the Dodgers in the previous inning and turned the tide for Milwaukee, shocking Kershaw and just about everyone else watching in the process.
Woodruff's big blast made him just the 22nd pitcher to go deep in a postseason contest. Here are the names he joined in the history books:
Game: 2018 NLCS Game 1 off Kershaw
Kershaw had allowed just three homers to pitchers in his career -- none of them from the left side -- making Woodruff's tater even more shocking. This was the first postseason homer by a lefty-hitting pitcher since Rick Sutcliffe in 1984.
Game: 2016 NL Division Series Game 3 off Madison Bumgarner
Everything seemed to go the Cubs' way as they shook off their 108-year World Series championship drought in 2016; even their pitchers were connecting. Arrieta's three-run jack came off one of the best pitchers in postseason history, though the Giants came back to win this contest in 13 innings.
Game: 2016 NLDS Game 2 off George Kontos
Did we mention the Cubs were hot in 2016?
Wood's homer came just two days before Arrieta's, making the Cubs the second team in history to feature two pitchers hitting homers in the same postseason series. But Wood was no slouch at the plate; he knocked 11 career homers in the regular season while playing some outfield for crafty manager Joe Maddon during his Cubs tenure.
Game: 2008 World Series Game 4 off Edwin Jackson
"I just close my eyes and swing hard in case I make contact," Blanton said of his approach at the plate. He happened to connect against the Rays on the game's biggest stage, while also spinning six-plus innings on the mound during the Phillies' 10-2 victory.
Game: 2006 NLCS Game 3 off Steve Trachsel
Suppan did it all in the Cardinals' 5-0 win over the Mets, pitching eight shutout innings and lofting a second-inning solo shot off Trachsel to extend St. Louis' lead to 3-0.
Game: 2003 NLCS Game 7 off Mark Redman
Angst was high on this night at Wrigley Field as the Cubs had watched their 3-1 series lead over the Marlins collapse into a winner-take-all Game 7. Wood did his best to keep Chicago afloat when he knocked a game-tying two-run homer off Redman in the second inning, but the Cubs eventually blew a 5-3 lead to continue their October woes.
Game: 1984 NLCS Game 1 off Eric Show
One of the happy memories of this series for Cubs fans, Sutcliffe's solo shot helped Chicago capture Game 1, 13-0, at Wrigley Field. But the Cubs went on to blow a 2-1 series lead to the Padres in their first postseason appearance in 39 years.
Game: 1978 NLCS Game 3 off Don Sutton
The only instance of a Hall of Famer homering off another Hall of Famer on this list, Carlton's dinger helped the Phillies capture their only win of this four-game series. Carlton hit just 13 homers across 1,719 regular-season at-bats in his 24 years in the big leagues.
Game: 1975 NLCS Game 1 off Larry Demery
The Big Red Machine got off to a roaring start in Game 1 against the Pirates, thanks to a complete-game effort by Gullett -- and a two-run homer for good measure.
"After I rounded first base and realized the ball was out," recalled Gullett, "I got carried away with that little dance step. I was very excited."
Game: 1974 World Series Game 4 off Andy Messersmith
The designated hitter wouldn't make its way into the Fall Classic for another two years, meaning Holtzman got a chance to help himself in Game 4. His dinger off Messersmith, a 20-game winner for the Dodgers in 1974, opened the scoring for Oakland en route to a 5-2 win. Holtzman and the A's would pick up their third straight World Series ring the next night.
Game: 1970 ALCS Game 1 off Jim Perry
One of just eight homers hit by Cuellar in his celebrated career, this grand slam is one of just two hit by pitchers in postseason history. Cuellar collected only 10 hits in 112 at-bats (.089 average) during the 1970 regular season, in which he led the Majors with 24 wins.
Game: 1969 World Series Game 5 off Jerry Koosman; 1970 World Series Game 3 off Wayne Granger
McNally opened the scoring in Game 5 of the 1969 Fall Classic with a two-run homer over the left-field wall at Shea Stadium in the third inning, and proceeded to toss seven solid innings for the Orioles in a World Series-ending 5-3 loss to the Mets.
McNally and the Orioles were back in the World Series the next October, and in Game 3 against the Reds, he launched a sixth-inning grand slam to break the game open. Baltimore would win the contest, 9-3, at Memorial Stadium behind a complete-game effort from McNally, before winning the Series in five games.
Game: 1968 World Series Game 3 off Nelson Briles
Lolich was masterful in Game 3 against the Cardinals, giving up one run on six hits, walking two and fanning nine in an 8-1 victory. But he also got in on the fun at the plate, belting a solo homer over the left-field wall at Busch Stadium in the third inning. The Tigers would get the last laugh, however, winning the World Series in seven games.
Game: 1967 World Series Game 7 off Jim Lonborg; 1968 World Series Game 4 off Joe Sparma
Gibson would be named World Series MVP Award winner in 1967 thanks, in large part, to his performance on the mound in Game 7 against the Red Sox, yielding two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out 10. But he contributed at the plate as well, hitting a solo homer in the fifth inning to pad St. Louis' lead in a 7-2 World Series-clinching win.
Gibson was once again stellar the next October, particularly in Game 4 of the World Series, when he helped lead the Cardinals to a 10-1 victory over the Tigers with nine dominant innings on the mound, and also his second World Series homer in two years. It was a solo shot in the fourth inning.
Game: 1967 World Series Game 1 off Gibson
Santiago held the Cardinals to two runs over seven innings and provided all of the offense for the Red Sox with a third-inning solo homer off Hall of Famer Gibson. Boston lost that game, 2-1, and the World Series in seven games.
Game: 1965 World Series Game 6 off Howie Reed
Grant launched a three-run homer in the sixth inning against the Dodgers to extend the Twins' lead to 5-0. From there, he took care of the rest. Grant tossed a complete game, allowing one run on six hits, with five strikeouts. The Dodgers would win Game 7 and the Series behind Sandy Koufax.
Game: 1958 World Series Game 2 off Duke Maas
Burdette didn't fare all that well on the mound against the Yankees in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series, surrendering a pair of home runs to Mickey Mantle and one to Hank Bauer. But in the first inning, he launched his own round-tripper for the Braves, a three-run shot over the left-center-field wall at County Stadium that sparked a 13-5 victory. Milwaukee would lose the Series in seven games.
Game: 1940 World Series Game 6 off Fred Hutchinson
Walters delivered a five-hit shutout and a solo home run in the Reds' 4-0 Game 6 victory, setting up a Game 7 win the next day to clinch the World Series title for Cincinnati. The Game 6 homer came in the eighth inning, and it was the only homer in the contest.
Game: 1926 World Series Game 3 off Dutch Ruether
Haines did it all for the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 1926 World Series against the Yankees, tossing a five-hit shutout and also hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning. It was more than enough run support in the 4-0 victory, en route to St. Louis' seven-game triumph.
Game: 1924 World Series Game 5 off Walter Johnson
Bentley became the second pitcher to homer in the 1924 Fall Classic, and he did so off none other than Hall of Fame right-hander Walter Johnson in Game 5. The homer was a two-run shot down the right-field line in the fifth inning of the Giants' 6-2 victory over the Senators.
Game: 1924 World Series Game 3 off Allen Russell
Ryan is one of three relievers to homer in a postseason game, belting a solo shot for the Giants in the fourth inning of Game 3, which New York would go on to win, 6-4. The Senators would go on to win the Series in seven games.
Game: 1920 World Series Game 5 off Burleigh Grimes
This game had a little bit of everything, including Bill Wambsganss' famous unassisted triple play and Elmer Smith's grand slam -- both the first plays of their kind in a World Series game. It also featured the first pitcher homer in postseason play, a three-run shot struck by Bagby in the fourth off Grimes, a future Hall of Famer. Bagby also pitched a complete game to give Cleveland a 3-2 edge in the Series.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.