The 10 biggest and most memorable Division Series moments from the last decade
If the regular season is a predictable hum -- like the refrigerator in your kitchen or the cicadas on a summer night -- then the postseason is a crashing cacophony of sound. Everything is bigger, louder, more memorable.
Which makes picking out the most memorable moments all that much harder. Today, we're going to try. With the Divisional Series about to start, and plenty more did you see that? moments to come, let's look back at 10 of the biggest plays and performances from the last decade.
10. Pronk and the midges - Game 2, 2007 ALDS
Trailing the Yankees, 1-0, in the bottom of the eighth of Game 2, fate intervened for the Indians. Like something out of a biblical tale, midges stormed the field and pestered Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain into wildness. After a walk and a wild pitch, Chamberlain uncorked another wild one that allowed the tying run to score.
After the game, Chamberlain had the pun of the century as he said bluntly: "They bugged me. But you've got to deal with it."
(For what it's worth, when the Indians signed the reliever before the 2016 season, they promised it wouldn't happen again.)
The score would remain tied into the bottom of the 11th when, with the bases loaded and the bugs still swirling, the man nicknamed Pronk laced a game-winning single. Pronk and the midges -- that's a good title for a children's story.
9. Mark Kotsay gets very excited - Game 2, 2006 ALDS
Tied at 2 in the top of the seventh, things took a very strange turn.
With a runner on first base, Dennys Reyes induced Mark Kotsay to hit a shallow fly ball to center field. Playing Kotsay to hit the ball to the opposite field, Twins center fielder Torii Hunter had a much longer run than usual.
Unfortunately, the man who robbed Barry Bonds of a homer at the All-Star Game made the wrong choice when he decided to reach out and dive at the last moment.
Two runs scored on the inside-the-parker, giving the A's a 4-2 lead that they would not relinquish on their way to a 5-2 victory. One game later, the A's would win, 8-3, to finish the sweep.
8. Adrian Beltre hits three dingers - Game 4, 2011 ALDS
Entering the postseason, Beltre was on fire. He hit .374 with 12 home runs over the last month of the season as the Rangers ran away with the AL West. But then the playoffs came and, entering Game 4, Beltre was just 1-for-11. Fortunately for the golden gloved man with the untouchable head, the Rangers entered the day up two games to one. Thanks to Beltre, they would win the series.
Leading 1-0, Beltre extended the lead with a solo home run off Jeremy Hellickson in the top of the third. He later snuck an opposite field laser in the fourth and wrapped up the day with a towering shot off Matt Moore in the seventh. Not only did that provide just enough runs for the Rangers to win, 4-3, but it also broke up Moore's nine inning scoreless streak in the postseason.
Sadly, none were hit from one knee:
As he is wont, Elvis Andrus was quite excited:
7. Juan Uribe's jazz hands - Game 4, 2013 NLDS
While it was only Game 4 and the Dodgers were up two games to one against the Braves, it was pretty much a must-win game for the boys in blue. Not wanting to leave LA, they threw Clayton Kershaw at Atlanta to avoid a trip to Turner Field for Game 5.
Unfortunately for LA, they were trailing 3-2 into the bottom of the eighth. Fortunately, their hero emerged in the form of the high couture, ukulele-playing Uribe.
With his white batting gloves resembling Mickey Mouse hands, he hammered David Carpenter's pitch deep into the night to give the Dodgers the victory.
Of course, this home run has some similarities to the Orioles-Blue Jays Wild Card Game from Tuesday night. Just as Zach Britton never made it into that game, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez never brought in closer Craig Kimbrel.
6. Belt ends the longest game in postseason history - Game 2, 2014 NLDS
Already up one game to zero in the 2014 NLDS, the Giants used some even year magic to both beat the Nationals and gift everyone in attendance a 2-for-1 ballgame.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the ninth, Nats starter Jordan Zimmermann got the first two outs before walking Joe Panik. Matt Williams then lifted his starter for closer Drew Storen.
Here was a case where the bullpen move was the wrong idea. A Buster Posey single and Pablo Sandoval double later tied the game at 1-1 and forced it to extras. Many extras. Nine more to be exact.
Only twice in those extras did a player reach second base and, from the bottom of the 14th to the top of the 18th, there were no hits and only one walk.
Brandon Belt put a stop to that. Leading off the top of the 18th, Belt blasted one to let everyone go home to get some much-needed rest:
5. Alex Rodriguez is a true Yankee - Game 2, 2009 ALDS
The Twins can thank Alex Rodriguez for keeping them winless in the postseason since Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS (also against the Yanks, natch) -- a streak totaling 12 games. Leading the Yankees, 3-1, heading into the bottom of the ninth -- thanks to RBI singles from Nick Punto and Denard Span -- Joe Nathan entered the game.
After giving up a leadoff single to Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez worked the count to 3-1 before doing this:
The Twins had another chance to win the game, loading the bases with none out in the top of the 11th. Unfortunately for Minnesota, David Robertson dispatched them with ease:
In the bottom of the frame, Teixeira made them pay. The first baseman hit a laser beam into the left field seats and then proceeded to do less of a trot and more of a fancy horse's prance around the base (I believe this is called "dressage).
4. The Cardinals prove Kershaw is mortal - Game 1, 2014 NLDS
Through five innings, Clayton Kershaw was looking quite Kershaw-ian. He allowed a first inning home run, but had otherwise stymied the Cardinals -- even striking out five straight batters in the fourth and fifth innings.
In the sixth inning, the first crack showed. Matt Carpenter hit a solo home run. Sure, not a big deal -- the Dodgers' lead was still a robust 6-2. But Carpenter was a left-handed hitter, and only one lefty had hit a home run off Kershaw throughout the regular season.
Like a warning not to go to the haunted Richter Estate up the street, this omen would prove fatal.
The Cardinals started the top of the seventh with four straight singles to cut the lead to 6-3. After Pete Kozma struck out, the Cardinals got back to hitting. Jon Jay singled to drive in another run and Carpenter, back at the plate, doubled on the eighth pitch of the at-bat to tie the game.
Kershaw was lifted, but it was too late. With Pedro Baez on the mound, Matt Holliday homered to drive in three more to complete the Cardinals' eight-run inning. This is what mere men do to gods.
3. Manny Ramirez throws his hands up - Game 2, 2007 ALDS
It's one of the most iconic Red Sox moments of the last decade and is still the avatar for many notable Red Sox fans (okay, fine, just one).
With the game tied at three in the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Rodriguez wanted to throw his fastball down and away to Ramirez. It didn't get there.
Sadly, this was years before "Party in the USA," so no one was singing "Hands up, they're playing my jam," which would have been a most appropriate anthem for the crowd to break into.
2. Roy Halladay's no-hitter - Game 1, 2010 NLDS
Swinging on the first pitch of the game, Brandon Phillips grounded out. That was pretty much the full story for the Reds in this game. Halladay retired the next 13 batters before walking Jay Bruce in the top of the sixth on a full count pitch.
That would be the only baserunner the Reds got. Halladay struck out eight batters and walked that lone batter. His 94 game score is the fifth-best for a postseason game ever. (Oddly enough, it would be topped by Tim Lincecum the next day when the then-long-haired Giant struck out 14 batters during his two-hitter against the Braves.)
It's also only the second no-hitter in postseason history, with Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game in the World Series being the other.
1. The bat flip seen 'round the world - Game 5, 2015 ALDS
The seventh inning of the 2015 ALDS will be remembered as one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history. In a series already filled with drama, the Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the top-half of the inning in one of the weirdest ways possible as Russell Martin's throw back to the mound bounced off Shin Soo-Choo's bat:
The bottom half got even stranger. Karma intervened for Martin as he reached on an error by the usually sure handed Elvis Andrus. Kevin Pillar then reached as Cole Hamels made an error trying to get Martin out at second base. Another error by Andrus loaded the bases before Hamels got Ben Revere to ground out for the first out of the inning.
Sam Dyson entered the game to pitch to Josh Donaldson, who tied the game with a popfly. And then, with runners on the corners, Bautista took Dyson's 1-1 pitch deep into the stands. With emotions high and the fans going nuts, Joey Bats flipped his way into video games and cereal boxes with this one:
Can anything top Bautista's homer? Tune in to watch Blue Jays take on the Rangers at 4:30 pm ET on TBS (Sportsnet in Canada) and the Red Sox battle the Indians at 8 pm ET on TBS to find out.