Marwin Gonzalez joined an elite World Series club with his game-tying homer in the ninth
The Astros were in dire straits on Wednesday night heading into the top of the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV. Perhaps the toughest closer in baseball, Kenley Jansen, was in to try to close out the 3-2 Dodgers victory and push Houston into a 2-0 World Series deficit.
That's when the Astros turned to their not-so-secret weapon to lead off the ninth -- Marwin Gonzalez. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa might attract the most headlines, but Gonzalez came just one homer shy of tying their season totals, all while playing nearly everywhere on the diamond. Jansen got ahead, 0-2, but left his third pitch in the middle of the plate.
Gonzalez crushed it:
Suddenly, the game was knotted up at 3-3, and it was a whole new ballgame. Gonzalez knew it, too. "The momentum just changed completely in the dugout," he said after the game. "We felt we had the chance and then the next inning, the guys woke up - Altuve with the big homer, Correa. After that, it was a crazy game."
Gonzalez was right. The two teams went back-and-forth in extras, but the Astros emerged with a 7-6 win in 11 innings.
In addition to evening up the score, Gonzalez joined an exclusive club of World Series heroes. Only nine other times in the history of the Fall Classic had a player belted a game-tying homer in the ninth. Founded, appropriately, by Hall of Famer Frank "Home Run" Baker, the first five all happened more than 50 years ago:
- 1911 Game 3: Home Run Baker, A's vs. Giants
- 1929 Game 5: Mule Haas, A's vs. Cubs
- 1953 Game 6: Carl Furillo, Dodgers vs. Yankees
- 1957 Game 4: Elston Howard, Yankees vs. Braves
- 1964 Game 5: Tom Tresh, Yankees vs. Cardinals
The most recent game-tying homers left their own imprints on generations of baseball fans.
1975 Game 3: Dwight Evans, Red Sox vs. Reds
Until Wednesday, this was the last time a visiting player hit a World Series game-tying homer in the ninth. The '75 Fall Classic is most remembered for Carlton Fisk and the Game 6 marathon, but Game 3 was a hard-fought affair, too. Boston had slowly chipped away at Cincinnati's 5-1 lead after five innings, and with one out in the ninth, Evans connected off new reliever Rawly Eastwick for a two-run shot:
That sent a pall over the crowd at Riverfront Stadium and kept the game alive. However, they didn't have to be somber for too long, as the Red Sox ultimately lost in the 10th inning on a walk-off hit by Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.
2001 Game 4: Tino Martinez, Yankees vs. D-backs
The Yankees were three-time defending champions entering the 2001 World Series, but thanks to stellar pitching, the D-backs won the first two games in Arizona. Although the Yankees eked out a 2-1 victory in Game 3, the D-backs led Game 4 in the ninth, 4-2. Closer Byung-Hyun Kim had thrown a perfect eighth and allowed just a single in the ninth. They were one out away from taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Tino Martinez had other plans:
Yankee Stadium went into a frenzy, and an inning later, it did all over again when Derek Jeter walked it off and became "Mr. November." The World Series was tied.
2001 Game 5: Scott Brosius, Yankees vs. D-backs
Your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, the very next day after the Yankees' wild Game 4 comeback, they did it all over again. Once again, Arizona had pitched them tough and carried a two-run lead into the ninth. Once again, Byung-Hyun Kim was in the game with a runner on. Once again, the Yankees were down to their last out. Once again, they found a hero -- Scott Brosius:
Lightning had struck twice. No one could believe it. The Yankees went on to win that game, too, courtesy of rookie Alfonso Soriano's walk-off single in the 12th.
2015 Game 1: Alex Gordon, Royals vs. Mets
Oh, what might have been for the Mets. While the Royals took them out in five games in the 2015 World Series, it could have been different with a Game 1 victory. They had it in hand, too, as they entrusted their best reliever, Jeurys Familia, with a 4-3 ninth-inning lead on the road at Kauffman Stadium. Familia got the first out when Salvador Perez grounded out. Alex Gordon refused to become out No. 2:
Just like that, the game was tied. Give the Mets credit -- they fought longer than any of the other teams, pushing the Royals to the bottom of the 14th until Eric Hosmer ended the five-hour marathon with a sacrifice fly.
Tune into Game 3 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV on Friday on FOX (7:30 p.m. ET air time, 8 ET game time).