These are the five best League Championship Series in MLB history
As the 2018 LCS between the Brewers and Dodgers in the National League and the Red Sox and Astros in the American League shape up as competitive affairs, it is only fitting to look back on some of the best LCS in history.
These five series were all close contests, going six or seven games. What put them over the top, though, was that each game packed enough tension and drama to fill an entire series.
1985 ALCS: Royals over Blue Jays in seven
The LCS was extended from a best-of-five format to best-of-seven prior to the 1985 season, so this series offered the first Game 7 in LCS history. But, to even get to that historic moment, the Royals had to recover from a 3-1 deficit in the series.
George Brett was named the MVP of the series, and it was well-deserved. The Royals won Game 3, 6-5, with Brett accounting for five of the team's six runs in what was a microcosm of Brett's and the Royals' series. The third baseman had a role in 11 of the 26 runs the team scored in the series.
1986 NLCS: Mets over Astros in six
Though this series only went six games, five of them were decided by two or fewer runs, and the final two games of the series went to extra innings. It was during Games 5 and 6 that the series came to life as one of the greatest in history.
Game 5 saw Dwight Gooden and Nolan Ryan battle, with Gooden giving up one run in 10 innings and Ryan allowing one run in nine innings. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Wally Backman reached first on an infield single and advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt. Two batters later, Backman came in to score on a single from Gary Carter.
Game 6 is often talked about as one of the greatest games of all-time. After being held scoreless for eight innings, the Mets scored three in the ninth to force extras.
After scoring a run in the top of the 14th to take a 4-3 lead, Astros center fielder Billy Hatcher hit a home run to tie the game up in the bottom half. The Mets looked to have put the game away again with three runs in the top of the 16th inning before Houston rallied in the bottom of the inning, scoring two runs and putting the winning run on base before Jesse Orosco struck out right fielder Kevin Bass on a 3-2 curveball to send the Mets to the World Series.
1999 NLCS: Braves over Mets in six
Five of the six games in this series were decided by one run, including two extra-inning walk-off wins in Games 5 and 6 to end the series.
Fast forward to Game 5: The Mets were trailing, 3-1, in the series and needed a win to stay alive. After scoring two runs in the first inning, they went 13 innings without scoring as the game stretched into extra innings. The Braves scored a run in the 15th inning on a triple from Keith Lockhart, forcing the Mets to score to avoid elimination. After a leadoff single and three walks, Robin Ventura got a chance at the plate with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game. He hit a pretty long single:
In Game 6, the Braves hung five runs on Mets starter Al Leiter in the first inning and held onto a 5-0 lead through five before the Mets started crawling back. They scored three runs in the sixth off Atlanta starter Kevin Millwood, but gave back two of those runs in the bottom of the inning.
In the seventh, the Mets proved they weren't going to go away. With John Smoltz on the mound for Atlanta, the Mets started the inning with back-to-back doubles and a single to bring Mike Piazza to the plate as the potential tying run in a 7-5 game:
The teams traded runs in the eighth and 10th innings and entered the bottom of the 11th tied, 9-9. After Braves left fielder Gerald Williams led off with a double and advanced to third on a sac bunt, the Mets walked Chipper Jones and Brian Jordan to set up a force at home with one out. Instead, it set up Andruw Jones' pennant-winning walk-off walk:
2004 ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees in seven
This was the only time a team came back from a 3-0 deficit to win the series. In Game 4, the Red Sox were three outs away from elimination before pinch-runner Dave Roberts' baserunning heroics helped send the game to extra innings. There, David Ortiz hit the first of two walk-off extra-innings hits he would have in two days:
Ortiz's heroics set up perhaps the most famous game of the series: The Bloody Sock Game. Curt Schilling pitched Game 6 with a torn tendon in his right ankle. Despite the injury, he pitched seven innings, giving up only one run on a home run to Bernie Williams in a 4-2 Red Sox win to force Game 7.
Game 7 lacked much of the drama of the previous three as the Red Sox scored two runs in the first inning on a two-run homer from Ortiz and extended their lead to 6-0 on a second-inning grand slam from Johnny Damon. They were never threatened, winning the game, 10-3, to cap off their comeback from losing the first three games of the series.
2017 ALCS: Astros over Yankees in seven
Justin Verlander took home the ALCS MVP Award for his work in Games 2 and 6 in this series less than two months after joining the team. In Game 2, he helped the Astros to a 2-0 series lead with his complete-game, one-run effort and followed that with seven shutout innings in Game 6 to force a Game 7.
In that Game 7, the Astros went with a plan to piggyback starting pitchers Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. The two combined to pitch nine shutout three-hit innings, with Morton pitching the first five and McCullers closing it out for the four-inning save. Notably, McCullers ended the game by throwing 24 straight curveballs to the Yankees. Even though they knew what was coming, they couldn't do anything with them.
The way both the 2018 LCS are shaping up, we could be in for one or two series that rival the ones above.