The craziest comebacks in postseason history
Astros complete four-run comeback behind Alvarez's clutch long ball
Three days after the Mariners overcame a seven-run deficit to defeat the Blue Jays in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series, the Astros pulled off an unbelievable comeback of their own vs. Seattle in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez capped off a four-run come-from-behind win Tuesday with a 116.7 mph walk-off home run against Seattle's Robbie Ray. It was the first walk-off home run in postseason history with the hitter's team trailing by multiple runs at the time of the play.
Here's a look at some of the other epic postseason comebacks that left fans stunned.
A’s, 1929 World Series Game 4
Down 8-0 in 7th, beat Cubs 10-8
Philadelphia had won the first two games of the Fall Classic, but Chicago got one back and then jumped out to a big lead in Game 4 at Philly’s Shibe Park, threatening to even the series. Kiki Cuyler’s RBI single made it 7-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
But the A’s didn’t fold, finally getting to Cubs starter Charlie Root when Hall of Famer Al Simmons led off with a home run. Five of the next six batters singled, making it an 8-4 game and knocking out Root. Mule Haas then greeted reliever Art Nehf with a three-run, inside-the-park homer to make things really interesting. By the time Jimmy Dykes smacked a go-ahead two-run double to give the A’s a 10-8 lead, the Cubs were on their fourth pitcher of the inning. The 10-run frame remains tied for the second-biggest in postseason history.
Hall of Famer Lefty Grove shut down the Cubs over the final two innings for the save, and Philadelphia clinched its championship in Game 5.
Mariners, 2022 AL Wild Card Series Game 2
Down 8-1 in 6th, beat Blue Jays 10-9
This was a Mariners team that went 20 seasons without playing a single postseason game, building the longest active playoff drought in the sport. So when Seattle finally claimed a Wild Card spot, it would have been easy to adopt a “just happy to be here” mindset. So much for that.
After jumping out to an early lead and holding on to win Game 1 of the best-of-three series in Toronto, the Mariners fell into a cavernous hole in Game 2, thanks in part to two Teoscar Hernández homers. But Seattle was not deterred, finally tying the score with a four-run eighth. The key play was a two-out, bases-loaded pop fly off the bat of J.P. Crawford that dropped and brought home three runs when the Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette and George Springer crashed into each other in the outfield. Adam Frazier delivered the go-ahead RBI double in the ninth, and rookie starter George Kirby came in to to nail down the save and send Seattle to the ALDS.
Red Sox, 2008 ALCS Game 5
Down 7-0 in 7th, beat Rays 8-7
Facing a seven-run deficit in the seventh inning and on the brink of elimination, the Red Sox electrified Fenway Park with a stirring comeback against Tampa Bay. Mr. Clutch for Boston, David Ortiz, smashed a three-run homer in a four-run seventh, and J.D. Drew launched a two-run shot in a three-run eighth that pulled the Sox even. Drew’s heroics were just beginning -- he delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Red Sox into Game 6. Boston won that game as well, but fell in Game 7.
Cardinals, 2012 NLDS Game 5
Down 6-0 in 3rd, beat Nationals 9-7
Adam Wainwright was hit hard early in this game, but St. Louis began chipping away with a run in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the seventh and one more in the eighth. In the bottom of the eighth, the Nationals added an insurance run to take a 7-5 lead into the ninth, but the Cards got a pair of clutch two-run singles from Daniel Descalso -- who had homered earlier in the game -- and Pete Kozma against Washington's closer, Drew Storen. Jason Motte than came on in the ninth to close it out with a 1-2-3 frame to send St. Louis to the NLCS.
Yankees, 1996 World Series Game 4
Down 6-0 in 5th, beat Braves 8-6 (10 innings)
The Yankees found themselves down two games to none in their first World Series appearance in 15 years, but beat the Braves in Game 3 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium before falling into a 6-0 hole by the fifth inning of Game 4. Undeterred, New York started chipping away in the sixth, scoring three times in that frame before Jim Leyritz belted a three-run, game-tying homer in the eighth. The Yanks staged a two-out rally in the 10th, taking advantage of Steve Avery’s loss of command and sloppy Braves defense. That proved to be the difference and the Yankees never looked back, winning a pair of one-run games to win the World Series in six games.
Dodgers, 1956 World Series Game 2
Down 6-0 in 2nd, beat Yankees 13-8
The Yankees jumped out to a six-run lead by the second inning at Ebbets Field thanks in large part to a Yogi Berra grand slam in the second. But Brooklyn answered immediately with a six-run bottom of the second to tie the game and the slugfest was on. The Dodgers only needed three extra-base hits in the contest -- a pair of Gil Hodges doubles and a two-run homer by Duke Snider in the second -- to erase the deficit and win by five. Brooklyn lost the series, however, in seven games, unable to repeat as champions after defeating the Yankees the prior October.
OTHER NOTABLE COMEBACKS
Astros, 2022 ALDS Game 1
Down 7-3 in 8th, 7-5 in 9th, beat Mariners 8-7
Playing in their first Division Series game in 21 years, it looked like the Mariners might just steal a game from the AL-best Astros at Minute Maid Park in Game 1. That is, until Alvarez came to the plate in the ninth. Mariners manager Scott Servais brought their left-handed ace, Robbie Ray, in to face the left-handed-hitting Alvarez and, hopefully, seal the win. Instead, the Houston slugger crushed a middle-middle, 93 mph sinker into the second deck in right field.
At 116.7 mph, Alvarez's long ball was the third-hardest hit postseason home run of the Statcast Era (since 2015).
Cubs, 2016 NLDS Game 4
Down 5-2 in 9th, beat Giants 6-5
Coming off an MLB-best 103 wins and looking to end more than a century of frustration, the Cubs squared off in the 2016 NLDS against the 87-win Giants, who won World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. After losing the first two NLDS games, San Francisco staved off elimination in Game 3 with a 6-5 win in 13 innings and looked poised to even up the series in Game 4, taking a 5-2 lead into the top of the ninth.
However, the Cubs struck for four runs, tying the game on Willson Contreras’ two-run single and pulling ahead on Javier Báez's RBI knock to center field. They went on to top the Dodgers in the NLCS and came back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat Cleveland in the Fall Classic, thus ending a 108-year title drought.
Royals, 2015 ALDS Game 4
Down 6-2 in 8th, beat Astros 9-6
After falling just shy of a World Series title one year prior, the Royals returned to the playoffs in 2015 with their sights set on finishing the job. Kansas City’s quest nearly ended in the ALDS against the Astros, but the Royals avoided elimination in Game 4 with a stunning eighth-inning rally, starting off the frame with five straight singles and pushing across five runs to turn a 6-2 deficit into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The Royals won Game 5 as well and moved on to the ALCS.
Cardinals, 2014 NLDS Game 1
Down 6-1 in 6th, beat Dodgers 10-9
Clayton Kershaw was out for redemption after losing the decisive game of the NLCS to St. Louis in 2013, but the 2014 NLDS only brought more anguish. Los Angeles entered the top of the seventh with a 6-2 lead in Game 1, but St. Louis rallied for eight runs, six of which were charged to the Dodgers ace.
Although Kershaw allowed hits to five of the first six batters he faced in the inning, manager Don Mattingly opted to stick with the lefty to face Matt Carpenter, who delivered a bases-clearing double that gave the Cards the lead and chased Kershaw from the game. Days later, St. Louis put together another shocking comeback against Kershaw in Game 4, with Matt Adams hitting a go-ahead three-run homer off the southpaw in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Royals, 2014 AL Wild Card Game
Down 7-3 in 8th and 8-7 in 12th, beat A’s 9-8 (12 innings)
The Royals’ first postseason appearance since 1985 seemed destined for a quick end when Oakland opened up a four-run lead in the AL Wild Card Game at Kauffman Stadium. But Kansas City stormed back with help from its running game, stealing four bases during a three-run eighth and setting up the game-tying run with another steal in the ninth.
The Royals came back again after falling behind in the 12th, tying the game on Christian Colón's infield hit and winning it on Salvador Perez's RBI single to left, which followed the team’s seventh stolen base of the night. The victory proved to be a springboard to a stunning World Series run for the Royals, who fell to the Giants in Game 7 of the Fall Classic.
Red Sox, 2013 ALCS Game 2
Down 5-1 in 8th, beat Tigers 6-5
After scoring just one run in the first 16 innings of the ALCS against Detroit, Boston's bats came to life in the bottom of the eighth inning during Game 2, loading the bases with two outs for David Ortiz. In one of the defining moments of his Hall of Fame career, Ortiz crushed a game-tying grand slam into the right-field bullpen off Joaquin Benoit, sending Fenway Park into a frenzy and creating the instantly iconic image of Boston police officer Steve Horgan raising his arms in celebration while Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter tumbled over the wall.
The Red Sox completed their comeback on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s walk-off single one inning later and won the ALCS in six games en route to a World Series title.
Cardinals, 2011 World Series Game 6
Down 7-4 in 8th and 9-7 in 10th, beat Rangers 10-9 (11 innings)
The Rangers were a strike away from a World Series championship twice in this game, but they couldn’t put St. Louis away. The Cards tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on David Freese’s two-run triple, as his fly ball sailed just out of the reach of Nelson Cruz in right field, then did it again on Lance Berkman’s RBI single in the bottom of the 10th. Freese slammed a walk-off homer to center field an inning later, dealing Texas a heartbreaking loss and forcing a winner-take-all Game 7, which was also won by the Cardinals.
Astros, 2005 NLDS Game 4
Down 6-1 in 8th, beat Braves 7-6 (18 innings)
With Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS setting a (since tied) record for the longest postseason game (in terms of innings) in MLB history before ending on Chris Burke’s walk-off, series-clinching homer in the bottom of the 18th, it’s easy to forget that Houston at one point trailed 6-1 with five outs to go. Lance Berkman’s eighth-inning grand slam gave the Astros new hope, and Brad Ausmus tied the game on a solo homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, setting the stage for Burke’s heroics after the two clubs had played the equivalent of two full nine-inning games.
Yankees, 2003 ALCS Game 7
Down 5-2 in 8th, beat Red Sox 6-5 (11 innings)
Leading 5-2 with Pedro Martinez on the mound in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Boston seemed well positioned to overcome the rival Yankees and move one step closer to breaking the Curse of the Bambino. Instead, the game turned into another gut-wrenching loss for the Red Sox, who’d have to wait until 2004 to finally end their World Series championship drought at 86 years.
Red Sox manager Grady Little chose to stay with a tiring Martinez as New York rallied in the eighth, recording four straight one-out hits -- a Derek Jeter single, a Bernie Williams single, a Hideki Matsui ground-rule double and a Jorge Posada bloop double -- to tie up the score at 5-5. After Mariano Rivera kept the Red Sox off the board over three innings of work, Aaron Boone sent a Tim Wakefield knuckleball deep to left field for a walk-off, pennant-clinching homer in the bottom of the 11th.
Marlins, 2003 NLCS Game 6
Down 3-0 in 8th, beat Cubs 8-3
The Cubs were five outs away from their first World Series appearance since 1945, but everything fell apart in the top of the eighth after the infamous Steve Bartman incident, which saw Bartman, a fan seated down the left-field line, deflect the ball away from Moises Alou as the outfielder attempted to make a leaping catch at the wall on Luis Castillo’s fly ball. Castillo ended up drawing a walk, and Ivan Rodríguez followed with an RBI single.
The floodgates opened after Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez was unable to field Miguel Cabrera’s ground ball cleanly, spoiling a chance at a potential inning-ending double play. The Marlins ultimately put eight runs on the board in the inning to take the lead, then won Game 7 to eliminate Chicago.
Angels, 2002 World Series Game 6
Down 5-0 in 7th, beat Giants 6-5
Eight outs away. That’s how close the Giants were to a World Series championship in 2002, with a 5-0 lead to boot. But the Angels would not be denied, trimming San Francisco’s lead to two on Scott Spiezio’s three-run homer in the seventh and going ahead in the eighth after Darin Erstad homered and Troy Glaus hit a two-run double off the wall in left-center field. A 4-1 win in Game 7 gave the Halos their first World Series title.
Blue Jays, 1993 World Series Game 4
Down 14-9 in 8th, beat Phillies 15-14
The Blue Jays and Phillies combined for 29 runs in this heavyweight slugfest, setting a record for the most runs scored in a World Series game. Toronto trailed by five in the eighth, but a one-out error by Phillies third baseman Dave Hollins opened the door for a big inning.
After Tony Fernandez and Rickey Henderson delivered run-scoring hits to cut Philadelphia’s lead to 14-13, Devon White gave Toronto the lead with a triple to right-center field. The comeback victory put the Blue Jays up 3-1 in the series, and they’d go on to win it in six on Joe Carter’s walk-off, three-run homer.
Mets, 1986 World Series Game 6
Down 5-3 in 10th, beat Red Sox 6-5 (10 innings)
This game is best remembered for Bill Buckner’s error on Mookie Wilson’s slow roller down the first-base line, which allowed the game-winning run to score, but the Red Sox had already blown a two-run lead before that happened. After pulling ahead in the top of the 10th, Boston got two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, needing one more to win its first championship since 1918.
But Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight recorded three straight singles off Calvin Schiraldi, trimming the deficit to one run, and New York tied it up on Bob Stanley’s wild pitch before Buckner’s infamous miscue. The Red Sox also let a 3-0 lead slip away in Game 7 as the Mets won it all.
Dodgers, 1977 NLCS Game 3
Down 5-3 in 9th, beat Phillies 6-5
It wasn’t a huge deficit, but the Dodgers’ comeback against the Phillies in Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS was shocking nonetheless. Down to their final out against Philadelphia righty Gene Garber, who had thrown 2 2/3 perfect innings out of the bullpen, the Dodgers sent speedy outfielder Vic Davalillo to the plate to pinch-hit. Davalillo surprised the Phils with a perfect drag bunt to extend the inning, and everything unraveled from there for Philadelphia thanks to a series of ill-timed defensive miscues.
Davalillo came around to score after Phillies left fielder Greg Luzinski was unable to secure Manny Mota’s fly ball while attempting to make a leaping catch at the wall, and another run scored when Davey Lopes’ hard grounder took a bad hop and deflected off third baseman Mike Schmidt. Lopes moved into scoring position after Garber threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt, setting up Bill Russell to deliver a go-ahead single to center field. The Dodgers closed out the Phillies with a 4-1 win in Game 4 and advanced to the World Series.