Best postseason rematches in MLB history

November 9th, 2021

One year after the Dodgers eliminated the Braves in the 2020 National League Championship Series en route to winning the World Series, Atlanta avenged that loss in the '21 NLCS on its way to claiming a title of its own.

Each of those meetings had its share of dramatics. Los Angeles fell behind 3-1 in the 2020 NLCS before rattling off three straight wins to clinch the NL pennant. When the two clubs met again the following year, the Braves won each of the first two games in walk-off fashion before the Dodgers rallied from a three-run deficit in the eighth inning of Game 3 to tighten the series. History would not repeat itself, however, as Atlanta ultimately held off L.A. in six games to punch its ticket to the Fall Classic.

That was far from the only time that the same two teams met in consecutive postseasons, though.

With that in mind, here's a look at the top 5 postseason rematches in the Divisional Era (since 1969), followed by the complete list of every time the same two teams have squared off in consecutive postseasons.

1) Red Sox vs. Yankees -- 2003-04 ALCS
This one had it all. The epic rivalry. The historic ending to Game 7 in the 2003 matchup. A trip to the World Series on the line for a second straight year -- and the 2004 rematch proved to be historic in its own right.

First, let's start with the 2003 meeting. The Yankees won 101 games to win the AL East, then cruised past the Twins in the ALDS. The Red Sox, meanwhile, claimed the AL Wild Card spot and overcame a 2-0 series deficit to defeat the A's in their ALDS matchup. That set the stage for a seven-game ALCS thriller, capped by Aaron Boone's iconic walk-off home run in the 11th inning to send New York to the World Series.

The Red Sox came into the 2004 rematch seeking revenge, but it was instead the Yankees who set the tone early in the series. After winning the first two games, New York took a commanding series lead with a 19-8 rout in Game 3 -- at Boston's Fenway Park. Though the Yanks looked destined to win a second straight AL pennant, the Red Sox then did the unthinkable, winning four straight games to become the first -- and still, only -- team in MLB history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

2) Braves vs. Pirates -- 1991-92 NLCS
As far as postseason series go, the 1991 NLCS was as tightly contested as they come. The Braves and Pirates went the distance, with Games 2, 5 and 6 each being decided by a 1-0 score. Game 4 went to extra innings. That set the stage for a winner-take-all Game 7 in which John Smoltz fired an eight-strikeout shutout to send Atlanta to the World Series, where it eventually lost in Game 7 -- by a 1-0 score -- to Minnesota.

Come one year later, the Pirates and Braves once again met in the 1992 NLCS -- with each seeking vengeance. Pittsburgh wanted to avenge its loss in the '91 NLCS, while Atlanta was looking to atone for the disappointing end to its season one year earlier. As it turned out, neither got its wish. The Pirates took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth in Game 7, only for the Braves to rally for a 3-2 win capped by a bases-loaded, two-out two-run walk-off single by Francisco Cabrera. Unfortunately, they went on to drop the World Series in six games against the Blue Jays.

3) Blue Jays vs. Rangers -- 2015-16 ALDS
The seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS was one of the most surreal innings in MLB history. Edwin Encarnación hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the sixth, then things immediately took a crazy turn in the seventh. The Rangers reclaimed the lead in the top half, when Rougned Odor raced home after catcher Russell Martin's throw back to the pitcher deflected off the hand of Shin-Soo Choo, who had just taken a pitch for ball two. That set off a crazy scene in which the umpires originally ruled Odor had to return to third before ultimately (correctly) changing the call to allow the run.

That only set the stage for the bottom of the inning, which will forever be remembered for one of the most epic bat flips of all time. José Bautista sent the Rogers Centre crowd into a frenzy when he smashed a go-ahead three-run homer -- one that he took some time to admire after launching his bat through the air. The benches then cleared twice before the 53-minute inning finally ended, but Bautista's blast held up as the game-winner as Toronto erased a 2-0 series deficit to advance.

Not surprisingly, the dramatics carried over into the following season -- even before the teams once again met in the ALDS. In a May 15 game at Globe Life Park, Bautista was hit by a Matt Bush pitch in the top of the eighth inning. Bautista then made a hard slide into second base on an inning-ending double play -- and Odor responded by punching him in the face. The benches cleared, and after order was restored, Toronto reliever Jesse Chavez started the bottom of the frame by plunking Prince Fielder with the very next pitch. Those incidents led to a series of suspensions and fines, though the eventual rematch in the 2016 ALDS was a bit less eventful as the Blue Jays cruised to a 3-0 sweep.

4) Cardinals vs. Astros -- 2004-05 NLCS
Long before the Astros moved to the American League, they had a remarkable rivalry with the Cardinals. Those two clubs accounted for 10 of the 11 NL Central titles from 1996-2006, including St. Louis winning the crown in both 2004 and '05. In each of those seasons, however, Houston earned the NL Wild Card and found its way into the NLCS to face its archrival.

The 2004 NLCS certainly lived up to its billing. The Cards jumped out to a 2-0 series lead before the Astros won three straight at home once the series shifted to Houston. Cardinals legend Jim Edmonds then hit a walk-off two-run homer in the 12th inning of Game 6 to force a decisive Game 7, where Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen led St. Louis to a 5-2 victory -- and the NL pennant.

Though, for many, the lasting image from the 2005 rematch is Pujols' seismic home run off Brad Lidge in Game 5, the Astros ultimately got their revenge. With Houston just one out away from eliminating St. Louis and clinching a trip to the World Series, Pujols demolished a go-ahead three-run homer off of Lidge to turn the Cardinals' 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 victory. The Astros ultimately got the last laugh, winning Game 6 to clinch the pennant.

5) Yankees vs. Mariners -- 2000-01 ALCS
This one makes the list primarily for the magnitude of the 2001 World Series. The Yankees entered the 2001 ALCS having won three straight World Series titles. The Mariners, meanwhile, had just turned in a 116-win regular season -- and they were looking to avenge their ALCS loss against the Yankees one year earlier.

Unfortunately for Seattle, it was more of the same in 2001. The Mariners dropped the first two games of the series at home before offering a glimmer of hope with a dominant 14-3 win in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. The series, however, never returned to Seattle, with the Yankees instead winning Games 4 and 5 to clinch the AL pennant. The Mariners have not returned to the postseason since and -- with the Yanks ultimately losing the '01 World Series to the D-backs -- no team has repeated as World Series champion since New York's three-peat from 1998-2000.

Here are all of the postseason rematches in MLB history:

Note: An asterisk indicates the rematch was not in the same round as the previous postseason.

2020-21 Dodgers vs. Braves
2019-20 Rays vs. Astros*
2017-18 Astros vs. Red Sox*
2016-17 Dodgers vs. Cubs
2015-16 Blue Jays vs. Rangers
2013-14 Cardinals vs. Dodgers*
2012-13 Tigers vs. A's
2011-12 Tigers vs. Yankees*
2010-11 Rays vs. Rangers
2009-10 Yankees vs. Twins
2008-09 Phillies vs. Dodgers
2007-09 Angels vs. Red Sox
2005-06 Cardinals vs. Padres
2004-05 Cardinals vs. Astros
2004-05 Astros vs. Braves
2003-04 Yankees vs. Red Sox
2003-04 Twins vs. Yankees
2001-02 Cards vs. D-backs
2000-01 Yankees vs. Mariners
2000-01 A's vs. Yankees
1998-99 Indians vs. Red Sox
1998-99 Yankees vs. Rangers
1997-98 Yankees vs. Indians*
1996-97 Orioles vs. Indians*
1991-92 Braves vs. Pirates
1977-78 Dodgers vs. Yankees
1977-78 Dodgers vs. Phillies
1976-78 Yankees vs. Royals
1973-74 Orioles vs. A's
1969-70 Orioles vs. Twins
1957-58 Braves vs. Yankees
1955-56 Dodgers vs. Yankees
1952-53 Dodgers vs. Yankees
1942-43 Yankees vs. Cardinals
1936-37 Yankees vs. Giants
1930-31 A's vs. Cardinals
1921-23 Giants vs. Yankees
1907-08 Cubs vs. Tigers