Maybe the 2020 World Series is destined to go as long as possible after the short season, and has been headed for a Game 7 from the start. If you watch the Rays play baseball, you know what a tough out they are and how stubborn they are, and how
Maybe the 2020 World Series is destined to go as long as possible after the short season, and has been headed for a Game 7 from the start. If you watch the Rays play baseball, you know what a tough out they are and how stubborn they are, and how they play you all the way into the dugout after the game is over. So of course they have it in them to come back from being down three games to two and still win it all.
But if it is the Dodgers who win this thing, either Tuesday or Wednesday night, what they did on Sunday night in Game 5 will go down as one of the greatest victories they have ever had in the World Series, as great as the one they got the last time they won, when Kirk Gibson hit one of the most famous home runs in Fall Classic history in Game 1 off Dennis Eckersley in 1988.
And here is why:
So many times in World Series history, you don’t come back from what happened to the Dodgers in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4 on Saturday night, when the Rays scored two runs because of two errors on the same play, and even survived Randy Arozarena turning into Daniel Jones of the football Giants on his way from third to home.
We can go down the list of some of the craziest endings and games in World Series history. I saw some of those games in person. But when you go back and look at what happened in the next game, or at the way those Series ended, most teams don’t come back. So often when they get knocked down, it’s the same as getting knocked out.
But the Dodgers came right back behind Clayton Kershaw and Joc Pederson and Max Muncy and the kind of relief pitching they had to have, all the way through Blake Treinen remembering how to be the kind of star closer he was for the A’s not so long ago. He closed the deal one night after Kenley Jansen could not. The Dodgers survived the bottom of the ninth this time. Mostly what they did is they got back up.
The 1986 Red Sox never really did after they were one out away from winning the World Series at old Shea Stadium against the Mets, when they held a two-run lead with nobody on in the bottom of the 10th. The Red Sox even got an extra day to recover, because of rain the next night, and still lost in Game 7.
After Kirby Puckett hit a walk-off home run against Charlie Leibrandt in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, the Braves also lost an unforgettable Game 7, when Jack Morris went toe-to-toe with John Smoltz in a 1-0 game.
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Scott Podsednik, one of the unlikely home run heroes we’ve ever had in the World Series, hit a walk-off against the Astros in Game 2 in 2005, as the White Sox ended up sweeping them.
You know the Yankees never bounced back after Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, never winning another game. The 1996 Braves, on a night when they had the chance to go up 3-1 on the Yankees, never won another game after Jim Leyritz hit a three-run homer off Mark Wohlers to tie Game 4. The Rangers were ahead two runs and one strike away from winning the first Series in team history in Game 6 against the Cardinals in 2011, when David Freese tripled over Nelson Cruz’s head to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals then were two runs down in the 10th, again a strike away from losing, before they tied the game at 9. Finally, Freese hit a walk-off home run in the 11th to make it 10-9. The Cardinals won Game 7. How could they not?
The 1993 Phillies won Game 5 against the Blue Jays after losing Game 4 by a 15-14 score, but they ended up dropping the Series on Joe Carter's walk-off home run in Game 6. The 2017 Dodgers rebounded from losing Game 5, 13-12, to the Astros to win Game 6, before coming up short in Game 7.
For sure, there are exceptions. One of the most notable is The Big Red Machine of 1975 coming back to get Game 7 off the Red Sox after losing an epic Game 6, one that ended with Carlton Fisk waving his home run to stay fair, one of the iconic images in all of World Series history. It’s just not the way to bet at this time of year.
“We know how difficult this is,” Justin Turner said after his team lost Game 4 the way it did, on an ending that will be replayed forever. “We have to learn from tonight, make our adjustments we need to make and come back and try to win a game tomorrow.”
His team came back and won the game. The Rays still may come all the way back on them. But if the Dodgers do win it all, they won it on Sunday night, when they got up.
Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com.