These ties were broken in epic fashion

August 26th, 2019

Sometimes, the regular season reaches its final days with things very much undecided, resulting in winner-take-all situations that have led to some of the most memorable scenes in Major League history.

Just last season, there were a pair of Game 163s on the same day to determine the division champion in the National League Central and West, pitting the Cubs against the Brewers and the Dodgers against the Rockies.

In the past 100 years, these are the tiebreaker moments that stand out as the greatest.

Matt Holliday’s slide
Rockies vs. Padres, Oct. 1, 2007

Was safe or out? It depends which side you ask. “To this day, I don’t think he touched [home plate],” Bud Black said when he was hired as the Rockies' manager in 2016.

Black was the Padres' skipper in 2007 when Colorado hosted San Diego in a tiebreaker to decide the NL Wild Card. The game reached the 13th inning with the score tied, 6-6, before the Padres scored twice in the top of the frame and called upon future Hall of Famer to close it out. But the Rockies quickly tied it as and hit back-to-back doubles and Holliday followed with a triple, putting the winning run 90 feet away. After an intentional walk to , lined a ball to in right field, and Holliday tagged up.

Catcher had trouble handling Giles’ throw, but the backstop deftly blocked the plate with his left foot, making it unclear whether Holliday touched home with his left hand as he slid headfirst. Holliday was called safe, and the Rockies earned the NL Wild Card, completing a magical run in which the club took 14 of its final 15 regular-season games. Colorado went on to sweep the Phillies and D-backs in the playoffs to reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

Bucky Dent’s three-run homer
Yankees at Red Sox, Oct. 2, 1978

The Red Sox had a 10-game lead in the American League East as late as July 8, but it slowly evaporated over the next three months, culminating in a Game 163 tiebreaker with the division title on the line. In the days before the Wild Card was added, that meant the loser would be going home.

Holding a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning, Boston was seven outs away from victory when , a light-hitting shortstop with 22 career home runs in his first 789 games, stepped to the plate. Dent lofted a pitch from Mike Torrez over the Green Monster for a three-run homer, giving New York a lead it would not relinquish and forever ensuring Dent would be a key figure in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. The Yankees went on to win their second straight World Series title, defeating the Dodgers in six games.

Bobby Thomson’s 'Shot Heard 'Round the World'
Giants vs. Dodgers, Oct. 3, 1951

’s home run concluded a thrilling three-game series to determine which NL club would play the Yankees in the World Series. The Giants trailed the Dodgers by seven games entering September but erased that deficit to force the three-game playoff, and the teams split the first two contests, leading to a winner-take-all showdown at the Polo Grounds.

The Dodgers carried a 4-1 lead into the ninth inning of the final game, but the Giants rallied against to make it 4-2 with two on and one out for Thomson. After a pitching change, the outfielder went deep off Ralph Branca to end the series in walk-off fashion, prompting Russ Hodges' famous call: “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant, and they're going crazy! They're going crazy!”

Evan Longoria's Game 162 walk-off
Rays vs. Yankees, Sept. 28, 2011

The Rays and Red Sox entered the final day of the 2011 regular season with the AL Wild Card still up for grabs. Boston began September leading the division but went 7-19 in its next 26 games, setting up an all-important Game 162 for both teams, with the Red Sox playing at Baltimore at the same time the Rays hosted the Yankees. Both the Red Sox and Rays were 90-71 when play began.

The Rays fell behind, 7-0, but Tampa Bay rallied with six runs in the eighth, and sent the game into extra innings with a dramatic, two-out solo homer in the ninth.

Johnson’s blast set the stage for an exhilarating turn of events in two cities, a mere three minutes apart. At 12:05 a.m. ET, the Orioles completed a ninth-inning comeback against Red Sox closer when plated with a walk-off single to left field. At Tropicana Field, the Red Sox result was reflected on the out-of-town scoreboard, prompting cheers from Rays fans as battled in the 12th inning. Moments later, Longoria eliminated the Red Sox and put the Rays in the playoffs with one swing of the bat, roping a line drive down the left-field line that barely cleared the fence.

Best of the rest

Here are some additional tiebreaker situations that hold a special place in MLB lore:


As mentioned above, 2018 featured dual Game 163s, marking the first time with two such games in the same season. The Brewers defeated the Cubs, 3-1, for the NL Central title, scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth on 's RBI single, before the Dodgers knocked off the Rockies, 5-2, to clinch the NL West. Milwaukee and L.A. would end up playing in the National League Championship Series, with the Dodgers winning in seven games.


The 162-game slate wasn't enough to decide the AL Central in 2009, nor were the first 11 innings of Game 163 between the Tigers and Twins during the Metrodome's final season. The two clubs were tied, 4-4, at the end of regulation and traded runs in the 10th before Minnesota finally ended the game on 's walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th against , who had entered the contest three innings prior.


Emboldened by the in-season addition of , the Brewers entered the final day of the regular season in a tie with the Mets for the NL Wild Card. Pitching on three days' rest, Sabathia threw a complete game against the Cubs in a 3-1 win, while the Mets lost to the Marlins, putting Milwaukee in the playoffs for the first time since 1982. It marked the second straight year the Mets collapsed in September and were eliminated from the postseason race with a loss to the Marlins on the last day of the regular season.


As the Rockies were streaking toward the finish to force a tiebreaker game against the Padres to decide the NL West, the Phillies were putting together an impressive run of their own. Philadelphia trailed the first-place Mets by seven games in the NL East entering play on Sept. 13 but went 12-4 over its next 16 games and was tied with New York entering the season's final day. A Phillies win over the Nationals coupled with a Mets loss to the Marlins gave Philadelphia its first division crown since 1993.


Sitting 11 1/2 games behind the Angels in the AL West entering Aug. 25, the Mariners went on a run that is largely credited with revitalizing baseball in Seattle. The M's posted a 23-9 record in their next 32 games to take a two-game lead in the division with two games to play, but a pair of losses coupled with two Angels wins meant the two clubs would need to play a tiebreaker to decide who would go to the playoffs and who would go home. Seattle won, 9-1, behind a complete game from to make the postseason for the first time in franchise history, and defeated the Yankees in an exciting five-game American League Division Series before losing to the Indians in the ALCS.


Leading the Orioles by four games in the AL East with four games to play, the Brewers lost four in a row, including three to the O's, which meant the two clubs would head into their matchup on the final day of the regular season in a first-place tie. But Milwaukee rebounded with a 10-2 win, as eventual AL MVP slugged two homers and tossed eight strong innings. The Brewers then defeated the Angels in the ALCS to win the franchise's first pennant.


A little over a decade after the "Shot Heard 'Round the World," the Dodgers and Giants -- both now residing on the West Coast -- would need another three-game tiebreaker to decide the NL pennant. Again, the Giants got the better of the matchup with a ninth-inning rally in Game 3. They scored four runs to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 victory at Dodger Stadium. However, like they did in 1951, the Giants lost to the Yankees in the World Series.


In MLB's first tiebreaker series since 1951, the Dodgers topped the Milwaukee Braves in two games, winning the latter on a walk-off single by Carl Furillo in the bottom of the 12th after rallying from three runs down in the ninth to tie the score. The Dodgers went on to top the White Sox in the World Series to win a title in just their second season in Los Angeles.