Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Super comebacks: MLB's most unreal rallies

February 6, 2017

On Sunday night in Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots made NFL history. Trailing the Atlanta Falcons, 28-3, late in the third quarter, quarterback Tom Brady led a furious comeback, with his team tying the score with less than a minute left and ultimately winning in overtime, 34-28.To set

On Sunday night in Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots made NFL history. Trailing the Atlanta Falcons, 28-3, late in the third quarter, quarterback Tom Brady led a furious comeback, with his team tying the score with less than a minute left and ultimately winning in overtime, 34-28.
To set that Super Bowl record, Brady had to battle Atlanta's defense, but also the clock, making up a 16-point deficit with a pair of touchdowns and two-point conversions in the final six minutes.
In baseball, of course, there is no clock -- just a limited number of outs. Those conditions have set the stage for plenty of memorable rallies.
In honor of the Patriots' historic feat, here are some of MLB's biggest comeback victories.
Regular season
Just this past year, the Mariners treated their fans to a rare sort of rally. On June 2 at San Diego, the Mariners fell into a 12-2 hole after five innings, the sort of deficit that usually leads to a position player on the mound for mop-up duty by the ninth. Instead, Seattle roared back for five runs in the sixth and nine in the seventh.

It was the largest come-from-behind win by any team since 2009. That year, the Indians rallied from being behind, 10-0, to beat the Rays on May 25, and the A's rallied from a 12-2 deficit to beat the Twins on July 20.
The game also stirred memories of a time when the Mariners found themselves on the wrong side of an amazing comeback. On Aug. 5, 2001, with Seattle in the midst of a 116-win season, it scored eight runs in the third inning at Cleveland to jump ahead, 12-0. Game over, right? Not so fast. With the Tribe trailing, 12-2, it chipped away with three runs in the seventh, four in the eighth and five with two outs in the ninth. Omar Vizquel ripped a game-tying bases-loaded triple, and Jolbert Cabrera singled home Kenny Lofton with the walk-off run in the 11th in a 15-14 game.

At 12 runs, that tied the record for the largest deficit ever overcome to win. However, the other two instances both occurred early in the previous century. On June 18, 1911, the Tigers clawed back from 13-1 down to defeat the White Sox, 16-15. And on June 15, 1925, the Indians led the Philadelphia A's, 14-2, 15-3 and 15-4, before a 13-run bottom of the eighth wiped that all away.
More recently, there have some comeback wins from 11 runs down. That list includes the 1994 Astros, who fell behind the Cardinals, 11-0, after three innings on July 18, and trailed, 11-4, after five, then scored 11 times in the sixth and eventually won, 15-12. Another famous slugfest occurred on April 17, 1976, when the Phillies faced a 12-1 deficit after three innings at Wrigley Field but ultimately won, 18-16, in 10 innings. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt pounded four home runs, including the go-ahead two-run shot.

The Phillies also pulled off a memorable comeback win on June 8, 1989, against the Pirates. The Bucs jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the top of the first, prompting announcer Jim Rooker to tell his audience that if the club didn't win, he would walk back to Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for Rooker, a 95-loss Philly club chipped away, pulled to within 11-10 in the sixth, then scored five in the bottom of the eighth to pull off a 15-11 win. While Rooker didn't actually do his cross-state walk that night, he did make the trip after the season, raising money for charity.
Then there were the rallies of the last-minute variety. On May 28, the Royals trailed the White Sox, 7-1, going into the ninth, with Chicago closer Player Page for David Robertson entering the game. Kansas City scored seven runs, with rookie Brett Eibner hitting a walk-off single with two outs. Then on June 30, the Tigers entered the top of the ninth at Tampa Bay with a 7-2 deficit before exploding for eight runs to win, 10-7, on Cameron Maybin's three-run double.

On June 29, 1952, the Cubs faced an even-higher degree of difficulty. Trailing the Reds, 8-2, at Cincinnati, Chicago had nobody on with two outs in the top of the ninth. The next nine batters all reached safely, pushing across seven runs to win, 9-8.
How about two comebacks in the same game, one in extra innings? On April 21, 1991, the Pirates rallied from being down, 7-2, in the middle of the eighth inning to tie the Cubs, who proceeded to get a grand slam from Andre Dawson in scoring five runs in the top of the 11th. But in the bottom of the frame, the Bucs battled back again, with Don Slaught's two-run walk-off double ending a six-run outburst.
This past fall, the Cubs pulled off a notable comeback on their way to a World Series title. In Game 4 of the National League Division Series at San Francisco, Chicago was down, 5-2, entering the ninth inning at San Francisco, before Willson Contreras' two-run single tied things up, and Javier Baez's single gave Chicago the lead. The Cubs' 6-5 win sent them to the NL Championship Series.
A year earlier, it was the the eventual-World Series champion Royals who authored a storybook ending. Facing elimination in Game 4 of the American League Division Series at Houston, Kansas City fell behind, 6-2, in the seventh, but it rebounded with six runs in the eighth to take the lead and win, 9-6. In the 2014 AL Wild Card Game, the Royals swiped seven bases to stun the A's, who led by four runs entering the eighth.

The Philadelphia A's set the mark for the biggest postseason comeback win in 1929. In Game 4 of the World Series, the Cubs took an 8-0 lead in the top of the seventh before the A's sent 15 batters to the plate in a 10-run explosion, with Jimmie Foxx notching the game-tying single.
When the Yankees began their run of four championship in five years in 1996, they authored a famous rally in Game 4 of the World Series against the Braves. Down, 6-0, after five innings, New York scored three in the sixth and then three in the eighth on Jim Leyritz's home run off Mark Wohlers. The Yanks went on to win, 8-6, in 10 innings.

The Red Sox faced steeper odds 12 years later when they trailed the Rays, 7-0, in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS at Fenway Park. Boston then scored four in the seventh and three in the eighth to tie, setting the stage for J.D. Drew's walk-off single in the ninth.
That wasn't the postseason comeback Boston-area sports fans were celebrating Sunday night, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.