Walk-off wins in baseball can come in many forms. We’re all familiar with the electrifying walk-off home runs and those energizing extra-base hits. But sometimes, the play that leads to the walk-off simply boggles the mind. From multi-run errors to balks, there are numerous ways for games to end in the home team’s favor – and we seem to see new iterations quite frequently.
Here’s a look at 12 of the weirdest walk-off wins in recent memory.
April 26, 2022, Twins vs. DET: Miguel Sanó singles, two runs score on error
Let’s see if we can sum this up. Sanó hit a single, and then…there was an error and two runs scored. With one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth, trailing by a run, Sanó hit the aforementioned single – a ball that went off the top of Tigers right fielder Robbie Grossman’s glove. With it not caught as a fly ball, lead runner Trevor Larnach raced around the bases, with second baseman Jonathan Schoop handling the relay from Grossman. Larnach paused at third, but Gio Urshela, the runner behind him, had already gotten almost to third. Catcher Eric Haase threw down to third for the rundown…but the ball went into the outfield, at which point Larnach took off for home, and was then followed by Urshela for the Minnesota win.
April 21, 2021, A’s vs. MIN: Ramon Laureano reaches on two-run error
This game was wild before things unraveled in the bottom of the 10th. The lead had already changed hands four times by the time the A’s came to the plate trailing by a score of 12-10, and after the first two batters were retired without incident, Oakland’s 10-game win streak seemed to have met its end. Then things got weird. Seth Brown and Elvis Andrus each drew walks, loading the bases – Matt Chapman opened the inning on second – and a botched grounder to second allowed a run to score. The walk-off, however, came after Laureano hit another sharp grounder, this time to third. Unfortunately for Minnesota, Luis Arraez’s throw sailed beyond first base, allowing the tying and winning runs to score, meaning that the entire rally transpired without a single base hit.
2020 World Series Game 4, Rays vs. LAD: Brett Phillips singles, run scores on error
We know by now that, ultimately, the Rays would lose the 2020 World Series, but it would have been much less interesting without Phillips’ Game 4 heroics. The Dodgers were just one out away from taking a commanding 3-1 series lead and had Kenley Jansen on the mound to protect a one-run lead. What followed looked, at first, like a game-tying single through the infield. But perhaps a lack of familiarity with the venue and its artificial turf – that season, the entire series took place at neutral Globe Life Field, usually home to the Rangers – caused Chris Taylor to misplay the ball in center. He recovered well and got the ball back into the infield, where catcher Will Smith appeared to have Randy Arozarena, who had come all the way around from first, out by a mile. Arozarena started back towards third base, but then noticed that the ball had, in fact, squirted under Smith’s glove and rolled towards the backstop, at which point he made another U-turn, at long last scoring the game-winning run.
Aug. 28, 2020 Mets vs. NYY: Amed Rosario home run at Yankee Stadium
Due to schedule manipulations in the shortened 2020 season, teams played some doubleheaders where the visiting team batted second in a quasi home game. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, home teams are determined by the venue, not who bats second – but if you bat second, you get a chance to walk off. That’s precisely what Amed Rosario did in the bottom of the seventh against Aroldis Chapman, setting up this bizarre scene. Rosario's walk-off home run at Yankee Stadium, in which he was a visiting player, was the first walk-off home run by a visiting player since Ed McKean for St. Louis at the Cleveland Spiders on May 12, 1899. And then, of course, it happened a month later on Sept. 25 when the Padres’ Trent Grisham hit a walk-off homer at Oracle Park in a similar scenario.
July 10, 2018, Astros vs. OAK: Lucroy fumbles ball, airmails throw
With runners on first and second during a tie game in the 11th inning against the A’s at Minute Maid Park, Bregman squibbed what he thought was a foul ball. Within a second, the dribbler, not more than five feet from home plate, darted from foul into fair territory, while Bregman stood barely a foot in front of the dish. Bregman lunged for first base but A’s catcher Jonathan Lucroy stood between him and the bag. This is where the play goes off the rails. Lucroy fumbled the ball as he went to tag Bregman, and it escalated from there. Lucroy’s rushed throw ricocheted off the back of Bregman’s helmet and the ball rolled down the right field line, bringing in the game-winning run from second.
April 8, 2018, Astros vs. Padres: Hosmer overruns Bregman’s popup
With two outs and a runner on second in 10th inning of a tie game at Minute Maid Park against the Padres, Alex Bregman hit an infield flyball that, 99 times out of a 100, would have sent the game to the 11th. Not that day. San Diego first baseman Eric Hosmer came storming in for Bregman’s lazy popup while Padres pitcher Phil Maton stood back. Pop fly priorities. Hosmer overran the ball and Derek Fisher raced around from second base.
July 16, 2016, Padres vs. SF: Balk with Alexei Ramirez at plate
Giants closer Santiago Castilla had already blown the save by the time Ramirez came to the plate in the bottom of the 10th, having surrendered a game-tying single to Adam Rosales after his club had taken a one-run lead in the top half of the inning. Then, with runners on the corners and still nobody out in the inning, Casilla’s cleat seemed to catch on the mound as he attempted to deliver his first pitch to Ramirez. The right-hander lost his balance and inadvertently spiked the baseball, but the damage was done, as the Padres were credited with one of the least controversial walk-off balks you’ll ever see.
May 6, 2014, Pirates vs. SF: Starling Marte triples, scores on error
With the game tied at 1 in the bottom of the 9th and Giants starter Tim Hudson still on the hill, Starling Marte hit a triple off the wall in right. So far, so normal. It was the relay from Giants second baseman Joe Panik that really set things off. The throw wasn’t handled at third and bounced all the way to the dugout, leaving Marte an opening to break for the plate, where he was called out, sending the game into extras. One problem – on closer inspection, he appeared to have evaded Buster Posey’s tag. So the then-brand new expanded replay system was put to work and the call was overturned, making the Pirates the first beneficiaries of a walk-off by way of replay review.
May 17, 2013, Pirates vs. HOU: Russell Martin reaches on error
Things had already gotten messy in the 9th inning at PNC Park, but the Astros seemed poised to escape unscathed from a bases-loaded jam when Martin hit a pop up to shallow right field. But the 2013 Astros, who would go on to lose 111 games, experienced their fair share of mishaps, and this was a big one. A communication breakdown between second baseman Jake Elmore and right fielder Jimmy Paredes resulted in a collision, knocking the ball out of both of their gloves, allowing Travis Snider to hustle in from third to seal a 5-4 victory.
June 12, 2009, Yankees vs. NYM: Alex Rodriguez reaches on two-run error
The Yankees had 15 walk-off wins in 2009, and if you still remember any of them, it’s probably this one. Down by one in the bottom of the ninth, they were set up with runners on first and second when Rodriguez hit what looked to be a game-ending pop up. What happened next was the kind of good fortune that only championship teams seem to receive – Mets second baseman Luis Castillo settled under the ball, and it popped off the heel of his glove, giving the tying and winning runs just enough time to score.
June 11, 2009, Cleveland vs. KC: Shin-Soo Choo single
Choo had the hit, but he had some help with the RBI. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Cleveland and the Royals were tied 3-3 when Choo came to the plate with runners on first and second and nobody out. The lefty smacked a screaming line drive to center field, where Coco Crisp was waiting to corral a one-hopper to fire toward home plate and keep the game alive. But some locals got in the way. The liner fell in front of the center fielder and hit a seagull, ricocheting past Crisp and to the wall, as he stood amid the flock of birds. The birds flew off and Cleveland took home the win.
Aug. 11, 2005, A’s vs. LAA: E-1 with Eric Chavez at plate
With two outs and two on, legendary Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez faced off against A’s slugger Eric Chavez. After a borderline first pitch of the at-bat was called a ball, Rodriguez jerked his glove in frustration as catcher Jose Molina’s throw came back from home plate. Whoops. Rodriguez didn’t catch the lob and the ball bounced off of the back of the mound, halfway to second base, while Jason Kendall made the mad dash home from third to score the winning run, putting Oakland in sole possession of first place in the AL West.