The 2016 season in Major League Baseball was one of inspiring feats of athleticism, ballparks packed with ecstatic fans and the undeniable drama that comes with America's pastime. At the end of the 162-game push and an amazing October, one team was standing: the Chicago Cubs, who broke a 108-year
The 2016 season in Major League Baseball was one of inspiring feats of athleticism, ballparks packed with ecstatic fans and the undeniable drama that comes with America's pastime. At the end of the 162-game push and an amazing October, one team was standing: the Chicago Cubs, who broke a 108-year championship drought and won the World Series for the National League.
But 14 other NL teams played all season and had their own pinnacle moments. In consultation with each club's beat reporter, here is the game of the year for each club in the NL in 2016:
• Most amazing American League games of 2016
Braves: 4-3 win on Sept. 21 at New York Mets
The Citi Field crowd was in a frenzy as the Mets' clutch slugger, Yoenis Céspedes, launched a ninth-inning fly ball that looked like a sure walk-off home run. The drive appeared to end a grind of a game for the Braves, who had fought back from a 3-0 deficit to score four runs in the final three innings. Cespedes launched the ball and … then Ender Inciarte happened.
Just a handful of weeks before winning an NL Gold Glove Award, the Braves' center fielder leaped at the wall and hauled in the ball to preserve the victory and one of the most memorable catches of the season. Full recap >
Brewers: 7-6 win on Aug. 21 at Seattle
What a 46th birthday present for Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell. His team, far back in the NL Central standings but fighting to the end of the year for its spirited skipper, fell behind, 6-1, through four innings but began to chip away.
Still behind, 6-3, entering the ninth, the Brew Crew had one final rally left. Chris Carter drilled a game-tying two-run homer, and second baseman Scooter Gennett's RBI single sealed the deal on one unforgettable Sunday afternoon. Full recap >
D-backs: 9-7 win on April 18 at San Francisco
Two outs, two strikes, so what? The D-backs might have struggled through a trying season of rebuilding in the desert, but positive developments emerged throughout the year, and Jake Lamb was one. Down to their last strike, Lamb hit a solo homer off Santiago Casilla to tie it. Then Arizona dug down deep again in the 11th inning, when Jean Segura and Lamb each drove in wins to deliver an improbable victory. Full recap >
Cardinals: 9-3 win on June 10 at Pittsburgh
This one went all the way into the 12th inning before it was decided in wacky and wonderful fashion for the road team. St. Louis was trailing, 2-0, when it scored three times in the eighth inning to take a one-run lead, but that didn't last long, with Pittsburgh tying it in the ninth. Things stayed deadlocked until the 12th, when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny unveiled a secret weapon in pitcher Adam Wainwright, who pinch-hit with two outs and delivered a go-ahead, two-run double that paced a six-run rally to put a win on ice. Full recap >
Cubs: 8-7 win on Nov. 2 at Cleveland in Game 7 of the World Series
This one needs little explanation, as it's already firmly in the conversation as one of the best games in postseason history. The Cubs led the Indians for most of the game until Rajai Davis, the speedy but hardly slugging outfielder, went deep off Chicago closer Aroldis Chapman to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, sending LeBron James and the rest of the Progressive Field crowd into a tizzy.
Finally, in the top of the 10th inning, Ben Zobrist's double gave the Cubs a lead, Miguel Montero singled him in for an insurance run and the Cubs withstood yet another Indians rally, this one for one run, in the bottom of the 10th to bring the North Siders a World Series title after a 108-year drought. Full recap >
Dodgers: 4-3 win on Oct. 13 at Washington in Game 5 of NL Division Series
With their season on the line against the Nationals, the Dodgers defied convention and got the job done to advance. Los Angeles was down, 1-0, to Max Scherzer entering the seventh inning, but scored four runs to take a commanding lead. The Nationals would not give up, however.
Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey homered to cut the lead to 4-3, and after the Dodgers' regular closer, Kenley Jansen, was needed earlier than usual, Los Angeles turned to ace Clayton Kershaw, who entered the ninth with two on and one out but finished it off for his first career save in a clinching classic. Full recap >
Giants: 3-0 win on Oct. 5 at New York Mets in NL Wild Card Game
Conor Gillaspie was the latest not-so-well-known player to etch his name into San Francisco lore with one enormous hit at the right time. The game was scoreless in the ninth inning when Gillaspie stepped up to the plate against Mets closer Jeurys Familia at Citi Field with two runners on and delivered the biggest hit of his career, a three-run homer that not only put the Giants ahead to stay but also rewarded the typically brilliant pitching of San Francisco starter and October legend Madison Bumgarner, who went right back to work and finished off yet another postseason shutout. Full recap >
Marlins: 7-3 win on Sept. 26 vs. Mets
The night after the Marlins tragically lost their teammate and friend, 24-year-old star pitcher José Fernández, to a fatal boating accident, the team took the field. The Marlins made it a night no one in the sport will soon forget.
Every player on the team wore Fernandez's No. 16 jersey. And the first of those men to bat for Miami, second baseman Dee Gordon, imitated Fernandez's right-handed stance for the first pitch to honor his fallen baseball brother, then switched back to his natural left side and hit his first home run of the season into the second deck. Gordon rounded the bases as tears flowed from his eyes and broke down in the dugout. Full recap >
Mets: 9-8 win on Sept. 22 vs. Phillies
Trailing the Phillies in a game the Mets desperately wanted to win to keep pace in the pennant race, New York's José Reyes tied the game on a dramatic two-run homer in the ninth. Things didn't look good after the Mets let the Phillies score two to take an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Asdrúbal Cabrera made up for it, coming to the plate with two on in the bottom of the frame and promptly emptying those bases with a three-run game-ending homer that electrified Citi Field. Full recap >
Nationals: 3-2 win on May 11 vs. Tigers
Max Scherzer had won an American League Cy Young Award with Detroit. He had pitched in huge postseason games. He had come oh-so-close to a perfect game in 2015 but nailed down a no-hitter and then pitched another no-no that same season.
In this game, he made more history against his former team. Scherzer had five strikeouts after two innings, nine after four and kept on going. He finished with 20 strikeouts in nine innings, becoming only the fourth pitcher to accomplish that feat in a bit league game en route to his second Cy. Full recap >
Padres: 6-4 win on Sept. 13 at San Francisco
San Diego trailed, 4-1, entering the top of the ninth inning in a tough place to win on the road. But the Padres wouldn't give in and scored five times to take a lead that would hold up for the win. The big blow was a two-out, three-run homer by rookie Ryan Schimpf that had a Win Probability Added number of 71 percent -- the highest for the Padres all season. Full recap >
Phillies: 3-0 win on April 14 vs. Padres
Right-hander Vincent Velasquez, who had come to Philadelphia in a trade with the Astros, made the rest of the NL take notice with one of the most dominant individual pitching performances of the entire season. Velasquez pitched a three-hit shutout and struck out 16 while not issuing a single walk. Full recap >
Pirates: 2-1 win on July 17 at Washington
It was one for the ages -- and a heck of a game that took ages. The Pirates couldn't get this one won in 17 innings, so they finally got it done in the top of the 18th. This taut thriller seemed to be going the Buccos' way with a 1-0 lead heading into the ninth, but Daniel Murphy tied it with a crowd-stirring solo homer with two outs in the bottom of that inning. That led to another full game's worth of no-score free baseball, with Starling Marte hitting the homer that would be the game-winner in the top of the 18th. Full recap >
Reds: 7-5 win on Aug. 2 vs. Cardinals
Reds breakout slugger Adam Duvall hit a go-ahead homer in the seventh inning, but the Cardinals answered with two homers in the eighth to retake lead. That set up Scott Schebler for the hometown drama, and he delivered, hitting a walk-off three-run drive with one out in ninth. Full recap >
Rockies: 8-0 win on Sept. 17 vs. Padres
Young right-hander Jon Gray has shown glimpses of brilliance as he cuts his teeth against the best hitters in the world. One such glimpse came toward the end of the season, when he put it all together in a four-hit shutout. Gray struck out a Coors Field- and franchise-record 16 batters without walking anyone. It gave the Rockies a lot to look forward to in 2017 and beyond. Full recap >
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.