The 2017 postseason began with a bang. And the memorable moments never ceased.If you remember, the first hitter to step to the plate this postseason, Minnesota second baseman James Dozier, belted a home run on just the fifth pitch of the American League Wild Card Game. Not only did Dozier's
The 2017 postseason began with a bang. And the memorable moments never ceased.
If you remember, the first hitter to step to the plate this postseason, Minnesota second baseman James Dozier, belted a home run on just the fifth pitch of the American League Wild Card Game. Not only did Dozier's leadoff shot give the Twins an early lead against the Yankees, it also sent a message that resonated throughout the next month of postseason baseball: The games get crazy with everything on the line.
From that opening pitch in New York to the final out in Los Angeles with the Astros celebrating their first World Series championship, this postseason amazed. It captivated. It enthralled. It sent players, coaches and fans scrambling for superlatives to describe it, and it culminated in an epic back-and-forth Fall Classic for the ages.
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"This was one of the best World Series of all time," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "The players never stopped, they never quit and they're always going to be called champions."
Ten teams entered October hoping to win a World Series title. Only one remained on Nov. 1.
Here is a refresher of how we got to this crazy finish.
National League Division Series, Game 2: Bryce Harper hits Nats back into series
The Nationals looked lifeless for the first 16 innings of the NLDS against the Cubs. That was before Harper's two-run blast brought them back to life, tying the game at 3 in the eighth inning. The Nats scored three more runs after Harper's homer on a go-ahead blast by Ryan Zimmerman, which sent them to an electrifying 6-3 win that tied the series at 1.
"I saw the loop in the curveball and said, 'Why not swing as hard as you can?'" Harper said. "Got the barrel on it, and it was a pretty good moment."
NLDS Game 5:Game of inches between Cubs and Nats
Of all the wild moments from NLDS Game 5, none was more pivotal than Cubs catcher Willson Contreras picking off the Nationals' Jose Lobaton at first base in the eighth. Lobaton was initially ruled safe, before the close call was overturned via instant replay. The wacky game -- which the Cubs won, 9-8 -- consisted of 17 combined runs on 25 hits, two errors and plenty of other memorable moments. And it ended with Chicago clinching a berth in the NL Championship Series for the third consecutive year.
"That's one of the most incredible victories I've ever been part of," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
ALDS Game 2: Franky for four
Francisco Lindor's sixth-inning grand slam sparked the largest comeback in Indians postseason history and helped Cleveland come back from a five-run deficit against the Yankees. The blast came at a dramatic moment and proved Yanks manager Joe Girardi's non-challenge earlier in the inning pivotal, adding a new element into what became a tightly contested series.
The Tribe walked it off in the 13th for a 9-8 victory and went to New York with a 2-0 series lead.
"That was what you call October baseball right there," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said.
However, the Yankees came back to win the series in five games.
NLCS Game 2:Justin Turner channels Kirk Gibson
Twenty-nine years to the day that Kirk Gibson launched one of the most famous walk-off home runs in Dodgers history, Justin Turner hit one of his own. Turner's walk-off three-run shot off John Lackey gave Los Angeles a 4-1 win and a 2-0 series lead over the Cubs.
"The difference is that one helped us win the World Series," former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda said. "This one could put us in it."
After the Dodgers won the series in five games, Turner was named co-MVP with Chris Taylor.
ALCS Game 2: Jose Altuve's mad dash around the bases
Justin Verlander's complete game against the Yankees may have gone for naught had Altuve not scored from first on Carlos Correa's walk-off double against Albertin Chapman. Altuve found a second gear -- reaching an elite sprint speed of 29.5 feet per second, per Statcast™ -- on his way to scoring the winning run in Houston's 2-1 victory.
The Yanks' relay throw was on target and on time, meaning Altuve would have likely been out had catcher Gary Sanchez corralled the ball. But Sanchez dropped it, and Altuve slid in safely.
"He's out of his mind," Astros outfielder George Springer joked afterward about third-base coach Gary Pettis. "It worked. I love it. That was crazy."
ALCS Game 4: Aaron Judge powers Yankees back
All anybody could talk about after this game was how the new Yankee Stadium, nearly a decade old, finally rocked like the old version did. The 48,804 fans had plenty to cheer about, particularly after their Yankees stormed back from a four-run deficit in the late innings to tie the ALCS at two games apiece.
This night, it was the stars who shined brightest, with Aaron Judge driving in three runs over two at-bats to tie the game. Sanchez also connected for a huge hit that had the Bronx rumbling like it did two decades before.
"That ballpark is alive," Judge said after the Yankees' 6-4 win. "It was unbelievable."
The Astros went on to win the series in seven games, but Yanks fans got a taste of the potential good times ahead.
NLCS Game 5: Kiké connects three times
Only nine times before this October had a player hit three home runs in a postseason game. The 2017 playoffs saw it happen twice, first by Astros second baseman Altuve in the ALDS, then by the Dodgers' Enrique Hernandez in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Hernandez's heroics helped clinch the series in an 11-1 win that sent Los Angeles to its first World Series since 1988. The homers came at a particularly rough time for Hernandez, whose family in Puerto Rico was affected by Hurricane Maria.
World Series, Game 2:Marwin's magic blast
The Astros and Dodgers hit a record five extra-inning home runs in Houston's 7-6 win in 11 innings. None would have been hit had Marwin Gonzalez not tied the game against elite closer Kenley Jansen with a solo shot in the ninth.
"If you like October baseball, if you like any kind of baseball, that's one of the most incredible games you'll ever be a part of," Hinch said.
World Series, Game 5: Alex Bregman brings Houston a game closer
Bregman's walk-off single in the 10th inning capped this classic, crazy back-and-forth game, giving Houston an improbable 13-12 win. But it was just one of many moments to choose from. Also worth mentioning: Chris Taylor's game-tying single off Chris Devenski in the ninth, Austin Barnes' hustle double two batters before, Altuve's game-tying three-run shot in the fifth, Springer's game-tying homer in the seventh and Correa's go-ahead blast three batters later.
"I thought Game 2 was probably the best baseball game I ever played in," Bregman said. "It was unbelievable, the huge homer and all the home runs that were hit. I didn't think that would ever be topped. Who knows where this one ranks, right up there with that game."
World Series, Game 7: Springer cements series MVP
Springer tied a World Series record by hitting five home runs, joining Reggie Jackson and Chase Utley as the only players to do so. His final homer came in the second inning of Game 7, a two-run shot that gave Houston a commanding 5-0 lead. (The Astros went on to win, 5-1.)
Springer became the first player to homer in four consecutive games in the same Fall Classic, earning some well-deserved hardware in the process.
"This is a dream come true, it's an honor," Springer said. "I'm so happy for our fans, who have endured a lot. We're coming home champions."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.