The top 40 moments of 2019

December 29th, 2019

Every Major League season is filled with memorable moments, from walk-off home runs and record-setting achievements to milestones and the end of illustrious careers. Here is a look at the top 40 moments of the 2019 season, from Opening Day through Game 7 of the World Series.

1. Kendrick saves the day again, Nats win first World Series title

Days after his 10th-inning grand slam lifted the Nationals to a Game 5 victory over the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, and after he was named MVP of the NL Championship Series against the Cardinals, Howie Kendrick played unlikely hero once again in Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros. In the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park, with the Astros leading, 2-1, Kendrick lined a go-ahead, two-run homer off the foul pole in right field. Washington won the game, 6-2, to clinch the first World Series title in franchise history when Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley to end it.

2. Altuve sends Astros to World Series

It's the dream of every kid playing ball in the back yard -- to hit a home run to win the pennant or World Series. Jose Altuve launched a walk-off homer off the Yankees' Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series to send Houston to its second World Series in three years. Altuve went 8-for-23 (.348) with a double and two homers to be named MVP of the series.

3. Angels toss emotional combined no-hitter, honor late teammate, July 12

Just days after the tragic death of right-hander Tyler Skaggs, the Angels all wore No. 45 in his honor against the Mariners in Anaheim on July 12. Little did they know when they took the field that night that they would complete a combined no-hitter of Seattle -- Felix Pena started and tossed seven brilliant innings, walking one and striking out six before reliever Taylor Cole finished things off with two perfect innings in a 13-0 Angels victory. After the final out, the Angels all took off their No. 45 jerseys and laid them on the pitcher's mound in Skaggs' honor.

4. Nationals storm back for dramatic win in NLDS Game 5

Things didn't look good for the Nationals entering the seventh inning of NLDS Game 5 at Dodger Stadium, with Clayton Kershaw in to face Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto. Rendon and Soto hit back-to-back homers to tie the game, and in the 10th, Howie Kendrick delivered a grand slam to break the 3-3 tie and send the Nats to the NLCS for the first time since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005.

5. Hicks makes unbelievable catch to end wild one at Target Field, July 23

Entering the fifth inning at Target Field on July 23, the Twins held a comfortable 8-2 lead over the Yankees. That would change quickly, with New York scoring three times in the fifth, five times in the eighth and twice in the ninth on a homer by Aaron Hicks to take a 12-11 lead. Minnesota tied the game on a Jorge Polanco sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth. In the 10th, Gleyber Torres delivered an RBI single and the Yankees scored another run on a wild pitch to take a 14-12 advantage. But the Twins weren't done, loading the bases with two outs for Max Kepler, who sent a drive into left-center field. Hicks sprinted over and made a tremendous full-extension dive to save the game, perhaps the wildest contest of the 2019 season.

6. Suzuki caps incredible Nationals comeback over Mets, Sept. 3

Trailing by six runs in the ninth, the Nationals scored seven to stun the Mets in Washington. The comeback was capped by a walk-off three-run homer by Kurt Suzuki.

7. JBJ makes tremendous game-saving catch against Orioles, May 8

We're used to seeing incredible catches by Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr., but this one was a jaw-dropper -- in a 1-1 tie in the 11th inning at Camden Yards, Trey Mancini launched what would surely have been a game-winning home run but for Bradley's sensational play, in which he raced over into left-center, climbed the wall with his entire upper body over the fence and hauled in the drive.

8. Alonso launches one for the record books, Sept. 28

Pete Alonso had an unbelievable rookie season, winning the Home Run Derby and later being named the NL Rookie of the Year. But on Sept. 28, he etched his name in the record books by launching his 53rd home run of the season, eclipsing Aaron Judge's mark for home runs by a rookie.

9. Soto clears the bases with clutch single in NL Wild Card Game

There were many memorable moments for the Nationals in their run to a World Series title, but October would have been short-lived for Washington had it not been for Juan Soto's bases-clearing single with two outs in the eighth inning to give the Nats a 4-3 lead in the NL Wild Card Game against Milwaukee.

10. Fiers fires second career no-hitter, May 7

Though he entered the game with a 6.81 ERA, A's right-hander Mike Fiers threw his second career no-hitter by blanking the Reds at the Oakland Coliseum on 131 pitches.

11. Verlander finishes off third no-hitter of his career, Sept. 1

Verlander continued to defy time by throwing the third no-hitter of his career, silencing the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre to become the sixth pitcher in MLB history with three career no-nos.

12. Harper hits a walk-off -- er, 'sprint-off' grand slam against Cubs, Aug. 15

Harper capped a ninth-inning Phillies comeback with a grand slam into the second deck down the right-field line at Citizens Bank Park, sprinting his way around the bases to complete a sweep of Chicago.

13. Renfroe connects for walk-off slam off Kenley, May 5

The Padres were trailing, 5-4, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when Hunter Renfroe crushed an 0-1 cutter from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen for a walk-off grand slam.

14. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back for Nats, June 9

It was a taut 1-1 affair entering the eighth inning at Petco Park, but that all changed when Howie Kendrick, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon hit consecutive homers to stun the Padres.

15. Wilkerson's acrobatic, game-saving home run robbery, Sept. 29

On the regular season's final day, right fielder Stevie Wilkerson measured up a deep fly ball off the bat of Boston's Jackie Bradley Jr., leaped and made a spectacular catch before flipping against the Fenway Park wall and landing on his feet.

16. Pujols makes return to St. Louis, June 21-23

Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols spent the first 11 seasons of his legendary career with the Cardinals, and when he made his first trip back to St. Louis since signing with the Angels in 2012, he was given multiple standing ovations and thrilled the fans with a home run in the second game of the series, in which he went 4-for-11 overall. Following the homer, the Busch Stadium fans gave their former star a curtain call.

17. LoCain doing LoCain things to save Opening Day, March 28

Lorenzo Cain has made some spectacular catches in his day, but this one was a game-ender on Opening Day in Milwaukee. With the Brewers clinging to a 5-4 lead, the Cardinals' Jose Martinez launched one to deep right-center, where Cain leaped and snatched the ball from over the wall, celebrating by throwing the ball straight up into the air after he came down.

18. Like grandfather, like grandson, Sept. 17

Nearly four decades after Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski hit his final home run at Fenway Park, his grandson, Mike, hit his first, a solo shot to dead center field in the fourth inning for the Giants.

19. World Series homers, Cerrano style, Oct. 29

When Alex Bregman smashed a home run off Stephen Strasburg in Game 6 of the World Series, he carried his bat all the way to first base, completing one-fourth of "a Pedro Cerrano" (the character homered in the movie Major League, carrying the bat all the way around the bases). So later in the same contest, Juan Soto decided to pull a quarter of a Cerrano himself after homering off Justin Verlander.

20. Max Muncy tells MadBum to 'Get it out of the ocean,' June 9

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner wasn't too happy after Max Muncy crushed a home run into the San Francisco Bay against him and admired the shot. So as Muncy rounded first, Bumgarner was yelling at him. Muncy's response? "Get it out of the ocean."

21. Astros toss combined no-no, Aug. 3

Before Justin Verlander would throw his third career no-hitter a few weeks later, the Astros completed a combined no-no against the Mariners at Minute Maid Park. Aaron Sanchez started and went six innings, walking two and striking out six. He then gave way to Houston's bullpen, and Will Harris, Joe Biagini and Chris Devenski allowed just one base runner the rest of the way in a 9-0 victory.

22. Yanks and Sox take rivalry across the pond, June 29-30

For the first time, Major League Baseball made its way to London, where the Red Sox and Yankees renewed their rivalry in a two-game series. The scoring was aplenty, with New York emerging victorious in both contests, by finals of 17-13 and 12-8.

23. Reddick to the rescue, May 9

With the Astros leading the Rangers, 4-2, with two runners on and one out in the ninth inning, Josh Reddick made an amazing leaping catch to rob Hunter Pence of a go-ahead three-run homer.

24. Smith returns a hero in final game of the season, Sept. 29

Dom Smith was making his first plate appearance since July with the Mets trailing the Braves, 6-4, with two on and two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning at Citi Field. He ended New York's season in style, launching a walk-off three-run shot to right-center.

25. The kids are all right, Home Run Derby (July 8)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Pete Alonso put on a show to remember in the Home Run Derby at Progressive Field. Guerrero launched a record 91 homers in the contest, but Alonso beat him in the final round, 23-22.

26. Correa crushes walk-off homer in ALCS Game 2

Carlos Correa sent the Astros to a Game 2 victory over the Yankees by lining one over the right field wall off J.A. Happ in the 11th inning at Minute Maid Park, evening the series at one game apiece.

27. Shohei puts on show with first career cycle, June 13

Unfortunately for Shohei Ohtani and the Angels, the phenom couldn't pitch in 2019 because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Fortunately for Ohtani and the Halos, he could hit. That's exactly what he did when he went 4-for-4 with a double, triple, home run and three RBIs against the Rays at Tropicana Field to complete the first cycle of his Major League career.

28. Dodgers down Rockies with three straight rookie walk-offs, June 21-23

The Dodgers showed off their young talent in the most impressive way possible, getting walk-off homers from Matt Beaty (two-run homer), Alex Verdugo (solo homer) and Will Smith (grand slam) to sweep Colorado.

29. Like father, like son, Sept. 17

Seventeen years after Hall of Famer Craig Biggio hit for the cycle against the Rockies, his son, Cavan, achieved the feat against the Orioles at Camden Yards, driving in four runs.

30. Anderson walks it off with flair, April 26

The bat flip heard 'round the world? That title might belong to Jose Bautista from the 2015 postseason. But Tim Anderson's overhand toss toward his dugout on April 18 certainly shook things up. Just eight days later, he duplicated the bat flip, this time on a walk-off homer to end a wild see-saw game against the Tigers on the South Side.

31. Brantley makes incredible catch for ALCS double play, Oct. 19

Michael Brantley has been known to be the quintessential "professional hitter." But he can play some defense, too. Case in point: In Game 6 of the ALCS against the Yankees, he sprinted in and made a full-extension diving catch on an Aaron Hicks flare to left field, then got up and fired all the way to first base to double up Aaron Judge to end the seventh inning.

32. Velazquez wows with plays in left field, Aug. 5

When you stick a pitcher in left field because you're out of position players in an extra-inning marathon, you're crossing your fingers. No luck needed in this case, as Phillies right-hander Vince Velazquez throws a runner out at the plate with a 94.7 mph rocket, then makes a great diving play with a 15 percent catch probability per Statcast.

33. Smith creates a run with his legs, May 27

He doesn't have 86 steals over the past two seasons for nothing. Mallex Smith completed the steal cycle, nabbing second, third and home against the Rangers at T-Mobile Park.

34. Greinke belts pair of homers, April 2

Zack Greinke has always handled the bat well for a pitcher. But in 2019, he took it further, winning a Silver Slugger Award after hitting .280 with three homers, two of which came against the Padres on this night at Petco Park.

35. Vladdy gets to watch Vladdy Jr. debut, April 26

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s Major League debut was highly anticipated, to put it mildly. Son of Hall-of-Fame slugger Vladimir Guerrero, he was the most hyped baseball prospect in years. So it was a thrill for both father and son when Vladdy Jr. debuted against the A's by going 1-for-4 with a double before Brandon Drury won it with a walk-off homer in the ninth.

36. Diaz hits first big league homer during family's interview, Aug. 5

What better way to hit your first Major League home run than while your family is being interviewed in the stands? That's exactly what the Marlins' Isan Diaz did against the Mets at Citi Field in his MLB debut.

37. Carrasco's inspirational return, Sept. 1

Carlos Carrasco was diagnosed with Leukemia last summer, but made an inspirational return to the diamond -- first with an appearance at the All-Star Game in his home ballpark in Cleveland, and then on the mound against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Sept. 1.

38. King Felix holds court one last time, Sept. 26

Felix Hernandez will go down as one of the greatest pitchers in Mariners history, and the former AL Cy Young Award winner took the mound in a Seattle uniform for the final time on Sept. 26 against the A's at the Oakland Coliseum.

39. Sabathia gets 3,000th strikeout, April 30

In his final Major League season, veteran left-hander C.C. Sabathia became the third left-handed pitcher in MLB history, and the 17th pitcher overall, to record 3,000 strikeouts when he fanned former teammate John Ryan Murphy of the D-backs at Chase Field.

40. Ichiro's final Major League game, March 21

Ichiro is one of a kind, and he left an indelible impact on the game of baseball both in the Major Leagues and his native Japan. He was the first position player from Japan to appear in an MLB game back in 2001, when he was named AL Rookie of the Year and MVP. He reached the 3,000 hit milestone in 2016, and in the second Mariners game of the 2019 season, played against the A's in Tokyo, he made his final appearance in a big league game.