New York baseball fans have experienced many decisive, winner-take-all postseasongames over the decades, and sometimes their teams lose them.
That is what happens when you get a lot of chances, especially so in the case of the Yankees, whose list of Game 7 defeats in World Series alone includes some famous doozies, such as 1926, 1960 and 2001.
The Mets have had their share of disappointments also, as in the 1973 World Series and 2006 NLCS. And don’t forget the 1912 and 1924 New York Giants’ heartbreakers!
But why dwell on the negative at a time like this, with the Yankees and Rays set to decide their ALDS in Game 5 on Friday night?
Just for fun, here are our top 10 winner-take-all postseasongames in New York baseball history, but only ones in which a New York team won. Feel free to disagree.
1. Game 7, 2003 ALCS, Yankees 6, Red Sox 5, Yankee Stadium
The Yankees took advantage of a tiring Pedro Martinez to score thrice in the bottom of the eighth inning and tie the score at 5. ALCS MVP Mariano Rivera entered in the ninth and pitched three shutout innings. The Yankees won it in the bottom of the 11th on a solo home run by Aaron Boone. Wonder what ever became of him. Hmm.
2. Game 5, 1976 ALCS, Yankees 7, Royals 6, Yankee Stadium
Historical context: The Yankees had not been in a World Series since 1964, the sort of drought with which their fans were unfamiliar. That added to the tension at Yankee Stadium when the Royals tied it at 6 with three runs in the eighth inning. But in the ninth, Chris Chambliss hit a Martk Littell pitch over the wall in right center. Bedlam.
3. Game 7, 1955 World Series, Dodgers 2, Yankees 0, Yankee Stadium
The generation for which this was a defining moment is not as young as it used to be, but the memory remains vivid. The Dodgers won their only World Series while representing Brooklyn with a pair of RBIs from Gil Hodges and a 2-0 shutout by Series MVP Johnny Podres. Five days earlier, Podres had won Game 3 – on his 23rd birthday.
4. Game 7, 1986 World Series, Mets 8, Red Sox 5, Shea Stadium
The events of Game 6 long have rendered Game 7 a footnote for many, but it also was a thriller. The Mets trailed, 3-0, after 5 ½ innings before scoring three in the sixth and three in the seventh. Boston got two in the eighth, but Darryl Strawberry homered in the bottom of the inning. Sid Fernandez was brilliant in relief of starter Ron Darling.
5. Game 7, 1962 World Series, Yankees 1, Giants 0, Candlestick Park
Who knew this would be the Yankees’ last world title until 1977? And they won it in dramatic fashion. Ralph Terry shut down the Giants, and the Yankees got their only score when Tony Kubek grounded into a run-scoring double play. It ended with Giants at second and third and Willie McCovey lining out to Bobby Richardson at second base.
6. Game 7, 1958 World Series, Yankees 6, Braves 2, County Stadium
With the Yankees trailing in the Series, 3-1, Cy Young Award winner Bob Turley won Game 5, saved Game 6 in relief, then won Game 7 in relief and was named Series MVP. The score was tied at 2 going into the eighth when the Yankees scored four after two were out against Lew Burdette, keyed by Moose Skowron’s three-run homer.
7. Game 5, 1977 ALDS, Yankees 5, Royals 3, Royals Stadium
This was one of the wilder deciders in Yankees history, featuring Billy Martin benching Reggie Jackson because he had trouble against the Royals’ Paul Splitorff – Jackson later drove in a run as a pinch hitter – a brawl between George Brett and Graig Nettles at third base and a three-run ninth against three Royals pitchers that erased a 3-2 deficit.
8. Game 5, 2015 NLDS, Mets 3, Dodgers 2, Dodger Stadium
Jacob deGrom had beaten Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, but he showed his mettle in Game 5 against Zack Greinke. The Dodgers scored two in the first and often had deGrom in trouble, but he endured until Daniel Murphy hit a home run to give the Mets a lead in the sixth. Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia pitched a hitless final three innings.
9. Game 7, 1952 World Series, Yankees 4, Dodgers 2, Ebbets Field
Joe Black – winner of Game 1 and loser of Game 4 for the Dodgers – started and gave up three runs, including a home run to Mickey Mantle in the sixth to break a 2-2 tie. Mantle’s RBI single in the seventh made it 4-2. Billy Martin’s running catch of Jackie Robinson’s infield popup in the seventh ended a bases-loaded threat by the Dodgers.
10 – Game 5, 2017 ALDS, Yankees 5, Indians 2, Progressive Field
After falling behind 2-0 in the series, including a controversial 13-inning loss in Game 2, the Yankees completed their comeback, getting two early home runs from Didi Gregorius and extending a 3-2 lead to 5-2 in the ninth, keyed by a two-out single by Brett Gardner after a 12-pitch at-bat. Aroldis Chapman pitched the last two innings.