The best MLB Game 7s in recent memory
On Friday night, every New York Yankee fan's nightmare became a reality, when the Bronx Bombers were defeated 7-1 by the Houston Astros with a World Series trip on the line at Minute Maid Park. This meant Houston had forced game 7 at home on Saturday night, with all of the momentum in the world on their side, after it appeared as though it was the Yankees who were riding the wave of positive energy.
For indifferent baseball fans, Game 7s are the peak of baseball excitement. For Yankees and Astros fans, Saturday's win-or-go-home game will likely provide moments where vomiting is not out of the question. There will be fingernail biting, there will be hands covering eyes and yes, chances are tears will be shed. It's the gamut of emotions every baseball fan wants until it actually knocks on their front door in October.
There have been 53 Game 7s between the World Series and League Championships Series in MLB history, with the home team taking 29 and the away team 24. When the Yankees and Astros face off on Saturday, it will mark the 14th Game 7 since 2000 alone, with the majority of the prior 13 providing absolutely epic moments. There's a lot to live up to once you look back at Game 7s in recent memory, so we decided to highlight some of the best of the best. Apologies to pre-new millennium Game 7s, but we'd be here all day if we listed them all.
2001 World Series, Arizona Diamondbacks defeat New York Yankees 3-2
It was only fitting that perhaps the most insane World Series of the past 20 years had an ending that might have registered on the Richter Scale. When else would you ever see a game that Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson all pitched in? That's right, the Big Unit, who had thrown 104 pitches the previous night, entered the game in the eighth inning after the Yankees had taken a 2-1 lead on an Alfonso Soriano homer. Johnson kept it a one-run game, allowing the D-backs a much better chance to make a late comeback. They did just that, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth off Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history. Luis Gonzalez's game-winning RBI base hit was the third walk-off hit of the series, and the first by Arizona.
2003 ALCS, New York Yankees defeat Boston Red Sox 6-5
Everyone remembers Aaron Boone's epic walk-off blast, but without the furious eighth inning rally by the Yankees it never happens. Of course, Derek Jeter got it all started on an 0-2 count with a double off Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez, who manager Grady Little opted to keep in the game despite his rising pitch total. The Sox would end up getting the last laugh, with the Yanks losing in the World Series and then Boston ending their championship drought the following season.
2003 NLCS, Florida Marlins defeat Chicago Cubs 9-6
Obviously, all anyone thinks of when it comes to the 2003 NLCS was that thing that happened in Game 6, but holy crap, Game 7 had its moments as well. Cubs Pitcher Kerry Wood hit a freakin' two-run homer to tie the game! An already frenzied atmosphere in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field got even crazier when outfielder Moises Alou hit another two-run homer the following inning, giving the Cubbies a 5-3 lead and giving the fans the feeling that it was finally their time. Not quite, as the Marlins exploded for six more runs, ultimately winning the game 9-6.
2004 NLCS, St. Louis Cardinals defeat Houston Astros 5-2
We know what you're thinking, "another 3-run game makes this list?" But this one had it all, including a leadoff home run by Astros Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio that gave Houston a 1-0 lead in the first inning. With the Astros threatening again in the next inning, catcher Brad Ausmus ripped what looked to be a bases-clearing extra base hit with two men on. But Jim Edmonds was having none of that, and made one of the best catches of his career, which was full of web gems. The Cards rode the momentum to a a 5-2 victory and a trip to the World Series, which they would lose to the Boston Red Sox.
2006 NLCS, St. Louis Cardinals defeat New York Mets 3-1
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first at Shea Stadium, it looked like it may have finally been the Mets year in 2006. But the Cardinals answered right back in the top of the second, tying the game at one, where the score would remain until the top of the ninth. That's when Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina ripped New York's heart out with a two-run shot to deep left, one that was too far for Mets left fielder Endy Chavez to miraculously rob again. Mets fans know what happened in the bottom of the ninth, but you might as well click here anyway to relive it.
2014 World Series, San Francisco Giants defeat Kansas City Royals 3-2
Fortunately for Royals fans, the team rebounded the in 2015, beating the New York Mets in the World Series. Had they not, we're not sure the people of Kansas City would ever be able to sleep again, lying awake every night wondering WHY DIDN'T THEY SEND ALEX GORDON HOME. Could you imagine a play at the plate on a potential game-tying inside the park home run (single on an error but that's neither here nor there) in Game 7 of the World Series? We'll never know.
2016 World Series, Chicago Cubs defeat Cleveland Indians 8-7
Some will call it recency bias, but it's fair to say this was the greatest Game 7 not only in baseball history, but in sports history. There was Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler's leadoff home run, the Indians' comeback from 5-1, capped off by Rajai Davis' three-run shot off flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, the rain delay, the Cubs taking a two-run lead in the top of the 10th, the Indians cutting it to one, and finally, Chicago ending its drought. In other words, it didn't lack for drama, intensity and emotion. And to think, what if Cubs third basemen Kris Bryant's slip in the grass of the infield on the final out had affected the throw enough to sail past Anthony Rizzo? They might still be playing that one.