A closer's only job is to enter the game, normally in the ninth inning, get three outs and leave with his team winning the game and him getting a save. The best closers in history do this more often than not.
However, every closer has a game where he just can't seem to get outs and the score ends up being tied or even worse, what seemed like a win became a loss. This results in the blown save.
A blown save is never a good thing. It may end up costing the team the win. However, some blown saves are worse than others. Mainly, how "bad" a blown save is all depends on the timing.
Did it happen in a key game like a rivalry game or in the heat of the playoff hunt? Did it happen in the playoffs?
That's my goal for today. Figure out the worst blown saves then rank them with the worst blown save of all-time being ranked number one.
The more important the game or the moment, the better the ranking. A blown save in the World Series is worse than a blown save in an early game of a Division Series for example. Also, if the blown save resulted in losing the Series, whether it was Division, League Championship or World, that was worse than losing a Game One for example.
Please feel free to comment about the order I have them ranked in or if I missed any. If I did miss any, please tell me where you would put it in my order.
Let's get started with number 20.
Number 20 in this list comes from the 2009 American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.
In Game 2 of that series, the Twins were leading 3-1 heading into the ninth inning. In walks one of the best closers in the game, Joe Nathan.
Nathan proceeded to give up a lead-off walk to Mark Teixeira followed by a two-run home run by Alex Rodriguez.
The Twins would later go on to lose the game in 11 innings on a home run by Mark Teixeira.
This game also featured one of the worst blown calls by an umpire when he ruled a hit down the left field line by Joe Mauer foul when it was clearly fair.
The loss put the Twins down 2-0 in the Series and they would eventually be swept by losing the third game.
Number 19 in this list comes from the 2009 American League Division Series as well.
In Game 3, Terry Francona decided to bring Jonathan Papelbon into the eighth inning to get a four-out save when Billy Wagner allowed runners to reach second and third with the Red Sox leading 5-2.
Papelbon allowed a two-run single by Juan Rivera in the eighth making the score 5-4 in favor of Boston. The Red Sox would score a run in the bottom of the eighth, making the score 6-4.
In the ninth, Papelbon got the first two outs, then everything collapsed. He gave up a single to Erick Aybar, walked Chone Figgins, and gave up the game-tying two-run double to Bobby Abreu off the Green Monster.
Following the double, the Red Sox intentionally walked Torii Hunter and that brought Vladimir Guerrero to the plate. Vlad promptly hit Paps' first pitch to center scoring Abreu and the Angels took the lead.
The Angels' closer, Brian Fuentes, would do his job in the bottom of the ninth, retiring the Sox in order, and for the first time in history, the Angels won a playoff series against the Red Sox. They swept the Red Sox in three games.
Number 18 comes to us from the 1997 American League Division Series between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians.
The Yankees were leading the series, 2-1, going into Game Four of the best of five series. In Game Four, it was a classic pitching matchup between Dwight Gooden and Orel Hershisher. The score was 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
Mariano Rivera served as the set-up man for John Wettleland in 1996 and 1997 marked his first year as the closer.
With two outs, Sandy Alomar Jr. hit a home run off of Mariano Rivera to tie the game. The Yankees would then lose the game in the ninth when Ramiro Mendoza gave up a game-winning one-run single to Omar Vizquel.
The Yankees would eventually lose the series in five games. This would be Rivera's only blown save in the post-season between 1997 and 2001.
Number 17 comes from the greatest comeback in baseball history, the 2004 American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees had a three games to none lead entering game four. All they needed was to win one more game and they'd be headed to the World Series.
When Mariano Rivera entered the game in the eighth for his typical two-inning save, Yankees fans rejoiced. The eighth inning was fine for Rivera; it wasn't until the ninth that he ran into trouble.
Rivera allowed a lead-off walk to Kevin Millar in the ninth. Dave Roberts was then brought in to run for Millar. Everyone in the world knew that Roberts was brought in solely to steal his way into scoring position so Rivera threw to first three straight times. On Rivera's first pitch to Bill Mueller, Roberts broke for second and successfully stole the base.
Rivera then gave up a single to Muelller and Roberts scored to tie the game. The Red Sox would later win the game in the twelfth inning on a two-run home run by David Ortiz.
The Yankees were still up 3-1 in the series and still needed just one more win to advance to the World Series.
This leads us to Number 16 in this list.
The blown save I have ranked as Number 16 happened the day after the blown save I have ranked as number 17. It also came from the 2004 American League Championship Series.
This time it was Game Five. It was the eighth inning again, and like the night before, Mariano Rivera was brought in to save the day and the series. Only this time the eighth inning didn't go smoothly.
Tom Gordon started the eighth inning for the Yankees, giving up a lead-off home run to David Ortiz, a single to Kevin Millar (who once again was replaced by Dave Roberts) and a single to Trot Nixon which moved Roberts to third. That's when Joe Torre decided to bring in Rivera.
While this blown save wasn't as exciting as the night before, Rivera gave up a sacrifice fly to Jason Varitek and the game was tied.
The Red Sox would go on to win this game in 14 innings, on a game-winning single by David Ortiz.
The Red Sox would then win Games Six and Seven, becoming the first team in baseball history to come back from being down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series on their way to the first World Series in franchise history since 1918.
The only reason Rivera's two blown saves from this series aren't ranked higher is because the Yankees still had two chances to redeem themselves and didn't. If the blown saves came in Games 6 and 7, then they would be ranked much higher. This was Rivera's third blown save in this list so far. He's only blown five saves total in his post-season career, so keep reading to see if his remaining two blown saves make this list and see just where they may be ranked.
Number 15 comes from Game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Doug Drabek pitched masterfully for eight innings and the Pirates had a 2-0 lead going into the ninth. The ninth is when everything collapsed for the Pirates.
Drabek allowed a lead-off double to Terry Pendleton, then the second baseman Jose Lind bobbled a hit by David Justice and finally Drabek walked Sid Bream. Jim Leyland than brought in Stan Belinda.
Belinda got Ron Gant to hit into a sacrifice fly and then Brian Hunter to pop-out. The score was now 2-1 in favor of the Pirates.
What happened next is one of the most exciting plays I've ever seen. Francisco Cabrera was brought in as a pinch-hitter and hit a single to Barry Bonds in left. David Justice scored and Sid Bream slid in just ahead of the throw from Bonds. Atlanta won the game 3-2 and the NLCS.
The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't been the same as a franchise since this game. Bonds, Drabek and others left the Pirates, and they haven't finished above .500 since.
This blown save easily would have been the worst blown save among the LCS blown saves if not for the importance of one other (number 13 in this list) and the lasting effects of another (number 14 in this list).
Number 14 comes from Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series between the California Angels and the Boston Red Sox.
Going into Game 5, the Angels had a 3-1 series lead over the Red Sox. Entering the ninth inning, the Angels were up 5-2 when with one out, Don Baylor hit a two-run home run off the starter, Bobby Witt, bringing the score to 5-4.
Witt managed to get the next batter out but was replaced by Gary Lucas. Gary Lucas hit Rich Gedman and Donnie Moore was brought in to save the day.
Moore got two strikes on the batter, Dave Henderson. Henderson, who earlier in the game had a home run deflect off his glove, hit a drive deep to left and into the left field stands, giving the Red Sox the lead at 6-5.
The Angels would tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, but wound up losing the game in eleven innings.
The Red Sox would then take games six and seven and wound up in the World Series against the Mets (where, they themselves fell victim to the blown save).
The reason this blown save is so high on this list is because of what happened to Donnie Moore following it. He wound up getting booed every time he stepped on the field (a similar experience to what would happen to Bill Buckner later in 1986).
He experienced severe depression because of this and in July 1989 shot his wife three times and then committed suicide. His wife survived when she left the house with their daughter.
Number 13 is better known in baseball history as "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" and its final play is arguably the greatest home run in baseball history.
In 1951, the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers finished the season tied after a dramatic comeback by the Giants during which they were behind the Dodgers by 13 and a half games on August 11. This resulted in a best-of-three playoff series to determine who would represent the National League in the World Series.
After the first two games, the series was tied 1-1. Going into the bottom of the ninth of the deciding game three, the Dodgers were leading 4-1.
When the Giants began to rally and the score was 4-2, the Dodgers brought in the game 1 starting pitcher, Ralph Branca, to save the game. Up to the plate stepped Bobby Thomson.
The rest, as they say, is baseball history. Branca got one strike on Thomson, but when he tried to send a second fastball by him, Thomson turned on it and hit a three-run home run and clinched the National League Pennant for the Giants.
This of course was made famous by Russ Hodges' "The Giants win the Pennant! The Giants win the Pennant!" broadcast.
We've seen the worst blown saves of the Division Series and the League Championship Series and now move on to the World Series.
Number 12 in the rankings comes from Game 4 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
2001 was a rough year for America and New York City, so having the Yankees in the World Series seemed like destiny and the way Games 4 and 5 went, that destiny seemed like it was going to come true.
Going into Game 4, the Diamondbacks had a 2-1 lead over the Yankees in the series.
In the top of the eighth, the Diamondbacks took a 3-1 lead and the Diamondbacks' closer, Byung-Hyun Kim was brought in for a two-inning save. He managed to get through the eight unscathed. In the ninth is when everything changed.
With one out, Paul O'Neill got a single and then Tino Martinez tied the game with a two-out, two-run home run off of Kim.
The game went into extra-innings and Kim was still in the game in the bottom of tenth. As the clock struck midnight marking the first time Major League Baseball had been played in the month of November, up to the plate stepped Derek Jeter.
With a full-count, Derek Jeter hit an opposite field home run, giving the Yankees the win and earning him the nickname of "Mr. November."
With the series now tied at two games a piece, this leads us to Number 11 in the rankings.
Number 11 comes from Game 5 of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With the excitement of Game 4 from earlier that morning still fresh in the everyone's minds, Game 5 was able to match it.
Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Diamondbacks had a 2-0 lead. Just like the night before, Byung-Hyun Kim was brought in to save the game. Just like the night before, Kim failed to do so.
Jorge Posada hit a lead-off double then Kim was able to get the next two batters out. Scott Brosius stepped to the plate and just like Tino Martinez the night before, hit a two-out, two-run home run to tie the game and send it into extra-innings.
In the twelfth inning, Alfonso Soriano hit a game-winning RBI single and just like that, the Yankees had managed to secure back-to-back ninth inning comebacks and extra-inning wins to take a 3-2 series lead heading back to Arizona.
The Diamondbacks wound up winning Game 6 easily and Game 7 saw yet another blown save; this time by the game's greatest closer, Mariano Rivera. Keep reading to see where that blown save is ranked.
Even though Kim had back-to-back blown saves, I have them ranked this low simply because his team wound up winning the World Series in spite of the blown saves. If the Diamondbacks had lost the series, these saves would have been ranked higher.
Number 10 comes from Game 3 of the 1998 World Series between the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres.
Going into the eighth inning, the Padres had a 3-2 lead. To start the eighth, Randy Myers was the pitcher for the Padres. He issued a lead-off walk to Paul O'Neill and then Bruce Bochy decided to bring in one of the greatest closers in the game's history, Trevor Hoffman.
Hoffman, in the only World Series appearance in his career, issued a walk to Tino Martinez and then Scott Brosius hit a three-run home run to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.
The Padres would score one run in the ninth off Mariano Rivera, but the Yankees would get the win and then go on to win Game 4 and the World Series in a sweep.
The World Series victory gave the Yankees their 24th World Series title, tying them with the Montreal Canadians for most championships in North American professional sports and it meant they finished the season with 125 wins including the post-season, the most ever in a single season for a baseball team.
Number 9 comes from Game 1 of the 2000 Subway Series between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees.
This series marked the third time in a row the Yankees were in the World Series and the fourth time overall since 1996. It was also the Mets' first time in the World Series since their victory in 1986.
Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Mets had a 3-2 lead. Chuck Knoblauch ended up tying the game on a sacrifice fly off of Armando Benitez.
The Yankees would go on to win the game in 12 innings and the series in five games, 4-1.
This was one of Armando Benitez' record six post-season blown saves (Mariano Rivera is second all-timmei with five).
Number 8 comes from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics.
Before getting into the game itself, a little background is needed to set the scene. Kirk Gibson was the National League MVP in 1988. However, during the NLCS Gibson would end up injuring both his legs and contracted a stomach virus, which meant he wasn't going to play in Game 1. However, after Gibson heard Vin Scully on the telecast say "Gibson wasn't available to play", Gibson told Dodgers' manager Tommy Lasorda that he would be available to pinch-hit.
The time for Gibson to pinch-hit came in the bottom of the ninth, with Dennis Eckersley on the mound, the Athletics leading 4-3, and with two outs and one man on base. Gibson stepped to the plate with Vin Scully saying "Look who's coming up!" on the broadcast and proceeded to foul off several pitches, including one that forced Gibson to run to first, showing just how injured his legs really were.
With a full-count, Eckersley went to his back-door slider but Gibson was waiting on it. With a swing that didn't use any legs and was instead nothing but upper-body strength, Gibson managed to hit the ball into the right-field stands and caused Jack Buck on the broadcast to proclaim, "I don't believe what I just saw!" as the Dodgers won the game 5 to 4. This would be Gibson's only at-bat in the 1988 World Series.
The footage of Gibson pumping his fists and hobbling around the bases is classic footage that is shown every October.
The Dodgers would go on to shock the world by defeating the heavily favored Oakland Athletics in five games and winning the World Series.
Number 7 comes from Game 4 of the 1996 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees.
The Atlanta Braves were the defending World Series champions and had won the first two games of this series in New York then dropped Game 3 in Atlanta.
In Game 4, the Braves were leading 6-3 going into the top of the eighth inning. The Braves' manager, Bobby Cox, decided to bring in his closer, Mark Wohlers, to get the two-inning save and to give the Braves a commanding three games to one series lead.
Wohlers would give up two singles in the bottom of the eighth and after a misplayed double-play ball only got one out, Jim Leyritz stepped to the plate. What happened next earned Leyritz a spot in Yankees lore as he hit a three-run home run to left field tying the game.
The Yankees would go on to win the game in 10 innings and eventually the World Series in six games as they won four straight after dropping the first two games of the Series at home.
It was the Yankees first World Series championship since 1978 and would be the first of four in five years they would win.
Number 6 comes from Game 6 of the 1985 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals.
Going into Game 6, the Cardinals were leading the Series 3-2. In the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals were three outs away from a World Series title and had a 1-0 lead. Cardinals' manager Whitey Herzog decided to go with his rookie reliever, Todd Worrell to close out the series.
The first batter Worrell faced, Jorge Orta, grounded the ball to Jack Clark who tossed to Worrell covering first. Don Denkinger, in a game which had already seen one blown call on an attempted steal of second base by the Royals' Frank White, made what is arguably the worst call in baseball history. Denkinger called Orta safe even though replays later showed Orta was out and it wasn't even close.
The bases would eventually end up loaded and Worrell faced pinch-hitter Dane Iorg. Iorg would single, scoring Onix Concepcion to tie the game and JIm Sundberg beat the throw as well for the win.
The Royals would go on to win Game 7 easily and the only World Series championship in their history.
This wasn't as much a blown save for Worrell as it was a blown call by Denkinger. Denkinger still believed he had made the right call and it wasn't until later that he finally admitted he made the wrong call.
Number 5 comes from Game 6 of the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox.
This is the only blown save in this list that is actually two blown saves in the same game.
The Red Sox were one win away from winning their first World Series since 1918 entering Game 6. In the eighth inning with the Red Sox winning 3-2, the Red Sox brought in Calvin Schiraldi.
In the bottom of the eighth, Schiraldi recorded the first blown save in this game when Gary Carter hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game. The game would remain tied after nine innings and so it moved into extra-innings.
In the top of the tenth inning, the Red Sox scored two runs on a Dave Henderson home run and an RBI single by Marty Barrett and were now leading 5-3 heading into the bottom of the tenth.
Calvin Schiraldi was still in the game and with two outs and two strikes, gave up a single to Gary Carter. Then he gave up a single to Kevin Mitchell moving Carter to second. With two outs and two strikes again, Schiraldi gave up a single to Ray Knight, scoring Carter from second and moving Mitchell to third. The score was now 5-4 and there was still two outs.
The Red Sox manager, John McNamara then brought in Bob Stanley to close out the series. With Mookie Wilson batting, Stanley got the count to 2-2 but unleashed a wild pitch tying the game when Mitchell scored and Knight moved up to second base.
What happened next has gone down in infamy. With a full count and the Red Sox once again one strike away from the World Series, Mookie Wilson hit a slow grounder to first base. Normally, Bill Buckner would have been pulled for defensive purposes but according to the legend, John McNamara left Buckner in the game so he could be on the field to celebrate the World Series victory. That decision would end up haunting Buckner until 2004 because the slow-rolling ball ended up going between Buckner's legs and Ray Knight scored the game winning run.
The Mets wound up winning the World Series two nights later in Game 7.
Life for Bill Buckner was never the same. He had to move out of Massachusetts due to the sheer level of hate towards him by Red Sox fans. Thankfully for Bill Buckner, all was forgiven in 2004 when the Sox staged a dramatic comeback of their own to make the World Series against the New York Yankees, and then proceeded to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals and winning the first World Series title since 1918. The Curse of the Bambino (and of Buckner) was finally over.
While Buckner received the blame for the Red Sox loss of the series, two pitchers (Schiraldi and Stnaley) couldn't get the save with two outs and two strikes on multiple batters. It wasn't Buckners fault those pitchers couldn't get one more out or that the team would then go on to lose Game 7.
Number 4 comes from Game 7 of the 1960 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees.
There is nothing higher in regards to drama than a game seven in a best-of-seven series. Game 7 of the 1960 World Series probably tops them all.
Going into the bottom of the eighth inning, the Yankees were leading 7-4. After Bobby Shantz gave up three hits to start off the eighth and the score now 7-5, Jim Coates entered the game in relief of Shantz.
Coates would then give up another run on a Roberto Clemente high-chopper and with the score 7-6 faced Hal Smith. Hal Smith ended up hitting a three-run homer and the Pirates took the lead 9-7. Ralph Terry relieved Coates and got the final out of the eighth.
The Yankees would end up tying the game by scoring two runs in the top of the ninth. Ralph Terry was back on the mound in the bottom of the ninth and the first batter he faced was the great defensive second baseman, Bill Mazeroski.
On the second pitch of the at-bat and with the count 1-0, Mazeroski took Terry's pitch to deep left field and into the stands. A player that never hit more than 19 home runs in a single season and who had only hit 11 in 1960, had won the World Series with what is arguably the greatest home run in baseball history.
You may ask yourself why the greatest home run in baseball history isn't ranked number one in this list. It is because this is about blown saves and even though the home run itself was fantastic (except for Yankees fans), the blown save had come in the eighth inning and not the ninth. The remaining blown saves in this list all resulted in the winning play being scored during the blown save. In this instance, the blown save by Coates simply resulted in the Pirates taking a momentary lead in the game.
Number 3 comes from Game 6 of the 1993 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays entered Game 6 as the defending World Series champions and with a 3-2 lead in the series.
The Blue Jays were leading 5-1 after six innings only to see the Phillies comeback and score five runs to take the lead 6-5. That is how the score remained until the ninth inning.
The Phillies' closer, Mitch Williams entered the game in the bottom of the ninth inning hoping to send the game to a decisive Game 7. Fate wouldn't be on his side that day.
Williams issued a lead-off walk to the great Rickey Henderson. He then got Devon White to fly out but allowed Paul Molitor to get a single. This brought Joe Carter to the plate.
With the count 2-2, Joe Carter sent the next pitch deep into the Skydome crowd; becoming the second player in history to win the World Series with a walk-off home run (Bill Mazeroski was the other).
The most famous call of this home run was by Tom Cheek of CJCL-AM in Toronto. After Carter hit the home run, Cheek said "touch 'em all Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!"
Number 2 comes from Game 7 of the 1997 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Florida Marlins.
The Indians were in their second World Series in three years and were looking for their first title since 1948. The Marlins were in their fifth year in existence and were looking to become the fastest expansion team to win a title.
The Indians were leading 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth inning and they brought in their closer, Jose Mesa, to finish the game.
Mesa allowed a lead-off single to Moises Alou. Then with one out, Charles Johnson hit a single to right field, moving Alou to third base.
Craig Counsell stepped to the plate and with a sacrifice fly, tied the game and sending it into extra-innings.
The Marlins would then go on to win the game in 11 innings when Counsell scored on a base hit by Edgar Renteria in the bottom of the eleventh.
I have this ranked higher than the 1960 World Series blown save because this blown save happened in the bottom of the ninth while that one happened in the bottom of the eighth (and the score would be tied going into the bottom of the ninth). I also have it ranked higher than the 1993 World Seriers blown save because this one happened in Game 7 while that one happened in Game 6.
What's the worst blown save in Major League Baseball history? I'm sure you've already figured it out but please click "Next" anyways.
The Number 1 and worst blown save in Major League Baseball history comes from Game 7 of the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees.
This is the third blown save from that Series with the Diamondbacks' closer, Byung-Hyun Kim having the first two.
The starters in this game, Curt Schilling for the Diamondbacks and Roger Clemens for the Yankees, both pitched brilliantly, with the Yankees having a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.
Entering the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees' manager, Joe Torre, decided to bring in Mariano Rivera for a two-inning save. Rivera struck out the side in the eighth and the Yankees wouldn't score in the top of the ninth, so Rivera still had a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth.
How the bottom of the ninth unfolded is why I consider it the worst blown save in baseball history. It wasn't a simple matter of one hitter hitting one pitch for a home run off the pitcher. Mariano Rivera had arguably is worst single inning in his career.
It started with a Mark Grace single. Then Damien Miller bunted the ball back to Rivera who made an errant throw to second base and Jeter was unable to make the play, putting runners on first and second. The next batter, Jay Bell bunted to Rivera and this time Rivera made a clean to throw to get the lead runner, but instead of trying for a double-play, the third baseman, Scott Brosius, held on to the ball.
With runners still on first and second, Tony Womack then doubled down the line, scoring Midre Cummings from second, tying the game and resulting in the blown save. Rivera then hit Craig Counsell, loading the bases for Luis Gonzalez.
Luis Gonzalez then hit a bloop single to center, scoring Jay Bell and giving the Diamondbacks their first World Series, supplanting the Florida Marlins as the fastest expansion team to win a World Series and also gave the state of Arizona their first professional championship in any sport.
The Yankees dynasty was over. They would reach the World Series in 2003 only to lose to the Marlins. They would win it all again however, in 2009.
Mariano Rivera is clearly the greatest closer in the history of baseball and is in the discussion for the best post-season pitcher in history. However, bloop singles, doubles and a hit batter all resulted in not only a blown save for Rivera in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, but also the Loss.
So, what do you think? Did I leave any out? Did I have them in the same order you would? Please feel free to comment below and tell me what you think.