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MLB Playoffs: Brewers vs D-Backs and the 25 Greatest League Division Series Ever

Andrew JordanSenior Writer IOctober 7, 2016

MLB Playoffs: Brewers vs D-Backs and the 25 Greatest League Division Series Ever

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    After a long regular season, eight of baseball's best teams met in this year's League Division Series with half of the teams moving on towards the World Series, while the other half joined the 22 teams that did not make the playoffs.

    This year's playoffs have produced both magical moments and moments of despair. We saw fantastic games from rookie pitchers and clutch hits from veterans.

    Now that we have seen the end of another classical round of division series, we need to remember some of the best division series to ever take place.

    Since the Wild Card era began, there have been some great series that have taken place. With this in mind, here are the 25 greatest League Division Series of all time since the start of the wild card era.

The 1981 Playoffs

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    Before we start this list, we need to honor the 1981 "Division Series" that saw the winners each half of their season that was split by the labor strike.

    In this format, we saw the Dodgers face the Astros and the Expos face the Phillies in each division series in the National League, while the Yankees faced the Brewers and the Athletics defeated the Royals in the American League.

    The Dodgers and Expos went on to win their series to meet in the NLCS, while the Yankees faced the Athletics in the ALCS.

    The Dodgers and Yankees went on to win their respective pennants before the Dodgers won the World Series four games to two.

25: Rangers vs Rays (2011)

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    Rangers defeat Rays three games to one

    Game One: Rays defeat Rangers 9-0

    Game Two: Rangers defeat Rays 8-6

    Game Three: Rangers defeat Rays 4-3

    Game Four: Rangers defeat Rays 4-3

     

    After completing a fantastic run to get into the playoffs via the Wild Card, the Rays had to face a familiar foe in the Texas Rangers, the same team that eliminated them from the playoffs the year before.

    The Rays continued with their fantastic form in Game 1. Rookie Matt Moore (in his second career start) pitched seven shutout innings, while Johnny Damon's two-run homer in the second inning and Kelly Shoppach's two homers gave the Rays enough run support to win.

    In Game 2, the Rays held a three run lead before James Shields ran into trouble. Shields pitched himself into a jam that saw five runs score for the Rangers and all of the momentum in the series shift. The Rays did pull within a run with a three-run homer from Evan Longoria, but that was as close as the Rays got to tying the game.

    At Tropicana Field for Game 3, the Rays got an early lead on a Desmond Jennings homer, but a Mike Napoli homer in the seventh off David Price gave the Rangers the lead. Josh Hamilton helped to pad that lead later with a two-run single.

    The Rays put Jeremy Hellickson out to pitch in Game 4, but the Rangers offense was not going to be denied. Ian Kinsler led off the game with a homer and Adrian Beltre became the first player since Adam Kennedy in 2002 to hit three homers in a series-clinching game.

    The Rangers will now face the Tigers in the ALCS.

24: Rays vs White Sox (2008)

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    Rays defeat White Sox three games to one

    Game One: Rays defeat White Sox 6-4

    Game Two: Rays defeat White Sox 6-2

    Game Three: White Sox defeat Rays 5-3

    Game Four: Rays defeat White Sox 6-2

     

    Competing in their first ever playoffs after winning the American League East, the Tampa Bay Rays faced the White Sox.

    In Game 1, James Shields recorded the Rays' first ever playoff win and rookie sensation Evan Longoria became only the second player in playoff history to homer in his first two playoff at bats. The Rays also got RBIs from Akinori Iwamura and Carl Crawford in the win.

    Following the win, the Rays made it two in a row at Tropicana Field in Game 2. Scott Kazmir gave the Rays an effective start and Iwamura hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth, putting the Rays up for good. Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Dioner Navarro all drove in runs for Tampa.

    The White Sox were able to rebound in Game 3 behind a strong start from John Danks. The White Sox got three runs in the fourth inning from an Alexei Ramirez sacrifice fly and a DeWayne Wise two-run double.

    However, the Rays were able to rebound to win their first ever playoff series in Game 4. Solo homers in the first and third innings by BJ Upton jump-started the attack and a seventh inning single by Carlos Pena gave the Rays all the runs they needed to reach the ALCS.

    The Rays went on to defeat the Red Sox in the ALCS in seven games to reach the World Series, where they lost in five games to the Phillies.

23: Angels vs Yankees (2005)

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    Angels defeat Yankees three games to two

    Game One: Yankees defeat Angels 4-2

    Game Two: Angels defeat Yankees 5-3

    Game Three: Angels defeat Yankees 11-7

    Game Four: Yankees defeat Angels 3-2

    Game Five: Angels defeat Yankees 5-3

     

    After winning the American League West for the second straight season, the Angels looked to advance to the League Championship Series for the first time since 2002.

    In their way were the New York Yankees, who lost to the Angels in the Division Series in the 2002 playoffs.

    To start off the series, the Yankees were able to win 4-2, thanks in large part to a Robinson Cano bases-clearing double in the first inning. Mike Mussina pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to get the win.

    Game 2 proved to be a completely different story. Chien-Ming Wang started for the Yankees and held a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning. However, poor defense from Wang and Alex Rodriguez allowed the Angels to score four runs in their last four turns at bat, giving the Angels a tie in the series.

    In Game 3, the series shifted back to New York but the Angels were able to get a crucial win nonetheless. The Angels were able to take a 5-0 lead in the third inning off of Randy Johnson through homers from Garret Anderson and Bengie Molina, but the Yankees were able to come back and hold a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning.

    That lead proved to be short-lived with the Angels scoring two runs apiece in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to take the lead in the series.

    The fourth game of the series saw the Angels take a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning, but the Yanks came back with RBI singles from Ruben Sierra and Derek Jeter to win 3-2.

    In the deciding game, the Angels were down 2-0 in the second inning, but were able to shift the game to their favor after Bubba Crosby and Gary Sheffield collided on a routine fly ball. The Angels went on to win the game 5-3 to reach the ALCS.

    In the ALCS, the Angels lost 4-1 to the White Sox to end their season.

22: Rangers vs Rays (2010)

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    Rangers defeat Rays three games to two

    Game One: Rangers defeat Rays 5-1

    Game Two: Rangers defeat Rays 6-0

    Game Three: Rays defeat Rangers 6-3

    Game Four: Rays defeat Rangers 5-2

    Game Five: Rangers defeat Rays 5-1

     

    After reaching the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, the Texas Rangers appeared to have a big challenge in front of themselves in the 2010 NLDS against the AL East Champion Tampa Bay Rays.

    But Texas did have one big advantage: Cliff Lee. Lee went into the 2010 playoffs with a career 4-0 record and was absolutely dominant in the 2009 playoffs for the Phillies.

    In Game 1, Lee continued his dominance in his seven inning performance, allowing only one run in the process. Texas got homers from Bengie Molina and Nelson Cruz to secure the win.

    Game 2 proved to be no different for Texas. CJ Wilson pitched 6 1/3 innings of scoreless ball and both Ian Kinsler and Michael Young homered to give the Rangers the win.

    However, the Rangers were unable to clinch the series at home. Tampa were able to score five runs in their last two innings to steal Game 3, and a three RBI game from Evan Longoria allowed the Rays to take Game 4.

    With the series returning to Tropicana Field, Lee once again took the field for the Rangers. Lee pitched a complete game—only one run on six hits—and the Rangers were able to score their runs thanks in large part to some poor play by the Rays.

    The Rangers went on to win the ALCS four games to two over the Yankees before losing to the Giants four games to one in the World Series.

21: Orioles vs Indians (1996)

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    Orioles defeat Indians three games to one

    Game One: Orioles defeat Indians 10-4

    Game Two: Orioles defeat Indians 7-4

    Game Three: Indians defeat Orioles 9-4

    Game Four: Orioles defeat Indians 4-3

     

    In the playoffs for the first time since they won the 1983 World Series, the Orioles faced an Indians side that was looking to get back to the World Series after losing to the Braves the year before.

    However, the Orioles were not going to make that quest easy. Brady Anderson led off the bottom half of the first inning at Camden Yards with at homer, and despite constant battling back from the Indians, Baltimore did not allow Cleveland to win.  The Orioles put the game away in the sixth inning when Bobby Bonilla hit a grand slam.

    Game 2 saw a closely contested game between veterans Orel Hershiser and Scott Erickson. After Anderson misjudged a fly ball to allow the Tribe to tie the score at two, the Orioles buckled down. Baltimore scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 7-4 lead and a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.

    In Game 3 at Jacobs Field, the Indians were able to fight back and win. Both teams played a tight game but a grand slam from Albert Belle in the seventh inning ensured a Tribe win.

    The Indians looked like they were going to win Game 4 and send the series back to Camden Yards thanks in part to a Omar Vizquel single that gave the Tribe a 3-2 lead. However, Baltimore came back to tie the game in the top of the ninth and won the game in the top of the 12th on a Roberto Alomar homer.

    The Orioles went on to lose the ALCS to the Yankees four games to one.

20: Mariners vs Indians (2001)

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    Mariners defeat Indians three games to two

    Game One: Indians defeat Mariners 5-0

    Game Two: Mariners defeat Indians 5-1

    Game Three: Indians defeat Mariners 17-2

    Game Four: Mariners defeat Indians 6-2

    Game Five: Mariners defeat Indians 3-1

     

    After finishing the season 116-46 (the best regular season in American League history), the Mariners faced the Indians in a rematch of the 1995 ALCS.

    The Indians defeated the Mariners with ease in the first game. Bartolo Colon pitched eight shutout innings, allowing six hits and striking out 10. Juan Gonzalez, Travis Fryman and Marty Cordova each hit RBI singles in the fourth inning to supply Cleveland's offense.

    In Game 2, the Mariners responded with a great pitching performance by Jamie Moyer, who allowed one run in six innings. The Mariners got offense from Mike Cameron and Edgar Martinez, who each hit two-run homers in the first inning. David Bell also had a solo shot in the fifth inning.

    The Indians then put together an offensive show in Game 3, registering 17 runs at Jacobs Field. The Indians got a six-RBI game from Omar Vizquel, solo homers from Gonzalez, Kenny Lofton and Jim Thome and a strong start from CC Sabathia in his first career postseason start.

    Facing elimination, the Mariners once again fought back. Seattle was able to score six runs in their last three turns at bat to live for another day.

    Back in Safeco Field for Game 5, the Mariners were able to escape from this series with another stellar pitching performance from Moyer. Seattle was also able to get a clutch two-run single in the second from Mark McLemore to get the runs they needed to win.

    However, the Mariners were eliminated by the Yankees in five games in the ALCS.

19: Twins vs Athletics (2002)

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    Twins defeat Athletics three games to two

    Game One: Twins defeat Athletics 7-5

    Game Two: Athletics defeat Twins 9-1

    Game Three: Athletics defat Twins 6-3

    Game Four: Twins defeat Athletics 11-2

    Game Five: Twins defeat Athletics 6-5

     

    After a fantastic season where they won an American League record 20 consecutive games, the Athletics and their Moneyball philosophy faced another small market side in the Twins in the 2002 ALDS.

    With Brad Radke on the mound for Game 1, the Twins showed their inexperience by allowing five runs in the first two innings on some bad defense. However, the Twins came back from homers off the bats of Corey Koskie and Doug Mientkiewicz against Tim Hudson. An RBI groundout by Koskie gave the Twins the game-winning RBI in a stunning win.

    Oakland was able to respond in the next game with a strong start from Mark Mulder. An early three-run homer from Eric Chavez and a bases-clearing triple from David Justice gave the A's all the runs they needed in the win.

    In the Metrodome, the A's were able to continue their strong play. Ray Durham led off Game 3 with an inside-the-park homer and homers from Terrence Long and Jermaine Dye gave Barry Zito all the runs he needed to win.

    Minnesota was able to respond in Game 4 with an offensive explosion in a seven-run fourth inning and a solid pitching performance from Eric Milton.

    With the series shifting back to Oakland for Game 5, Mulder and Radke faced each other in what was a pitchers' duel for a majority of the game. In the ninth, the Twins scored three runs to make the score 5-1. Despite a three-run homer from Mark Ellis in the bottom of the ninth, Oakland couldn't overcome the deficit and lost 5-4.

    Minnesota went on to lose in five games to the Angels in the ALCS.

18: Giants vs Braves (2010)

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    Giants defeat Braves three games to one

    Game One: Giants defeat Braves 1-0

    Game Two: Braves defeat Giants 5-4

    Game Three: Giants defeat Braves 3-2

    Game Four: Giants defeat Braves 3-2

     

    After barely winning the National League West, the Giants went into the 2010 playoffs with one of the best young pitching staffs in recent memory.

    In Game 1, the Giants ace Tim Lincecum showed why he was arguably the best pitcher in baseball with a complete game, two-hit shutout. The Giants were able to get their only run in the fourth inning when Buster Posey was controversially ruled safe on a stolen base before scoring on a Cody Ross single.

    However, the Braves came back in Game 2. Early in the game, Braves manager Bobby Cox got thrown out of a game for the final time in his career and the Braves responded by tying the game at four in the eighth inning. In the 11th, Rick Ankiel gave the Braves the lead with a homer into McCovey Cove.

    The third game of this series took place in Atlanta and turned into a classic. The Braves put Tim Hudson in to start and he allowed only one run in eight innings. However, the Braves were held scoreless until the bottom of the eighth, when Eric Hinske homered inside of the right field foul pole.

    In the top of the ninth, the Braves bullpen allowed the tying run in before a Posey grounder found its way past second baseman Brooks Conrad for his third error of the game, allowing the winning run to score.

    In Game 5, the Giants were able to score the winning run in the seventh inning after the normally sure-handed shortstop Alex Gonzalez made a throwing error, giving the Giants the opportunity to take the game.

    The Giants went on to defeat the Phillies in six games in the NLCS before beating the Rangers in five games to win the World Series.

17: Marlins vs Giants (2003)

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    Marlins defeat Giants three games to one

    Game One: Giants defeat Marlins 2-0

    Game Two: Marlins defeat Giants 9-5

    Game Three: Marlins defeat Giants 4-3

    Game Four: Marlins defeat Giants 7-6

     

    In only their second ever playoff series, the Marlins faced the Giants in a rematch of the 1997 NLDS.

    Already in Game 1, the Giants fared much better than they did in the 1997 NLDS by winning 2-0. Jason Schmidt pitched a complete game shutout against Josh Beckett, while an error by Miguel Cabrera and an RBI double by Edgardo Alfonzo proved to be enough for the Giants.

    However, the Giants were unable to take a 2-0 lead on the Fish in Game 2. The Marlins found themselves down 4-1 after four, but three-run innings in both the fifth and six gave Florida a lead they would not relinquish.

    At Pro Player Stadium for Game 3, Ivan Rodriguez gave the Marlins an early 2-0 lead but the Giants crawled their way back to tie the game in the sixth. After an Alex Gonzalez error gave the Giants the lead in the top of the 11th, a dropped fly ball by the normally sure-handed Jose Cruz Jr. gave the Marlins a lifeline. 

    Florida went on to win the game later in the inning when Rodriguez hit a walk-off single to right.

    With the momentum in the series, the Fish looked to close it out with rookie phenom Dontrelle Willis. Willis pitched solidly until the sixth inning when he gave up four runs to allow the Giants to tie the game at five. In the bottom of the eighth, the Marlins took a 7-5 lead when Cabrera singled in two runs.

    But in the ninth, the Giants got one run back on a JT Snow single. With two outs and Snow on second, Snow tried to score on a single to left field, but a strong throw from Jeff Conine nabbed Snow at the plate when he collided with Pudge Rodriguez.

    The Marlins went on to defeat the Cubs four games to three in the NLCS, then defeat the Yankees in six for the World Series.

16: Red Sox vs Athletics (2003)

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    Red Sox defeat Athletics three games to two

    Game One: Athletics defeat Red Sox 5-4

    Game Two: Athletics defeat Red Sox 5-1

    Game Three: Red Sox defeat Athletics 3-1

    Game Four: Red Sox defeat Athletics 5-4

    Game Five: Red Sox defeat Athletics 4-3

     

    After failing to make the playoffs since 1999, the Red Sox were able to win the American League Wild Card. Because the Yankees had the best record in baseball, the Sox had to play the Oakland A's, who had the second best record in the league.

    The A's won Game 1 after Erubiel Durazo tied the game on an RBI single in the ninth before catcher Ramon Hernandez won the game on a two-out bunt that stunned the Red Sox.

    Game 2 also saw Oakland win, but this time it was due to a masterful effort by Barry Zito and a poor second inning that allowed the A's to plate five runners.

    With the series shifting to Fenway, so did the momentum in the series. In Game 3, the A's were denied two runs due to a block of home by Jason Varitek on Eric Byrnes and Miguel Tejada getting tagged out despite an interference by Bill Mueller.

    In the bottom of the 11th, Trot Nixon hit a walk-off two-run homer to give the Sox their first win.

    The Sox were able to keep up their winning ways in Game 4 with David Ortiz getting the first of many clutch postseason hits for the Sox, hitting a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth off future Sox closer Keith Foulke to give the Red Sox a 5-4 win.

    In Game 5, both sides brought their best pitchers out in Pedro Martinez and Zito. The Sox were able to win 4-3 due to a four-run sixth that was highlighted by a Manny Ramirez three-run homer.

    This win did not come without repercussions. A terrible collision between Johnny Damon and second baseman Damian Jackson on a shallow outfield popup put a dark cloud over the Sox, causing Damon not to start again until Game 3 of the ALCS.

    The Red Sox went on to lose in seven games to the Yankees in the ALCS on a home run by Aaron Boone. The Sox were able to get their revenge a year later by winning the ALCS over the Yanks and eventually their first World Series in 86 years.

15: Padres vs Astros (1998)

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    Padres defeat Astros three games to one

    Game One: Padres defeat Astros 2-1

    Game Two: Astros defeat Padres 5-4

    Game Three: Padres defeat Astros 2-1

    Game Four: Padres defeat Astros 6-1

     

    After failing to make the playoffs in 1997, the Padres returned to the postseason in 1998 as arguably the National League's strongest club.

    In their way was an Astros team that picked up Randy Johnson for the second half of the season. The Big Unit went an incredible 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA.

    Johnson faced Kevin Brown in Game 1 in the Astrodome in a fantastic pitching display. Brown outpitched Johnson, throwing eight innings and striking out 16 Astros. Brown got two runs to support his outing and was able to win 2-1.

    The Astros rebounded from this loss in Game 2 with a strong performance from Shane Reynolds, but Billy Wagner was unable to save the game as Jim Leyritz hit a game-tying two-run homer in the top of the ninth. However, the Astros were able to still win on a game-winning hit from Bill Spiers.

    In San Diego for Game 3, the Padres had over 65,000 fans come and watch Brown pitch his second game of the series. Brown was phenomenal on short rest. The Astros were able to tie the game in the seventh inning, but once again Leyritz saved the Padres with a seventh inning homer to give San Diego a 2-1 series lead.

    Game 4 featured Johnson again, this time facing Sterling Hitchcock in his first career playoff start. Hitchcock was able to outpitch Johnson on this day and homers from Leyritz and Wally Joyner gave San Diego the series.

    San Diego went on to defeat the Braves in six games to reach the World Series, where the Padres got swept by the Yankees.

14: Angels vs Yankees (2002)

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    Angels defeat Yankees three games to one

    Game One: Yankees defeat Angels 8-5

    Game Two: Angels defeat Yankees 8-6

    Game Three: Angels defeat Yankees 9-6

    Game Four: Angels defeat Yankees 9-5

     

    In the playoffs for the first time since 1986, the Anaheim Angels had to face the three-time defending World Series champion (and heavy favorite) New York Yankees in the ALDS.

    The Angels did not get off to the best of starts in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium. Despite getting two homers from Troy Glaus and a solid game overall, the Angels bullpen allowed the tying run in the eighth inning and allowed Bernie Williams to hit a three-run homer to give the Yankees the win.

    Anaheim responded in Game 2 with another strong offensive game. In the top of the eighth inning, Garret Anderson and Glaus went back-to-back to give the Halos a lead that would hold. Anaheim won and tied the series at one apiece.

    With the series shifting to Anaheim, the Yankees struck first in Game 3. After holding a 6-1 lead in the third, the Yankees saw their lead slowly chipped away by Anaheim's offense. The Angels went on to take the lead in the eighth on a double by Darren Erstad before Tim Salmon homered to give the Angels some breathing room.

    Needing just one more win to clinch, the Angels put ace Jarrod Washburn out to pitch Game 4. Washburn threw five solid innings and an eight-run fourth inning put the game out of reach for the Yankees.

    The Angels went on to defeat the Twins in five games to reach their first World Series, where they beat the Giants four games to three.

13: Mets vs Diamondbacks (1999)

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    Mets defeat Diamondbacks three games to one

    Game One: Mets defeat Diamondbacks 8-4

    Game Two: Diamondbacks defeat Mets 7-1

    Game Three: Mets defeat Diamondbacks 9-2

    Game Four: Mets defeat Diamondbacks 4-3

     

    After not making the playoffs for 11 years, the New York Mets went to the playoffs as the National League Wild Card after beating the Cincinnati Reds in a one-game playoff.

    The Mets faced a second-year expansion side in the Diamondbacks who featured veteran pitchers such as the intimidating Randy Johnson and Todd Stottlemyre.

    In Game 1, the Mets were able to win after Edgardo Alfonzo hit a ninth inning grand slam after Johnson was controversially kept deep into the game.

    Stottlemyre won his start in Game 2 for Arizona due in part to a five-RBI performance by Steve Finley.

    Game 3 featured another close game, but the Mets were able to gather six runs together in the sixth inning to put away the Diamondbacks.

    Out of all the games in the series, Game 4 became an instant classic. Both teams went back in forth until the D'Backs held a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning. The Mets were able to come back to tie the game after Tony Womack (who moved to right field at the beginning of the inning) made an error in right field.

    In the 10th, backup catcher Todd Pratt came to the plate as the replacement for the injured Mike Piazza. Pratt hit a deep fly ball to center field that Finley appeared to catch but the ball missed his glove and went over the wall, giving the Mets the series.

    The Mets went on to lose the NLCS to the Braves in six.

12: Cubs vs Braves (2003)

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    Cubs defeat Braves three games to two

    Game One: Cubs defeat Braves 4-2

    Game Two: Braves defeat Cubs 5-3

    Game Three: Cubs defeat Braves 3-1

    Game Four: Braves defeat Cubs 6-4

    Game Five: Cubs defeat Braves 5-1

     

    Baseball's perennial losers, the Cubs won the NL Central in the final weekend of the season and faced the Braves, who were in the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season.

    In Game 1, the Braves held a 1-0 lead in the sixth before allowing the Cubs to load the bases. With two outs and one run already home, Kerry Wood hit a two-run double to give the Cubs a lead that they would not lose in a 4-1 win.

    Atlanta was able to respond in Game 2 with a 5-3 win. The Braves got a two-out double from Mark DeRosa to take a 5-3 lead after both teams took leads and lost them throughout the game.

    At Wrigley Field for Game 3, the Cubs saw former Cub star Greg Maddux face up-and-coming star Mark Prior. In this matchup, Prior pitched an absolute gem in his first career playoff start, allowing only two hits in a complete game win. Randall Simon provided all of the offense that was needed in the win with a two-run single in the first.

    Facing elimination, the Braves were able to win 6-4 and send the series back to Atlanta due in large part due to two two-run homers by Chipper Jones.

    In Turner Field, the Cubs were able to win their first playoff series in 95 years, beating the Braves 5-1. The Cubbies got another fantastic pitching performance by Wood. Homers from Alex Gonzalez and Aramis Ramirez were enough for Chicago to reach the NLCS.

    The Cubs went on to blow a three-to-one lead in the NLCS to the Marlins, losing in seven games.

11: Yankees vs Athletics (2000)

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    Yankees defeat Athletics three games to two

    Game One: Athletics defeat Yankees 5-3

    Game Two: Yankees defeat Athletics 4-0

    Game Three: Yankees defeat Athletics 4-2

    Game Four: Athletics defeat Yankees 11-1

    Game Five: Yankees defeat Athletics 7-5

     

    After a terrible month of September, the Yankees faced the Athletics in the 2000 ALDS in their quest to win their third straight World Series.

    The Yankees were unable to get off to a strong start in Game 1 in Oakland. Despite holding a 2-0 lead in the second inning, the A's slowly came back to take the lead in the fifth inning and never looked back. Gil Heredia recorded the win after pitching six solid innings.

    The Yankees were able to come back in the second game due in large part to a two-run double by Luis Sojo in the sixth and a strong pitching performance from Andy Pettite.

    With the series shifting to Yankee Stadium, the Yankees were able to make it two wins in a row over the A's. El Duque was able to keep his perfect postseason record intact and the Yankees were scored in three separate innings to beat Tim Hudson.

    Oakland sent the series to a fifth game due in large part to a strong start from up-and-coming pitcher Barry Zito. Olmedo Saenz hit a three-run homer in the first and the A's were able to salt away the game on a Ben Grieve two-run single.

    However, the Yankees took the series in Oakland in Game 5. A six-run first inning that featured a bases-clearing double from Tino Martinez gave Pettite a lead that he nearly squandered, but New York's bullpen pitched 5.1 innings of scoreless ball to win.

    The Yankees went on to defeat the Mariners in the ALCS four games to two before beating the Mets in five games in the World Series.

10: Diamondbacks vs Cardinals (2001)

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    Diamondbacks defeat Cardinals three games to two

    Game One: Diamondbacks defeat Cardinals 1-0

    Game Two: Cardinals defeat Diamondbacks 4-1

    Game Three: Diamondbacks defeat Cardinals 5-3

    Game Four: Cardinals defeat Diamondbacks 4-1

    Game Five: Diamondbacks defeat Cardinals 2-1

     

    In only their fourth year of existence, a veteran-laden Diamondbacks team that featured Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson faced the Cardinals in the 2001 NLDS.

    Game 1 featured one of the best pitching duels in LDS history between Schilling and Matt Morris. In what would be the first of two times that they would face each other in this series, Schilling out-pitched Morris with a complete game, three-hit shutout. Arizona scored their only run in the fourth inning off an RBI single from Steve Finley.

    The Cardinals were able to come back in Game 2 after Johnson allowed Albert Pujols to hit his first career postseason homer to give the Cardinals a lead they would not relinquish.

    Back in St. Louis for Game 3, the Cardinals held an early lead but the Diamondbacks came back to tie the game before Craig Counsell hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to put Arizona ahead in both the game and in the series.

    Facing elimination, the Cardinals put out rookie Bud Smith in Game 4. Despite going down early, the Cards were able to tie the game before homers from Jim Edmonds and Fernando Vina tied the series.

    For Game 5, both sides went back to Bank One Ballpark and Schilling and Morris again had a pitching duel. Both pitchers gave up solo homers to account for the only runs against them through eight innings.

    But in the bottom of the ninth, the Diamondbacks failed to carry out a suicide squeeze and it looked like extra innings would be in order. However, Tony Womack hit a walk-off single to left field to score Danny Bautista and give Arizona their first ever playoff series victory.

    The Diamondbacks went on to defeat the Braves in five games in the NLCS before winning the World Series in seven games over the Yankees.

9: Tigers vs Yankees (2011)

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    Tigers defeat Yankees three games to two

    Game One: Yankees defeat Tigers 9-3

    Game Two: Tigers defeat Yankees 5-3

    Game Three: Tigers defeat Yankees 5-4

    Game Four: Yankees defeat Tigers 10-1

    Game Five: Tigers defeat Yankees 3-2

     

    The New York Yankees were the best team in the American League in 2011 and they were a popular pick to defeat the Tigers to reach the ALCS for the third year in a row.

    In the first game of the series, the Tigers and Yankees had to suspend their game until the next day in the second inning due to a downpour of rain. Once Game 1 resumed, the Yankees were able to ride a monster six-RBI game by Robinson Cano to win 9-3.

    The Tigers rode Max Scherzer's 5 1/3 no-hit innings and a Miguel Cabrera homer in the first to go ahead 5-1 in the ninth. Closer Jose Valverde gave up two runs in the ninth, but retired Cano to tie the series at a game apiece.

    With the series shifting to Comerica Park, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia faced each other in what was supposed to be the matchup for Game 1. The Yankees were able to jump out to a 2-0 lead but the Tigers stormed back to take a 4-2 lead. After New York tied the game at four, Delmon Young hit an opposite field homer in the seventh to give the Tigers a 5-4 win.

    Facing elimination, the Yankees turned to the inconsistent AJ Burnett to keep their season alive. After a shaky first where Curtis Granderson made a tremendous diving catch to save the Yankees, New York pounded out six runs in the eighth inning to put the game out of doubt and send the series back to the Bronx.

    In their first sudden death elimination game since 2004, the Yankees went down early on back-to-back homers from Don Kelly and Young off rookie Ivan Nova. Victor Martinez singled in Austin Jackson off Sabathia to get the Tigers' third run. Despite some shakiness, the Tigers bullpen was able to hold on to eliminate the Yankees.

    The Tigers will now face the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.

8: Red Sox vs Indians (1999)

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    Red Sox defeat Indians three games to two

    Game One: Indians defeat Red Sox 3-2

    Game Two: Indians defeat Red Sox 11-1

    Game Three: Red Sox defeat Indians 9-3

    Game Four: Red Sox defeat Indians 23-7

    Game Five: Red Sox defeat Indians 12-8

     

    After falling to the Indians the year before three games to one in the ALDS, the Red Sox again won the Wild Card and faced the Indians in the ALDS.

    To start off the series, the Indians were held in check through five innings by Pedro Martinez before Martinez left with an injury. After Pedro left, the Indians got a two-run homer by Jim Thome in the sixth inning before they won in the bottom of the ninth on a single by Travis Fryman.

    In Game 2, the Indians showed why they were the first team in nearly 50 years to score 1,000 runs in a season in an 11-1 win. Cleveland got a three-run homer by the aging Harold Baines before Thome hit a grand slam in the fourth inning.

    The Sox were able to stop the Indians at Fenway in Game 3 after Cleveland starter David Burba left with a forearm injury. Then presumed Game 4 starter Jaret Wright came in instead of rookie middle reliever Sean DePaula and the Red Sox were able to take the lead for good in the sixth inning.

    Because there was no starter for Game 4, the Indians had to put out Bartolo Colon on three days rest after pitching eight innings in Game 1. The Red Sox responded with seven runs off Colon in one inning of work. The Red Sox earned multiple runs in every inning but the sixth.

    Game 5 saw both Game 2 starters Charles Nagy and Bret Saberhagen face each other on three days rest. However, neither pitcher had much to offer.

    In the bottom of the fourth inning with the score tied at four, Boston manager Jimy Williams put in Martinez. Despite his injury, Pedro pitched six hitless innings and the Sox were able to get run support from a Troy O'Leary three-run homer to win 12-8.

    The Red Sox went on to lose to the Yankees in the ALCS four games to one.

7: Astros vs Braves (2005)

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    Astros defeat Braves three games to one

    Game One: Astros defeat Braves 10-5

    Game Two: Braves defeat Astros 7-1

    Game Three: Astros defeat Braves 7-3

    Game Four: Astros defeat Braves 7-6

     

    After defeating the Braves in five games in the 2004 LDS, the Astros once again met the Braves in the 2005 LDS.

    To start off the series, the Astros traveled to Atlanta. In what was a particularly tight game, the Astros held a 5-3 lead in the eighth inning until Houston broke the game open with a five run inning due in large part to small ball and deficiencies in the Braves bullpen.

    Game 2 proved to be a completely different story. The Astros did take an early 1-0 lead, but a home run by Brian McCann in his first ever postseason at-bat against Roger Clemens galvanized the Braves. An Adam LaRoche double plated two more runs, enough for the Braves to tie the series.

    At Minute Maid Park, the Astros did some home cooking after a pitchers duel between Jorge Sosa and Roy Oswalt resulted in a 3-2 game in the seventh inning. The Astros were once again able to take advantage of the Braves bullpen with a four-run seventh.

    In Game 4, the Braves took a 6-1 lead into the eighth inning before the Astros struck back. First, Lance Berkman hit a grand slam to make the score 6-5 before catcher Brad Ausmus tied the game with a homer when the Astros were down to their last out.

    Both sides then went eight innings without allowing any runs. There were close calls like a Luke Scott foul ball that looked like it hit the base of the foul pole in the bottom of the 12th. Roger Clemens also came in to pitch for the Astros in the 15th inning.

    In the bottom of the 18th inning, Chris Burke hit a walk-off homer into the Crawford Boxes to give the Astros a 7-6 win in the longest playoff game in baseball history.

    The Astros went on to win the NLCS over the Cardinals before getting swept in their first World Series by the White Sox.

6: Indians vs Yankees (1997)

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    Indians defeat Yankees three games to two

    Game One: Yankees defeat Indians 8-6

    Game Two: Indians defeat Yankees 7-5

    Game Three: Yankees defeat Indians 6-1

    Game Four: Indians defeat Yankees 3-2

    Game Five: Indians defeat Yankees 4-3

     

    After falling to the Orioles in the 1996 ALDS, the Indians faced the Yankees for the first time ever in the playoffs.

    The Indians started the series in Yankee Stadium by plating five runs in the first inning and held a 6-1 lead in the fourth inning. But just like they did in the '96 playoffs, the Yankees were able to come back in large part to back-to-back-to-back homers from Tim Raines, Derek Jeter and Paul O'Neill in the sixth inning to give New York a lead they would not relinquish.

    In Game 2, the Yankees jumped out to a 3-0 lead against rookie Jaret Wright, but the Indians refused to quit. Cleveland went on to score five times in the fifth inning before Matt Williams hit a two-run homer in the sixth to give the Indians a 7-5 win.

    At Jacobs Field in Game 3, the Yankees went on to win 6-1 against Charles Nagy. The Yanks' big hit came in the fourth when Ohio native O'Neill hit a grand slam.

    The Indians did not quit however. Despite going down 2-1 in a fantastic pitchers' duel between Orel Hershiser and Dwight Gooden, the Indians were able to rally.

    In the bottom of the eighth inning, Sandy Alomar Jr hit a game-tying homer against Mariano Rivera and in the ninth, Marquis Grissom singled and scored on a single by Omar Vizquel.

    Game 5 saw the Indians take an early four-run lead against Andy Pettitte from back-to-back two-out hits by Manny Ramírez and Williams. The Yankees had their chances to come back, but their efforts ultimately failed and the Indians reached their second ALCS in three years.

    Cleveland went on to defeat the Orioles in six games to reach the World Series, where the Indians lost to the Marlins in seven games.

5: Mets vs Giants (2000)

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    Mets defeat Giants three games to one

    Game One: Giants defeat Mets 5-1

    Game Two: Mets defeat Giants 5-4

    Game Three: Mets defeat Giants 3-2

    Game Four: Mets defeat Giants 4-0

     

    After getting into the playoffs for the second consecutive year (the first time in their history that this happened), the New York Mets faced the San Francisco Giants, who held the best regular season record of any team in the regular season.

    In Game 1, the Giants were able to remain undefeated against the Mets at their brand new stadium, Pac Bell Park, defeating the Mets 5-1. The Giants were led in large part to a three-run homer by Ellis Burks while Livan Hernandez kept up with his postseason dominance with 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball.

    Game 2 saw Al Leiter pitch eight innings and left with a 4-1 lead thanks in part to an Edgardo Alfonzo homer in the top of the ninth. But with one out, pinch hitter JT Snow homered to tie the game at four.

    Jay Payton gave the Mets a 5-4 lead on a single to center field with two outs in the tenth. In the bottom half of the frame, John Franco came in for the save and went on to face Barry Bonds with two outs and the tying run on first. Franco struck out Bonds, tying the series at one game apiece.

    With the series shifting to Flushing, the two sides kept on playing a tough series. The Giants received a great pitching performance by Russ Ortiz but the Mets came back from a 2-1 deficit in the eighth inning when Alfonzo hit an RBI double to left field.

    In the bottom of the 13th inning, left fielder Benny Agbayani hit a walk-off homer to left field to give the Mets a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead.

    Game 4 saw a masterful pitching performance by Bobby Jones. Jones was able to use his creative pitches to pitch a complete game one hit shutout to give the Mets a 4-0 victory.

    The Mets went on to defeat the Cardinals four games to one in the NLCS to reach the World Series, where they lost to the crosstown Yankees four games to one.

4: Yankees vs Athletics (2001)

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    Yankees defeat Athletics three games to two

    Game One: Oakland defeats New York 5-3

    Game Two: Oakland defeats New York 2-0

    Game Three: New York defeats Oakland 1-0 

    Game Four: New York defeats Oakland 9-2

    Game Five: New York defeats Oakland 5-3

     

    Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the New York Yankees became a team that most of the nation adopted for the playoffs.

    However, the Yanks did not get off to a strong start against Oakland, losing in Games 1 and 2 due in large part to fantastic pitching performances from Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson in the Bronx.

    But with Game 3 came a new start for the Yankees, and they were able to win 1-0. The Yanks were helped tremendously by a smart play from Derek Jeter in the bottom of the seventh inning where Jeter flipped a ball to Jorge Posada to nab Jeremy Giambi at home plate after Giambi tried to score from first on a double by Terence Long.

    The Yanks later won Game 4 convincingly before coming from behind to win Game 5 due partially to some poor defense by the A's. Jeter again made a play for the ages in the eighth inning on a pop up by Long, where Jeter made a backhanded catch while falling into the stands.

    With their series win, the Yankees went on to face the Mariners in the ALCS, where they won four games to one. However, the Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees in seven in the World Series to end the Yankees dynasty.

3: Brewers vs Diamondbacks (2011)

25 of 27

    Brewers defeat Diamondbacks three games to two

    Game One: Brewers defeat Diamondbacks 4-1

    Game Two: Brewers defeat Diamondbacks 9-4

    Game Three: Diamondbacks defeat Brewers 8-1

    Game Four: Diamondbacks defeat Brewers 10-6

    Game Five: Brewers defeat Diamondbacks 3-2

     

    Going into this series, many people expected the Brewers to win this series in either three or four games. How wrong those people were.

    The Brewers came into this series knowing that Prince Fielder probably wouldn't be on the team next year and saw this as a chance to win their first postseason series in 29 years.

    The Diamondbacks were the biggest surprise in all of baseball this season, expected to be near the bottom of the Western Division, yet were fantastic all year.

    Game 1 showed why the Brewers were the favorites. Yovani Gallardo pitched eight innings, allowing one run while Fielder and Ryan Braun led the team offensively to the win.

    In Game 2, Zach Grienke did not have his best stuff but the Brewers were able to get five runs after he left to take a commanding two games to none lead.

    Back at Chase Field for Game 3, the Diamondbacks went to work and earned a victory. Paul Goldschmidt led the team with five RBIs, including a grand slam, in the win.

    Game 4 proved to be an even bigger blowout for the D'Backs. Arizona got a first inning grand slam from Ryan Roberts and never looked back in a 10-6 win.

    The series shifted back to Miller Park and we got to see a game for the ages. The Diamondbacks struck first on a homer by Justin Upton, but the Brew Crew tied the game on a short fly out that Nyjer Morgan tagged up on and scored from in the fourth inning.

    The Brewers took the lead in the sixth when Yuniesky Betancourt singled to center to bring in Braun, but Arizona tied the game off of closer John Axford when Gerraldo Parra scored on a safety squeeze by Willie Bloomquist.

    In the bottom of the 10th, the Brewers had Carlos Gomez on second when Morgan singled up the middle to score Gomez and gave the Brewers the victory and the series.

    The Brewers will now face the Cardinals in the NLCS.

2: Cardinals vs Phillies (2011)

26 of 27

    Cardinals defeat Phillies three games to two

    Game One: Phillies defeat Cardinals 11-6

    Game Two: Cardinals defeat Phillies 5-4

    Game Three: Phillies defeat Cardinals 3-2

    Game Four: Cardinals defeat Phillies 5-3

    Game Five: Cardinals defeat Phillies 1-0

     

    The Phillies went into this year's playoffs as the overwhelming favorite in the National League to reach the World Series, while the Cardinals only got into the playoffs due to an epic choke by the Braves at the end of the season.

    In Game 1, the Cardinals took a 3-0 lead early on a Lance Berkman homer but the Phillies came back against Kyle Lohse on homers by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez.

    The Phillies knocked out Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter early and with Cliff Lee pitching, it was almost certain that they would win again. But the Red Birds came from behind thanks in large part to some great moves by Tony La Russa to hand Lee his third straight postseason defeat.

    Philadelphia rebounded from the loss in Game 3 behind a strong performance from Cole Hamels and a three-run pinch-hit homer from Ben Francisco. 

    The Cardinals were able to respond to their loss again with a four-RBI day by David Freese that was more than enough for the Cards to win.

    This led to a pitching matchup between Roy Halladay and Carpenter. In the first inning, the Cardinals were able to score after Rafael Furcal (who had a leadoff triple) scored on a double by Skip Schumacher. 

    After that, neither pitcher succumbed to the pressure with each starter performing on top of their game. Halladay went on to pitch eight innings, allowing only that one run, and was nothing short of dominant. However, Carpenter was even better.

    Carpenter went on to pitch a complete game, three-hit shutout to knock Philadelphia out of the playoffs to reach the NLCS.

    The Cardinals will now face the Brewers in the NLCS.

1: Mariners vs Yankees (1995)

27 of 27

    Mariners defeat Yankees three games to two

    Game One: Yankees defeat Mariners 9-5

    Game Two: Yankees defeat Mariners 7-5

    Game Three: Mariners defeat Yankees 7-4

    Game Four: Mariners defeat Yankees 11-8

    Game Five: Mariners defeat Yankees 6-5

     

    After qualifying for the playoffs for the first time after one of the most dramatic division races in baseball history, the Mariners had to face the Yankees in what was the first time that the Bronx Bombers had played playoff baseball in 14 years.

    The Yankees capitalized on a tired Mariners team in Game 1 with six runs combined in the sixth and seventh innings. Despite losing, the Mariners got two homers from Ken Griffey Jr and had the tying run at the plate when they lost.

    The Mariners rebounded in Game 2 with an early lead off of a Vince Coleman homer. But the Yankees took the lead in the sixth inning on a Don Mattingly homer in what would be the final home game for the Yankee legend. The Mariners went on to tie the game and the game lasted 15 innings before Jim Leyritz hit a two-run walk-off homer to win the game.

    In Kingdome for Game 3, Randy Johnson pitched for the Mariners. Despite not having his best stuff on short rest, Johnson did enough for the Mariners to stay in the game. In the fifth and sixth innings, the Mariners scored six runs to take a lead they would not give up and forced Game 4.

    Seattle kept up with their magic in Game 4 due in large part to a monster game from Edgar Martinez. Martinez hit a three-run homer when the Mariners were down 5-0 in the third and his grand slam in the eighth off John Wetteland gave the Mariners the win.

    In the deciding fifth game, the Yankees and Mariners exchanged runs early on but the Yanks held a 4-2 lead in the eighth. However, the Mariners rallied with two runs off David Cone to force extra innings.

    With Johnson now in the game, the Yanks were able to scratch across a run in the top of the 11th and were three outs away from winning, but Joey Cora and Griffey both singled to start the inning before Martinez doubled down the left field line to score both runners and give the Mariners the win.

    The Mariners went on to lose to the Indians in the ALCS in six games but it is widely regarded that this series between the Yankees and Mariners helped to reinvigorate interest in baseball after the 1994 strike and set the stage for future epic playoff series.

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