30 Incredibly Clutch MLB Playoff Moments No One Will Ever Care About
The 2011 Major League Baseball postseason, as well as the week leading up to the playoffs, have been nothing short of exciting.
During every game of every postseason, we as fans have the possibility of witnessing history. It's different then in any of the other major sports; that's part of what makes baseball so great.
October is the time of year where we look back at the greatest moments in baseball lore, as we eagerly await another moment that would make Kirk Gibson proud.
Just as with Gibson's historic walk-off home run during the 1988 World Series, iconic moments tend to take on a life of their own, often to the point where an entire series is defined by that single moment.
When we identify a single moment with an entire playoff series, unfortunately, it leads us to overlook some clutch moments that took place as well. This is especially true as the years pass by.
To celebrate some of the lesser-known clutch moments throughout baseball's legendary history, I've compiled a list of "30 Incredibly Clutch MLB Playoff Moments No One Will Ever Care About."
30. Preacher Roe: Game 2, 1949 World Series
The 1949 World Series would pit the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
After Tommy Henrich hit a ninth-inning walk-off in Game 1 to give the Yankees a 1-0 series lead, the Dodgers sent Preacher Roe to the mound in Game 2 with hopes of tying up the series.
Roe scattered six hits over nine masterful innings to shut out the Yanks, though he wouldn't get another opportunity to shine since New York won the next three games to win the World Series.
29. Lee Lacy: Game 1, 1977 World Series
Clutch moments seem to coincide with the Yankees and Dodgers meeting each other in the World Series.
The 1977 Fall Classic is widely known for turning Reggie Jackson into Mr. October. His three-home-run effort in Game 6 and five total for the series gave the Yankees another championship.
The series could have gone another way if the Dodgers were able to to pull out a victory in Game 1. The Yanks held a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning when a Dusty Baker single and Steve Yeager walk put the Dodgers in a position to make some noise.
Lee Lacy came through in the clutch, singling home the game-tying run to extend the game. After scoreless frames in the 11th and 12th, Paul Blair singled home Willie Randolph to give the Yanks a 1-0 series lead.
28. Chief Bender: Game 2, 1905 World Series
The 1905 World Series was a true battle of starting pitchers. It's most famously known for Christy Mathewson tossing three complete-game shutouts to lead his New York Giants to a 4-1 series victory.
After Mathewson's shutout in Game 1 of the series, Philadelphia Athletics pitcher Chief Bender took the mound against the Giants' 21-game winner, Joe McGinnity.
Bender countered Mathewson's performance with a complete game shutout of his own to tie the series at one game apiece.
27. Jose Vizcaino: Game 2, 2005 World Series
Even though the White Sox swept the Astros in four games during the 2005 World Series, each game was close and there were plenty of highlight-reel moments.
During Game 2, after a seventh-inning grand slam by Paul Konerko, the White Sox led 6-4 with Bobby Jenks coming to close out the game in the ninth. With two runners aboard, pinch-hitter Jose Vizcaino lined a two-run single to tie the game.
Sure enough, the light-hitting Scott Podsednik hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Sox a 2-0 series lead.
26. Luis Alicia and Tim Naehring: Game 1, 1995 ALDS
The Boston Red Sox were facing the tough task of containing a very powerful Cleveland Indians lineup during the 1995 ALDS. The Red Sox would be swept, yet for one game they appeared to have a chance thanks to some late-game heroics.
The Sox trailed 3-2 heading into the eighth inning of Game 1. That's when the fun began.
Luis Alicea's eighth-inning long ball would send the game into extra frames. Tim Naehring followed suit in the 11th with a clutch solo home run to give the Sox what would end up being their last lead of the series.
The Indians' Albert Belle would tie it with a home run in the bottom half before an aged Tony Pena launched a walk-off in the 13th inning.
25. Gary Carter: Game 1, 1988 NLCS
The Mets and Dodgers had a showdown for the ages during the 1988 NLCS.
Game 1 featured a pitching duel between Orel Hershiser and Dwight Gooden, neither of whom would disappoint.
The Dodgers would cling to a 2-0 lead heading into the ninth inning, but Hershiser allowed a lead-off single followed by an RBI double to cut their lead to 2-1.
Jay Howell relieved Hershiser, who walked the first batter before finally notching the first out of the inning. With runners on first and second, Gary Carter lined a two-run double to give the Mets the lead, and ultimately, the victory.
The Dodgers would go on to win the series in seven games while Carter's clutch moment is an afterthought.
24. Claude Osteen: Game 3, 1965 World Series
The Minnesota Twins had their hands full in the 1965 World Series thanks to a Los Angeles Dodgers team anchored by legendary pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.
The Twins were able to tag the two pitchers for 13 runs while jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, though Koufax more than redeemed himself by famously tossing shutouts in Games 5 and 7.
Claude Osteen was the "other guy" in the Dodgers' rotation during the World Series. After Koufax and Drysdale were blitzed during the first two games, Osteen threw a gem in Game 3. He scattered five hits over nine shutout innings as the Dodgers were able to cut their series deficit to 2-1.
23. Brad Ausmus: Game 4, 2005 NLDS
The Houston Astros entered Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS leading 2-1 in the series against the Atlanta Braves. The game would last 18 innings—the longest in postseason history—before Chris Burke ended it with a walk-off home run.
The Braves led the game 6-1 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, but Lance Berkman hit a grand slam to pull the Astros within a run.
In the bottom of the ninth, with the Astros trailing by a run and down to their final out, Brad Ausmus slugged a game-tying home run to send the game into extras before Burke would win it in the 18th inning.
22. Bobby Grich: Game 4, 1986 ALCS
The California Angels held a 2-1 series lead over the Boston Red Sox entering Game 4 of the 1986 ALCS.
Roger Clemens stymied Angels' hitters for eight innings as the the Sox built a 3-0 cushion, but a series of misplays in the ninth helped the Angels score three runs, sending the game to extras.
In the 11th inning, with Jerry Narron on second base, longtime Angel Bobby Grich drove in the game-winning run on a one-out single to give the Angels a commanding 3-1 series lead.
That was only the beginning...
21. Rob Wilfong: Game 5, 1986 ALCS
Believe it or not, the night after Bobby Grich's walk-off single in Game 4 was even more exciting.
The Angels—who were one win away from a trip to the World Series—held a 5-2 lead heading into the ninth inning. It wouldn't last, as teammates Don Baylor and Dave Henderson would hit well-documented home runs to give the Sox a 6-5 lead.
In the bottom half of the ninth, Rob Wilfong—who had homered for the Angels earlier in the game—drove in the game-tying run to keep the Angels hopes of clinching alive.
The series' momentum was about to take a serious turn, however, as a Henderson sacrifice fly in the 11th inning helped the Red Sox live to see another day.
The Sox would fully complete the comeback from a 3-1 series deficit by winning the next two games for a match-up with the Mets in the World Series.
20. Elston Howard: Game 4, 1957 World Series
The Milwaukee Braves faced off against the New York Yankees in a World Series most remembered for Eddie Mathews' 10th-inning, walk-off home run during Game 4, helping the Braves avoid falling to a 3-1 series deficit.
Game 4 was no doubt memorable, but not solely because of Mathews' home run.
The Braves actually led the game 4-1 entering the top half of the ninth inning. With two runners aboard, Yankees slugger Elston Howard launched a clutch three-run bomb to tie the game 4-4 and send it to extra innings.
19. Hank Bauer: Game 4, 1957 World Series
The late-game dramatics of Game 4 were far from over after Elston Howard's three-run shot tied the game at 4-4.
In the top of the 10th inning, New York's Hank Bauer came to the plate with a runner on first base and two out. Bauer lined a triple to complete the comeback, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.
Then in the bottom half, Mathews hit his series-altering walk-off homer to tie the series 2-2. The Braves would go on to win the series in seven games.
18. Jim Leyritz: Game 2, 1995 ALDS
The other 1995 Divisional Series match up proved to be even more entertaining, where a young Ken Griffey Jr. was leading his Seattle Mariners squad against the soon-to-be-great New York Yankees.
Game 2 saw the teams tied heading into the 11th inning. Griffey would homer in the top half to give the Mariners a one-run lead, but Ruben Sierra would tie it up with an RBI double in the bottom half of the frame.
The game would go all the way to the 15th inning, when Jim Leyritz finally ended it with a two-run, walk-off dinger to give the Yanks a 2-0 series lead.
Everything would soon change...
17. Randy Velarde: Game 5, 1995 ALDS
The Mariners stormed back to win the next two games, forcing an all-deciding Game 5 for a chance to face the Indians in the ALCS.
The Yankees led 4-2 in the eighth inning, but the Mariners were able to tack on a couple runs to tie things up.
There was no more scoring until Randy Velarde hit a clutch RBI single with two outs in the top half of the 11th inning, leaving the Yanks with a 5-4 lead and three outs away from the ALCS.
Edgar Martinez would strip the Yankees' dreams away in the bottom half with a two-run, series-winning double to left field.
16. Ruben Sierra: Game 4, 2003 World Series
With a 2-1 series lead in the 2003 World Series, the Yankees looked poised for another championship heading into Game 4.
The Marlins scored three runs in the first inning while the Yanks put a run on the board in the second. It was all zeroes after that point, as the game headed to the top of the ninth with the Marlins up 3-1.
With two runners on base and one out, Ruben Sierra raced out a triple to tie the game at three.
It was all for naught, as Alex Gonzalez hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning to even the series. The Marlins would also win the next two games to secure the title.
15. Dom DiMaggio: Game 7, 1946 World Series
In an epic battle between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, the two teams traded games until they found themselves in a winner-take-all Game 7.
The Cardinals held a 3-1 lead heading into the eighth inning before Boston's Dom DiMaggio slugged a two-run double to tie the game at three to keep their title hopes alive.
This paved the way for one of the most famous plays in World Series history, as in the bottom half of the eighth, Enos Slaughter made his "Mad Dash" from first base to score what proved to be the winning run.
14. Sammy Sosa: Game 1, 2003 NLCS
The 2003 NLCS between the Cubs and Marlins is known for only one moment—Steve Bartman lunging at a foul ball and becoming arguably the biggest scapegoat in the history of sports.
The first game of the NLCS was one to remember. With the Cubs trailing 8-6 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Sammy Sosa slugged a two-run home run to send the game into extras.
However, the fun had only just begun at Wrigley....
13. Mike Lowell: Game 1, 2003 NLCS
After Sammy Sosa hit a clutch home run to tie the game in the bottom half of the ninth inning, the Marlins would send Mike Lowell to the plate to do some clutch hitting of his own.
In the top of the 10th, Lowell hit a pinch-hit home run to give the Marlins a 9-8 lead and, ultimately, the victory. This would give the Marlins an all-important 1-0 series lead.
It's unfortunate that not many people remember one of the greatest playoff games in recent memory.
Oddly enough, there's an even more clutch moment from this series.
12. Josh Beckett: Game 5, 2003 NLCS
After Mike Lowell's Game 1 heroics gave the Marlins a 1-0 series lead, the Cubs would run off three straight victories. They needed to win only one of the final three games to clinch a berth in the World Series.
The Marlins' Josh Beckett would face Carlos Zambrano in Game 5, hoping to extend the series at least one more game. Beckett allowed two hits and one walk while shutting out the Cubs 4-0, sending the series back to Wrigley for a sixth game.
Of course, Game 6 was the "Bartman" game, so the first five games may as well have never happened because not many people remember them anyway. The only two lasting memories of the series ended up being Bartman and the fact that the Cubs blew it.
11. Mark McGwire: 1988 World Series, Game 3
Seeing as Kirk Gibson provided us with one of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball history with his gimpy-legged, fist-pumping walk-off home run during Game 1, it's no surprise that it's the only moment people tend to remember from the 1988 World Series.
Tied 1-1 in the ninth inning of Game 3, with his team facing a 2-0 series deficit, Mark McGwire slugged a solo home run to left-center field to give his Athletics a walk-off victory.
The Dodgers won the series in five games, which may be another reason McGwire's October magic has been overlooked.
10. Carl Furillo: Game 6, 1953 World Series
The 1953 World Series featured an epic matchup between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers.
The Dodgers' backs were against the wall entering Game 6, as they were heading back to Yankee Stadium trailing 3-2 in the series.
The Yanks put three runs on the board early before the Dodgers scored a run in the sixth inning, but they still found themselves trailing 3-1 entering the top of the ninth.
With their season all but over, Carl Furillo hit a two-run bomb to tie the game 3-3, giving the Dodgers new hope. However, it was soon forgotten when the Yanks' Billy Martin hit a walk-off single in the bottom half to win the World Series.
9. Chili Davis: Game 3, 1991 World Series
The Minnesota Twins squared off against the young Atlanta Braves in the 1991 World Series, which is frequently considered to be the greatest Fall Classic of all time.
Every game was a nail-biter, with five games decided by one run and three decided in extra innings.
Game 3 was a classic in itself, as the teams traded runs early before the Braves pulled out to a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning. They still led 4-2 in the eighth, though heroics were not far away.
After a Terry Pendleton error put the Twins' Brian Harper on first base, Chili Davis launched a monstrous home run to left field, tying the game 4-4.
The Braves would end up winning the game on a walk-off single in the 12th inning, but Davis and the Twins would get the last laugh by taking the series in seven games.
8. Curt Schilling: Game 5, 1993 World Series
No one believed the Philadelphia Phillies stood a chance of dethroning the Toronto Blue Jays during the 1993 World Series. The Jays had an superb offense and a solid pitching corps while the Phillies seemed to play above their talent level all season long.
The Jays put up an eye-popping 37 runs during the first four games as they climbed out to a 3-1 series lead. Simply put, the Jays' bats were unstoppable.
A young Curt Schilling would get the nod for the Phillies in Game 5. He wouldn't disappoint.
Schilling pitched a complete-game shutout as the Phillies won 2-0 to climb back into the series. He allowed just five hits against a squad that had been shut out only one time all season.
Closer Mitch Williams didn't share in Schilling's success when he took the mound in the ninth during Game 6, trying to hold a 6-5 Phillies lead to force a seventh game.
The Jays' Joe Carter became a legend by hitting only the second walk-off home run to end a World Series in Major League Baseball history.
7. George Brett: Game 5, 1976 ALCS
The Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees had many epic battles during the George Brett era, but none were as glorious as their winner-takes-all match up in the 1976 ALCS.
The Yankees slowly built a 6-3 lead over the first six innings, and it would stay that way until the Royals came to bat in the top of the eighth.
With two men on base and nobody out, Brett made solid contact on a pitch from Yanks lefty Grant Jackson. The ball narrowly sailed passed the outfield wall for a game-tying home run.
His magical moment became a moot point in the bottom of the ninth, however, as the Yanks' Chris Chambliss launched a hysteria-inducing home run to win the pennant.
6. Ray Knight: Game 7, 1986 World Series
Thanks to Bill Buckner's infamous error at first base which led to Boston squandering a two-run lead in the 10th inning of Game 6, the 1986 World Series will forever be known for the Red Sox collapse.
People tend to forget the Red Sox held a 3-0 lead in Game 7 as well. The Mets tied the game in the sixth inning before Ray Knight gave them their first lead of the game with a solo shot in the seventh.
New York never lost their lead and soon became World Series champions.
5. Mickey Mantle: Game 7, 1960 World Series
The 1960 World Series saw the Yankees and Pirates claw their way to a dramatic ending in Game 7.
The Pirates took a 4-0 lead early, but a four-run sixth inning turned a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 Yankees lead. The Yanks would tack on two more runs in the eighth to pull ahead 7-4, though the game was far from over.
The Pirates would rebound to score five runs in the bottom half of the inning, capped of by Hal Smith's three-run homer. The Yanks found themselves down 9-7 with three outs remaining in their season.
After two singles and a Roger Maris fly-out, Mickey Mantle came through with a single to score a run and put a runner on third base.
The next batter was Yogi Berra, who proceeded to hit a short grounder to first for an easy out. Now, unlike anyone else on this list, Mantle's clutch moment came by using the head on his shoulders instead of the head of his bat.
Berra's ground-out should have been a game-ending double play. Realizing there was no chance he'd make it to second base in time, Mantle brilliantly scurried back to first base, narrowly avoiding the tag that would have been the final out.
More importantly, while the first baseman was trying to chase down Mickey to end the game, the runner on third base scored to tie the game.
It may seem easy or even logical when we think about it now, but Mantle's instinctual decision at that moment, in that atmosphere and situation, was nothing short of clutch.
As amazing as the moment was, a game-winning, series-ending, walk-off home run by Bill Mazeroski in the bottom of the ninth made the Pirates the 1960 World Series champions.
It is the only Game 7 walk-off home run in World Series history and it has cemented itself as the greatest home run of all time.
4. Jorge Posada: Game 7, 2003 ALCS
The 2003 ALCS was the first of arguably the two greatest League Championship Series in baseball history.
Game 7 and the series itself will forever be known for Aaron Boone's insane walk-off home run in the 11th inning. Either that or because Grady Little left Pedro Martinez on the mound one inning too long.
The Red Sox actually held a a 5-2 lead entering the bottom half of the ninth before their world began to implode.
Derek Jeter doubled and Bernie Williams singled him home before Little decided to finally yank Pedro. After Hideki Matsui doubled, the Yanks had men on second and third with Jorge Posada stepping up to the plate.
Posada would line a two-RBI double to tie the game, sending it to extras. where Boone would hit his dramatic shot to left field.
Off course, there was one more piece the the Yankees' puzzle that game...
3. Mariano Rivera: Game 7, 2003 ALCS
Mariano Rivera stood up in the bullpen as soon as Posada tied the game at 5-5.
Rivera shut down the Red Sox in the ninth, 10th and 11th inning, allowing only two hits while throwing 48 pitches.
While Boone's walk-off was a storybook ending to a fascinating ALCS, he never would have had the opportunity if not for the clutch performances of Posada and Rivera.
2. Clem Labine: Game 6, 1956 World Series
The Dodgers jumped out to a 2-0 series lead in the 1956 World Series before the Yankees ran off three straight wins to put Brooklyn on the brink of elimination.
Game 5, of course, was rightfully cemented into baseball history when Don Larsen remarkably threw a perfect game. Many baseball fans, especially ones from a younger generation, struggle to grasp the fact that there were still two more games to be played.
While not perfect, the Dodgers' Clem Labine tossed a gem of his own the following game to lock the series up at 3-3. Labine allowed seven hits over 10 shutout innings as Brooklyn won 1-0.
The Yanks won the seventh game to win the title, yet even if they had lost, we'd remember the 1956 World Series all the same.
1. Alfonso Soriano: Game 7, 2001 World Series
Alfonso Soriano's lone moment of glory came during the 2001 World Series. To be honest, I didn't even remember his clutch moment until recently.
In the eighth inning of Game 7, the Yankees and Diamondbacks sat tied at one apiece with Curt Schilling on the mound. With nobody on base, Soriano launched an 0-2 pitch into the bleachers to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead and what appeared to be a fourth consecutive World Series title.
Unfortunately, Mariano Rivera wasn't able to convert a two-inning save. The D-backs would win on a walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez in the ninth inning, leaving Soriano's clutch home run buried in the shadows.
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