2011 World Series: Allen Craig and the 10 Biggest Pinch-Hits in WS History
Allen Craig came off the bench Wednesday evening to deliver the biggest blow of Game 1 of the 2011 World Series with a clutch go-ahead RBI to right field.
Pinch-hitting is often called the hardest thing to do in baseball, and the stakes are never higher than in the Fall Classic where one swing of the bat can make all the difference.
Craig is not the only hitter to grab a bat and take his hacks with the lure of a championship on the line.
Here are the top 10 World Series pinch-hit at-bats of all time.
Chili Davis: Oct. 22, 1991
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This pinch-hit home run would have been higher had his team gone on to win the game, but it was such a bittersweet moment that I've included it here.
Chili Davis entered Game 3 of the 1991 Fall Classic 1-for-6 in the first two games of the series, but he came through with a clutch hit here.
Minnesota trailed 4-2 entering the eighth inning, but Davis, in his first year as a Twin, drove a deep fly ball to left field to knot the game.
Davis' big blast was not enough to save the Twins in this one though, as second baseman Mark Lemke gave the Braves hope with a 12th-inning walk-off single through the hole between short and third.
Wade Boggs: Oct. 23, 1996
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It's not often that a walk garnishes that much credit, but Wade Boggs' base on balls helped the New York Yankees rally from a deep deficit.
Atlanta, leading 2-1 in the series, carried a 6-0 advantage into the sixth inning before the Bronx Bombers began their comeback.
Three-run sixth and eighth innings tied the contest at 6-6, setting the stage for Boggs.
Joe Torre's Yanks loaded the bases on Tim Raines' walk, Derek Jeter's infield single and Bernie Williams' intentional walk. With Steve Avery on the mound, two outs, and pinch-runner Andy Fox at the plate, Torre went with fellow left-hander Boggs.
Boggs worked the count full and took ball four to force home Raines, representing the eventual game-winning run.
New York went on to win the series, 4-2.
Ron Oester: Oct. 17, 1990
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Ron Oester came off the bench and delivered a clutch two-out hit in Game 2 of the '90 series between Cincinnati and Oakland.
Trailing 4-2, the Reds pulled ineffective starting pitcher Scott Scudder in the fourth inning in favor of pinch-hitter Oester. The move paid dividends for Cincy, with Oester shooting a ball through the hole and cutting the lead in half.
It was a great way for Oester to go out. This was his only at-bat in the World Series and the last-ever at-bat of his professional career.
The Reds went on to win the game on their way to sweeping the series.
Allen Craig: Oct. 19, 2011
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Allen Craig helped the St. Louis Cardinals grab an early advantage in this year's World Series with a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning of Game 1.
With the game tied at 2-2 and two outs, Craig entered the game to hit for Chris Carpenter.
The Rangers responded by bringing in hard-throwing Alexi Ogando in relief of C.J. Wilson to face Craig, but it was the Redbirds who came out on top of the exchange.
Facing a 1-2 count, Craig smacked a 98-mph fastball on a line drive to right field, scoring David Freese from third base. The ball evaded the glove of a sliding Nelson Cruz, but somehow stayed in front of the outfielder. Had the ball rolled down into the corner or to the wall, Nick Punto would likely have come around from first base, too.
Ed Sprague: Oct. 18, 1992
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With the Toronto Blue Jays two outs away from falling into an 0-2 hole against the Atlanta Braves, Ed Sprague forever changed the tone of the series with one big swing of the bat.
Pinch-hitting for pitcher Duane Ward, Sprague slugged a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning on the first pitch he saw against Jeff Reardon.
It was one of just two World Series at-bats the 24-year-old had. During the season, he appeared in just 22 regular season games after a July call-up.
The home run helped the Blue Jays overturn a 4-3 deficit and tie the best-of-seven series at one apiece. Toronto went on to clinch the title in six games.
Cookie Lavagetto: Oct. 3, 1947
With the Brooklyn Dodgers trailing 2-1 in the series and 2-1 in Game 4, Cookie Lavagetto gave the Ebbets Field faithful something to cheer about.
With the Dodgers down to their final out and runners on first and second base, Lavagetto came off the bench to deliver a game-winning knock.
Facing starter Bill Bevens, who had surrendered just one run over 8.2 innings, Lavagetto roped a ball to right field, chasing home pinch-runners Al Gionfriddo and Eddie Miksis to complete a 3-2 victory.
Bernie Carbo: Oct. 21, 1975
Facing elimination in Game 6, Boston Red Sox pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo ensured the Cincinnati Reds had to keep the champagne on ice one more day.
Carbo came to bat with two on and two out and the Red Sox trailing, 6-3, in the eighth inning.
With a 2-2 count against Rawly Eastwick, Carbo blasted a game-tying three-run homer to get the BoSox back in the game.
This game was remembered more for Carlton Fisk's walk-off home run in the 12th inning than Carbo's blast, but the catcher would never have had his chance if it weren't for the former first-round draft pick.
It ended up being for nothing, though, with the Reds winning Game 7 at Fenway 24 hours later.
Dane Iorg: Oct. 26, 1985
Dane Iorg delivered one of biggest hits of his 10-year career in his final at-bat as a Kansas City Royal.
In Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, Iorg came to bat with the St. Louis Cardinals two outs away from clinching their second championship in four years.
Tim Worrell gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning, and he loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Hal McRae to get to the pitcher's spot.
Iorg came off the bench cold to hit for Dan Quisenberry, and he came through in the clutch. Iorg took Worrell's 1-0 pitch and lined the ball to right field, scoring Onix Concepcion and catcher Jim Sundberg from second.
Iorg's hit gave the Royals all the momentum they needed, and they blanked the Cardinals 11-0 in Game 7 the following night to win their first World Series.
Gene Larkin: Oct. 27, 1991
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Gene Larkin had a distinctly average seven-year career with the Minnesota Twins, but he became an instant hero with his pinch-hitting heroics in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series between the Twins and the Braves.
With the decisive game still scoreless with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Larkin, hitting for Jarvis Brown, smacked a walk-off single deep to the left-center field gap of the old Metrodome.
With the outfield playing shallow to give themselves the best chance at throwing out leadoff hitter Dan Gladden on a sacrifice fly, neither Ron Gant nor Brian Hunter was able to make a play on the ball.
Larkin's RBI single gave the Twins their third championship and second in five years.
Kirk Gibson: Oct. 15, 1988
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Kirk Gibson holds the distinction of being just one of three players to hit a pinch-hit home run that took their team from trailing in a postseason game to winning.
Gibson's heroics came with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning against Oakland's Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the '88 championship.
Trailing 4-3, Mike Davis drew a two-out walk and stole second base to move the potential tying run into scoring position. Gibson knew a single would possibly tie the game, but he went one further.
On the seventh pitch of his now-famous at-bat, Gibson belted the ball deep to right field to give the Dodgers a wild 5-4 victory.
LA went on to win Games 2, 4 and 5 to win their sixth World Series and fifth since moving from Brooklyn.