7 UP: Nothing beats a Game 7

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There’s nothing like a seventh game in the World Series. It’s a game in a season, and a season in a game. Astros vs. Dodgers. One game. Winner take all.

Throughout baseball history, there have been 38 seventh games since the first World Series in 1903. Tonight marks the first World Series Game 7 ever at Dodger Stadium, and the first for the Dodgers since 1965, when they beat the Minnesota Twins on a three-hit shutout by Sandy Koufax (pictured above), his second complete game shutout in four days.

Houston is hoping to win its first World Series since the franchise began play as the Colt 45s in 1962. The Astros, then a National League entrant, were swept by the White Sox in their only previous World Series appearance in 2005.

Just last year, the Cubs snapped a 108-year drought when they beat the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings in a memorable Game 7. So now baseball fans are blessed with a second straight World Series Game 7 for the first time since 2002, when the Angels beat the Giants for their only World Championship.

Walk-off wins

That was one of just six walk-off wins in Game 7 overall.

The Red Sox beat the Giants in 1912 when some Giant misplays and Larry Gardner’s sacrifice fly against Christy Mathewson enabled Boston to rally for a 3-2, 10-inning win. (Technically that was Game 8, since Game 2 wound up in a 6-6, 11-inning tie.)

Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators won their only World Series in 1924, also against the Giants, on a bad hop single by Earl McNeely in the 12th.

Bill-Mazeroski-s-walk-off-home-run-pittsburgh-pirates-8859387-666-800In 1960, the Pirates edged the Yankees, 10-9, on a home run by Bill Mazeroski, pictured at right. That remains the only Game Seven in World Series history to end on a home run. Incredibly, not a single strikeout was registered in that contest,

In 1991, Jack Morris pitched a shutout and Gene Larkin drove in the only run with a single in the 10th inning as the Twins beat the Braves.

Six years later, Edgar Renteria’s single in the 11th gave the Florida Marlins a 3-2 win over the Indians — and the championship.

In 2001, as the nation recovered from the 9/11 attacks, the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in seven on a bloop, walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez off Marino Rivera  in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Cardinals are Game 7 leaders

The St. Louis Cardinals have won eight seventh games (1926, 1931, 1934, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982 and 2011), a record. Overall the Cards are 8-3 in Game 7. The Yankees have also played in 11 World Series Game 7s, winning five, four against the Brooklyn Dodgers and one against the San Francisco Giants.

The Cards twice beat both the Yankees (1926, 1964) and the Red Sox (1946, 1967) in Game Seven showdowns. St. Louis Hall of Famer Bob Gibson started three seventh games in four seasons, beating the Yankees in 1964 and the Red Sox in 1967 before losing to the Tigers in 1968.

The Pirates have the best record at 5-0 (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979) in Game 7s, and the Giants are 0-4 (1912, 1924, 1962 and 2002).

Other Game 7 facts and figures that may interest only me:

  • A total of 16 seventh games were staged between 1952 and 1979, nearly half of the all-time total of 38.
  • Six seventh games occurred in the 60s; five apiece in the 50s and 70s.
  • Between 1955 and 1958, the Yankees played four straight seventh games, exchanging wins with the Brooklyn Dodgers and then the Milwaukee Braves.
  • All four of those World Series were won by the road teams, including the first and only championships for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, in 1955 and 1957.
  • The Yankees avenged those losses in 1956 and 1958; they also beat the Dodgers in seven in 1947 and 1952.
  • The last time the Cubs appeared in the World Series before last year, in 1945, they lost to the Tigers in Game 7.
  • There were no seventh games between 1912 and 1924, the longest gap in baseball history.
  • The Oakland A’s are the only team to win back-to-back Game 7s, in 1972 against the Reds and 1973 vs. the Mets.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Detroit Tigers in the first World Series Game 7 in 1909.
  • The National League has won 23 of 38 World Series Game 7s; the American League 15.
  • Game on.

MORE GAME 7: New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro ranks World Series Game 7s.

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Best game ever? Don’t rank it, just enjoy it

Cubs

Was Cubs-Indians Game 7 the best game ever? Not so fast.

I do feel sometimes we tend to rush to judgement and instant gratification. For example, ESPN is already calling Game 7 the greatest game ever.

For Cub fans maybe.

But we need to bottle it for a bit, savor it, then enjoy it like a fine wine.

There have been plenty of great games throughout the last dozen decades of baseball history.

After all, there have been six walk-off Game 7 wins in baseball history alone, going back to 1912 and the Red Sox beating Christy Mathewson in extra innings all the way to Luis Gonzalez besting the great Mariano Rivera and the Yankees in 2001.

The Bill Mazeroski home run in 1960 that gave the Pirates an improbable World Series win was unforgettable. Amazingly, not a single batter struck out in that contest.

Some other great games that weren’t necessarily Series clinchers include Pudge Fisk and the Red Sox in 1975, the Mets and Bill Buckner in 1986, Kirby Puckett and the Twins in 1991, and David Freese and the Cardinals beating the Rangers in 2011.

And don’t forget Don Larsen’s perfect game vs. Brooklyn in 1956. Only time it’s ever happened in a World Series.

Even though they weren’t true post-season games, Bobby Thomson’s home run against the Dodgers that helped the Giants win the pennant in 1951, and Bucky Dent’s Fenway blast that lifted the Yankees over the Red Sox in 1978 were certainly dramatic.

Maddon’s questionable moves

Congrats to the Cubs and their fans. Maybe it’s me, but Joe Maddon did all he could to hand the Series to the Tribe — from his needless use of Aroldis Chapman in Game 6 to lifting Kyle Hendricks early in Game 7 to the 3-2 safety squeeze in the ninth inning that backfired

The Cubs ultimately prevailed because they were the better team with superior talent, but the better manager, Terry Francona, was in the Cleveland dugout in this World Series.

They call it over-managing. In business terms, micro management. It’s the Whitey Herzog syndrome, in honor of the Kansas City manager, who made some questionable moves against the Yankees in the ALCS back in the 70s.

It will never be the same

Well now that the Cubs have won and broken the 108-year jinx things are bound to be different. There’s already talk of the next baseball dynasty.

However, consider this. After the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, they became just another successful franchise, lost in the shuffle of successful teams.

Just like the Sox, the Cubs have lost their lovable loser mojo.


WS MVP Renteria Was Also Walk-Off Hero

Edgar Renteria homers to give  Giants a 3-1 win and a World Championship.

Edgar Renteria joined some mighty select company. His three-run home run off Texas Rangers’ ace Cliff Lee in the seventh inning snapped a scoreless tie and gave the Giants the runs they would need to win their first World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958 — and their first title since the New York Giants swept the Cleveland Indians in 1954.

The Colombian-born shortstop became just the fourth player in baseball history to have the game-winning RBI in two different World Series, joining Yankee immortals Lou Gehrig (1928, 1936), Joe DiMaggio (1939, 1949) and Yogi Berra (1950, 1956).

Wait, there’s more. Of that august quartet, Renteria is the only player to have a walk-off hit among his game-winners. Exactly 4,755 days earlier, in 1997, he lined a single up the middle to knock in the winning run in the 11th inning of the seventh game. Renteria was just 21 years old then, and his clutch hit led the Florida Marlins to their first World Championship with a 3-2 win over the Indians at Pro Player Park.

Renteria also made the final out of the 2004 World Series when he grounded back to the box, giving the Red Sox a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals and their first World Championship in 86 years.

Renteria’s 1997 World Series walk-off was one of 11 in baseball history:

1912 — Red Sox 3, Giants 2 (10 innings) at Fenway Park, Boston
Red Sox win series 4-3, with one tie

The Giants took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 10th inning, and seemed to have a championship well in hand with the great Christy Mathewson on the mound. But Giants center fielder Fred Snodgrass dropped a routine fly ball to start the home half of the 10th, and Larry Gardner later hit a deep sacrifice fly to Josh Devore in right, scoring Steve Yerkes with the winning run.

1924 Senators 4,  over Giants 2 (12 innings) at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C.
Senators win series, 4-3

The Senators rallied to tie the score with a pair of runs in the eighth, aided by a fielding error by the Giants 18-year-old third baseman Freddie Lindstrom. The stalemate continued until the 12th thanks to flawless, four-inning relief pitching from Washington immortal Walter Johnson. In that inning, the Giants committed two major fielding errors including a replay of the missed grounder to third and a dropped foul by catcher Hank Gowdy, who tripped over his own mask. The winning run scored when the Nats Earl McNeely hit a grounder that took a bad hop and bounced over the head of Giants third baseman Fred Lindstrom, scoring Muddy Ruel and giving Washington its first, last and only World Championship.

1927 Yankees 4, Pirates 3 at Yankee Stadium, New York
Yankees sweep, 4-0

One of the most renowned teams in baseball history, the 1927 Yankees, looking for a sweep and tied with the Pirates 3-3, loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of ninth. Pittsburgh relief pitcher John Miljus then struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel, but threw a wild pitch to Tony Lazzeri, scoring Earle Combs and ending the game. The Yankees had won their second championship title, the crowning achievement to a magnificent season. They also became the first team ever to sweep the National League in a World Series.

1929 A’s 3. Cubs 2 at Shibe Park, Philadelphia
A’s win series, 4-1

Facing the Chicago Cubs, the A’s trailed Game 5  before a two-run homer by Mule Haas over the right field wall tied the score 2-2 with one out in the ninth. Max Bishop then singled and with outs, following an intentional walk to Jimmie Foxx, Bing Miller doubled off the Shibe Park scoreboard to plate the winning run. It was Philadelphia’s first title since 1913, while Chicago, which lost an 8-0 lead in Game 4 before bowing 10-8, lost a heartbreaker. It was a sad portent of things to come for the Cubbies.

1935 Tigers 4, Cubs 3 at Navin Field, Detroit
Tigers win series, 4-2

With the score tied 3-3, the Cubs stranded Stan Hack on third base with nobody out in the top of the ninth. Detroit catcher Mickey Cochrane led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, and scored the winning run two outs later on Goose Goslin’s base hit to right field. Detroit won its first World Series, while the Cubs continued their championship drought, which has now reached 102 years.

1953 Yankees 4, Dodgers 3, at Yankee Stadium, New York
Yanks win series, 4-2

Yankee second baseman Billy Martin, who had 12 hits and 8 RBIs while batting .500 in the series, knocked in Hank Bauer from second base with the game-winning run in the ninth inning to give the Bombers a record fifth straight World Championship. Brooklyn had rallied to tie the score in the top of the ninth on a two-run home run by Carl Furillo.

1960, Pirates 10, Yankees 9, at Forbes Field, Pittsburgh
Pirates win series, 4-3

With one of the most famous home runs in baseball history, Pittsburgh second baseman Bill Mazeroski vanquished the heavily-favored Yankees, who outscored the Pirates 55-27 in the seven-game series. The Yanks scored two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the score at 9-9 before Maz led off the home half of the ninth. With a 1-0 count against New York reliever Ralph Terry, Mazeroski smashed his historic home run over the wall in left field to end the contest and give the Pirates their first championship in 35 years.

1991 — Twins 1, Braves 0 (10 innings), at the Metrodome, Minneapolis
Twins win series, 4-3

Game 7 matched Detroit native John Smoltz of Atlanta against his hometown hero  and former Tiger Jack Morris, now Minnesota’s ace. Both the Twins and Braves blew chances to score in the late innings, and the two clubs battled scoreless into the bottom of the 10th. Dan Gladden, right, opened the Twins half of the inning with a double, was sacrificed to third, and after a pair of intentional walks pinch-hitter Gene Larkin singled to give Minnesota and Morris, who went the distance, the championship.

1993 — Blue Jays 8, Phillies 6, at Skydome, Toronto
Jays win Series, 4-2

Phillies closer Mitch Williams was brought in to protect a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth, but walked leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson and surrendered a one-out single to Paul Molitor. On a 2-2 count, Toronto’s Joe Carter sent a home run over the left field fence to give the Blue Jays the 8-6 win and their second consecutive World Championship. Carter joined Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski as the only players to end World Series with walk-off home runs.

1997 — Marlins 3, Indians 2 (11 innings) Pro Player Park, Miami
Marlins win series, 4-3

Cleveland, seeking its first title in 49 years, took a 2-1 lead into the last of the ninth before the Marlins rallied to tie the score. In the 11th, Edgar Rentereia’s two-out single drove in Craig Counsell with the winning run. The celebration in Florida was short-lived; the Marlins roster was broken up and the following season the team finished 54-108.

2001 — Diamondbacks 3, Yankees 2 Bank One Ballpark, Phoenix
Arizona wins series, 4-3

The Yankees, seeking their fourth straight World Championship, took a 2-1 lead into the last of the ninth with closer Mariano Rivera on the mound. Rivera had converted 23 straight postseason saves and had struck out the side in the eighth. However the Diamondbacks rallied, tying the score on a double by Tony Womack and then winning the Series when Luis Gonzalez, above left, connected for a shallow looping single to center that just cleared the infield and scored Jay Bell with the decisive run.