MLB Playoffs

All 30 MLB Teams' Most Memorable Postseason Moment

Kerry MillerCollege Basketball National AnalystOctober 4, 2013

All 30 MLB Teams' Most Memorable Postseason Moment

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    For David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals, the 2011 playoffs delivered arguably the most memorable moment in the history of a franchise full of postseason success.

    2012's postseason brought with it perhaps the only memorable moment in Washington's brief playoff history.

    What does the 2013 postseason have in store for the annals of baseball lore?

    (TBS invites you to find out while watching the games for free on your computer or mobile device.)

    Before we get too firmly entrenched in the present, however, let's make sure to pay our respects to the memories of yesteryear.

    What follows is a video slideshow of the greatest postseason moment (and a runner-up for good measure) in the history of each of the 30 MLB franchises.

    Huge thanks to the play-by-play game logs over at Baseball-Reference.com and the video archive history at MLB.com, without which this never would have been possible.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Moment: 2002 World Series Game 6Rally Monkey

    Above all else, baseball is a bizarrely superstitious sport.

    Most starting pitchers refuse to step on the foul line when entering or leaving an inning on the mound. If they string together enough consecutive hitless innings, no one will say a word to them in the dugout for fear of jinxing the moment. Batters will go entire seasons without cleaning their helmetand who knows what else goes unwashed for half a year in order to avoid bad juju.

    Weirdest of all, though, are the good/bad luck charms tied to animals and inanimate objects. The Cubs have the curse of the billy goat and were cursed by a black cat more than 40 years ago. The 2011 Cardinals had the rally squirrel, and the 2013 Royals returned to relevancy behind some magic barbecue sauce.

    It all pales in comparison to the effects of the rally monkey in October 2002. Trailing three games to two in the series and losing 5-0 in the seventh inning of Game 6, the Angels stormed back to score six runs in the span of 10 batters—fueled by a Scott Spiezio three-run home runwinning the game and eventually the World Series.

     

    Runner-Up: 1986 ALCS Game 4Coming back to beat Roger Clemens

    Having pitched eight shutout innings and holding a 3-0 lead, Roger Clemens came out to pitch the ninth inning hoping to complete his shutout and tie the series at two games apiece.

    Doug DeCinces had other ideas.

    DeCinces homered on the second pitch of the inning, sparking a rally that would send the game to extra innings, where the Angels would eventually take a 3-1 series lead. Unfortunately, the Angels proceeded to lose the next three games, setting up the 1986 World Series for an iconic Bill Buckner play.

Houston Astros

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    Moment: 2005 NLDS Game 4Chris Burke in extras

    Despite over 50 years of existence, the Houston Astros don't have much of a playoff historyand from the looks of things, they don't have much of a playoff future any time soon either. But they flirted with winning it all for a couple of years in the mid-2000s.

    In their last trip to the playoffs, the Astros held a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five NLDS against the Braves. They trailed by five runs late in the game, but a Lance Berkman grand slam in the eighth and a Brad Ausmus game-tying solo home run with two outs in the ninth sent the game into extra innings.

    And it stayed in extra innings for a long, long time.

    Berkman got a double in the 10th, but the Astros wouldn't get another hit until the 18th inning.

    Chris Burke had hit just five home runs during the regular season, but that didn't stop him from sending the Astros back to the NLCS for a second straight season with one swing of the bat.

     

    Runner-Up: 2004 NLCS Game 5Jeff Kent walk-off

    It was one of the better postseason pitching duels of this generation. The St. Louis Cardinals' Woody Williams and Houston's Brandon Backe combined to pitch 15 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.

    Jason Isringhausen missed the memo, though. Working his second inning of relief, Izzy put two runners on base before serving up a first-pitch walk-off three-run home run to Jeff Kent, putting the Astros ahead three games to two.

    Unfortunately for Houston, St. Louis added a walk-off of its own in Game 6 before taking Game 7 as well.

Oakland Athletics

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    Moment: 1989 World Series "Game 3"Loma Prieta Earthquake

    Most of these are good moments, but I'm pretty sure an earthquake that caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries doesn't classify as a good moment.

    Shortly before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants, an earthquake struck San Francisco, postponing the remainder of the series for 10 days.

    After the wreckage was quite literally cleared, the A's went on to sweep the Giants to win their ninth World Series as a franchise.

     

    Runner-Up: 1930 World Series Game 5Jimmie Foxx breaks scoreless tie

    Though he hit over 500 of them during his illustrious career, Jimmie Foxx's only home run of the 1930 World Series couldn't have come at a better time.

    With the series tied at two games apiece and the game tied 0-0 in the ninth inning, Foxx belted a two-run home run to put the Philadelphia Athletics ahead for good. They won the game and went on to win their second consecutive World Series title.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Moment: 1993 World Series Game 6Touch 'em all, Joe

    This is merely one of the most memorable home runs in the history of baseball.

    I'll just note that it was hardly Philadelphia Phillies closer Mitch Williams' only poor performance in the World Series.

    In Game 4, the Phillies held a 14-9 lead in the eighth inning. Larry Anderson allowed three of the first four Toronto Blue Jays to reach base that inning before Williams entered the game and let four of the next five batters get on as well. By the time it was all said and done, the Blue Jays had taken a 15-14 lead, which ended up being the final score.

    Joe Carter didn't get to face Williams in Game 4, but he made up for lost time in Game 6.

     

    Runner-Up: 1992 World Series Game 2An unlikely hero

    Atlanta Braves closer Jeff Reardon saved 30 games during the 1992 regular seasonhis 11th straight year with at least 20 saves.

    Toronto pinch hitter Ed Sprague had just 50 plate appearances during the 1992 regular season, batting .234 with one home run.

    So, naturally, with the Braves leading 4-3 in the game and holding a 1-0 lead in the series, Sprague hit what proved to be the game-winning two-run home run off of Reardon to keep the Blue Jays from falling into an 0-2 hole.

    Toronto went on to win the series in six games.

Atlanta Braves

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    Moment: 1957 World Series Game 4Eddie Mathews wins it

    The Milwaukee Braves were in great shape to tie the series at two games apiece. Leading 4-1 with two outs in the ninth, Warren Spahn was gunning for a complete-game victory.

    The next two runners reached base before Elston Howard tied the game up with a three-run blast.

    Spahn, still in the game in the 10th inningbecause that's just the way things were back thengave up another run, on the verge of a complete-game loss.

    However, Mathews bailed him out. After an RBI double by Johnny Logan tied the game, Mathews hit a walk-off two-run home run, keeping the Braves in a series that they would eventually win in seven games.

     

    Runner-Up: 1992 NLCS Game 7—The slide

    The Pittsburgh Pirates were just one inning away from advancing to the World Series.

    Holding a 2-0 lead in the win-or-go-home game of the 1992 NLCS, Doug Drabek came back out for the ninth inning in hopes of a complete-game shutout. After a double, an error and a walk, Stan Belinda inherited three base runners and the hopes and dreams of an entire city.

    It wasn't meant to be for Pittsburgh, as Francisco Cabrera singled home David Justice and a sliding Sid Bream to instead send Atlanta to the World Series.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Moment: 2011 NLDS Game 5Morgan delivers in extras

    Nyjer Morgan was suspended multiple times for on-field incidents during his six-year MLB career.

    He was traded for Lastings Milledge in 2009 in what essentially amounted to a mutual "maybe you'll have better luck with him" negotiation.

    Morgan struggled to find regular playing time and made some bone-headed plays when he did receive it.

    But for one night in 2011, he was the king of Milwaukee.

    Tied at two in both the game and the series, Morgan singled up the middle off Arizona Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz, scoring Carlos Gomez and sending the Brewers to the NLCS. It was just the second time in 44 years of franchise history that the Brewers won a playoff series.

     

    Runner-Up: 1982 ALCS Game 5Cecil Cooper flares a two-run single to left

    29 years before Morgan's walk-off hit, Cecil Cooper gave the Brewers a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning of a decisive Game 5back when the Brewers were part of the American League and the LCS was a best-of-five series.

    No other runs would score in the game, and Milwaukee would make its first and only appearance in a World Series.

     

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Moment: 2011 World Series Game 6—David Freese twice a savior

    It wasn't enough that David Freese hit a game-tying two-run, two-out triple in the bottom of the ninth inning to keep the Cardinals from getting eliminated from the playoffs.

    Instead, Freese needed to also ensure the team would go on to see another day by hitting a walk-off home run in the 11th inning.

    The team's much-more-comfortable 6-2 win in Game 7 brought with it a much-deserved MVP award for Freese.

     

    Runner-Up: 1968 World Series Game 1—Bob Gibson whiffs everyone

    It's no coincidence that the height of pitching mounds was lowered and better regulated after the 1968 season.

    Bob Gibson finished the regular season with a 1.12 ERA, saving his best for the World Series.

    The Tigers would go on to win it all in seven games, but Game 1 belonged to Gibson, who threw a complete-game shutout with 17 strikeouts. All in all, he had 35 strikeouts in his three complete games in the series.

Chicago Cubs

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    Moment: 2003 NLCS Game 6Steve Bartman

    Sorry, Chicago Cubs fans, but you knew it was coming.

    It's about as far from favorable as it gets, but there's no more memorable moment in Chicago's checkered past.

    We have no way of knowing if Moises Alou would have even caught that foul ball, or if that one out would have kept any or all of Florida's eight runs from scoring in that inning. But that didn't stop an entire city from hating one man.

     

    Runner-Up: 1908 World Series Game 5—Boss Schmidt grounds out

    When Orval Overall got Boss Schmidtwhat an amazing pair of namesto ground out to end the 1908 World Series, the Cubs became the first franchise to win multiple World Series.

    Word on the street is that they haven't won very many since then.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Moment: 2001 World Series Game 7Gonzo's bloop single

    Mariano Rivera retired last week with 694 career saves between the regular season (652) and the playoffs (42).

    It's because of the 2001 Diamondbacks that he doesn't have 695.

    Mark Grace singled, Tony Womack doubled, Craig Counsell was hit by a pitch and Damian Miller reached on an error (by Rivera), but it was Luis Gonzalez's flare into the outfield grass that gave the Diamondbacks a World Series title in just their fourth year of existence.

     

    Runner-Up: 2011 NLDS Game 5Bloomquist's bunt

    Trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning of a decisive Game 5, the Diamondbacks had runners on the corners with no outs against John Axford.

    (By the way, Axford was a way different pitcher in 2011 from the one he is today. He saved 46 games during the regular season and finished the year with a 1.95 ERA.)

    Willie Bloomquist placed a bunt single perfectly up the first-base line, scoring the tying run and putting the Diamondbacks in great position to win the game.

    But if you read the Brewers slide, you already know it was Nyjer Morgan who had the last laugh.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Moment: 1988 World Series Game 1Gibson's heroics

    Widely regarded as one of the greatest moments in baseball history, a hobbled Kirk Gibson hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run against Dennis Eckersley, who is widely regarded as one of the best closers in baseball history.

    It was his only plate appearance in the 1988 World Series, but he made pretty good use of his singular opportunity.

     

    Runner-Up: 1965 World Series Game 7KKKKKKKKKKoufax

    Sandy Koufax threw a four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in Game 5 of the 1965 World Series.

    Three days later, he decided to outdo himself, pitching a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in the pivotal Game 7 and striking out the final two batters of the game for good measure.

    Where possible, we tried to go with actual moments rather than pitching performances or multi-homer games, but this amazing feat couldn't go overlooked.

San Francisco Giants

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    Moment: 1954 World Series Game 1The Catch

    With the score tied at two in the top of the eighth, Vic Wertz stepped to the plate with no outs, runners on first and second, looking to build on his 3-for-3 day at the plate.

    He smashed the ball to deep center field, where Willie Mays surprisingly ran it downso surprisingly, in fact, that he nearly doubled off Al Rosen at first base, who had assumed, like everyone else, that the ball was way over Mays' head.

    The Giants got out of the jam, hit a walk-off three-run home run in the 10th and went on to sweep the series.

     

    Runner-Up: 2010 NLDS Game 1Lincecum's gem

    Perhaps overlooked because of Roy Halladay's no-hitter on the previous day, Tim Lincecum fired a two-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts in a 1-0 win that set the Giants off on a path to their first World Series title since the aforementioned 1954 season.

     

    Also Considered: 1951 Game 157The Giants won the pennant!

    Technically, it wasn't a postseason game—or else I'd personally rank it ahead of The Catchbut Bobby Thompson's three-run home run (also known as the shot heard 'round the world) off of Ralph Branca sent the Giants to the playoffs that year.

Cleveland Indians

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    Moment: 1995 World Series Game 339-year-old Murray gets it done

    Trailing the Braves two games to none, Eddie Murray stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning for the Cleveland Indians. He was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in the game, but it took guts for Bobby Cox to intentionally walk Albert Belle to face a man nearing 500 career home runs.

    On the first pitch, he made the Braves pay, lining a single into center field to score pinch runner Alvaro Espinoza.

    The Indians would eventually lose the series in six games, but Murray at least briefly gave the city some hope for a comeback.

     

    Runner-Up: 2007 ALCS Game 2Gutierrez goes yard

    After four straight scoreless innings in a tied ballgame, the Indians exploded for seven runs in the 11th.

    Grady Sizemore and Trot Nixon delivered early singles to get the party started, but it was Franklin Gutierrez's three-run home run to cap off the inning that officially removed all hope from Boston's dugout.

    In typical Cleveland fashion, the Indians jumped out to a 3-1 series lead before losing three straight and allowing the Red Sox to sweep the Colorado Rockies in the World Series.

Seattle Mariners

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    Moment: 1995 ALDS Game 5Edgar plates Junior

    If you grew up during the golden age of Ken Griffey Jr. (Ken Griffey Presents Major League Baseball) and still haven't fully forgiven your mother for refusing to buy you a Riptide poster from your school book fair, that video probably falls into the "Not Safe For Work" category.

    After losing the first two games of a best-of-five series to the Yankees, the Mariners stormed back to win two straight and put themselves in a position to advance to the ALCS.

    Edgar Martinez laced a double into the left-field corner, scoring Joey Cora from third and Griffey from first for a come-from-behind victory in the 11th inning.

     

    Runner-Up: 2000 ALDS Game 3Guillen bunts the M's into the ALCS

    The very definition of small ball, Seattle opened the bottom of the ninth inning of a tied game with a single from John Olerud, who advanced to second on a throwing error.

    Stan Javier sacrifice bunted a pinch-running Rickey Henderson to third base. David Bell then drew a walk, bringing Carlos Guillen to the plate as a pinch hitter.

    It was Guillen's only at-bat of the ALDS, and he took advantage by placing a series-winning bunt single down the third-base line.

     

Miami Marlins

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    Moment: 1997 World Series Game 7Renteria wins it in extras

    Trailing 2-0 for much of the game, the Miami Marlins were able to force the game into extra innings courtesy of a Bobby Bonilla solo home run in the seventh inning and a Craig Counsell sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth.

    Counsell's run only mattered because Edgar Renteria was able to eliminate Sandy Alomar at home on a fielder's choice in the top of the ninth.

    He put his Superman cape back on for the 11th inning, flaring a single just beyond the reach of Indians pitcher Charles Nagy and giving the Marlins a World Series title in their fifth year of existence.

     

    Runner-Up: 2003 World Series Game 4Gonzalez walks off

    Not to be outdone by his predecessor at the position, shortstop Alex Gonzalez smacked a 12th-inning home run to even the 2003 World Series at two games apiece against the Yankees.

    Coupled with a Josh Beckett gem in Game 6, the Marlins rode that momentum to another World Series title, improving to 6-0 all time in postseason series.

New York Mets

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    Moment: 1986 World Series Game 6Buckner whiffs on grounder

    It's remembered more as a Boston Red Sox blunder than a New York Mets miracle, but there were two sides to the most memorable error in baseball history. While the ball went through Bill Buckner's legs and the blood drained out of the faces of Red Sox Nation, Ray Knight came around to score for an exuberant Mets team.

    Also, let's point out that before that Buckner error even happened, the Mets were granted life by three consecutive singles and a wild pitch. Even if Buckner had cleanly fielded that ball and stepped on first base, the Red Sox would still have needed to win the game in the 11th inning or beyond.

    No matter where you place the credit or blame, the Mets won the game and would then go on to win their second World Series title.

     

    Runner-Up: 2000 World Series Game 2Clemens cements status as MLB villain

    Long before the steroids allegations really gained traction, the world fell in hate with Roger Clemens when he threw a broken bat in the general vicinity of Mike Piazza.

    Because, you know, the Subway Series needed extra drama.

Washington Nationals

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    Moment: 2012 NLDS Game 4Werthquake

    Leading off the ninth inning of a tied elimination game for the Nationals, Jayson Werth worked the count about as full as it could get. It wasn't until the 13th pitch of the at-bat that he deposited Lance Lynn's pitch into the bullpen from whence Lynn came.

    It was rather sweet justice for Werth, who battled boo birds through his struggles in 2011 and fought back from a broken wrist early in 2012. Sadly for the nation's capital, it wasn't enough. Nor was the 6-0 lead the Nats took early in the decisive Game 5 before watching the bullpen implode.

     

    Runner-Up: 1994 World SeriesPresumed dominance

    Led by Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, Pedro Martinez and Ken Hill, the then-Montreal Expos dominated the portion of the regular season that was actually played. Through 114 games, they were on pace for a 105-57 record and held a six-game lead over the Atlanta Braves before the strike began.

    They say you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. Well, the Expos would have won 100 percent of the World Series that weren't played.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Moment: 1966 World SeriesUtter pitching dominance

    The Dodgers scored a run in two of the first three innings of the 1966 World Series before the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff decided enough was enough.

    Moe Drabowsky took over in the third inning of Game 1, pitching 6.2 scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and striking out 11 Dodgers.

    Not to be outdone, Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally pitched back-to-back-to-back complete-game shutouts in Games 2 through 4.

    The combined pitching line from the point where Drabowsky took over in relief: 33.2 IP, 15 H, 0 ER, 8 BB, 27 K.

    That's pretty good.

    Lost in the flurry of shutout baseball, Sandy Koufax's last appearance in an MLB game was a 6-0 loss in Game 2, thanks in large part to the six errors committed by Dodgers fielders.

     

    Runner-Up: 1983 ALCS Game 4Landrum slams one

    Leading two games to one over the slightly favored White Sox, the Orioles went to extra innings as the visiting team in a scoreless game.

    Light-hitting outfielder Tito Landrum stepped to the plate against Britt BurnsChicago's starting pitcher still in the game in the 10th inning. Over the course of his nine-year career, Landrum hit just 13 regular-season home runs in 1,103 plate appearances, yet he broke the scoreless tie with a solo home run.

    The Orioles would tack on two more (ultimately unnecessary) insurance runs, winning the game 3-0 and advancing to the World Series.

San Diego Padres

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    Moment: 1984 NLCS Game 4Garvey extends the series

    Facing elimination, Steve Garvey stepped to the plate with one away in the ninth inning of a tied ballgame.

    With Tony Gwynn on first base, Garvey smacked a ball deep enough to opposite field to simply trot around the bases.

    His two-run walk-off home run pushed the series with the Cubs to a fifth game, which the San Diego Padres would win to advance to their first World Series.

     

    Runner-Up: 1998 NLCS Game 1—Caminiti bails out Hoffman

    1998 was the greatest season of Trevor Hoffman's stellar career. He saved 53 games during the regular season and posted a 1.48 ERA.

    Brought on for a four-out save in the first game of the NLCS against the Braves, however, he was only able to get three outs before allowing the game-tying run to score.

    No matter. Ken Caminiti got that run back with a home run in the top of the 10th inning, helping the Padres jump out to a 3-0 series lead before the team won it in six games.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Moment: 1980 World Series Game 6McGraw gets final out

    Asked to protect a four-run lead with six outs to go, Tug McGraw made things interestingas he was wont to do.

    After a walk and a sacrifice fly, he allowed one of his inherited runners to score. A single reloaded the bases in the ninth, but a ground out ended Kansas City's threat.

    Ensuring that the three-run lead didn't feel too safe, McGraw loaded the bases again in the ninth with only one out. Frank White harmlessly fouled out for the second out of the inning, bringing Willie Wilson's .326 regular season batting average to the plate.

    On the 48th pitch of his night, McGraw got Wilson to swing through the game-winning pitch, giving the Phillies their first World Series title.

     

    Runner-Up: 2010 NLDS Game 1Halladay's day

    After wasting away for more than a decade on a Blue Jays team that was unable to ever win more than 88 games in a season, Roy Halladay finally made his first career postseason appearance for the Phillies in 2010.

    It was a good one.

    Halladay threw just the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history, holding the Cincinnati Reds to a fifth-inning walk and nothing more.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Moment: 1960 World Series Game 7Mazeroski's ultimate walk-off

    Whether he knows it or not, every little boy who has hit an imaginary Game 7 walk-off home run in his backyard has dreamed of becoming the next Bill Mazeroski.

    There have been walk-off World Series-winning home runs, but Mazeroski is the only person in baseball history to hit a walk-off home run in Game 7 of the World Series.

    In a back-and-forth game that featured three blown saves and 10 runs scored in the final two innings, the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to deal the final blow to the New York Yankees, winning the World Series for the first time in 35 years.

     

    Runner-Up: 1971 World Series Game 7Clemente homers, wins MVP

    Roberto Clemente's home run in the top of the fourth inning wasn't anywhere near as climactic as Mazeroski's in the bottom of the ninth inning 11 years earlier, but considering the Pirates won the game by a score of 2-1, it was every bit as important.

    In addition to the crucial home run, Clemente batted .414 for the series and was named the 1971 World Series MVP.

Texas Rangers

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    Moment: 2011 World Series Game 6Hamilton hammers one

    We remember David Freese as the hero of the game, but Game 6 of the 2011 World Series is one that I suspect Texas Rangers fans won't ever be able to forget.

    The Rangers led by three runs with five outs to go. They led by two runs with one out to go. Yet the game still went into extra innings, where Josh Hamilton blasted a home run that would have gone down in history if not for another blown save by the Rangers' bullpen.

    Hamilton's two-run bomb off of Jason Motte put the Rangers up by a score of 9-7, but it wasn't meant to be.

     

    Runner-Up: 2011 ALCS Game 2Cruz's walk-off slam

    Nelson Cruz simply dominated the Detroit Tigers in the 2011 ALCS. He hit six of the team's seven home runs in the series, driving in 13 runs and obviously being named the series MVP.

    His walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning of Game 2 was the first in postseason history.

    Robin Ventura did hit a game-winning ball over the fence with the bases loaded in the 1999 NLCS, but he was officially only credited with a single after being mobbed by teammates and rendered unable to round the bases. What a strange game this is!

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Moment: 2010 ALDS Game 3Crawford and Pena complete late-inning rally

    The Tampa Bay Rays bats were absolutely stifled for the first 25 innings of the 2010 ALDS. Against Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson and the rest of the Rangers' gang, the Rays mustered just two runs on 13 hits with 30 strikeouts.

    With their backs up against the wall, they finally struck in the final two innings of Game 3.

    Anchored by ninth-inning home runs from Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, the Rays scored two in the eighth inning and three in the ninth to win the game and force the Rangers to play at least one more game before advancing.

     

    Runner-Up: 2008 ALCS Game 2Upton's walk-off sac fly

    There are certainly more exciting plays in baseball than the sacrifice fly, but it gets the job done.

    Mike Timlin walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning, bringing B.J. Upton to the plate with a chance to send the home crowd to the parking lots with smiles on their faces.

    Upton was having a very Adam Dunn-like game up to that point, going 1-for-4 with a home run, a walk and three strikeouts. He finally decided to put a ball in the field of play, lofting a game-winning fly ball to right fielder J.D. Drew for both the final out and final run of the game.

     

Boston Red Sox

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    Moment: 2004 ALCS Game 4Roberts steals, Ortiz drives

    At the moment that it happened, Dave Roberts' stolen base was innocent enough. According to the Baseball-Reference game log linked above, it merely increased the Boston Red Sox's chances of winning the game from 37 percent to 47 percent.

    In retrospect, however, it somehow sparked the Red Sox to a comeback victory and another seven wins in a row to claim the World Series for the first time in nearly a century.

    Lest we forget, David Ortiz's walk-off home run in the 12th inning is what actually won the game and kept Boston's dream alive.

     

    Runner-Up: 1975 World Series Game 6Fisk waves it fair

    It's a more iconic moment than Roberts' stolen base, but we're giving the nod to the 2004 moment since that team actually won the World Series and broke the Curse of the Bambino.

    Carlton Fisk's home run off the foul pole over the Green Monster is replayed over and over againnot nearly as much because of the hit as because of Fisk's body language, pleading for the ball to stay fair as he skipped up the first-base line.

    It was just one incredible moment in one of the greatest World Series ever playedespecially true if you're a Reds fan.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Moment: 1975 World Series Game 3 and Game 7Morgan delivers twice

    Pete Rose won the MVP of the series, but no one was more clutch than Joe Morgan.

    The Reds blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning of Game 3, courtesy of a Dwight Evans home run. Morgan redeemed them, however, getting a game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th inning with the bases loaded.

    Knocking in the winning run in a World Series game is every ballplayer's dream, but Morgan got to do it twice in the span of eight days.

    In the top of the ninth inning of the pivotal Game 7, the score was tied at three. Morgan strode to the plate with runners on the corners and two down, calmly lifting what proved to be the series-winning hit into center field, scoring Ken Griffey Sr.

     

    Runner-Up: 1990 World Series Game 4Stewart's throwing error

    In more than 8,000 career plate appearances during the regular season, Paul O'Neill recorded a grand total of seven sacrifice bunts.

    Nevertheless, trailing 1-0 in the eighth inning with runners on first and second, he gave himself up to advance the runners. Only, Dave Stewart decided to throw the ball away, loading the bases for a subsequent ground out and sacrifice fly to put the Reds ahead.

    It was all the advantage they would need to finish off the sweep.

Colorado Rockies

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    Moment: 2007 NLDS Game 3Baker does in the Phillies

    The Colorado Rockies and "exciting postseason baseball" aren't exactly synonymous. The Rockies have competed in just five playoff series in their 21-year history. Three of them were sweeps, and they lost the other two by a 3-1 margin.

    However, there was one moment of particular intrigue. It wasn't a walk-off hit, but it did put the Rockies in position to win their first postseason series as a franchise.

    In the bottom of the eighth, two of the Rockies' most valuable hittersMatt Holliday and Todd Heltoneach flew out to right field to start the inning, mitigating expectations of breaking the 1-1 tie at that stage in the game.

    Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe had other plans, though, stringing together a pair of singles to put runners on the corners for pinch hitter Jeff Baker. In his first career at-bat in the postseason, Baker set up Manny Corpas for the save by flaring a game-winning single to right field.

     

    Runner-Up: 2007 NLCS Game 2Walk this way

    Diamondbacks closer Jose Valverde was dominant in the 10th inning, mowing through the heart of the Rockies lineup in order with a pair of strikeouts.

    With the game lasting further into extras, he stayed in to pitch the 11thwhich was plenty long enough for the wheels to come off.

    After ceding a lead-off single, he peppered in two outs and two walks to bring Willy Taveras to the plate with the bases loaded. Taveras proceeded to drive in the winning run by taking four straight balls and walking to first base.

     

Kansas City Royals

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    Moment: 1985 World Series Game 6Denkinger's blown call

    Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning of a game that could have ended their season, the Kansas City Royals needed to score at least one run against rookie pitcher Todd Worrell.

    Far from a rookie, Jorge Orta came to the plate in possession of a .280 batting average over the course of his more than 6,000 regular-season plate appearances. He hit a dribbler up the first base line for what looked like the first out of the inning to everyone other than the first base umpire.

    Don Denkinger called Orta safe, sparking a two-run rally and a subsequent 11-0 win in the decisive Game 7.

    In unrelated news, that was the last time the Royals were in the playoffs, so it's possible that they sold their souls to the devil to get that call.

     

    Runner-Up: 1980 World Series Game 3Willie squared

    After opening the series with a pair of heartbreaking losses, Game 3 might as well have been do or die for the Royals. No team had ever recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, and it would be another 24 years before the Red Sox pulled it off.

    In the bottom of the 10th inning, the Royals capitalized on the opportunity to keep the series interesting. With the speedy Willie Wilson on second base, Willie Aikens singled home the game-winning run against Tug McGraw.

Detroit Tigers

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    Moment: 2006 ALCS Game 4Game, Set, Magglio

    Just three years after finishing a season with a 43-119 record, the Detroit Tigers won the AL Wild Card and were one game away from advancing to the World Series.

    Detroit had more or less manhandled Oakland in the first three games of the series, hitting a total of five home runs and winning each game by at least three runs.

    Game 4 finally provided some drama.

    Trailing 3-2 in the sixth inning, Magglio Ordonez tied the game up with a first-pitch home run off of Dan Haren. With the score still tied at three, Ordonez came to the plate again in the ninth inning and blasted a series-winning three-run home run to left field.

     

    Runner-Up: 1935 World Series Game 6Detroit wins first championship

    (In the interest of full disclosure, this probably would have been the top moment if it wasn't infinitely easier to find a clip of Ordonez's home run.)

    With the game tied at three, Cubs third baseman Stan Hack led off the top of the ninth inning with a triple, hoping to score the game-winning run to push the series to a seventh game. However, they were unable to drive him in, so the game went to the bottom of the ninth for a chance at a walk-off win for the Tigers.

    Mickey Cochrane singled and got into scoring position just in time for Goose Goslin's game-winning hit.

    After a heartbreaking loss to the Cardinals in the 1934 World Series, the Tigers finally won their first championship.

Minnesota Twins

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    Moment: 1991 World Series Game 6We'll see you tomorrow night

    As much as Game 7 belonged to Jack Morris and his 10-inning shutout, Game 6 belonged even more to Kirby Puckett.

    Puckett delivered an RBI triple in the first inning and later came around to score on a Shane Mack single.

    In the third inning, Puckett made an incredible leaping grab against the wall, robbing Ron Gant of extra bases and probably an RBI.

    Three innings later, his sacrifice fly gave the Minnesota Twins a temporary lead.

    And in the bottom of the 11th, Puckett led off the inning with a game-winning home run.

    In case you weren't keeping track, he either scored or drove in each of Minnesota's four runs in the game and made a play on defense that kept Atlanta from scoring at least one more run than it did.

    He was the hero long before the memorable home run. The home run simply erased any doubts over what pose would be used for his statue.

     

    Runner-Up: 1924 World Series Game 7Giants' giant errors

    Back when the Twins were the Washington Senators, they won the first World Series in franchise history with a little help from New York's shoddy defense.

    The first three batters in Washington's half of the 12th inning should have been retired. A dropped foul ball allowed Muddy Ruel to continue batting long enough to reach base by means of a double. A botched ground ball by the shortstop allowed pitcher Walter Johnson to reach first base.

    Instead of heading to the top of the 13th inning, Earl McNeely stepped in with two men on base and only one out. He promptly doubled in the series-winning run.

Chicago White Sox

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    Moment: 2005 World Series Game 2Podsednik? Seriously?

    In 568 plate appearances during the 2005 regular season, Scott Podsednik hit zero home runs.

    He didn't hit a couple of home runs or one home run. Zero.

    Evidently, he was saving up for the playoffs.

    Podsednik hit his first home run of the postseason in the sixth inning of Chicago's 14-2 rout over Boston in Game 1 of the ALDS. His second one came in the bottom of the ninth inning against Brad Lidge after the Astros tied the game in the top half.

    The White Sox would go on to sweep the Astros, winning a World Series for the first time since 1917.

     

    Runner-Up: 2005 ALCS Game 2"Dropped" third strike

    Working his third full inning of relief, Anaheim's Kelvim Escobar got his fifth strikeout of the game against A.J. Pierzynski to send the game into extra innings.

    But then Pierzynski took off for first base.

    The Angels were walking off the field, as it certainly seemed as though Josh Paul had cleanly caught the ball to end the inning. Nevertheless, Pierzynski was awarded first base and replaced with Pablo Ozuna who stole second base.

    Joe Crede laced a double into left field one pitch later, winning the game for the White Sox and setting them off on the path of an eight-game winning streak.

New York Yankees

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    Moment: 1956 World Series Game 5Perfection

    It would be more than an understatement to say that Don Larsen was an unlikely candidate to pitch a perfect game in the World Series.

    Among the 719 pitchers in baseball history with at least 1,500 innings pitched, Larsen's walk rate of 4.22 BB/9 is the 22nd-worst. In the month of September leading up to that World Series, he walked 23 batters over the course of 34.2 innings pitched, including eight walks in one outing.

    But no one remembers any of that.

    Larsen will forever be remembered not for all the times he walked batters, but for the one time that no one reached base against him.

    There have been 21 perfect games since 1900, but only Larsen has thrown one during the playoffs.

    It came at a pretty doggone critical time too, as the series was tied at two games apiece with the remaining games scheduled to be played in Brooklyn.

     

    Runner-Up: 2001 ALDS Game 3The flip

    Trailing Oakland by a 2-0 margin in the best-of-five series but clinging to a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning, Mike Mussina gave up a double to Terrance Long.

    With Jeremy Giambi evidently running through molasses with a refrigerator strapped to his back, right fielder Shane Spencer tracked down the ball and overthrew both of his cutoff men. It looked as though Giambi was going to score without a play at the plate when Derek Jeter came flying in from nowhere to flip the ball to Jorge Posada for the out.

    New York would win the game and the series, eventually advancing to the World Series.

     

    Also Considered: 2003 ALCS Game 7Boone's moonshot

    Aaron Boone entered the game as a pinch runner in the eighth inning, but he won the series with his bat in the 11th. Boone mashed the first pitch he saw from Tim Wakefield into the left field seats, sending the Yankees back to the World Series for the fifth time in six years.

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