The American League Championship Series is going the distance. With the Houston Astros 7-1 win against the New York Yankee in Game 6, the stage is now set for a decisive Game 7 on Saturday night in Houston.
Based on what we’ve seen so far this series, this figures to be an instant classic. Both teams have had their backs against the wall and have been forced to overcome crushing losses, yet both teams have managed to show remarkable resilience and determination to get here.
The Yankees headed home down 0-2 after losing a pair of 2-1 games in Houston. Then they won three straight to stay alive and even take command in the series. The Astros had a chance to steal Game 4, but couldn’t hold on as New York scored six unanswered runs to win it. Houston headed home needing a win to stay alive and got it thanks to a revived offense.
With everything on the line Saturday night, both teams will have to dig even deeper to advance to the World Series. Both will have to prove they’re more resilient than the other. That’s a recipe for drama. That’s a recipe for this Game 7 to go down in history like so many before it have.
With that in mind, there’s no better time to look back at those memorable games and moments than right now. Since this is a League Championship Series, we’ll keep the focus there. Besides, we looked at great World Series Game 7s last season.
We’ll begin with the last season the Yankees and Astros both appeared in an LCS.
Red Sox finish historic comeback
Red Sox 10, Yankees 3 (Oct. 20, 2004)
This is memorable more so for the history that was made than the game itself. The Yankees took a commanding 3-0 series lead, only to see the Red Sox storm back and become the first team to overcome that deficit. It started with a Dave Roberts stolen base in Game 4, which is ironic given that the winner this season will face his Dodgers in the World Series. It continued with Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in Game 6. It ended in Game 7, as the Red Sox rode their waves of success to a convincing 10-3 win.
Meanwhile, in the National League, the Astros were engaged in a series similar to the one taking place now. That’s because like the 2017 series, the home team won each of the first six games. In Game 7, the St. Louis Cardinals made it 7-for-7 for the home team, riding Jeff Suppan to a 5-2 win over Roger Clemens. The Astros will have to overcome CC Sabathia to equal that.
Francisco Cabrera delivers
Braves 3, Pirates 2 (Oct. 14, 1992)
The 25th anniversary of the classic was just last weekend. The Braves were threatening to blow a 3-1 series lead when the seldom-used Cabrera stepped up with the slow-footed Sid Bream on second base representing the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Naturally, Cabrera came through, rolling a single into left field to set up the most dramatic play at home plate in MLB history. Bream would beat the throw of left fielder Barry Bonds and the tag of catcher Mike Lavalliere by an eyelash, maybe less.
He was safe, the Braves advanced to their second straight World Series and the Pirates wouldn’t be the same again for 21 years. Those few seconds and inches truly changed baseball history, and will live forever.
Cubs curse continues
Marlins 9, Cubs 6 (Oct. 15, 2003)
No one will ever forget Game 6. That was the night Steve Bartman became famous for reasons that haunted Cubs fans until their World Series victory in 2016. What everyone overlooks is the Cubs not only blew a big lead in Game 6, they had another chance to win in Game 7, but came up short.
Despite Kerry Wood clobbering a home run, the Cubs ace didn’t have his best stuff. The opportunistic Marlins took advantage, knocking Wood from the game and then sealing the win against Chicago’s bullpen. The victory capped a comeback from being down three games to one, and it led to the second World Series championship in franchise history.
Yankees 6, Red Sox 5 in 11 innings (Oct. 16, 2003)
That brings us back to the Yankees. They were the Marlins opponents in the 2003 World Series, and they got there thanks to Aaron Boone’s dramatic walk-off home run in extra innings in Game 7.
This game featured perhaps the best pitching matchup in a Game 7. Pedro Martinez got the ball for Boston, while Roger Clemens handled duties for New York. The Red Sox got out to a 4-0 lead early on Clemens, who then gave way to Mike Mussina. The Yankees eventually tied it against Martinez in the eighth inning. That inning is remembered as the one that cost Grady Little his job as Red Sox manager, as he elected to stick with a laboring Martinez.
By the time the 11th inning rolled around, Mariano Rivera had thrown three scoreless innings of relief for New York. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was tossing for Boston. That was until Boone connected. That’s the moment both the Yankees and Astros will look for on Saturday, but only one team will experience the thrill of victory.
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