For the second straight year, baseball’s ultimate heavyweight fight is going the distance.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of 104 games during the regular season, and the Houston Astros, winners of 101, have traded overhand rights for six games. Now, as we await the bell signaling the seventh and final game, we’re left to wonder who will land the knockout punch.
The Dodgers come in feeling pretty good after extending their season with a 3-1 win in Game 6. But let’s not overlook the fact that the Astros have already been in this position once during the postseason. They won the ALCS by topping the New York Yankees in seven games. Now they’ll try to become the first team since the 1985 Kansas City Royals to win Game 7 in the LCS and World Series in the same season.
Given the fight both teams have shown, this is setting up to be a classic finish. So now seems like a real good time to look back at previous Game 7s that toyed with fans emotions, delivered memorable results and forever etched themselves into our brains.
CUBS END THEIR 108-YEAR CHAMPIONSHIP DROUGHT
It was only fitting that a World Series guaranteed to end a championship drought was decided in an epic Game 7.
The Cubs put immediate pressure on Cleveland, scoring first on Dexter Fowler’s historic leadoff home run. But Cleveland never appeared rattled. Even when Chicago ran its lead to 5-1, there was always a feeling the game was destined for a pulse-pounding finish. That’s exactly what we got after Rajai Davis tied the game with an unlikely two-run home run against Aroldis Chapman.
After a scoreless ninth and a 17-minute rain delay added to the intensity, the Cubs broke through on Ben Zobrist’s RBI double in the 10th. The Cubs added another run on Miguel Montero’s RBI single, and that proved huge too as the Indians scored in their half. But the lasting image will always be Kris Bryant fielding a chopper, losing his footing but still throwing across the diamond for the final out to end Chicago’s drought.
The Astros and Dodgers have a difficult act to follow after last year’s fantastic finish. But if the first six games are any indication, they’ll have something special in store. (Mark Townsend)
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BILL MAZEROSKI’S WORLD SERIES WALK-OFF HOMER IN 1960
In World Series history, there has been only one walk-off home run in a Game 7. That belongs to Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, who took Ralph Terry of the New York Yankees deep in the bottom of the ninth in 1960. Pittsburgh won the game 10-9 thanks to Mazeroski’s magic and a five-run rally in the eighth inning. (Townsend)
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EDGAR RENTERIA BREAKS THE INDIANS’ HEARTS
The Indians have been on the wrong side of a Game 7 twice now in their history. The first came when Edgar Renteria of the then-Florida Marlins walked them off in the 11th inning. Florida scored single runs in the seventh and ninth to force extra innings, before loading the bases against Charles Nagy. That’s when Renteria came through, making the Marlins baseball’s first wild-card team to win the series. Fun fact: Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer was at this game as a kid. (Townsend)
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LUIS GONZALEZ BEATS MARIANO RIVERA
It’s the final inning of the final game of the World Series and your best hitter is at the plate against the best closer in the game. It’s the situation kids dream about, but it actually was a reality. In 2001, the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied against legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to load the bases in the game’s final inning. That brought outfielder Luis Gonzalez to the plate. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Gonzalez hit a bloop shot over Derek Jeter’s head to give Arizona the incredible walk-off win. (Chris Cwik)
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SANDY KOUFAX PLAYS THE HERO
Take a look at Sandy Koufax’s numbers from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins. Koufax started Game 2, returned for Game 5 and then pitched on two days’ rest in Game 7. His line from that final game: nine innings, three hits, 10 strikeouts and zero earned runs. Yep, he threw a complete-game shutout in Game 7 of the World Series on just two days’ rest. (Cwik)
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JACK MORRIS GOES 10 INNINGS
Twins ace Jack Morris battled Braves pitcher John Smoltz to a scoreless duel throughout. While Smoltz was taken out after 7 1/3 innings, Morris remained in the contest even after it had gone into extra innings. He pitched a scoreless 10th, which set up Gene Larkin’s walk-off single in the bottom of the inning. Morris gave up seven hits and notched eight strikeouts in the win. (Cwik)
A portion of this post was originally published On Nov. 2, 2016.
More World Series coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Lasorda to L.A. manager: ‘You haven’t done [expletive] … ’
• Dodgers’ Kershaw: ‘I can go 27 innings’ in Game 7
• Report: Vegas gambler risking $14 million on Game 7
• Dodgers pitcher makes Astros star pay for racist gesture
• The defensive play that helped force a Game 7