Chicago can draw inspiration from '79 Bucs, last team to win Games 6, 7 on road
By Cash Kruth and Manny Randhawa
The Cubs beat the Indians, 3-2, in Game 5 of the World Series at Wrigley Field on Sunday night, sending the Fall Classic back to Cleveland for Game 6 on Tuesday at Progressive Field.
Only five teams have come back from a 3-games-to-1 deficit to win the World Series since it adopted the 2-3-2 format in 1925 -- the last team being the 1985 Royals. The Cubs need two straight wins in Cleveland to become the sixth.
• Since the 1979 Pirates beat the Orioles in Games 6 and 7, there have been seven teams that were up 3-2 with Games 6 and 7 at home, and all of them won the series, with only the 1997 Marlins -- coincidentally against the Indians -- allowing it to reach seven games. The six others (1980 Phillies, 1993 Blue Jays, 1995 Braves, 1996 Yankees, 2009 Yankees and 2013 Red Sox) all closed it out in Game 6.
• Seven of 38 teams with a 3-1 League Championship Series deficit have rallied to win the LCS (* indicates last two games on the road):
1985: Royals* over Blue Jays
1986: Red Sox over Angels
1996: Braves over Cardinals
2003: Marlins* over Cubs
2004: Red Sox* over Yankees
2007: Red Sox over Indians
2012: Giants over Cardinals
Looking at the big picture, the math still favors the Indians. Of the 64 teams that have had a 3-2 lead in the World Series, 43 of them (67 percent) have won it all. Of course, that means 21 clubs have come back from a 3-2 deficit. And since the World Series switched to a 2-3-2 format in 1925, there have been six clubs to win Games 6 and 7 on the road: the 1926 Cardinals (over the Yankees), the '34 Cardinals (over the Tigers), the '52 Yankees (over the Dodgers), the '58 Yankees (over the Braves), the '68 Tigers (over the Cardinals) and the '79 Pirates (over the Orioles).
That Bucs team is the true inspiration for this Cubs club, as not only did it win the final two games on the road, but it also came back from a 3-1 deficit. Since then, there have been eight clubs that came back from a 3-2 deficit in the World Series. Here's a look at how those eight (plus the "We Are Family" Pirates of '79) pulled off their epic comebacks.
The Rangers answered with a Josh Hamilton two-run homer off Jason Motte in the 10th. But in the bottom of the 10th, once again down to their final strike, the Cardinals got a season-saving hit -- this one a game-tying single to center from Lance Berkman. In the 11th, Freese was the hero again, hitting a solo homer to center to force a decisive Game 7, which St. Louis won, 6-2, for the franchise's 11th championship.
2002: Angels over Giants
With the Giants holding a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning of Game 6 in Anaheim, things looked dire for the Angels. But Mike Scioscia's club staged a tremendous comeback: With two on and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Giants manager Dusty Baker brought in Felix Rodriguez to relieve starter Russ Ortiz. Scott Spiezio greeted Rodriguez with a three-run homer down the right-field line. In the eighth, Darin Erstad hit a solo shot off Todd Worrell, and two batters later, Troy Glaus doubled to give the Angels a 6-5 lead.
Following the demoralizing Game 6 loss, the Giants were shut down by current Cubs starter John Lackey in Game 7. Garret Anderson doubled and drove in three runs as the Angels claimed their first World Series title with a 4-1 victory.
2001: D-backs over Yankees
In the first Fall Classic after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium before Game 3. New York won all three games at the venerable ballpark to reach the verge of its fifth championship in six years.
But the D-backs fought back, winning Game 6 in Arizona behind an offensive eruption and strong start from Randy Johnson, 15-2. That set up a Game 7 that would enter the bottom of the ninth inning with the D-backs trailing, 2-1, and facing future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. With runners at first and second and one out, Tony Womack doubled home the tying run.
Two batters later, Luis Gonzalez hit a broken-bat, jam shot over a drawn-in infield for a World Series-winning single to center, clinching the title for Arizona.
1991: Twins over Braves
Kirby Puckett was the hero for Minnesota, hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th of Game 6 to break a 3-3 tie and send the Series to a decisive seventh game.
Game 7 was an epic pitchers' duel between Atlanta's John Smoltz and Minnesota's Jack Morris. Smoltz tossed 7 1/3 scoreless frames, and Morris went 10 innings without surrendering a run. The result was a scoreless game into the bottom of the 10th, when pinch-hitter Gene Larkin singled to left-center to bring a second title in five years to the Twins.
1987: Twins vs. Cardinals
The Twins romped the Cardinals to open the Series, taking a 2-0 lead before dropping three straight. The offense returned for Game 6, in which Minnesota used a pair of four-run innings to defeat St. Louis, 11-5.
The Twins clinched in front of their home crowd thanks to starter Frank Viola's strong performance in Game 7, when he allowed two runs and fanned seven over eight innings.
1986: Mets vs. Red Sox
The Mets made it a series when they rallied to win Games 3 and 4 in Boston after losing the first two in New York, but the Red Sox won a big Game 5 at Fenway Park. The Mets won both games at Shea Stadium, beginning with an epic 6-5, 10-inning win in Game 6 -- better known to Sox fans as the "Buckner Game."
New York left no doubt in Game 7, posting consecutive three-run innings in the sixth and seventh behind a solo homer from Most Valuable Player Ray Knight to bring the title back to Queens.
1985: Royals vs. Cardinals
Game 7 was a laugher: An 11-0 Kansas City victory. How the Royals got there, however, was no laughing matter. They rallied from a 3-1 Series deficit beginning with a 6-1 victory in Game 5 at Busch Stadium, then eked out a classic win in Game 6 thanks to Dane Iorg's walk-off two-run single, which was set up when Jorge Orta was mistakenly (and infamously) called safe at first base by umpire Don Denkinger.
1982: Cardinals vs. Brewers
The Cardinals were searching for answers after two consecutive losses in Milwaukee and quickly found them in Game 6, crushing the Brewers' pitching staff en route to a 13-1 win.
Game 7 featured more drama, with a two-run single by Keith Hernandez in the sixth inning erasing Milwaukee's lead and propelling the Cardinals to yet another World Series title.
1979: Pirates vs. Orioles
A six-run eighth inning in Game 4 tilted the Series decisively in Baltimore's favor … or so everyone thought. The Pirates didn't get the memo. They used multiple late rallies to post a 7-1 win in Game 5 at home and then won Game 6, 4-0, in Baltimore.
The O's got out to a 1-0 lead in Game 7, but the Pirates went ahead for good in the sixth on a two-run homer by Willie Stargell and added two more insurance runs in the ninth to bring home the title. Pittsburgh became the third team to ever overcome a 3-1 World Series deficit by winning the final two games on the road -- joining the 1958 Yankees and the '68 Tigers.