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Down but not out, 0-2 teams eye history

Down but not out, 0-2 teams eye history

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So the stage is set. Not merely for amazing comebacks, but for the amazing moments that frame them and endure as indelible memories.

You cannot reach dizzying heights without starting out from dark depths. They are the building blocks of monumental stories.

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All the blocks are now in place, with each of the Division Series off to a 2-games-to-0 laughter. But who was it who said, "All the laughter ends in sorrow," William Shakespeare or Jeremy Giambi?

As of this moment, the Phillies, Dodgers, Red Sox and Rays are enjoying the laughs.

And the Brewers, Cubs, Angels and White Sox are the threats to turn them to tears.

It doesn't happen often. Of the 54 times a five-game series has begun 2-0, including the original format of League Championship Series, only seven teams have managed to complete the comeback; the tally for Division Series is four out of 29.

But when it does happen, it comes with moments that defy logic and define men and their teams.

Tough acts to follow. Nevertheless, this is the stage the Brewers, Cubs, Angels and White Sox now have the opportunity to crowd.

The best in human drama, in five acts:

Edgar Brews Seattle's Best Mojo
1995 ALDS, Mariners vs. Yankees
Acts I-II: Yankees 9-6 and 7-5 (in 15 innings) in Yankee Stadium
Acts III-IV: Mariners 7-4 and 11-8 in the Kingdome.

Act V: For the Seattle Mariners, who had come back from a towering late-August AL West deficit of 10 1/2 games to the Angels and the mountain of two opening ALDS losses to the Bombers, a 4-2 deficit in the eighth inning of the deciding game was but a molehill.

The M's again caught the Yankees with Ken Griffey Jr.'s solo homer with one out and Doug Strange's walk with the bases loaded and two outs. The Yankees then were able to reverse the momentum in the 11th, taking a 5-4 lead on an RBI single by Randy Valerde.

But the Mariners were not going to let them out of the Kingdome alive. Their execution of Jack McDowell was swift: Joey Cora singled, and so did Griffey, then Edgar Martinez ripped a two-run double to left, sending his team into the ALCS and 57,411 into a frenzy that marked the formal birth of Seattle as a baseball city.

Valentin's Days
1999 ALDS, Red Sox vs. Indians
Acts I-II: Indians 3-2 and 11-1 in Jacobs Field.
Acts III-IV: Red Sox 9-3 and 23-7 in Fenway Park.

Act V: Back in Cleveland, John Valentin continued the relentless punishment of Tribe pitching he had begun in Game 3. Although his two RBIs were mere accessories to the seven by Troy O'Leary that dominated the 12-8 clincher, Valentin had set the three-game tone which by the end had completely spooked the Indians.

A lineup which had been held to three runs in the two opening defeats erupted in the ensuing three games for 44 runs and 45 hits. Valentin led that parade, going 7-for-14 with a total of 12 RBIs.

ALDS 2-0 leads
Year
Up 2-0
Winner
Loser
Result
'07
Red Sox
Red Sox
Angels
3-0
'07
Indians
Indians
Yankees
3-1
'06
A's
A's
Twins
3-0
'05
White Sox
White Sox
Red Sox
3-0
'04
Red Sox
Red Sox
Angels
3-0
'03
A's
Red Sox
A's
3-2
'01
A's
Yankees
A's
3-2
'00
Mariners
Mariners
White Sox
3-0
'99
Yankees
Yankees
Rangers
3-0
'99
Indians
Red Sox
Indians
3-2
'98
Yankees
Yankees
Rangers
3-0
'97
Orioles
Orioles
Mariners
3-1
'96
Orioles
Orioles
Indians
3-1
'95
Indians
Indians
Red Sox
3-0
'95
Yankees
Mariners
Yankees
3-2

Jeter: Right Place, Right Time, Right On
2001 ALDS, Yankees vs. Athletics
Acts I-II: Athletics 5-3 and 2-0 in Yankee Stadium
Acts IV-V: Yankees 9-2 in Networks Associates Coliseum and 5-3 in Yankee Stadium

Act III: Yes, with poetic license, the crowning moment of this comeback actually came at its beginning. Before anyone realized the Yankees still had a pulse, never mind a chance. When everyone naturally assumed they were sleep-walking their way into an early offseason.

Given that New York had scored a total of four runs in 25 innings at that point, the A's appeared to be working on the finishing touches with their incipient rally in the bottom of the seventh. Mike Mussina had two outs when the inning began to spin out of his control.

Jeremy Giambi singled. Terrence Long dropped a double into shallow right, near the foul line, that looked threatening but not damaging ... until right fielder Shane Spencer, slightly out of control, unleashed a throw meant for the plate but instead veering crazily into no man's land as Giambi tore around third and for home.

And before the ball could fly wildly outside of the first-base foul line and way wide of the plate, Derek Jeter materialized out of nowhere -- a good 120 feet from his normal shortstop position -- to glove it and flip it to catcher Jorge Posada for the tag on Giambi, who was so stunned by the development he didn't even slide.

Energized by Jeter's instinctive play, the Yankees came alive with a 1-0 win despite getting only two hits, then went on to complete their comeback against the A's and continue to a memorable World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Grady Makes the Grade
2003 ALDS, Red Sox vs. Athletics
Acts I-II: Athletics 5-4 and 5-1 in Network Associates Coliseum.
Acts III-IV: Red Sox 3-1 and 5-4 in Fenway Park.

Act V: Manny Ramirez did his usual thing, with a three-run homer in the sixth after the good Barry Zito had blanked Boston on two singles through five, but Grady Little got the symbolic game ball by doing his unusual thing (as subsequent ALCS events would show): Removing Pedro Martinez.

Martinez started the eighth in Oakland with a 4-2 lead but, after Chris Singleton led off with a double and scored on Billy McMillon's single to make it 4-3, Little went to get Pedro in favor of Alan Embree.

Thus began a non-stop chess match which saw Little shuttle in four relievers to get the game's final six outs. It worked to perfection, right down to the heart-stopping resolution, as Derek Lowe threw a series-ending called third strike past Long with the bases loaded.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["division_series" ] }
{"content":["division_series" ] }
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