Impressive comebacks prove 'it ain't over 'til it's over'

From the 2004 Angels to the '13 Dodgers, several teams defeated odds to win division

Impressive comebacks prove 'it ain't over 'til it's over'

This is the centennial of Boston's Miracle Braves, a team that was in last place on the Fourth of July and ended up winning the World Series.

This is the 50th anniversary of the season the Phillies had a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 to play ... and didn't make the postseason.

This is a look at some of the most impressive comebacks of the last decade, teams that faced long odds before rallying to win their division. The July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is also when teams declare themselves buyers or sellers, but there's a lot of gray area. Yogi Berra was right. It really ain't over 'til it's over.

2006 Twins, 10 1/2 games out on Aug. 2
The comeback actually began in early June, after a 25-33 start. Over the next several weeks, unproductive veterans Tony Batista and Ruben Sierra were released, while Juan Castro and Kyle Lohse were traded for marginal prospects.

They began to turn things around with the help of a 16-2 record in Interleague Play. From June 8 through the Deadline, the team went 36-10. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen dubbed the Twins "little pirhanas" for their relentless style of play. But on Aug. 2, they still remained far behind the Tigers and in third place of the Wild Card standings, three games out.

But they kept winning, going 35-21 the rest of the way, while the Tigers went 23-32. And on the final day of the season, when the Twins won their fourth American League Central title in five years, it was the first time in history a team had clinched on the last day without having held sole possession of first all season.

2007 Phillies, seven games out on Sept. 12
Before the season, shortstop Jimmy Rollins had declared the Phillies as "the team to beat" in the National League East, but with 17 games left to play, that seemed like a hollow boast.

What happened next was hard to believe. The Mets were swept at home by the Phillies, and they went on to lose 12 of their last 17 games, while the Phillies were going 13-4 to capture the first of five straight division titles. And Rollins was named the National League's Most Valuable Player.

2009 Twins, seven games out on Sept. 6
With 26 games left to play, Minnesota was a .500 team, and the Tigers were in control of the AL Central. But the Twins (18-8) and Detroit went cold (10-15) to force a one-game playoff.

The result was one of the tightest sudden death games ever. The score at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was tied at four at the end of nine. The teams traded runs in the 10th. Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, Alexi Casilla singled off Fernando Rodney to score Carlos Gomez, with the winning run sending the Twins to the playoffs and the Tigers home for the winter.

2013 Dodgers, 9 1/2 games out on June 22
By the time that Los Angeles hit rock bottom, the club had been mired in last place for over a month, and it had endured a string of injuries, including shortstop Hanley Ramirez and pitchers Zack Greinke and Chad Billingsley. There were strong rumors that manager Don Mattingly could be gone any day.

While there's never one simple reason why a team turns itself around, there's little doubt that the arrival of dynamic rookie Yasiel Puig on June 3 provided a needed spark. Soon after, the Dodgers went on a historic hot streak, winning 53 of 66 games to go from also-rans to front-runners, with a 13 1/2-game lead.

2012 Athletics, 13 games out of first on June 30
Oakland actually made two great comebacks this season. They were also five games out with nine to play, but they edged Texas on the final day of the season to win the AL West.

The season started with low expectations, after general manager Billy Beane traded away All-Star starters Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez and All-Star closer Andrew Bailey. But he also signed Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to a 4-year, $36 million deal, an uncharacteristic move for a team with baseball's second-lowest payroll.

After losing to the Rangers on the final day of June, the A's unfurled 19 wins in 23 games, seven of them walk-off victories, through the Trade Deadline. They also closed the season by winning eight of their last nine to slip past fading Texas and capture their first division title since 2006.

2004 Angels, six games out on July 21
The Angels led the division for most of the first two months, but a 20-30 stretch dropped them into third place in the AL West. They turned things around, but they didn't regain the top spot until the 157th game of the season. It took a 7-2 finish to clinch the title. Vladimir Guerrero, in his first year with the club, was voted the American League's Most Valuable Player.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.