Walk-off errors in postseason play rare events

Walk-off errors in postseason play rare events

The St. Louis Cardinals certainly are no strangers to wild postseason walk-off finishes.

One year after they won Game 3 of the World Series on a walk-off obstruction call, the Cardinals found themselves on the other side of things Tuesday night, losing Game 3 of the National League Championship Series to the San Francisco Giants on a walk-off error.

The Giants' 5-4 victory on Tuesday marked only the eighth postseason game to end on a walk-off error, meaning the past two postseasons have accounted for one-fourth of all playoff games to end in such a fashion.

San Francisco outfielder Gregor Blanco dropped down a sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second and nobody out in the bottom of the 10th inning. Cards pitcher Randy Choate quickly gathered the ball, only to throw the ball away down the right-field line, allowing Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford to score the game-winning run from second base.

E-asy does it
Postseason games that have ended on an error
Game Winner Loser Play
2014 NLCS 3 S.F. Stl. Sac bunt, E1
2013 WS 3 Stl. Bos. E5, obstruction
2009 ALCS 2 NYY LAA Ground ball, E4
1996 ALDS 2 NYY Tex. Sac bunt, E5
1986 WS 6 NYM Bos. Ground ball, E3
1972 ALCS 1 Oak. Det. Single, E9
1969 WS 4 NYM Bal. Sac bunt, E1
1914 WS 3 Bos. Phi. Sac bunt, E1

One of the eight walk-off errors in the postseason accounted for what many would consider the most infamous error of all-time. With the Red Sox holding a 3-2 edge in the 1986 World Series, first baseman Bill Buckner booted a slow roller off the bat of Mookie Wilson in a tied Game 6, allowing the game-winning run to score from second base. The Mets went on to win the series in seven games.

Of the eight postseason games to end on a walk-off error, this was the fourth one in which the game-ending error stemmed from a sacrifice-bunt attempt. The last such play came in the 1996 American League Division Series, when Yankees pinch-hitter Charlie Hayes dropped down a bunt and Rangers third baseman Dean Palmer made an errant throw, allowing then-rookie Derek Jeter to score the first of his 111 career postseason runs.

  Date Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 11 SF 3, STL 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 12 STL 5, SF 4 video
Gm 3 Oct. 14 SF 5, STL 4 video
Gm 4 Oct. 15 SF 6, STL 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 16 SF 6, STL 3 video
The only other walk-off errors on sacrifice bunts came in the Mets' victory over the Orioles in Game 4 of the 1969 World Series, and the Boston Braves' win over the Philadelphia Athletics in Game 3 of the 1914 World Series, which accounted for the first walk-off error in postseason history.

Prior to Tuesday, the most recent postseason game to end on an error came in last season's World Series. Allen Craig scored the winning run after the umpires ruled that Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks obstructed Craig as he tried to get to his feet and race home after catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had made an errant throw trying to nail Craig at third base.

Aside from the four sacrifice-bunt plays, Buckner's miscue and last season's obstruction call, only two other postseason games ended with an error on the final play.

One was Game 1 of the 1972 ALCS, in which the Athletics defeated the Tigers, 3-2, on a throwing error by Al Kaline. With runners on first and second and the A's trailing, 2-1, pinch-hitter Gonzalo Marquez singled into right field. With the tying run scoring easily from second, Kaline tried to throw out the potential go-ahead runner at third base -- but the throw got away, allowing Gene Tenace to race home for the winning run.

The other came in Game 2 of the 2009 ALCS. With runners on first and second and two outs in the 13th inning, Angels second baseman Maicer Izturis made a wild throw on a potential inning-ending double-play ball off the bat of Melky Cabrera. Jerry Hairston Jr. scored from second on the play, staking the Yankees to a 2-0 lead en route to winning the series in six games.

Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.