Comebacks in the MLB Postseason


Siddharth Karthikeya, Staff Writer

Action-packed October baseball has had more and more people sitting glued to their devices than ever before. Comebacks have been the talk of the town as two teams in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) and The American League Championship Series (ALCS), the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively, came back from 3-game series deficits to force 3-3 elimination games. This dramatic ending to the championship series (baseball’s semifinals) has had people in a nail-biter, as not only have underdogs prevailed but they’ve excelled and defied popular opinion.

After facing immense backlash for the 2017 cheating scandal, the Houston Astros had a dull season where they won less than half of their games. This was an anomaly for the franchise, which faced immense success in the preceding years. Somehow, although they had very poor performances, they managed to claw their way into the postseason. But the story of the regular season ended right there as when the Astros hit the home stretch, Houston took off…

Their star players Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Alex Bregman, who fueled their offense all the way to the semifinals, absolutely mowing past the Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics. 

Upon reaching the semis, the Astros fell right back into their regular season habits and took three consecutive losses to the Tampa Bay Rays. However, these players weren’t ready to go out without a fight, so they persisted right back into the series like real champions. One by one, the Astros managed to win three games in a row and tie the Tampa Bay Rays, forcing an elimination game for both sides. Unfortunately, despite putting up a valiant effort, the Astros ended up losing Game 7 to the Rays. 

Meanwhile, after cruising through the regular season with the best record in baseball as well as cruising through the quarterfinals, the LA Dodgers were poised for victory and going strong. Their smooth season came to an abrupt end when the Atlanta Braves stopped their ravaging momentum by taking a 3-1 series lead over a booming Dodgers team. 

When almost all hope was lost, the Dodgers made one final push for victory. After some jump-start key hits from the red hot Corey Seager, team morale was boosted and everybody was starting to get in on the action. Soon, this series was tied 3-3 as well, just like when the Houston Astros had come back and tied the Tampa Bay Rays. The only difference? LA managed to take their momentum and finish the series with a win, taking them to the World Series and eliminating the Braves.

Carrying that momentum on up to the World Series, the Dodgers were quick to take a 2-1 lead against Tampa Bay. In fact, the Dodgers were even in a great position to expand on their series lead, but things took a turn for the worse in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 4. With runners on first and second base and the Dodgers up by a run, the struggling Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen, came up to attempt to finish the game. But soon after came one of the most remarkable comebacks in MLB history.

Jansen managed to get two outs in exchange for runners on first and second base in the form of Randy Arozarena and Kevin Kiermaier. Then, up came to the plate the inexperienced Brett Phillips, who hadn’t hit for the Rays in 17 games. The Rays looked at Phillips in desperation and prayed that he would come through. And sure enough, he did.

Phillips shot a ball out to the right-center field, which dropped right in front of the glove of Chris Taylor. Coming through the ball to get it back into the infield, Taylor misjudged and bobbled the ball in his hurry to prevent another run from scoring. The unexpected hit from Phillips, which normally would’ve only tied the game, ended up allowing Randy Arozarena to come all the way around from first base and score. 

In ecstasy, the triumphant Rays ran out onto the field to celebrate their terrific comeback and carried Phillips on their shoulders to show their appreciation for his game-changing at-bat.

The Dodgers rebounded in Game 5, turning the tide again and putting them one game away from winning the World Series. Kershew, who helped the Dodgers keep their lead, earned a standing ovation.

“This year’s been just special—weird, special, different—in a lot of ways,” said Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw in an ESPN article.

So, as we’re all glued to our devices watching this unorthodox baseball playoff season, if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that there’s nothing we can be sure of.


Photo courtesy of SPORTS.YAHOO.COM