ESPN reported this morning that last night’s comeback by the Red Sox was the “second greatest” in postseason history. Hogwash. It was the greatest. I still can’t believe what I saw.
Postseason comebacks have to be judged in the context not only of the number of runs, but also of the situation: the number of outs remaining till you either come back or go home.
By that standard, the previous greatest comeback was by the Angels in 2002. Down, 5-0, in the seventh inning, and trailing 3 games to 2 in the World Series, the 27th out of the elimination game was closing in. Then Scott Spezio hit his three-run homer to start the six-run rally.1
Last night’s comeback was similar: 7th inning, elimination game. The difference is the Red Sox were down by seven runs. Did I mention that I still can’t believe what I saw?
For the record, here is the comeback ESPN was claiming was the best ever: In 1929, the Philadelphia Athletics were down, 8-0, in the 7th inning. They scored 10 runs in that inning (highlighted by Mule Haas’s 3-run inside-the-park homer) and won the game. Impressive indeed. But at the time they led the series, 2 games to 1. They would finish the Series win in five games.
ESPN also noted two comebacks from down 6-0. One was in the 1996 World Series. In a game I remember well, the Yankees were down, 6-0, but mounted a comeback starting with 3 runs in the 6th. They won the game, 8-6. They were trailing in the Series, but it was not an elimination game. It was game 4, and they would go on to win the Series in six games. The other comeback from 6 runs down started earlier in the game, and the game was earlier in the Series: The 1956 Dodgers were down, 6-0, after the top of the second inning and mounted their comeback in the bottom of that inning, and won, 13-8. It was Game 2, and a lot of good it did them: they lost the Series in seven.
Of course, for the time being, at least, the Angels still have the honor of best-ever World Series comeback from the precipice of a long winter. After that comeback, the Angels had only one more win to get to take the Series, and it was, of course, at home, just like their comeback game. The Red Sox now head to Tampa Bay, needing to extend their winning streak to three, to claim the AL pennant.2