One-game playoff history

Originally Published: September 30, 2007
ESPN Research

Monday's tiebreaker game between the San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies to determine the NL wild-card team will be the seventh one-game playoff in major league history. Here are the other six:

1999: Mets 5, Reds 0

The New York Mets swept a three-game series from the Pirates at home, including a win in the final game of the season on a wild pitch. Later that night, the Cincinnati Reds -- needing a win to force a one-game playoff for the NL wild card -- and the Milwaukee Brewers waited through a rain delay of five hours and 42 minutes at the start. When the game finally began, the Reds won 7-1 to force the playoff the next night (the game was originally scheduled for the afternoon, but was pushed back to give the Reds time to get home). However, Al Leiter pitched a shutout as the Mets won 5-0 and advanced to the NLDS, in which they defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks thanks in part to Todd Pratt's walk-off homer in Game 4.

1998: Cubs 5, Giants 3

The Chicago Cubs could have made the playoffs as the NL wild-card team, but they lost their last game of the season. Needing the San Francisco Giants to lose as well to force a one-game playoff for the wild card, the Cubs' season was saved when Colorado's Neifi Perez hit a walk-off home run to beat the Giants later that night. In the one-game playoff, the Cubs jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but the Giants scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning. The late Rod Beck got Joe Carter, the potential tying run, to foul out to win the game.

1995: Mariners 9, Angels 1

The Seattle Mariners trailed the Angels by 13 games in the AL West, but rallied to take the lead late in the season. The Angels, however, won their final five games and the Mariners lost their last two to force a one-game playoff. That game featured Randy Johnson and Mark Langston as starters, two pitchers who were traded for each other years earlier. The Mariners won the game behind Johnson and Luis Sojo's three-run double with the bases loaded, which "everyone scored" on (a famous call by then play-by-play announcer Rick Rizzs), to win their first AL West title.

Here's Rizzs' play-by-play transcription of the play that turned a 1-0 lead for the Mariners into a 5-0 advantage: "Here's the pitch. Swing, and it's a ground ball, and it gets on by Snow. Down the right-field line into the bullpen. Here comes Blowers. Here comes Tino. Here comes Joey. The throw to the plate is cut off. The relay by Langston gets by Allanson. Cora scores! Here comes Sojo, he scores! Everybody scores! Sojo comes in!"

1980: Astros 7, Dodgers 1

Since divisional play began in 1969, there has been only one one-game playoff to settle a division tie in the National League. The Astros, who had a three-game lead over Los Angeles, were forced into the one-game playoff after they were swept by the Dodgers in a season-ending three-game series. The Astros won on the road, defeating the Dodgers behind Joe Niekro, who pitched a complete game to win his 20th of the season.

1978: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4

The Yankees rallied from a 14-game division deficit to take the lead by one game heading into the final day of the regular season. The Yankees lost their last game 9-2 against the Indians, and the Red Sox won 5-0 at home against the Blue Jays to force the one-game playoff. The Yankees won the game behind Bucky Dent's famous home run and, later, Reggie Jackson's rather-forgotten solo home run in the eighth, to win their third straight AL East title.

1948: Indians 8, Red Sox 3

The Cleveland Indians ended up in a first-place tie with the Boston Red Sox, leading to the first-ever one-game playoff in the AL. The Indians won 8-3. If the Red Sox had won, that would have been the first-ever all-Boston World Series; the Boston Braves made it to the Fall Classic from the National League.

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