Friday, August 04, 2006

Classic Shots - Part 2

by Rob Hyman

This time we look at the National League's most memorable home runs of the last 25 years. But first I know you are all on the edge of your seats to gthe answer to the questions who are the only NL teams who have not seen the postseason since 1985.
- Milwaukee Brewers, who haven't seen the postseason since the 1982 World Series
- Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals who last made the playoffs in 1981.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: October 28, 1995 - World Series game 6 vs. Cleveland (Atlanta up 3-2): In a classic game in which the Indians were only able to muster one hit off of Tom Glavine in eight innings, the only run of the game was a result of David Justice's bat.

Florida Marlins: October 26, 1997 - World Series Game 7 vs. Cleveland: Jaret Wright completely owned the Marlins for the first six innings as his team led 2-0. Then Bobby Bonilla started the comeback for the Marlins, leading off the inning with a solo shot to cut the lead in half. The Marlins tied the score in the ninth and won it in the 11th - partially thanks to Bonilla as well, who led off the inning with a single.

New York Mets: October 21, 1986 - World Series Game 3 at Boston (Boston up 2-0): Everyone knows how the 1986 World Series ends, but it almost didn't get there. The Red Sox won the first two games in New York and were looking to make quick work of the Mets back at Fenway. Lenny Dykstra sent a message right off the bat - telling them that they wouldn't go down easy. Dykstra's lead off home run sparked a 4-run first inning as the Mets went on to a 7-1 win.

Philadelphia Phillies: October 11, 1993 - NLCS Game 5 at Atlanta (Series tied 2-2): On the verge of falling behind 3-2, the Braves scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie up the game. In the 10th, however, Philadelphia came right back as Lenny Dykstra hit a solo home run with one out to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead which they were able to hold onto. Philly went on to win the series in six games before losing to Toronto in six in the World Series.

Washington Nationals (Expos) : April 4, 2005: Not much to say for one of the worst franchises in history. So this honor goes to the first home run for the team after its move down to Washington. That honor goes to Terrmel Sledge - it was his only home run of the season.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: September 28, 1998 - NL Playoff Game vs. San Francisco: Veteran Gary Gaetti hit a two-run home run off of Mark Gardner in the 5th inning of this scoreless game paving the way for the Cubs to clinch the wildcard. Steve Trachsel got the win, giving up only one hit in 6 1/3 innings as the Cubs beat the Giants 5-3 only to get swept by the Braves in the NLDS.

Cincinnati Reds: October 9, 1990 - NLCS Game 4 at Pittsburgh (Cincinnati up 2-1): Chris Sabo put the Reds ahead to stay, smashing a two-run home run in the 7th inning off starter Bob Walk. Co-MVPs Randy Myers and Rob Dibble were able to shut down the Pirates after that, giving the Reds a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, which they ultimately won in 6 games before sweeping Oakland inthe World Series.

Houston Astros: October 9, 2005 - NLDS Game 4 vs. Atlanta (Houston up 2-1): Chris Burke's 18th inning home run off of Joey Devine clinched the series for the Astros, who went on to the World Series. The home run ended the longest postseason game of all time and was the 7th walk-off homerun in history to end a post-season series.

Milwaukee Brewers: April 2, 1998: Not much to say about a team that has only been in one pennant race since their 1982 American League pennant. So the best I can do is a trivia question - who was the first Brewer to hit a home run after the team moved over to the National League? The answer: Jeremy Burnitz who hit a solo shot off of Tom Glavine in the 5th inning. The Brewers eventually won the game in the 11th inning thanks to a Grand Slam by Jeremy Burnitz.

Pittsburgh Pirates: October 13, 1992: The Pirates lost in the NLCS three straight years from '90 to '92 with the '92 loss being the most memorable. It was then that the Braves scored three runs in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7 to win 3-2. That classic game may never have come about had Barry Bonds not sparked the Pirates with his early home run in Game 6 to get the team rolling on their way to a 13-4 win.

St. Louis Cardinals: October 14, 1985 - NLCS Game 5 vs. Los Angeles (Series tied 2-2): Ozzie Smith, who hit only 28 home runs in his 19-year career, made the Hall of Fame for his fielding credentials. But his one career post-season homerun is one of the most famous of all time. Tied 2-2 in the ninth inning, Smith won the game with a shot into the right field corner off of Tom Niedenfuer. The Cardinals ended up taking the series in six games thanks in part to another famous Cardinal home run off of Niedenfuer. Will Clark's three run shot in the top of the ninth of Game six to win the game 7-5.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: October 28, 2001 - World Series Game 2 vs. Yankees (Arizona up 1-0): Matt Williams' 7th inning home run off of Andy Pettitte broke open a 1-0 pitchers duel, giving Randy Johnson more than enough breathing room en route to a 4-0 win.

Colorado Rockies: October 1, 1995 vs. San Francisco: On the final day of the regular season, the Rockies led Houston by one game for the NL Wildcard. The Rockies, who needed to win to avoid a playoff game, quickly fell behind 8-2 against the Giants. In quick succession, however, Colorado struck back with a pair of two-run home runs by Eric Young and Larry Walker, putting them back in the game, which the team held onto win 10-9.

Los Angeles Dodgers: October 15, 1988 - World Series Game 1 vs. Oakland: Jack Buck couldn't believe what he just saw as the hobbled Kirk Gibson hit a walk-offtwo-run home run off of Dennis Eckersley to give the Dodgers a 5-4 victory and an early series lead. It was Gibson's only AB of the World Series, as he had badly injured his leg in the NLCS.

San Diego Padres: October 3, 1998 - NLDS Game 3 vs.Houston (Series tied 1-1): Congratulations to JimLeyritz for making this list with two different teams!Leyritz’s solo shot in the 7th inning gave the Padresa 2-1 lead which ended up being the difference in thegame. Leyritz hit .400 in the series with three homeruns in the four games. Not surprising he's on here twice - in 61 post season ABs, he had 13 hits- 8 ofwhich were home runs.

San Francisco Giants: October 13, 2002 - NLCS Game 4vs. St. Louis (Giants lead 2-1): 2002 was a Renaissance year for Benito Santiago - topped off by his being named NLCS MVP. In Game 4, his big home run gave the Giants a commanding 3-1 lead over theCardinals. Tied 2-2 in the 8th inning with two outs, St. Louis intentionally walked Barry Bonds and Santiago made them pay with a two-run home run. TheGiants held on to win the game 4-3 and took the series the next day.

Click here to read Part I, profiling HR hit in the AL over the past 25 years.

Rob Hyman's column, "The Weekend Warrior", appears alternate Friday's.
"I've had a pretty good success facing Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third base."
- Carl Erskine