The Astros’ Alex Bregman carried his bat to first base when he homered in the first inning, so the Nationals’ Juan Soto carried his bat to first base after a moonshot blast in the fifth. Then, in the seventh with Washington looking to increase its 3-2 lead, home plate umpire Sam Holbrook ruled that the Nats’ Trea Turner had interfered with Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel as he attempted to field a throw from pitcher Brad Peacock. Washington tried to protest but couldn’t, to the great displeasure of everyone wearing blue and red.
We should have seen it coming: Right as the game was starting, The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell — who has seen some stuff in his decades as a baseball scribe — reminded us of all the wild, wacky things that have happened during World Series Game 6s.
Historically, Game Six has produced some of the greatest World Series games ever played. '11 (St. L 10, Tex 9, 11 IP. '02 Angel comeback. '91: Kirby Puckett Game. '86: Bill Buckner. '85: Ump Don Denkinger. '77: Reggie 3 HR. '75: Fisk. On and on. "Play ball."— Thomas Boswell (@ThomasBoswellWP) October 30, 2019
Rearranging the order a bit, let’s run down Boz’s list, shall we?
1986: Bill Buckner
After a 10-pitch at-bat that already saw the Mets tie the score on a Bob Stanley wild pitch, Mookie Wilson’s dribbler in the 10th somehow found daylight between Bill Buckner’s glove and the dirt, allowing Ray Knight to score and giving New York an improbable win. The Mets won Game 7, too. Boston’s October woes would continue for nearly another two decades.
1985: Don Denkinger’s bad call
One year earlier, the Cardinals were three outs from their 10th World Series title before Denkinger’s clearly incorrect call at first led to a cascade of misfortune for the Redbirds. After Jorge Orta was called safe at first, Jack Clark dropped a pop fly in foul territory, Steve Balboni singled, Darrell Porter allowed a passed ball and Dane Iorg’s single provided the winning runs in a 2-1 Royals win. The next night, the Cardinals came completely unraveled with Denkinger working home plate: He ejected Manager Whitey Herzog and pitcher Joaquin Andujar, though it hardly mattered in a game St. Louis lost, 11-0.
1977: Three pitches, three home runs
Reggie Jackson’s first at-bat in Game 6 against the Dodgers ended in a four-pitch walk. He would see three pitches total over his next three trips to the plate, each of them resulting in a home run and earning him the eventual nickname “Mr. October.” (He also had homered on the first pitch of his final at-bat in Game 5, meaning he hit a home run on four consecutive strikes pitched to him.) The Yankees’ 8-4 win clinched the title.
1975: Carlton Fisk waves it fair
Fisk hand-waved the ball into the Fenway Park foul pole in the 12th inning against the Reds, a pantomime memorably captured by a camera NBC had installed inside the Green Monster in left field. (Whether cameraman Lou Gerard stayed on Fisk instead of following the ball because he was frozen in fear of a Fenway Park rat remains a matter of debate.) The Red Sox went on to lose Game 7.
1991: Kirby Puckett and “We will see you tomorrow night”
Before leading off the 11th inning against the Braves, Puckett told teammate Chili Davis that he planned to bunt his way on base, to which Davis replied: “Bunt? Bunt my you know what. Get up there, get a good change-up, a hanging change-up, and hit it out. Let’s go home.” And on a night in which Puckett finished a double shy of the cycle and drove in three runs, he did as his teammate asked, prompting CBS announcer Jack Buck’s memorable call of “And we will see you tomorrow night!” The Twins won again in Game 7, again in extra innings.
2011: Cardinals come back again and again and again and again and again
The Cardinals erased a Rangers lead in the first inning, and in the third inning, and in the sixth inning. Then, trailing by two in the ninth and down to their final strike, David Freese tripled to send the game to extra innings. Naturally, Texas scored two in the 10th and again was one strike away from its first World Series title, but naturally, the Cardinals again tied the score on Lance Berkman’s single. Freese ended it in the 11th with a solo homer, and the Cardinals won it all the next night. It was the first time in World Series history that a team came back from two different two-run deficits in the ninth inning or later in the same game.
2002: Angels’ historic comeback
Down 5-0, the Angels got three back on a Scott Spiezio home run in the seventh and then manufactured three more in the eighth, the last two off Giants closer Robb Nen, who had the most saves in baseball from 2000 to 2002. The five-run comeback was the largest in a World Series elimination game, and the Angels would cruise to their first World Series title the next night.
Here’s one more that Boz left off his list.
1993: Joe Carter touches 'em all
The Blue Jays stormed to a 5-1 lead over the Phillies by the fifth inning and seemed on their way to a second straight title, but Philly scored five times in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. That’s where it stood in the ninth when Joe Carter stepped to the plate. His three-run, game-winning, series-clinching homer off Mitch Williams prompted longtime Blue Jays radio announcer Tom Cheek’s famous reminder to “Touch 'em all, Joe; you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”