There are many things we’ve never seen in a World Series. These are a few of them:

 

Home run or triple by the first batter of the Series: All nine game-opening HRs were in Games 2-5; the last one was Game 4 in 2004, Johnny Damon off Jason Marquis. Matt Carpenter has led off a game 70 times, all of them this year, going 16 for 63 (.254) with just three of his trademark doubles. The 108 prior Series-opening batters produced:

  • 20 strikeouts
  • 58 batted outs
  • 18 hits (13 singles, 5 doubles)
  • 8 walks
  • 2 HBP (neither one was 1919)
  • 2 reached on error. (Both teams committing the error won the Series. In 1995, Cleveland’s Kenny Lofton reached on Rafael Belliard’s E6, then swiped 2nd and 3rd and scored on a groundout, but the Braves won that game and the Series in six. In 1983, Joe Morgan reached when 3B Todd Cruz dropped a pop-up, but he was caught stealing; Little Joe later homered, and the Phillies won that game, 2-1, but Baltimore took the next four.)

Grand slam in the top of the 1st inning: Eighteen slams in all, two in the home 1st.

Pinch-hit grand slam: Pinch-hitters with the bases full are 13 for 48, 2 doubles, 8 walks. Every other position has a slam.

Walk-off triple, walk, HBP, wild pitch or passed ball: The 55 walk-off events include 48 hits (28 singles, 15 HRs, 5 doubles), four sacrifice flies, and three errors (two by pitchers on bunts, one by a certain first baseman).

Walk-off batting event by a pitcher: Every other position has at least two, pinch-hitters on top with 10 (counting one PH for the DH). There were two go-ahead hits by pitchers in the last inning, by Christy Mathewson (1913, Game 2, 10th inning, one out, set up by a sac bunt, Matty’s 2nd hit out of the team’s 7 and his 3rd time on base) and by Rube Foster (1915, Game 2, 9th inning, two outs, his 3rd hit among the team’s 10). The last tying or go-ahead hit by a pitcher later than the 5th inning was by Vic Raschi, 1952, Game 6, 7th inning, two outs. Don’t hold your breath this year.

The 15th inning: Four postseason games have gone to the 15th or beyond, but the high for a Series game is 14 innings. The first was in 1916, Game 2, a CG duel of Babe Ruth over Sherry McGee Sherry Smith. The other was 2005, Game 3, with the White Sox setting a WS record of 9 pitchers used, while the Astros merely tied the old record of 8. Three Series games were declared ties, none longer than 12 innings.

Cycle: Only Lou Brock has notched the three different extra-base hits, in 1968, Game 4, and he never got to the plate with a chance to finish the cycle. Five players have had HR, 3B and 1B (twice for Paul Molitor in 1993); of that group, Rickey Henderson had two shots at the double, and Elmer Smith had one try, all ending in groundouts. Fourteen different players had the single, double and triple, five of them adding a 4th hit, topped by Billy Hatcher’s two doubles in 1990, Game 2; he was intentionally walked in his 5th trip.

Four stolen bases: Jacoby Ellsbury has done that twice in a regular-season game, but unless Yadier Molina gets hurt, we think this record stands another year.

DH moved to a fielding position: During this regular season, the DH was switched to a fielding position (inserting the pitcher into the batting order) 24 times. It’s happened a few times in playoff games, but never in the World Series.

Shortened game: I’m not sure if the rules even allow such a thing. In 2008, Game 5 was played in rain that grew heavier as the night wore on. The home Phillies led into the 6th, 2-1, with the rain and wind reaching intensity that would never be played through in an ordinary game. After Tampa Bay tied it up in the top half, play was suspended, and finally resumed two nights later, with the Phillies pulling out a one-run win to capture the Series. The accounts I’ve read state that Commissioner Selig had informed the umpires prior to the 5th inning that, if play had to be stopped after 5 full innings with the Phillies leading, the game would not be shortened, but would be suspended and concluded whenever possible. But do such decisions still remain in the commissioner’s hands, or is there now a rule in place that covers the question? I’m sorry to say, I don’t know.

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A few high-impact WS events you don’t hear much about:

Hit by pitch: 1907, Game 1 — Cubs trailing Tigers, 3-1, in the home 9th, no outs and a man on 1st — Harry Steinfeldt is hit by Wild Bill Donovan. Chicago would then tie the game without getting the ball out of the infield. A sac bunt failed, but an error by 3B Bill Coughlin filled the sacks with one out, and a groundout scored a run. Del Howard pinch-hit for Joe Tinker, who had whiffed in all three trips. Donovan fanned Howard, too; his 12 Ks in the game tied Ed Walsh’s WS record, which stood until 1929. But strike three got away from Boss Schmidt, and the tying run scored — the only time in Series history that a tying or go-ahead run scored on a strikeout. The inning ended with Johnny Evers caught trying to steal home. Neither team scored through the 12th inning, although the Cubs had several chances; the 10th ended with Jimmy Slagle called out for interference while trying to score from 3rd, and Donovan escaped a bags-full 11th with a whiff and a groundout. Frank Chance’s line-drive DP ended the 12th, and the game was declared a tie. Chicago won the next four games by a combined 16-3 score.

Reached on error: The big one has been done to death, so here’s another: 2004, Game 1 — Cardinals trailing Red Sox, 9-8, top of the 8th, two on, one out — Manny Ramirez, who had just plated the go-ahead run, muffed Larry Walker’s fly to LF, tying the game and leaving men at 3rd and 2nd. Keith Foulke intentionally walked Albert Pujols, then retired Scott Rolen on a pop fly and caught Jim Edmonds looking at a 1-2 pitch. Mark Bellhorn hit a 2-run HR in the bottom half, and Boston went on to sweep.

Game-ending strikeout: 1980, Game 5 — Royals trailing Phillies, 4-3, in the home 9th, bases loaded, series tied 2-all — Jose Cardenal had pinch-hit in the 7th against Tug McGraw and flied out with two aboard, ending the inning with K.C. ahead by one. After Philly scored twice in the 9th off Dan Quisenberry, McGraw walked two of the first three in his 9th, and with two outs and men on the corners, a 4-pitch walk to Amos Otis pushed the winning run to 2nd. Cardenal, in his 18th season, had joined the Royals in August and hit .340 in a part-time role. But McGraw got him swinging, and the Phils took a 3-2 Series lead back home. In Game 6, McGraw escaped a bags-full jam in the 8th to hold a 4-1 lead, then faced the same again in the 9th, when Cardenal’s single filled ‘em up with one out. But Frank White fouled out on the first pitch, and Willie Wilson sealed his miserable Series with a whiff, giving the Phillies their first World Series title. McGraw made 26 career postseason relief appearances and went 2 innings or more in 15 of them, second only to Mariano Rivera (33). Jose Cardenal, who debuted in 1963 at age 19, retired after that year, having never played for a postseason series winner.

 

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