Down But Not Out…A History Of MLB Teams That Overcame An 0-2 Deficit

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Following Sunday night’s 4-1 loss to the New York Mets, the Chicago Cubs find themselves with the unenviable task of digging themselves out of an 0-2 hole. Pay attention Blue Jays fans. This applies to you too.

Since the league championship series went to the best-of-seven format in 1985, 25 teams have taken a 2-0 lead. 22 of them have gone on to win. In fact, since 1903, only thirteen teams have overcome an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. Yes, it’s a long shot, but it has happened before. Here’s a history of the teams that have accomplished this feat.

11955 World Series: Brooklyn Dodgers def. New York Yankees

After dropping the first two games in New York at Yankee Stadium, the Brooklyn Dodgers would go on to win the next three in Brooklyn at Ebbets Field. The Yankees would win Game 6 back in New York, but the Dodgers won a classic Game 7, defeating New York 2-0 behind a complete game shutout performance from Johnny Podres, who was named the very first World Series MVP. Both RBIs came from Gil Hodges.

21956 World Series: New York Yankees def. Brooklyn Dodgers

The Yankees would exact their revenge a year later, doing almost exactly what the Dodgers had done to them the previous season. This time, Brooklyn won the first two games, but the Yankees would win the next three, which included one of the most famous games in World Series history when Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium. Brooklyn would win a classic Game 6, but New York would get their own Game 7 shutout this time around, winning the series and the championship with a 9-0 win.

31958 World Series: New York Yankees def. Milwaukee Braves

Not only did the New York Yankees get down 0-2 in this series, they lost three of the first four to the Milwaukee. However, over the next three games, they outscored the Braves 17-5 to clinch their 18th World Series title and became the third team in four years to dig out of the 0-2 hole and only the second team in history to win a best-of-seven after being down 3-1.

41965 World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers def. Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins surprised everybody in the baseball world by defeating Don Drysdale in Game 1 and Sandy Koufax in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, the Dodgers would respond by taking the next three games at Dodger Stadium. Much like what happened ten years earlier, the Dodgers would lose Game 6, but would clinch the series with a 2-0 Game 7 shutout, this time thrown by Koufax, who pitched a three-hit, ten strikeout gem.

51971 World Series: Pittsburgh Pirates def. Baltimore Orioles

The defending champion Orioles entered this series with four 20-game winners and some big bats like Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, and Brooks Robinson, so nobody was surprised when they took the first two games in Baltimore. But the Pirates took the next three in Pittsburgh, including the first night game (Game 4) in World Series history. The Orioles bounced back with a win in Game 6, but behind a home run from Roberto Clemente, the Pirates claimed a 2-1 victory in Game 7 to win the series.

61978 World Series: New York Yankees def. Los Angeles Dodgers

It obviously wasn’t a first when the Yankees lost the first two games to the Dodgers in the 1978 Fall Classic, but it was a first when they won the next four games to win the series in six, beating Hall of Famer Don Sutton twice in the process.

71981 World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers def. New York Yankees

Not to be outdone in this postseason rivalry, the Los Angeles Dodgers turned the tables on the Yankees this time around. After a crazy 1981 season that had a two-month players strike, New York and LA met in the World Series for the third time in five years. After the Yankees took the first two in New York, the Dodgers became the last team to win the World Series after losing the first two games on the road, winning the next four to clinch their first title since 1965.

81985 NLCS: St. Louis Cardinals def. Los Angeles Dodgers

This was the first best-of-seven NLCS, and the St. Louis Cardinals found themselves down in the series after losing the first two games at Dodger Stadium. After winning the next two in St. Louis, Ozzie Smith would win Game 5 with the first left-handed home run of his illustrious career, causing one of Hall of Famer Jack Buck’s historic calls, “Go crazy, folks, go crazy.” The Cardinals would cap off the series comeback with a 7-5 victory in Game 6 to earn a trip to the World Series.

91985 ALCS: Kansas City Royals def. Toronto Blue Jays

On the other side of the 1985 playoff bracket were the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays, who were favored in this series. The Royals lost the first two games north of the border, won Game 3, but found themselves one game from elimination after a 3-1 loss in Game 4. But three straight wins, including two on the road, put the Royals in position to win their first World Series title.

101985 World Series: Kansas City Royals def. St. Louis Cardinals

The “Show-Me Series” saw the St. Louis Cardinals win the first two games in Kansas City. The Royals rebounded in Game 3, but lost Game 4 at Busch Stadium. Facing a 3-1 deficit, the Royals won the next three games, including a very controversial 2-1 victory in Game 6. Down 1-0 in the ninth inning, a missed call from first-base umpire Don Denkinger changed the complexion of the final frame, and the Royals would score twice to take the series to a seventh game, which they would win 11-0.

111986 World Series: New York Mets def. Boston Red Sox

Looking to win their first World Series since 1918, the Boston Red Sox got off to a good start by winning the first two games at Shea Stadium. The Mets would win the next two at Fenway, but the Red Sox won Game 5 and had a chance to win the title with a win in Game 6. I think we all know what happened then. A two-out rally in the tenth, capped off by the Mookie Wilson ground ball that went through the legs of aging Boston first baseman Bill Buckner that allowed Ray Knight to score, gave the Mets a 6-5 win and their own chance to win the championship. They took advantage of that chance, winning Game 7, 8-5.

121996 World Series: New York Yankees def. Atlanta Braves

The New York Yankees were massacred in the first two games of the 1996 World Series, losing by a combined score of 16-1 to the Atlanta Braves, and this was at Yankee Stadium. But the Yanks would win their 23rd championship anyway, winning the next four games, becoming the first World Series team since the Dodgers that beat them in 1981 to win four in a row after losing the first two.

132004 ALCS: Boston Red Sox def. New York Yankees

Not only did the Red Sox get down two games to the Yankees, but New York won the first three. Behind the clutch hitting of David Ortiz and the rest of “The Idiots”, as they were called by the Boston faithful, the Red Sox made history by becoming the first team in history to win a best-of-seven series after being down 3-0. They would go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first World Series title in 86 years.

See, it can be done.