The 25 most decisive plays in World Series history

Oct 24, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; The Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) and right fielder Brett Phillips (14) celebrate Phillips hitting the game winning two run walk off single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in game four of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; The Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) and right fielder Brett Phillips (14) celebrate Phillips hitting the game winning two run walk off single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning in game four of the 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
17 of 25
Next
Edgar Renteria (center) celebrates his Series winning 11th inning hit.Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Edgar Renteria (center) celebrates his Series winning 11th inning hit.Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images) /

9. Game 7, October 26, 1997. Cleveland Indians at Florida Marlins

Edgar Renteria vs. Charles Nagy. Change in Championship Probability: 34.28 percent

There have been 40 seventh and deciding games in World Series history, but only five of those 40 ratcheted their drama beyond the requisite nine innings. All five – the Series of 1912, 1924, 1997, 2001 and 2016 — contained moments that rank among the 25 most decisive in Series history.

The 1997 World Series was unprecedented because for the first time team that did not win its division or league emerged from the playoff process to compete for the championship. The Florida Marlins had won 92 games for manager Jim Leyland but finished a distant second to the perennial NL East champion Atlanta Braves.

But they surprised the Braves in six games in the NLCS, earning the right to play the Indians.

Behind Jaret Wright, the Indians held a 2-0 lead most of that October evening. But when Bobby Bonilla tapped Wright for leadoff home run in the seventh, Indians manager Mike Hargrove went to his bullpen. Then with one out in the ninth and runners at first and third Craig Counsell lined deep enough to right field to get the tying run home.

In the bottom of the 10th, Florida put runners on first and second with two out, but Charles Nagy – summoned by Hargrove for a rare relief appearance – coaxed an inning ending fly ball out of Moises Alou.

After Jay Powell set down the Indians in order in the top of the 11th, Florida went to work trying to end the game. Bobby Bonilla slipped a single past Nagy into center field, and one out later Tony Fernandez’ fumble of a Counsell ground ball sent Bonilla around to third base.

Fernandez’ throw home on Devon White’s ground ball retired Bonilla for the second out, and left the issue up to Renteria. The Indians had survived a Florida threat in the bottom of the ninth in addition to retiring Bonilla at the plate.

But Cleveland’s luck was about to run out. In that two-out situation, Renteria took a strike then punched a clean single past Nagy into center field as Counsell raced home with the run that gave Florida the championship.