2. Ed Sprague, 1992 Toronto Blue Jays. Seeking their first World Series championship, the Jays were in deep trouble. They had lost Game One to Tom Glavine, and they trailed 4-3 entering the ninth inning in Game Two at Fulton County Stadium.
Worse, the Jays were due to send up the seven, eight and nine slots in their order.
After Braves closer Jeff Reardon retired Pat Borders, Derek Bell pinch hit for Manny Lee and drew a walk. Jays manager Cito Gaston looked to Sprague, a lightly used second-year player coming off a.234 season in which he had hit just one home run.
Gaston must have known something. Sprague went after Reardon’s first pitch and powered it into the deep left field seats, his two-run homer giving Toronto a 5-4 lead. Jays closer Tom hence subdued the Braves in the bottom of the ninth, and Toronto rode that momentum to a Series victory in six games. Sprague Win Probability Added: 67 percent.
1. Terry Pendleton, 1985 St. Louis Cardinals. The 1985 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals is recalled today for umpire Don Denkinger’s missed call late in Game 6 that set the stage for a Royals comeback. What should not be forgotten is Pendleton’s role as a leader of the Cardinals.
A future MVP, Pendleton was a second-year infielder for the Cardinals, who had won the first game 3-1 at Royals Stadium. But with Charlie Leibrandt hurling shutout ball, the Royals carried a 2-0 lead into the top of the ninth, needing only three final outs to square the Series.
Pendleton was the reason those three outs didn’t happen ... at least not in time to serve the Royals’ purposes.
Following a Willie McGee leadoff double, Leibrandt retired Ozzie Smith and Tom Herr, leaving him one out away from that 2-0 victory. It was just tantalizingly close enough to impel Royals manager Jim Frey to leave Leibrandt in rather than turning the situation over to closer Dan Quisenberry.
But Jack Clark produced a run-scoring single, and Tito Landrum followed with a double, Clark stopping at third with the tying run. Cesar Cedeno was intentionally walked to fill the bases, and leaving Leibrandt to face Pendleton.
On a 2-1 count, Pendleton shot a ball past third baseman George Brett into the left field corner. Clark, Landrum and Cedeno all raced home, Pendleton stopping at second having put the Cardinals ahead 4-2.
That’s when Frey brought in Quisenberry to record the final out in a Cardinal win that gave them a two-games-to-none Series lead. Pendleton Win Probability Added: 69 percent.