t-9. Mark Lemke, 1991 Atlanta Braves. The AL champion Minnesota Twins had taken the Series’ first two games at the Metrodome, then overcome a 4-1 Braves lead with three late runs to send the game into extra innings. The possibility of a sweep loomed.
Lemke was an unlikely candidate to fill the role of hero. A 25-year-old backup to Jeff Treadway, he had hit just .234 in the regular season with almost no power. Still he had gotten the starting nod for game Two, and Braves manager Bobby Cox stayed with Lemke for the third game.
As that contest moved into extra innings, Lemke was one-for-four – a second inning single leading to Atlanta’s first run –with a walk. He batted a fifth time in the bottom of the 12th, facing Twins closer Rick Aguilera with two out, Dave Justice carrying the winning run at second base and Greg Olson at first.
Lemke caught Aguilera’s one-one pitch and sent it looping just out of reach of Twins shortstop Greg Gagne. The ball fell in short left field while Justice, running with two out, barely beat Dan Gladden’s throw home to score the winning run. Lemke’s hit locked up the Braves’ first win in a Series they would eventually lose in a memorable Game 7 pitcher’s duel. Lemke Win Probability Added: 39 percent.
8. Home Run Baker, 1911 Philadelphia Athletics. The era’s powerhouses, Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics and John McGraw’s New York Giants, had split the Series’ first two games, the A’s win coming on a late-game home run by third baseman Frank Baker.
The next morning, Giants star Christy Mathewson, in his syndicated newspaper column, upbraided teammate Rube Marquard for the fatal pitch he had thrown to Baker. In Game Three that afternoon at the Polo Grounds, Mathewson took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning when Baker made him eat his own words.
Two outs from victory, Mathewson fell behind Baker 2-1 then fed the American League home champion (with 11) something he could get hold of. Baker deposited it deep into the right field sets for a game-tying home run. It took until the 11th inning to break the tie, but eventually the A’s walked off the field 3-2 winners. They would go onto win the Series in six games.
And Baker, having taken Marquard and Mathewson deep in consecutive games, acquired a new nickname. From that day forward and right up to his Hall of Fame induction, he would be known as Home Run Baker. Baker Win Probability Added: 40 percent.