November 04, 2010
It's hard to believe, but the third postseason in Big League Stew's existence is already over and in the history books. And that means it's again time to write one of my favorite annual posts, the 10 most memorable moments of the postseason. (Check out the editions from 2008 and 2009.)
As always, it was difficult to narrow down an entire month of playoff action to a list of just 10 memories. My honorable mention list includes — but is not limited to — Bobby Cox's last stand, the Rangers' ginger ale parties, Rick Ankiel's blast into McCovey Cove, Juan Uribe's playoff heroics, Ian Kinsler's wall bouncer, Jay Bruce's costly gaffe in right field and the interfering fans at Yankee Stadium.
10. Elvis Andrus scores from second on groundout to first — ALDS Game 5
Coming into the first inning of ALDS Game 5, the Texas Rangers had just lost two straight home games to the Tampa Bay Rays and still didn't have a postseason season win to their name. Elvis Andrus(notes), however, served notice that the Rangers of old would soon be no more. In the blink of an eye, Andrus alertly dashed from second to home on Josh Hamilton's(notes) groundout to first, displaying an aggressive style that would help lead the Rangers to a 5-1 win, a spot in the ALCS against the Yankees and an eventual berth in the World Series.
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9. Brooks Conrad commits three errors — NLDS Game 3
Baseball is a cruel game and it only took nine innings for Brooks Conrad(notes) to go from a clutch, older-than-most rookie on a wild-card winner to a memorable playoff goat. That label isn't exactly fair as Martin Prado's(notes) injury forced Conrad to play out of his position, but his three errors played a key role in a game that could have given the Braves a 2-1 series lead. Instead, the Giants won the game, 3-2, and never looked back. Somewhere, Eric Hinske(notes) weeps.
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8. Cliff Lee makes history with shutout of Yankees — ALCS Game 3
Lee's legacy from the 2010 postseason might end up being two losses in the World Series, but he wouldn't have been in that position were it not for his first three playoff starts. Lee won both the first and fifth games of the ALDS against the Rays, then turned in an eight-inning effort against the Yankees in which he struck out 13 Yankees and allowed no runs. The victory seized control of the ALCS for the Rangers and allowed for some comparisons — albeit premature — to Sandy Koufax's unbelievable World Series run in 1965.
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7. Tim Lincecum caps 1-0 shutout with 14th strikeout — NLDS Game 1
Every great journey starts with a single step, but Tim Lincecum(notes) broke from the gate with a stride the length of his delivery. Though San Francisco's offense only gave him one run of support, Lincecum turned in a complete game, 14-strikeout effort that ended with Derrek Lee(notes) looking at strike three. Lincecum's start actually earned a higher game score than Roy Halladay's(notes) no-hitter a day earlier and it proved to be a perfect foreshadowing of Lincecum's final playoff start, which sealed the World Series for the Giants.
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6. Cody Ross hits two homers off Roy Halladay — NLCS Game 1
The unlikely cleanup hitter put together one of the great out-of-nowhere playoff performances, hitting five doubles and five homers for 10 RBIs over 15 playoff games for the Giants. He also showed San Francisco what was possible against the two-time defending NL champion Phillies, hitting two homers off Roy Halladay in the Giants' 4-3 NLCS opening win. (It also allowed us to make the crazy discovery that his name spelled backward is "Ssorydoc.")
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5. Nolan Ryan makes a face for the ages — ALCS Game 1
The Rangers looked like they were going to cruise to a Game 1 victory over the New York Yankees. But then the eighth inning happened, the Rangers bullpen gave up five runs and team president Nolan Ryan could do nothing but resort to Walter Sobchak's "calmer than you are, dude" state of mind as Texas fell at home in the ALCS opener. Classic.
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4. A-Rod strikeout seals first AL pennant for Rangers — ALCS Game 6
The great thing about the Nolan Ryan face is that the Rangers will can actually look back and laugh about it, because four ensuing victories rendered it harmless. The final out in the clincher was especially satisfying as Alex Rodriguez(notes) — the man who set the franchise adrift with his $252 million deal in 2000 — struck out against Neftali Feliz(notes) to set off the Rangers' celebration.
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3. Brian Wilson strikes out Ryan Howard looking to end series — NLCS Game 6
Those noises you just heard were the groans of Phillies fans again wondering how Howard kept his bat on his shoulder for the 90-mph slider delivered at his knees by the Giants closer. It may have been a borderline call, but with runners at first and second, the Phils down a run and their season on the line, it wasn't a pitch Howard could afford to take.
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2. Edgar Renteria's homer off Cliff Lee lifts Giants to title — World Series Game 5
Thirteen years after he created a signature World Series moment with his game-winning RBI against the Indians, Renteria snuck another highlight for the ages over the left-field fence at Rangers Ballpark. The decisive three-run homer came off a 2-0 count on a fastball that Lee was trying to sneak inside but remained out over the plate. Two innings later, San Francisco would have its first World Series title in city history.
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1. Roy Halladay completes the second no-hitter in postseason history — NLDS Game 1
It's hard to imagine that the most memorable moment would have occurred in the first game of an opening-round series for a team that didn't even make the World Series. But when Carlos Ruiz(notes) makes a great play to seal only the second no-hitter in postseason history, we really don't have any other choice. For a postseason that was defined by its pitching, Halladay's no-no — maybe the most-watched no-hitter in history — provided a great start.