Looking back at six memorable World Series Game 7s

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor

For the 40th time in Major League Baseball history, the World Series is going to a decisive Game 7.

The Washington Nationals made it so after defeating the Houston Astros 7-2 in a drama-filled Game 6 that will only heighten the intensity coming Wednesday.

The Nationals should come in feeling confident. Not only because they extended the series, but because they’ve played their best baseball during the postseason with their backs against the wall. Four times, Washington has been one loss away from elimination. Each time, they’ve found a way to win and survive. Now the question is: Can they make it five straight wins in must-win games?

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Despite missing a chance to end the series, Houston’s confidence shouldn’t be too shaken, either. This is a 107-win team that’s the healthiest it’s been all season and has a true ace in Zack Greinke on the hill. This is precisely the moment Greinke was acquired for at the trade deadline.

Throughout history, there have been many classic World Series Game 7s. Each of them has had its own quirks, just as every lead up to a Game 7 has had a unique path. The battle between the Astros and Nationals is unique because it’s the first time the road team has won each of the first six games. It’s unique in that only one game has had a close outcome. Even a strong Game 7 won’t likely catapult it into the upper echelon of memorable World Series. But it could still provide a memorable finish.

Before we make that determination, we’ve decided to take a look back at some memorable World Series Game 7s from MLB’s past that have set the standard for what a classic is.

Bill Mazeroski's World Series walk-off homer in 1960

In World Series history, there has been only one walk-off home run in a Game 7. That belongs to Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski, who took Ralph Terry of the New York Yankees deep in the bottom of the ninth in 1960. Pittsburgh won the game 10-9 thanks to Mazeroski’s magic and a five-run rally in the eighth inning.

Jack Morris' 10-inning shutout

Jack Buck’s iconic “we’ll see you tomorrow night” call on Kirby Puckett’s Game 6 walk-off home run is the moment most firmly attached to the 1991 World Series. But 24 hours later, it was Jack Morris who cemented his legacy with 10 shutout innings in Minnesota’s 1-0 win against the Atlanta Braves.

John Smoltz, who will call Wednesday’s Game 7 on FOX, started opposite Morris. He pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Gene Larkin plated the only run with a walk-off single.

Edgar Renteria clinches Marlins World Series

The Indians have been on the wrong side of a Game 7 twice now in their history. The first came when Edgar Renteria of the then-Florida Marlins walked them off in the 11th inning. Florida scored single runs in the seventh and ninth to force extra innings, before loading the bases against Charles Nagy. That’s when Renteria came through, making the Marlins baseball’s first wild-card team to win the series.

Luis Gonzalez walks off against Mariano Rivera

An emotion-filled 2001 World Series came down to one epic battle. Luis Gonzalez, who at the time was among baseball’s most dangerous hitters, got the best of Hall of Fame reliever Mariano Rivera when he blooped a hit just over Derek Jeter to plate the winning run for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona’s epic win stopped the Yankees’ streak of three straight World Series titles.

Cubs end their 108-year championship drought

It was only fitting that a World Series guaranteed to end a championship drought was decided in an epic Game 7.

The Cubs jumped out to a 5-1 lead on the Indians, but there was always a feeling the game was destined for a pulse-pounding finish. That’s exactly what we got after Rajai Davis tied the game with an unlikely two-run home run against Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning.

After a scoreless ninth and a 17-minute rain delay added to the intensity, the Cubs broke through on Ben Zobrist’s RBI double in the 10th. The Cubs added another run on Miguel Montero’s RBI single, which proved to be the difference after Cleveland scored once in their half.

The lasting image will always be Kris Bryant fielding a chopper, losing his footing but still throwing across the diamond for the final out to end Chicago’s drought and send Chicago into mass hysteria.

Astros win first championship

This one is more memorable for Astros fans than anyone else. Houston clinched its first World Series with a 5-1 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium.

To that point, the series had been back-and-forth. The Dodgers stayed alive with a win against Justin Verlander in Game 6, which is exactly how Washington forced this year's Game 7. Houston scored five runs in the first two innings, with George Springer's two-run home run being the crushing blow.

Will Houston secure its second championship in similar fashion, or will it be Washington winning its first title in a Game 7?

We can't wait to find out.

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