Friday, August 22, 2014

The Run That Clinched It

As longtime readers of this blog might know, I have a fascination with World Series champions. Some I love, others I loathe, but they all accomplished the goal every team opens the season with, and only one can claim by the end.

I was recently thinking about one of those teams I hate: The 2007 Boston Red Sox. In the final game, pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty hit a solo homer to add an insurance run for the Red Sox which didn't seem significant at the time. However, his team ended up winning by only one run, and that homer represented the last run the team scored, so in retrospect it was the run that clinched the World Series. It got me thinking: What was that run for each team in history? Who drove it in? Who scored it? I thought it would be fun to compile just such a list.

To be clear, this is a list of the last run necessary for the team to win the World Series. If the team scored 11 runs in the final game and won in a shutout, the first run they scored is considered the clinching run. Here's how the list looks:

Some interesting notes here. In 1927 it ended on a wild pitch with Tony Lazzeri at the plate. Five times the run has scored on an error, though it hasn't happened since 1921. In 1962 it scored on a double play ball. Only three times was the clinching RBI on a triple, which isn't too surprising, given the rarity of triples. In two cases the run was driven in by a pitcher (Johnny Podres in 1959 and Bob Gibson in 1967). Derek Jeter scored the clinching run in all three of the Yankees' World Series titles of the 1990's.

I'm not sure how many of these men knew how key a role they played in their team's victory, but here, we recognize every last one of them.