Teams that win the first two games in a best-of-seven postseason series have history on their side. Those clubs have prevailed in 68 of 81 instances, but all isn't lost for the team facing an 0-2 deficit. The 13 teams that overcame those long odds proved, time and again, that no two-game lead is safe. Even an 0-3 deficit has been conquered once, by the curse-busting Red Sox against the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series.
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Among those 13 comebacks, three were accomplished despite dropping the first two contests at home (all three came in the World Series). Ten of those 13 comebacks came in the World Series, while three were in a League Championship Series (two in the AL and one in the National League), which was lengthened to a best-of-seven series beginning in 1985. Below is a closer look at that historic 2004 Boston team, as well as the other 12 instances of 0-2 comebacks in a seven-game playoff series: 2004 ALCS: Boston Red Sox Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, 3 at home, won in seven games Boston's comeback against the Yankees in 2004 may be the most impressive series reversal on this list as the Red Sox became the first team in MLB history to overcome an 0-3 deficit in a seven-game series. The Yankees were on the verge of a sweep in Game 4, bringing a one-run lead into the ninth inning. But Dave Roberts' clutch steal and Bill Mueller's game-tying single against All-Star closer Mariano Rivera sent the game to extras, and David Ortiz capped Boston's comeback with a walk-off homer in the 12th inning. Game 5 also went down to the wire, and again, Ortiz was the hero, hitting a walk-off single in the 14th inning en route to series MVP honors.
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Game 6 was Curt Schilling's legendary 'Bloody Sock' game, in which Schilling pitched seven innings of one-run ball with an injured ankle. Boston clinched the series with a 10-3 victory in Game 7 and defeated the Cardinals in the Fall Classic for the franchise's first championship since 1918. 1996 World Series: New York Yankees Lost Games 1 and 2 at home, won in six games The '96 Yankees are the last team to accomplish the feat in a World Series and the third to win the Fall Classic after dropping the first two games at home. New York ended a long World Series drought (for the Yankees) by storming back after being outscored by the Braves, 16-1 in Games 1 and 2. David Cone pitched six innings of one-run ball as the Yankees began their comeback with a 5-2 win as the series shifted to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
New York overcame an early 6-0 deficit in Game 5 and scored two runs in the 10th to even the Series. Andy Pettitte (8 1/3 innings) and John Wetteland (2/3 of an inning) combined to shut out Atlanta in Game 6, and a three-run third inning against the Braves' Greg Maddux made the difference. 1986 World Series: New York Mets Lost Games 1 and 2 at home, won in seven games The Mets added more fuel to the fire for believers of the Curse of the Bambino by washing away the Red Sox's 2-0 lead in the '86 World Series. The Mets' offense broke out of its slump in Game 3 with a four-run first frame then kept rolling for a 6-2 advantage in Game 4. The Red Sox reclaimed their lead with a Game 5 win at home, but the Mets staved off elimination with a pair of dramatic victories in New York, winning in walk-off fashion on a ball that rolled between first baseman Bill Buckner's legs for an infamous error and by overcoming an 3-0 deficit with a late comeback in the winner-take-all finale. 1985 World Series: Kansas City Royals Lost Games 1 and 2 at home, won in seven games The Royals overcame an 0-2 and 3-1 deficit in both the ALCS and the World Series against the Cardinals, en route to the franchise's first title.
Kansas City defeated its Missouri rival despite losing its home-field advantage by dropping Games 1 and 2 at Royals Stadium. Ace Bret Saberhagen pitched a one-run complete game to get the Royals back in the Series, but fell again as the Cardinals' John Tudor tossed a shutout in Game 4. The Royals rallied for three straight wins, including a walk-off in Game 6 and an 11-0 shutout by Saberhagen in the clincher. 1985 ALCS: Kansas City Royals Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in seven games The first season in which MLB employed a best-of-seven format for the LCS saw both winners come back from trailing 0-2. The Royals won three games against the Blue Jays by two or fewer runs to force a Game 7.
Danny Jackson tossed an eight-hit shutout in Game 5, while George Brett slugged his third home run of the Series to power the Royals' Game 6 win. 1985 NLCS: St.
Louis Cardinals Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in six games In the NL, the other Missouri team completed an 0-2 comeback with four straight wins against the Dodgers. The Cardinals' rebound was highlighted by Ozzie Smith's walk-off home run in Game 5 - his first homer from the left side of the plate - which was immortalized by Jack Buck's iconic 'Go crazy, folks!' The Game 6 clincher was a 7-5 thriller at Dodger Stadium that saw the Cardinals battle back from a 4-1 deficit with a three-run rally - including a an RBI triple from Smith - only to lose the lead again on a solo home run by Mike Marshall.
Jack Clark then clubbed a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning to clinch the pennant for St. 1981 World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in six games The Dodgers and Yankees met in the World Series for a third time in five seasons, and the Yankees appeared primed to hand Los Angeles yet another Fall Classic defeat. But the Dodgers turned their fortunes in Game 3 with star rookie Fernando Valenzuela, who earned a complete-game victory in a hard-fought nine-hit, seven-walk outing. Earned two more one-run, come-from-behind victories in Games 4 and 5, then claimed the franchise's fifth title with a 9-2 win in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. 1978 World Series: New York Yankees Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in six games Three years before the Dodgers reversed New York's fortune, the Yankees did the same to them, winning four straight games after dropping the first two on the road. As the series shifted to the Bronx, New York won all three games, including a 10-inning comeback in Game 4, and infielders Bucky Dent and Brian Doyle fueled a 7-2 victory in Game 6 to secure the Yankees' repeat.
1971 World Series: Pittsburgh Pirates Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in seven games The Pirates were outscored by the Orioles, 24-23, in the Series and dropped Games 1 and 2, but still prevailed in seven games. Bob Robertson's three-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 3 punctuated a 5-1 victory and began Pittsburgh's comeback. The Pirates earned a one-run win in Game 4, the first night game in World Series history, and Nelson Briles pitched a two-hit shutout in Game 5. The Orioles avoided elimination with an extra-innings walk-off in Game 6, but only postponed the inevitable as Series MVP Roberto Clemente homered and Steve Blass held the O's to one run in a complete-game performance in Game 7. 1965 World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in seven games The Twins, playing in their first World Series, jumped out ahead of the Dodgers with two wins to start the '65 Series. They saw their lead slip away, however, as a dominant LA pitching staff - featuring Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax - held Minnesota to two runs in Games 3-5. Drysdale pitched a two-run complete game in Game 5, while Koufax hurled a four-hit, 10-strikeout shutout in Game 6.
The Twins managed to defeat Claude Osteen in Game 6, but their momentum ended there. They were shut down by Koufax, who pitched a three-hit shutout in Game 7 on two days' rest and earned Series MVP honors. 1958 World Series: New York Yankees Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in seven games Hank Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves upset the Yankees in the '57 World Series, and nearly did so again by taking the first two games in the '58 Series. New York rebounded with a pair of dominant pitching performances by Don Larsen (seven scoreless innings) and Series MVP Bob Turley (five-hit, 10-strikeout shutout) in Games 3 and 5, respectively.
The Yankees avoided elimination and clinched with three straight victories, becoming the second team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the World Series (1925 Pirates). New York won in 10 innings in Game 7, and Turley held the Braves to one run in 6 2/3 innings of relief in the Game 7 clincher. 1956 World Series: New York Yankees Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in seven games The Yankees completed the first of four 0-2 comebacks in the franchise's history in 1956, when they bested the defending champion Brooklyn Dodgers. Whitey Ford and Tom Sturdivant pitched to complete-game victories in Games 4 and 5, then Don Larsen tossed the only perfect game and first of two no-hitters in postseason history. Bob Turley lost a 10-inning pitchers' duel in Game 6, 1-0, after a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk set up Jackie Robinson's walk-off knock.
Johnny Kucks' three-hit shutout and Yogi Berra's two home runs sealed Game 7 for the Yankees. Kucks struck out Robinson to end the game in what would be the trailblazing Hall of Famer's final at-bat. 1955 World Series: Brooklyn Dodgers Lost Games 1 and 2 on the road, won in seven games The Brooklyn Dodgers became the first team to overcome an 0-2 deficit in a playoff series in 1955, winning the franchise's first and only title before it relocated to Los Angeles. It was also the only World Series title the Dodgers won with Robinson on the team. The Dodgers handed the Yankees their first World Series loss since 1942 by winning all three games in Brooklyn and taking Game 7 in the Bronx.
Johnny Podres pitched a three-run complete game in Game 3 and tossed a shutout in Game 7 to win the first World Series MVP Award.
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