Sure, the Giants’ win over the Reds had an assist from a bad call by an ump, but it still counts as a ninth inning rally. As does the Heath Bell meltdown Aaron described earlier.
But those weren’t the only two. The Rays turned their caps inside out or whatever the hell passes for a rally cap these days and pulled victory from the jaws of defeat in the ninth themselves, beating the Angels 4-3.
The Angels led 3-2 as the bottom of the ninth began. But then B.J. Upton singled and Joe Maddon sent Brandon Allen up to pinch hit for Jose Molina. The result: Ball, ball, strike, strike, BOOM. A 443-foot homer to win the game. Jordan Walden never even recorded an out.
The Angels are now 6-13. They are nine games back of the Rangers, for the largest deficit of any team in baseball.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: