Saturday, October 29, 2011


The 2011 World Series -- which concluded with last night's rather unexciting St. Louis victory in Game 7, after the Cardinals' dramatic comeback Thursday night over Texas in Game 6 -- had many streak-relevant aspects.

One issue that probably occurred to many people is the apparent momentum that carried over from the Cards' Game-6 win to Game 7 (or perhaps the Rangers' demoralization that did the same). It is an easy enough matter to examine World Series that went seven games to see if the team that won Game 6 seemed to have an increased likelihood of also winning Game 7. This online compilation details the game-by-game sequences of winning and losing teams in each World Series, but runs only through 2004. However, it turns out that the only post-2004 Series to go seven games was this year's. Below, I list all World Series from roughly the last six decades that went seven games (it is admittedly an arbitrary cut-off, but I wanted to have a relatively large sample without the chart getting too long).

YearTeam That Won Game 6
Also Winning Game 7
Team That Lost Game 6
Winning Game 7
1952NY Yankees---
1955---Brooklyn Dodgers
1956---NY Yankees
1957---Milwaukee Braves
1958NY Yankees*---
1960---Pittsburgh Pirates
1962---NY Yankees
1964---St. Louis Cardinals
1965---LA Dodgers
1967---St. Louis Cardinals
1968Detroit Tigers*---
1971---Pittsburgh Pirates
1972---Oakland A's
1973Oakland A's---
1975---Cincinnati Reds
1979Pittsburgh Pirates*---
1982St. Louis Cardinals---
1985KC Royals*---
1986NY Mets---
1987Minnesota Twins---
1991Minnesota Twins---
1997---Florida Marlins
2001Arizona Diamondbacks---
2002Anaheim Angels---
2011St. Louis Cardinals---
*Won final 3 games in coming back from 1-3 deficit.

In total, there were 13 instances of the team that won Game 6 continuing on to win Game 7, and 12 of the team that lost Game 6 rebounding to win Game 7. Pretty even. However, nine of the last 10 times the World Series has gone seven games, the team that won Game 6 went on to win Game 7.

Among the instances of the Game-6 outcome appearing to carry over to Game 7, we have some of the most heartbreaking losses from the perspective of the team that failed to close out the series in six games:
  • The 1986 Boston Red Sox, seeking the franchise's first World Series title since 1918, failing to get one final out to finish off the New York Mets in Game 6, after leading 5-3 with two Mets out and no one on base in the bottom of the tenth. The Mets won in seven.
  • The 2002 San Francisco Giants, leading 5-0 at Anaheim in Game 6 as the Angels came up in the bottom of the seventh, giving up 3 in the seventh and 3 in the eighth to lose 6-5. The Angels won in seven.
  • This year's World Series, in which the Texas Rangers were "one strike, twice" away from closing out the Cardinals in Game 6. A listless Ranger squad then fell in Game 7 by a score of 6-2.

Of course, not all teams that have suffered a near-miss loss in trying to close out the World Series in six games have faltered in Game 7. The 1975 Cincinnati Reds, who squandered a three-run lead in the eighth inning of Game 6 and lost on Carlton Fisk's famous extra-inning homer, did manage to win Game 7.

Another factor to consider is home-field advantage. With the Cards' win last night, the home team has now won nine straight Game 7's.

Other instances of hotness and coldness from the World Series:
  • The Cards' Albert Pujols, who recorded what some consider the greatest offensive performance ever in a single World Series game, blasting three home runs and getting five hits overall in six at-bats during Game 3, went 1-for-19 in the remainder of his official AB's. He thus finished the Series 6-for-25 (he did get on base with six walks, though, five of them intentional).
  • The Game 6 and 7 losses were the first back-to-back defeats for Texas since getting swept three games by Boston on August 23-25. Each of the next 13 times the Rangers lost, they immediately won the next game. (The losses in question were: Aug. 27 to the Angels; Aug. 31 to Tampa Bay; Sept. 3 to Boston; Sept. 5 to Tampa Bay; Sept. 7 to Tampa Bay; Sept. 10 to Oakland; Sept. 16 to Seattle; Sept. 22 to Oakland; to Tampa Bay to begin the postseason; in Games 3 and 5 in the American League Championship Series against Detroit; and finally, in Games 1 and 3 against St. Louis.)
  • Josh Hamilton, the ailing Rangers slugger, ended a drought of 65 postseason at-bats without a homer in the 10th inning of Game 6, with a two-run shot. It looked like it might be enough to give Texas the series, but the Cards tied the game in their half of the inning and won in the 11th.   

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