World Series Game 7: Five Teams Have Comeback from 3-1 Down to Win

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The Chicago Cubs are trying to become the sixth team in Major League Baseball History to Comeback from 3-1 down to capture a World Series Title.

The last time a team rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win the World Series was the Kansas City Royals in 1985 against the Saint Louis Cardinals. In the interim since the Royals were the last team to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series, six teams have done so in the League Championship Series. It has happened four times in the American League Championship Series and twice in the NLCS.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were the last team to do so on the Road. The Pirates are the last team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win the series on the road. The Pirates captured their fifth World Series Title against the Orioles in Baltimore. They are the only National League team to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a World Series.

The irony in this is that the last two teams to blow 3-1 Series leads are the Cubs and the Indians. The Indians blew a 3-1 lead against the Red Sox in the 2007 ALCS after having a chance to clinch at home in game five.

The Cubs blew a 3-1 series lead with the final two games at Wrigley Field against the Marlins in the National League Championship Series in 2003. This, of course, included the infamous game six with Steve Bartman, Alex Gonzalez’ dropped potential double-play ball and an eight-run Marlins sixth.

Game Seven in that series was epic. The Marlins scored three runs in the top of the first. The Cubs responded with three in second and two in the third to take a 5-3 lead. The game tying Home Run in the second was by Cubs Pitcher Kerry Wood.

The Marlins responded with three in the fifth to regain the lead and tacked on one in the sixth, and two in the seventh and won 9-6 to capture their second national league pennant.

The 1985 Kansas City Royals are the are the only team in Major League history and one of only two teams in the Big Four Sports to come back from 3-1 down twice in the same postseason. The 2003 Minnesota Wild rallied from 3-1 series deficits in the first round against the Colorado Avalanche and the second round against the Vancouver Canucks. The Wild got swept in the conference finals by the Anaheim Ducks.

The New York Islanders are the only team in the Big Four to come back from a 3-1 deficit in back to back seasons when they did so in the 2014 and 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The New York Islanders are the only team in the Big Four to come back from a 3-1 deficit in back to back seasons when they did so in the 2014 and 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Chicago Blackhawks almost did it a year before the Islanders. The Blackhawks rallied from 3-1 down against the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals. They rallied from 3-1 down to force game seven at the United Center in Chicago in the 2014 Conference Finals. They fell just short, losing to the L.A. Kings in overtime.

Ironically, Indians Manager Terry Francona is one of only two managers to comeback from 3-1 down twice. He is the only manager to do it in two different seasons. The last time he did it in 2007 with the Red Sox against the Indians.

Dick Howser led the Royals to a pair of comebacks from 3-1 down in 1985.

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1985 Kansas City Royals

The Royals remain the only team in Major League Baseball to come back from a 3-1 deficit twice in the same postseason. The Royals lost the first two games of the series in Toronto. Game two was a heartbreaking loss. The Royals blew a 3-0 lead, fell behind in the eighth to force extra innings, then scored one in the top of the tenth to take a 4-3 lead.

The go-ahead run came with some controversy after Royals leadoff hitter Willie Wilson got on after it was ruled the Blue Jays Centerfielder Lloyd Moseby trapped Wilson’s sinking line drive. Toronto scored two in the tenth to win game two 6-5 and head to Kansas City up 2-0.

Royals ace Bret Saberhagen started game three but lasted only 4.1 innings after giving up five runs that had erased a 2-0 Royals lead. K.C. rallied with one in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the eighth to avoid going down three games to none.

Toronto won game four behind their ace Dave Stieb and their closer Tom Henke who allowed two hits and one run to put the Jays up 3-1 and on the verge of their first World Series.

The Royals responded with a complete game shutout in game five by Danny Jackson to win 2-0 and force the series back to Toronto.

In a back and forth game six, the Royals eventually pulled away to win 5-3 and force game seven.

The Royals blew game seven open with a four-run sixth highlighted by lightly hitting catcher Jim Sundberg’s triple to make the score 5-1 at the end time. Sundberg was singled in by second baseman Frank White to push the lead to 6-1.

The Royals eventually won 6-2 to punch their ticket to their the franchise’s second World Series. The Royals became the first team to come back from 3-1 down in a league Championship series.

Unlike the ALCS, the Royals had home field in the World Series. The Cardinals won game one to wrestle home field away from the Royals. KC had a 2-0 lead heading into the ninth inning in game two. The Cardinals erupted for four runs to win 4-2 and take a 2-0 lead heading home.

The Royals rebounded to win game three 6-1 behind Saberhagen to get back into the series, down two games to one. The Cardinals won game four 3-0 behind a five-hit complete game shutout from John Tudor.

The Cardinals were set up to capture their second World Series in four seasons at home in game five. Jackson pitched another outstanding game, going the distance, giving up just five hits and one run in a 6-1 KC win to force the Series back to Kansas City.

Game Six was one of the most controversial in MLB history. After being on the wrong side of a controversial call in the fourth inning, the Royals had the call even out in the ninth. Jorge Orta appeared to be out on a bang-bang play at first but was called safe but first base umpire Don Denkinger.


The Royals would eventually score two runs in the bottom of the inning to win 2-1 and set up a game seven. The Royals won game seven 11-0 to capture their first World Series title.

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1979 Pittsburgh Pirates

Similar to the 2016 World Series, the Orioles took game won at home, lost game two before winning the first two in Pittsburgh to take a 3-1 series lead. The Orioles fell behind 4-0 and 6-3 before rallying with six in the eighth inning to win the game 9-6.  The Pirates won a dramatic game earlier in the series with a run in the top of the ninth to win game two.


The Pirates pitching dominated games fives through seven, allowing one run in the final 26 innings to complete the comeback and capture the franchise’s fifth and most recent World Series title.

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1968 Detroit Tigers

The Cardinals and Tigers split the first two games of the World Series. Cardinals ace Bob Gibson won game one for St. Louis and series MVP Mickey Lolich game two for Detroit. The Cardinals dominated the next two games with 7-3 and 10-1 wins. Gibson won game four.

The Tigers won game five 5-3 with two in the fourth and three in the seventh. Lolich allowed three runs in the top of the first, then shut the Cardinals down the rest of the way pitching a complete game.

The Tigers won game six 13-1 to set up a game seven showdown between Gibson and Lolich. The game was scoreless until the seven when the Tigers scored three runs with two outs. Both teams added a run in the ninth and the Tigers completed the comeback with a 3-1 victory to match their comeback from 3-1 down in the series.

Lolich and Denny McClain each started three games in the series, including their final starts on two days rest. Lolich won the MVP by going 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in the series.

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1958 Yankees

The Milwaukee Braves went up 3-1 with wins in the first two games at home and game one and four wins by ace Warren Spahn.

The Yankees rebounded in game five behind a five-hit complete game shutout from Bob Turley. The Yankees blew open a 1-0 game with a six-run sixth to send the series back to Milwaukee.

The Yankees captured game six 4-3 by pushing two runs across in the top of the tenth. The Yankees ace Whitey Ford was knocked out after pitching just 1.1 innings and the Yankees got to Spahn in the tenth after he pitched 9.2 innings.

Game seven was tied at two until the Yankees scored four runs in the top of the eighth to take a 6-2 lead. Turley pitched the final 6.2 innings allowing one run on two hits for the win.

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1925 Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are the only franchise to recover from a 3-1 series deficit to win a World Series twice. The Pirates and Washington Senators split the first two games in Pittsburgh before the Senators came returned home to win games three and four.

The Senators won games one and four behind Walter “The Big Train” Johnson who some still regard as the greatest pitcher ever nearly 100 years since his prime.

The Pirates won game five by scoring two in the seventh, one in the eighth and one in the ninth to capture a 6-3 victory on the road and send the series back to the Steel city.

The Pirates won 3-2 in game six to set up a decisive game seven against Johnson. The Senators scored four in the top of the first inning. Against Johnson is seemed like an insurmountable lead. The Big Train gave up just one run in his first two appearances in the World Series.

The Pirates scored three in the bottom of the third to cut the margin to one. Washington answered with two in the top of the fifth. Pittsburgh added one more in the fifth. In Johnson’s first 24 innings in the Series, he allowed four runs for a 1.50 ERA.

Game seven was played in rain and fog. The outfielders were not visible from the press box. The Pirates continued to get to Johnson, scoring two in the seventh and three in the eighth to capture a 9-7 game seven victory and become the first team in MLB history to come back from 3-1 down.

Writer Lamont Buchanan wrote after the Pirates clinched that  “In 1925, the Senators hopped the Big Train once too often.”

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