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Who faces more ‘World Series or bust’ pressure: Yankees or Dodgers?
SportsPulse: Coming into the season, shortened or not, both the Yankees and Dodgers had ‘World Series or bust’ labels. Our MLB writers debate which team faces more pressure to win it all this season.
Teams that advance far into the MLB postseason require the right combination: strong pitching, timely hitting and exceptional defense.
“Clutch” is often used to describe a hitter coming through in a big moment. But big plays in the field can be just as impactful. Look no further than Cody Bellinger’s robbery of Fernando Tatis Jr. in Game 2 of the NLDS on Wednesday as proof. The Dodgers went on to defeat the Padres 6-5, Bellinger’s heroics at the center-field wall looming large.
The club with the big play doesn’t always emerge on top, but those moments are still worth celebrating. Here’s a look at some of the best catches in MLB postseason history.
Willie Mays, 1954 World Series, Game 1
Leading off with the obvious, as Willie Mays’ over-the-shoulder catch and whip-around throw to the infield remains one of baseball’s iconic images — completed by the hat tumbling off his head.
“The Catch” is eternal, and the New York Giants won the series — their last until 2010 — over the Cleveland Indians.
Endy Chavez, 2006 NLCS, Game 7
The snow-cone catch, taking a homer away from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Scott Rolen, kept the game tied at 1. The Cardinals won the game to advance to the World Series, which they also won.
Dwight Evans, 1975 World Series, Game 6
Carlton Fisk waving the ball fair is the more popular highlight of the game, but that doesn’t happen if Evans can’t track down and haul in Joe Morgan’s drive to right field in the top of the 11th with the Red Sox facing elimination.
The guy doubled off at first base (despite the throw 20 feet off the base)? Ken Griffey Sr.
Andrew Benintendi, 2018 ALCS, Game 4
If this ball gets down or past Benintendi, there’s a chance the series is evened at two games apiece. Who knows what happens from there? Imagine the Astros winning back-to-back titles, which would add another layer to their sign-stealing cheating.
Instead, Benintendi’s heroics gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead on their way to a championship, and sign-stealing controversies of their own.
Tommie Agee, 1969 World Series, Game 3
Agee made not one, but two brilliant catches that saved up to five runs: his race to the left-center field gap in the third with two men on and his diving catch on the warning track with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.
Ron Swoboda’s sprawling catch in right field during Game 4 of the same series receives an honorable mention here, as the Mets won the first World Series in franchise history.
Jim Edmonds, 2004 NLCS, Game 7
The Astros, up 1-0, had a chance to break open the game in the second frame with a World Series spot on the line. Brad Ausmus’ drive into the left-center field gap looked ominous, until Edmonds laid out for an over-the-shoulder diving grab.
It was the latest clutch effort from Edmonds, whose walkoff homer the night before forced Game 7 in the first place.
Lorenzo Cain, 2018 NLCS, Game 2
This is nothing new for Cain, one of the more underrated defensive center fielders in recent memory. The head-wag is Mutumbo-esque.
It wasn’t the first time he’d come up big in the postseason, either.
Which playoff catches do you wish made the list? Let us know by tweeting @BOOMbaca or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.