Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blowouts in Elimination Games

Germany's 7-1 thrashing of Brazil in yesterday's World Cup semifinal made me think about embarrassing postseason eliminations in the major sports here in the U.S.

Here are the six biggest blowouts in an elimination game in the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL postseasons. Why six? Well, each point/run differential list seemed to have convenient cut-offs after sixth place.


6. 2011 ALCS - Game 6 - Rangers 15 Tigers 5

This series was an entertaining one, with two extra inning games and a Nelson Cruz walk-off grand slam, but it had an ugly ending. Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta hit early homers to put Detroit up 2-0. But Michael Young hit two two-run doubles in a nine-run bottom of the third put the game out of reach and the Rangers won their second straight A.L. pennant. Young added a home run and Cruz swatted his sixth homer of the series to earn ALCS MVP honors.

2. (tie) 1911 World Series - Game 6 - Athletics 13 Giants 2

This Fall Classic had a week of rainouts between Games Three and Four before play finally resumed. With a 3-2 lead and playing at home, Philly made sure they wouldn't wait any longer to repeat as champions. The A's were up 2-1 in the fourth inning with two men on when this play happened:

Reached on E1 (throw to 1B)/Sacrifice Bunt; Murphy Scores/No RBI/unER; Davis Scores/unER/Adv on E9 (throw to 3B); Barry Scores/unER

II guess Jack Barry bunted and pitcher Red Ames threw it away to bring home Danny Murphy. Right fielder Red Murray tried to throw out Harry Davis going first-to-third, but that was another error, allowing Davis to score and Barry to come all the way around on a little-league home run. This game really got put out of reach in the seventh, when seven straight A's reached and scored. Chief Bender allowed a ninth-inning run, but closed out the 13-2 victory to finish the series at 2-1 with a 1.04 ERA.

2. (tie) 1974 NLCS - Game 4 - Dodgers 12 Pirates 1

The 102-win Dodgers were 14 games better than the East-champion Bucs and it showed. Pittsburgh avoided a sweep but little else. Steve Garvey hit two two-run dingers early in Game Four, one off starter Jerry Reuss and one off Ken Brett. This one also had a little-league homer, with Davey Lopes hitting an RBI triple and scored on Rennie Stennett's E4. Willie Stargell's seventh-inning blast was the one mark against Don Sutton, who threw eight innings of one-run, three-hit ball with seven K's. L.A. piled on for a 12-1 win, with Garvey tallying four hits and Bill Russell driving in three. Despite being favored against the A's in the World Series, Oakland won in five to finish a threepeat.

2. (tie) 1934 World Series - Game 7 - Cardinals 11 Tigers 0

The famed Gashouse Gang Cards took on the 101-win Tigers in a seven-gamer. St. Louis pushed it to the end after winning Game Six behind Paul Dean. "Daffy," the lesser-known of the brotherly 1-2 punch atop the rotation, pitched a complete game and singled home the winning run in the seventh. His older brother Dizzy Dean pitched a six-hit shutout in the finale. Frankie Frisch opened the scoring with a three-run double in the top of the third. The Cardinals sent 13 men to the plate in the inning, scoring seven runs against Elden Auker, Schoolboy Rowe, Chief Hogsett and Tommy Bridges.

Joe Medwick tripled in the sixth, sliding hard into third baseman Marv Owen, who laid down a rough tag. The two players exchanged punches before the fight was broken up. When Medwick went to left field for the bottom of the inning, Tigers fans "pelted him with a barrage of bananas, vegetables, fruit and half-eaten sandwiches. When they ran out of perishables, they began throwing empty boxes, milk bottles and even chairs." Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis ejected Medwick for his own safety and Chick Fullis played the last four innings in left. The Tigers recovered and won their first World Series the next year.

2. (tie) 1985 World Series - Game 7 - Royals 11 Cardinals 0

After Don Denkinger's missed call at first base opened the door for a K.C. comeback in Game Six, the shaken Cardinals imploded in an 11-0 loss.

Darryl Motley took John Tudor deep for a two-run shot in the second inning and Jim Sundberg's bases-loaded walk in the third knocked Tudor out of the game. Steve Balboni greeted reliever Bill Campbell with a two-run single and that was that. The Royals broke it open in the fifth with six more runs against five St. Louis pitchers. One of them was Joaquin Andujar, who only lasted two batters before being ejected along with his manager, Whitey Herzog.

The pitching staff melted down, not that it mattered against Bret Saberhagen. The Royals ace, who became a father the night before, pitched the game of his life in a five-hit shutout.

1. 1996 NLCS - Game 7 - Braves 15 Cardinals 0

The Cardinals jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the series and had a chance to close it out at home in Game Five. The Braves won that one 14-0 (the second-biggest blowout of the series) behind four hits from Mark Lemke and Javy Lopez and the pitching of John Smoltz. Greg Maddux outdueled Alan Benes 3-1 two nights later to set up the winner-take-all game.

Atlanta landed a quick, embarrasing knockout punch in Game Seven when Tom Glavine smoked a bases-loaded triple in a six-run first inning. Lopez, Andruw Jones and Fred McGriff added home runs while Glavine held St. Louis to three hits in seven innings. The Braves came back from 3-1 down in the series by a combined score of 32-1.

The tables were turned in the World Series when the Braves went up 2-0 on the Yankees, only to see New York win four straight.


5. (tie) 1986 NFC Divisional - Giants 49 49ers 3

On this day, it was Big Blue, not San Francisco, that were the "49ers." Jerry Rice made a key fumble in the end zone on the first drive of the game, but the Niners still only trailed 7-3 in the first quarter. But the Giants scored 21 unanswered points in the second and third periods to win 49-3. Phil Simms threw four touchdown passes and Lawrence Taylor, who had a pick-six, helped the Giants limit San Francisco to just 184 yards of offense. They moved on and shut out Washington 17-0 to win the NFC, then beat Denver 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI.

5. (tie) 1954 NFL Championship - Browns 56 Lions 10

Detroit beat Cleveland for the crown in 1952 and 1953, but the Browns got revenge in a big way this time. A Doak Walker field goal gave the Lions a short-lived lead before Otto Graham threw for two TD's and ran for another to go up 21-3. After a Detroit score it was all Cleveland the rest of the way, 35-0. Graham ended the day with six scores, three in the air and three on the ground. His QB counterpart Bobby Layne threw six interceptions.

4. 1990 AFC Championship - Bills 51 Raiders 3

Buffalo's vaunted K-Gun offense racked up 502 yards while their defense bottled up Marcus Allen (26 rushing yards) and made six interceptions. The Bills scored three touchdowns in the first and second quarters to set a playoff record with 41 first-half points. Jim Kelly threw two touchdowns, both to James Lofton. Thurman Thomas ran for 138 yards and a score and fellow backfielder Kenneth Davis plunged in for three more. The high-flying Bills were Super Bowl favorites, but the Giants stifled them and won on Scott Norwood's missed field goal, 20-19.

3. 1969 AFL Divisional - Raiders 56 Oilers 7

Daryle Lamonica threw for three touchdowns in the opening quarter, two to Fred Biletnikoff, and Oakland never looked back. Lamonica tossed three more TD passes to set a playoff record, since equaled by and Steve Young and Tom Brady. The Raiders hosted the Chiefs in the AFL title game two weeks later, but K.C. pulled out a 17-7 win before upsetting the Vikings in the Super Bowl 23-7.

2. 1999 NFL Divisional - Jaguars 62 Dolphins 7

Dan Marino's career ended on the most sour of notes. After the Jags scored on the opening drive, Marino threw a pick that turned into a field goal and 10-0 lead. Miami went three-and-out before Fred Taylor burst for a 90-yard touchdown run. On the next play from scrimmage, Tony Brackens sacked Marino, picked the ball up and ran in for a score to make it 24-0. Two more three-and-outs begat two more Jacksonville touchdowns and it was 38-0 just 17 minutes into the game. Marino managed to throw for one last touchdown right before halftime before Damon Huard replaced him in the second half. Jags starter Mark Brunell took a seat as well and backup Jay Fiedler, who would replace Marino in Miami that fall, threw for two more scores. Jacksonville tacked on another in the fourth for the second-highest point total and margin of victory in postseason history.

1. 1940 NFL Championship - Bears 73 Washington 0

Washington beat Chicago earlier in the season and their owner, George Preston Marshall called the Bears "front-runners," "quitters" and "crybabies." Bears coach Bears coach George Halas, in what might be the first "bulletin-board material" championship match, showed his players the newspaper clippings to inspire them. It worked. Bill Osmanski ran for a 68-yard touchdown in the first minute of the game. Sid Luckman ran for one touchdown and threw for another to put the Bears in front 28-0 at intermission. Three pick-sixes in the third quarter (still a playoff record) made it 54-0 and the Bears kept going. With so many extra points going into the crowd, officials asked Halas to go for two on the later touchdowns, which I'm sure Halas enjoyed doing. When the dust settled, Chicago had set NFL records for points and point differential that still stand.


6. (tie) 1948 BAA Semifinals - Game 7 - Warriors 85 Bombers 46

Pro basketball's first Game 7 was a dud. The Philadelphia Warriors and St. Louis Bombers won their respective divisions and met in the semis, splitting the first six games. St. Louis boasted the league's best defense (69.5 ppg) but Philly scored 15 points over that mark. Not that it mattered, since only two Bombers could muster more than four points. Even by the scoring standards of the day this is (and likely always will be) the lowest-scoring game in playoff history.

6. (tie) 2008 Finals - Game 6 - Celtics 131 Lakers 92

A throwback Boston-L.A. Finals featured the top team in each conference. In Game Four, the Lakers blew a chance to tie the series when they squandered a 35-14 first-quarter lead to let Boston take control and go up 3-1. The Celtics missed a chance to clinch on the road, but the came home for this coronation in Game Six. Ray Allen hit seven three-pointers, Kevin Garnett put up 26 points and 14 rebounds, Rajon Rondo posted a marvelous 21 pt., 7 reb., 8 ast., 6 stl. line and Series MVP Paul Pierce added 17 points. The Celtics blowout showed that anything is possible.

3. (tie) 2005 First Round - Game 7 - Mavericks 116 Rockets 76

Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming helped the Rockets win the first two games in Dallas, but the Mavs answered with two road wins themselves. It went to Game Seven and it was all Mavericks, with Jason Terry pouring in 31 points and Dirk Nowitzki adding 14 points and 14 boards. After becoming the fourth NBA team to win a series after losing the first two games at home, Dallas lost in six to the Suns in the West Semis. McGrady never got out of the first round until he was a 34-year-old logging five minutes a game on the 2013 runner-up Spurs.

3. (tie) 1983 Western Conference Semifinals - Game 5 - Spurs 145 Nuggets 105

Alex English, Kiki Vandeweghe and Dan Issel formed a strong trio for the Nuggets, upsetting the Suns in the first round. But they were outgunned by George Gervin, Artis Gilmore and the Spurs, 4-1. Game Five was ugly for Denver as seven San Antonio players scored in double digits. The Spurs were then bounced by the Lakers in a six-game West Final.

3. (tie) 1969 Western Conference Semifinals - Game 6 - Lakers 118 Warriors 78

Los Angeles became the first team in NBA history to lose the first two games at home and come back to win a series. Two 36-point games by Jerry West weren't enough and the Lakers were down 0-2. They came back with a pair of blowout wins in San Francisco, and after a victory at home in Game Five they picked up a third. West's 29 points were the most among six Lakers who scored 10+ and L.A. led by 23 at halftime on the road. The Lakers rolled by 40 and made it all the way to Game Seven of the NBA Finals, where they once again fell to the Celtics.

2. 1985 Western Conference Finals - Game 5 - Lakers 153 Nuggets 109

Showtime was in full effect as the Lakers scored the most points in franchise playoff history. Magic Johnson dished out 19 assists and scored 17, James Worthy netted 25 points and Mike McGee and Byron Scott both added 21. In the Finals, the Lakers finally beat the Celtics on the ninth try, becoming the first road team to clinch a championship on the Boston Garden floor.

1. 1971 Western Conference Semifinals - Game 5 - Bucks 136 Warriors 86

The great '71 Bucks of Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson narrowly missed a sweep of this first-round series, but they made up for it with the biggest clinching margin in NBA history. Playing their home games this series at the old Wisconsin Fieldhouse in Madison, the Bucks ran out to a 20-point lead after the first quarter. They didn't let up, expanding the lead to 34 at half and 48 by the end of the third. Alcindor scored 23 and Jon McGlocklin had a game-high 28. They went on to dispatch the Lakers in five games before sweeping the Bullets in the Finals to win the title in just their third year of existence.


6. 1956 Semifinals - Game 5 - Canadiens 7 Rangers 0

Montreal led New York 3-1 and had a chance to close out the series at home, which they did with authority. Doug Harvey, Henri Richard and Dickie Moore each scored two goals, including one each during a four-goal second period. The Habs then rolled past the Red Wings to claim the first of five consecutive Stanley Cups.

5. 2002 Western Conference Finals - Game 7 - Red Wings 7 Avalanche 0

The Red Wings and Avalanche had a bitter, entertaining rivalry in the late 90's and they met once again in 2002 with a Cup Final bid on the line. The Avs led the series 3-2, but Dominik Hasek's shutout in Colorado forced a seventh game back in Detroit. Tomas Holmstrom and Sergei Fedorov scored within the first 3:17 of the game and the rout was on. Patrick Roy let in four more goals before being removed early in the second period. The Wings added the extra point in the third on their way to a five-game Cup Final win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

4. 1983 Smythe Division Finals - Game 5 - Oilers 9 Flames 1

After being outscored by the Oilers 21-6 in the first three games, Calgary eked out a 6-5 win to avoid a sweep. That would be the end of the line for the Flames, though, as Edmonton raced out to a 7-0 lead in the second period. Eight different Oilers would light the lamp in the 9-1 victory. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and company were swept in the Final by the Islanders, but they would come back to win four of the next five Cups.

3. 2001 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game 6 - Sabres 8 Flyers 0

Buffalo scored four goals in the first period. By the end of the second it was 6-0, with six different players scoring. J.P. Dumont and Chris Gratton added their second goals of the game in the third to put the icing on the cake. The Sabres fell in the next round to the Penguins in a seventh game that went to overtime.

2. 1991 Stanley Cup Final - Game 6 - Penguins 8 North Stars 0

Pittsburgh fell behind 2-1 in the series, but they came back to win three straight, including this Cup-clinching humiliation on the road. Ulf Samuelsson scored a power play goal two minutes into the game and the Penguins were off and running. Conn Smythe winner Mario Lemieux scored the next goal and assisted on three others.

1. 1944 Semifinals - Game 5 - Canadiens 11 Maple Leafs 0

The Habs ran up a remarkable 38-5-7 record in 1944 (62-win pace over 82 games) and looked poised to win their first Cup in 13 years. They dropped the first game of the semis, but the great Maurice Richard, in his first full season, scored five goals in the second to even the set. After two more wins, the Canadiens turned in this amazing performance on home ice. Montreal scored twice in the first two periods, but they made history with seven goals in the third. Richard, Toe Blake and Ray Getliffe all tallied two goals apiece. The Canadiens then made quick work of the Black Hawks in a four-game Stanley Cup sweep.

No comments:

Post a Comment