The un­like­li­est long balls,

Woodruff off Ker­shaw joins club of un­like­li­est post-sea­son home runs

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - TYLER KEPNER

MIL­WAU­KEE— When a left-handed-hit­ting re­liever launches a play­off home run off a left­handed pitcher bound for the hall of fame — well, let’s just say you don’t see that much in Oc­to­ber. Yet it re­ally did hap­pen in the third in­ning Fri­day at Miller Park, in Game 1 of the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, when the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers’ Bran­don Woodruff con­nected off the Los An­ge­les Dodgers’ Clay­ton Ker­shaw.

“I knew he could swing the bat a lit­tle bit, for sure,” Ker­shaw said. “I didn’t know he could do that.”

That got us to think­ing, with the help of Twit­ter: Was this the most im­prob­a­ble post­sea­son home run ever? That’s a purely sub­jec­tive ques­tion, of course, but here’s a look at other un­likely blasts.

GAME 1: 1967 WORLD SE­RIES Bos­ton’s Jose San­ti­ago off St. Louis’ Bob Gib­son

Gib­son may have been the best big-game pitcher in base­ball his­tory. He went 7-2 with a 1.89 ERA in nine World Se­ries starts, work­ing 81 in­nings and win­ning two se­ries most valu­able player awards. He beat the Red Sox three times in 1967 to squelch the Im­pos­si­ble Dream — yet some­how gave up a home run to his coun­ter­part, San­ti­ago, in Game 1 at Fen­way Park.

GAME 2: 1968 WORLD SE­RIES Detroit’s Mickey Lolich off St. Louis’ Nel­son Briles

Lolich won three times in the Se­ries, which was pretty im­pres­sive. But the re­ally amaz­ing part was his home run — the only one he hit in a ca­reer that in­cluded 821 reg­u­larsea­son at-bats, dur­ing which he hit .110.

GAME 5: 1969 WORLD SE­RIES The Mets’ Al Weis off Bal­ti­more’s Dave McNally

By the time Weis home­red to tie the clinch­ing game, it was fairly ob­vi­ous: A mir­a­cle was in­deed hap­pen­ing at Shea Sta­dium. McNally, a 20-game win­ner, was hold­ing a 3-2 lead in the sev­enth in­ning, try­ing to send the Se­ries back to Bal­ti­more. But Weis — who hit seven home runs in more than 1,500 ca­reer at-bats — didn’t let him, ty­ing the score with a solo home run. Two in­nings later, the Mets were champs.

GAME 3: 1976 WORLD SE­RIES The Yan­kees’ Jim Ma­son off Cincin­nati’s Pat Zachry

Ma­son hit .180 with one home run for the 1976 Yan­kees. The next three years, he hit .187, .190 and then .183. But when he came up to pinch hit in the Yan­kees’ first home World Se­ries game in 12 years, he ac­tu­ally hit a home run. The Yan­kees lost the se­ries in a sweep, and Ma­son was lifted for a pinch hit­ter in the ninth in­ning that very night. He had but one World Se­ries at-bat in his life, but he took ad­van­tage.

GAME 2: 1984 WORLD SE­RIES San Diego’s Kurt Be­vac­qua off Detroit’s Dan Petry

The Padres have had the mis­for­tune to match up with two of the great­est teams ever in their only World Se­ries ap­pear­ances: the 1984 Tigers and 1998 Yan­kees. They won just one game, this one, when Be­vac­qua slammed a three-run homer to give them a lead in the fifth in­ning. Be­vac­qua hit .200 that sea­son and was play­ing be­cause of an in­jury to Kevin McReynolds. No won­der he blew kisses to the crowd dur­ing his tri­umphant trot.

GAME 5: 1985 NLCS

St. Louis’ Ozzie Smith off Dodger Tom Nieden­fuer Just be­fore Smith came to bat in the bot­tom of the ninth in­ning of Game 5, with the game and the se­ries tied, NBC flashed a graphic stat­ing that he had never hit a home run while bat­ting left-handed. Just like that, the Wiz­ard ripped a liner off a con­crete beam above the right-field wall for a gameend­ing home run. “Go crazy, folks!” Jack Buck told his ra­dio au­di­ence in St. Louis. “Go crazy!”

GAME 4: 1987 WORLD SE­RIES St. Louis’ Tom Law­less off Min­nesota’s Frank Vi­ola

Vi­ola was the MVP in the Se­ries, win­ning the first and last games. In be­tween, he some­how gave up a wall-scrap­ing home run to Law­less, who hit a ro­bust .080 (2 for 25) in the reg­u­lar sea­son and had hit pre­cisely one ca­reer home run. The best part, by far, was Law­less’ re­ac­tion: a non­cha­lant, over-the-shoul­der bat flip, as if he had reached the up­per deck and had done it many times be­fore.

GAME 1: 1988 WORLD SE­RIES The Dodgers’ Kirk Gib­son off Oak­land’s Den­nis Eck­er­s­ley

Gib­son was a su­per­star who was the Na­tional League MVP. But he had two bad legs and was fac­ing a hall of fame closer with two out in the bot­tom of the ninth. He swung off his front foot at a full-count back­door slider — the very pitch that the scout­ing re­port, by Mel Di­dier, had pre­dicted — and limped his way into World Se­ries lore.


The White Sox’ Scott Podsed­nik off Hous­ton’s Brad Lidge Podsed­nik had 507 at-bats in the reg­u­lar sea­son and zero home runs. But he went deep in the di­vi­sion se­ries against Bos­ton and then ended Game 2 with a home run to break a 6-6 tie. It landed Podsed­nik on the cover of Sports Il­lus­trated and sent the White Sox on a happy flight to Hous­ton, where they soon wrapped up their first ti­tle since 1917.


Philadel­phia’s Joe Blan­ton off Tampa Bay’s Edwin Jack­son It was no sur­prise to see Ryan Howard hit two home runs in the Phillies’ win over Tampa Bay; home runs were Howard’s game. But Blan­ton drilling a homer? That was wild. Blan­ton be­came the first pitcher to homer in the World Se­ries since Oak­land’s Ken Holtz­man in 1974. Blan­ton’s cu­mu­la­tive bat­ting line, post-sea­son in­cluded, be­sides that home run: 20 for 193 (.104) with no home runs.


Cleve­land’s Ra­jai Davis off the Cubs’ Aroldis Chap­man Who would have ever ex­pected Davis, the Amer­i­can League leader in stolen bases, to de­liver one of the most dra­matic home runs in World Se­ries his­tory? Davis choked up on his bat against the over­pow­er­ing Chap­man and siz­zled a line drive just over the tall wall down the left-field line, send­ing Cleve­land into delir­ium, ty­ing one of the most ex­hil­a­rat­ing games in World Se­ries his­tory and giv­ing Cubs fans one last scare be­fore they fi­nally won their first crown since 1908.


Mil­wau­kee re­liever Bran­don Woodruff floated around the bases af­ter a solo blast in the Brew­ers’ Game 1 win over the Dodgers.

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