After a blowout loss in Game 4 on Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks are now guaranteed just one game as part of their World Series matchup against the Texas Rangers. The D-backs trail by a 3-1 margin in the best-of-seven series with the two teams set to reconvene at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday night for Game 5. If the Rangers win, they will be crowned . this year’s champions; if the Diamondbacks win, the series will return to Arlington.
It’s an obvious declaration, but the odds are heavily in favor of the Rangers winning their first World Series title in franchise history. According to the website WhoWins.com, MLB teams that take a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series end up winning that series about 85% of the time. If you’re a D-backs fan, you’re probably clinging to the idea that Arizona has a chance to take this series. Actually, there is, it’s not good.
In the entire history of Major League Baseball, only six teams that have trailed by a 3-1 margin in the World Series have gone on to lift the trophy. There were also three close calls, in which the trailing team forced and then lost a decisive Game 7. Below, CBS Sports offers a quick recap of all nine of the series. After all, who knows, maybe these Diamondbacks will find a way to get into the 10th series in the history books in the next few days.
1. 1912: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Giants
This World Series went seven — eight games, due to Game 2 being declared a tie due to darkness. The Giants trailed by a 3-1 margin in the first five games of the set, but rallied to win Games 6 and 7 by a combined 16-6 margin. The Giants built an early 1-0 lead in Game 8, and later took a 2-1 lead in the 10th inning. Alas, the Red Sox scored a pair of runs in their half of the frame. The series ended when Larry Gardner hit a walk-off sacrifice fly against the legendary Christy Mathewson.
2. 1967: St. Louis Cardinals over the Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox found themselves at the other end of the equation more than five decades ago. They got a Game 5 win thanks to a complete game by Jim Lonborg, and a Game 6 win thanks to a late four-run outburst. Boston’s comeback efforts then hit a brick wall with Bob Gibson’s personnel. Gibson’s Game 7 performance saw him strike out 10 and surrender just two runs on three hits and three walks in the complete game victory.
3. 1972: Oakland Athletics vs. Cincinnati Reds
Our last close call saw the Athletics go on to win a seven game series en route to the championship. Rollie Fingers let a late lead slip away in Game 5, and the Reds put up enough offense against Vida Blue and the A’s bullpen in Game 6 to force a winner-take-all contest. The A’s won in a 3-2 nail-biter, with Gene Tenace and Sal Bando providing the key hits.
Now, on occasions where a 3-1 comeback has happened.
1. 1925: Pittsburgh Pirates over Washington Senators
These Pirates became the first MLB team to achieve a 3-1 comeback. Game 7 was played in miserable conditions at Forbes Field, causing Senators Walter Johnson to have a forgettable game. He surrendered nine runs (five earned) on 15 hits in nine innings. Meanwhile, the Pirates struck out starter Vic Aldridge after five of the first six batters he faced reached base.
2. 1958: New York Yankees over Milwaukee Braves
This is a rematch of last year’s World Series in which the Braves prevailed. The Yankees got the sweetest revenge this tour, winning the last two contests in Milwaukee. Bob Turley won the World Series MVP trophy after pitching four times in seven games: twice as a starter, twice in relief. That included appearances in both Games 6 and 7 when, on zero days rest, he chucked 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in relief of Don Larsen.
3. 1968: Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The aforementioned Gibson faced off twice in this series with Denny McLain, who won 31 games during the regular season. Gibson won both of those encounters. McLain then pitched the Tigers to a blowout victory in Game 6, leaving Game 7 — and another meeting with Gibson — to Mickey Lolich. Lolich proved up to the task, holding the Cardinals to one run in a complete game effort. On the other hand, Detroit’s lineup scored four times against Gibson, with Jim Northrup delivering a two-run triple as the key hit in the three-run seventh inning.
4. 1979: Pittsburgh Pirates over Baltimore Orioles
The Pirates looked overmatched midway through this series, losing Games 3 and 4 by a combined 17-10 margin. Yet Pittsburgh went on to win three straight contests, including Games 6 and 7 on the road. The “We Are Family” Pirates turned the tables, taking games by a 15-2 margin.
5. 1985: Kansas City Royals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
In order for the Royals to win the 1985 World Series, they had to engineer not one, but two 3-1 comebacks. They trailed 3-1 in the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays before storming out. They obviously enjoyed that experience enough to want to repeat it against the Cardinals. This series is perhaps best remembered for Don Denkinger’s controversial (and incorrect) safe call in the ninth inning of Game 6 that saved the Royals. Clearly they are taking full advantage.
6. 2016: Chicago Cubs over Cleveland
The most recent 3-1 comeback in World Series history is a bitter one because it involves two franchises with long championship droughts. The Cubs won Games 6 and 7 on the road. The latter saw Cleveland tie the game in the bottom of the eighth off Aroldis Chapman. Both sides would face a rain delay before the Cubs eventually won in extra innings, earning their first World Series championship since 1908.