ALCS Game 7 tidbits
Rays, Sox make homer history; interesting facts about starters
Expanding success: The Rays became just the third team to advance to the World Series after 10 or more consecutive losing seasons. The 1914 Boston Braves (11 straight losing seasons) defeated the Philadelphia A's, 4-0, in the World Series, and the 2006 Tigers (12 straight losing seasons) won the AL Wild Card to advance to the Fall Classic, where they fell to the Cardinals in five games.
Spotting a trend: Expansion teams have now advanced to the World Series in seven of the past nine seasons, with the exceptions coming in 2004 and '06. The last expansion team to win the Fall Classic was the Florida Marlins in '03.
Deeper and deeper: Willy Aybar's seventh-inning home run off Red Sox starter Jon Lester was the 26th home run hit in this American League Championship Series, which surpassed the all-time postseason home run record for homers in a single LCS. The old mark of 25 was set by the Cardinals and Astros in the 2004 National League Championship Series.
Most homers in first playoff appearance
Getting right to it: There were six first-inning home runs hit during the 2008 ALCS, but only one by the Red Sox -- Dustin Pedroia's solo shot in Game 7.
Productive Pedroia: Pedroia's nine runs scored tied him for second place in ALCS history, one behind the mark set by teammate Kevin Youkilis in 2007. Pedroia now shares the No. 2 spot with the Yankees' Hideki Matsui, who scored nine runs in the '04 ALCS.
Rookie RBIs: Evan Longoria's RBI double in the fourth inning gave him eight RBIs for the ALCS, tying him with Cincinnati's Pat Duncan in 1919 for most RBIs by a rookie in a single postseason series.
No easy task: Only three times in playoff history have both teams won three consecutive games in a series. In the 2003 NLCS, the Cubs won three straight after dropping the opener to take a 3-1 lead before the Marlins came back with three wins to clinch the pennant. In the '04 ALCS, the Yankees had a 3-0 lead before the Red Sox ran off with four wins in a row to move on to the World Series. The Red Sox then did it again in '07 to take a 3-1 advantage away from the Indians.
|Most combined home runs in a postseason series|
|2008||ALCS||T.B. (16), Bos. (10)||26|
|2004||NLCS||Hou. (14), Stl. (11)||25|
|2003||ALCS||Bos. (12), NYY (8)||20|
Game 7 facts: Since 1982, a Game 7 in the postseason had been played 21 times coming into Sunday, with the home team winning 16 of those. The home club is 8-5 in Game 7s in LCS history, and on just four occasions has the Game 6 loser won Game 7: 1988 Dodgers, '92 Braves, 2003 Yankees and '06 Cardinals.
Best when chips are down: The 2008 Red Sox were the eighth team to force a Game 7 of a LCS after trailing, 3-1. Six of the seven previous clubs that have come back from a 3-1 deficit have finished the task in Game 7 and won the LCS. Of those clubs, Boston is the only franchise to have accomplished the feat multiple times, doing so three times -- 1986, 2004 and '07.
Backs against the wall: The Red Sox had won nine straight ALCS elimination games. Boston overcame a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS to defeat the Yankees, and then overcame a 3-1 hole to topple the Indians in the 2007 ALCS. The Red Sox are now 26-11 in postseason elimination games, including a 13-2 mark in their past 15 such games. Their only losses were Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and Game 3 of the '05 ALDS.
Young guns on display: The only pitchers younger than Lester (born Jan. 7, 1984) and Matt Garza (born Nov. 11, 1983) to start a Game 7 of the LCS were John Smoltz (born May 15, 1967, and started NLCS Game 7 on Oct. 17, 1991), Roger Clemens (born Aug. 4, 1962, and started ALCS Game 7 on Oct. 15, 1986) and Bret Saberhagen (born April 11, 1964, and started ALCS Game 7 on Oct. 16, 1985).
Can we see some ID? At 24 years and 286 days, Lester became the fifth-youngest left-handed pitcher to start a playoff Game 7, and the youngest since the Cardinals' Joe Magrane (23 years, 115 days) in the 1987 World Series vs. the Twins. Lester had never lost consecutive starts in his career before Sunday.
Winning ways: With 104 victories, including the postseason, the Rays have won 37 more games than they did in 2007. That marks the biggest increase in wins from one season to the next in Major League history, trumping the 1903 Giants, '46 Red Sox, '91 Braves and '99 D-backs, all of whom enjoyed 36-game improvements. The 1890 Louisville Colonels won 61 more games (27 to 88) to set the all-time high.
Bulked up for October: Entering Game 7 on Sunday, B.J. Upton had seven home runs in 42 postseason at-bats. He had nine in 531 at-bats during the regular season.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.