A loss last night, due in no small part to defensive and offensive miscues, has put the New York Mets on the brink of elimination, down three games to one against the Kansas City Royals.
Game 5 is tonight at Citi Field, while games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be at Kauffman Stadium. At this point, the Mets can only win in seven games, but I was curious how many teams had won a best-of-seven series in the Fall Classic after being down 3-1 and lacking home-field advantage. Luckily, I already had this spreadsheet at my disposal.
Going through that, I’m essentially looking for a 7-game series in which the road team wins the final two games after winning game 5 at home. The two most recent series to match the first criteria, 2014 and 2011, don’t fit the other one pertaining to home-field advantage. In fact, initially skimming back over the past few decades, it seems like it may be an impossible task facing the Mets. But you may recall from my most recent piece that home-field-advantage prior to the 1970s wasn’t what it is today.
+ 1979: Pittsburgh Pirates def. Baltimore Orioles – The O’s won game 1 at home, lost game 2 there, but then picked up games 3 and 4 in Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Pittsburgh turned the tables and won the next three games: one at home, and the final two in Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. They outscored the Orioles 15-2 over those three games.
+ 1968: Detroit Tigers def. St. Louis Cardinals – Cards took game 1 at home, lost game 2 at Busch, then bounced back in games 3 and 4 at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers survived three first-inning runs by the Cardinals in game 5 and win 5-3, then blow out the Redbirds by a combined score of 17-2 in games 6 and 7, both back in St. Louis.
+ 1958: New York Yankees def. Milwaukee Braves – This one would be most akin to this year’s scenario. The home-field advantage-possessing Braves won games 1 and 2 at Milwaukee County Stadium (including an extra innings affair in the debut tilt); the Yankees won game 3 at home, but the Braves took game 4. New York won game 5 at Yankee Stadium, then swept the final two in Milwaukee to clinch the series.
And that’s it, at least dating back to 1924. In the ninety World Series contested since then, 35 have gone the full seven games. And only three times has the team lacking home-field advantage fallen behind 3-1 at home, only to storm back and win the final three games–8.57%. So things aren’t looking too great for the Mets right now. On the other hand, if they could pull it off, well, that would be historic.