Today will mark the first time in Major League Baseball’s history that there is a need for two separate tiebreaker games to decide a division. The Cubs and Brewers will settle the NL Central, while the Dodgers and Rockies battle for the NL West.
Both games have the safety net of the wild card came on Tuesday, something the previous 14 tie breaking scenarios didn’t include.
For the Dodgers, breaking the tie hasn’t been kind to them in their previous five appearances. The only win came in 1959 when they would go on to win the World Series in their second year in Los Angeles.
There were no divisions in the two leagues prior to 1969, and through the 1962 season, ties were settled with a best-of-three series to decide who represented the league in the World Series. The Dodgers played in four of the five series decided this way, winning just the one.
The first tie that needed extra games came in 1946 between the Cardinals and Dodgers. St. Louis won the first two games to earn a trip to the World Series against the Red Sox, where they would win in seven games. That was the Cardinals sixth championship in nine tries from 1926 to 1946.
Then there was one of the most famous instances in baseball history in 1951 when the Dodgers and Giants played a series to decide who would play the Yankees. Brooklyn lost the first game but came back to win 10-0 in the Polo Grounds in Game 2.
The Dodgers broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the top of the eighth inning, taking 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth. But as we all know, the Giants put four on the board in the ninth, ending the Dodgers season on Bobby Thomson’s three-run homer that became known as the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”
The Giants would go on to lose to the Yankees in six games.
When the 1959 season came to a close, the Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves needed a series to settle the National League. Los Angeles took the first two games to quickly dispatch Hank Aaron and the Braves, going on to beat the White Sox in six games for their second title in five seasons.
It was the Giants and Dodgers again in 1962, with San Francisco winning two of the three. The Giants took the first game, knocking Sandy Koufax from the game with no outs in the second inning. Koufax had missed two months of the season, coming back September 21 to give up seven runs in 7 2⁄3 combined innings in three starts prior to the games with the Giants.
The Dodgers took Game 2 and had a 4-2 lead in the ninth with just three outs separating them from another trip to the World Series. But the Giants would score four times in the top half of the inning, holding on to win the series.
San Francisco would again go on to lose to the Yankees in the Fall Classic.
The Dodgers only shot of the one-game variety came in 1980 when they played the Astros at Dodger Stadium for a trip to the NLCS. Houston jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first and never looked back, tacking on two in the third and three in the fourth for a 7-1 win.
Houston went on to lose to the Phillies in five games, needing extra innings to decide the final meeting.
The Dodgers are the only team in baseball with more than three trips to a tiebreaker, going 1-4. The Rockies are mailing their second appearance, beating the Padres in 2007 and eventually appearing in the World Series. Colorado would be swept by the Red Sox.
Let’s hope there isn’t another Matt Holliday situation, because he still hasn’t touched home plate.