The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals each have a 3-2 lead in their respective league championship series. So what are the chances that being the first team to win three games “assures” each of these teams a trip to the World Series?
Since 1985 when MLB went to a seven-game LCS in each league, there have been 54 LCS series. In 44 of those 54 series (81.5%) the first team to win three games in the series went on to win the series and advance to the World Series.
Just last season, the Cardinals held a 3-1 lead in the NLCS over the Giants. San Francisco then went on to win games 5, 6 and 7 to topple the Cards, advance to the World Series, and eventually win the World Series.
Here’s a look at the 10 LCS series since 1985 where the first team to win three games in the ALCS or NLCS did not win that all-important fourth game to make it to the World Series.
League, year, result
ALCS, 1985: Kansas City over Toronto (the Royals won games 5, 6 and 7)
ALCS, 1986: Boston over California (the Red Sox won games 5, 6 and 7)
NLCS, 1987: St. Louis over San Francisco (the Cardinals won games 6 and 7)
NLCS, 1991: Atlanta over Pittsburgh (the Braves own games 6 and 7)
NLCS, 1996: Atlanta over St. Louis (the Braves won games 5, 6 and 7)
NLCS, 2003: Florida over Chicago Cubs (the Marlins won games 5, 6 and 7)
ALCS, 2004: Boston over NY Yankees (the Red Sox won games 4, 5, 6 and 7) *
NLCS, 2004: St. Louis over Houston (the Cardinals won games 6 and 7)
ALCS, 2007: Boston over Cleveland (the Red Sox won games 5, 6 and 7)
NLCS, 2012: San Francisco over St. Louis (the Giants won games 5, 6 and 7)
* Only time in LCS history that a team has been down 3-0 and won an LCS.
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If you’re a defensive coordinator in the NFL, you’ve got to feel pretty good if your team heads into the locker room at halftime of a game and your opponents do not have any points on the scoreboard. But does pitching a shutout in the first half equate to ultimate success (read: victory) in that game?
Let’s put some numbers to that question. First, there have been nine games so far in 2013 where a team has held their opponents to zero points in the first half. In those games, those teams that pitched the first-half shutout won nine and lost two. Two teams, Green Bay and Seattle, have held their opponents to zero points at half in two games in 2013.
If we take a look back to 2004, teams that held the opposition scoreless in the first half have won 357 and lost 64, an .848 winning percentage. The Patriots and Steelers have each held their opponents scoreless in 22 games from 2004-2013, most in the NFL.
Here’s a look at the number of games each NFL team held opponents scoreless in the first half from 2004-2013. The win-loss record in those games is noted in parenthesis.
Games where opponents were scoreless at halftime (record in those games)
22: New England (21-1); Pittsburgh (20-2)
19: Cincinnati (17-2); New York Giants (18-1); Baltimore (18-1)
18: Green Bay (15-3); Tampa Bay (14-4)
17: New York Jets (15-2); Seattle (16-1)
15: Atlanta (14-1); San Diego (13-2)
14: Carolina (12-2); Chicago (11-3); Denver (14-0); Houston (12-2); San Francisco (13-1)
13: Jacksonville (11-2)
12: Cleveland (5-7); Miami (5-7); Washington (10-2)
11: Buffalo: (9-2); Kansas City (9-2); Tennessee (8-3)
10: Detroit (9-1); Minnesota (7-3)
9: Indianapolis (8-1); Arizona (7-2); Philadelphia (9-0)
7: Dallas (5-2)
5: Oakland (4-1); St. Louis (4-1)
4: New Orleans (4-0)
You probably noticed that three teams, Denver, Philadelphia and New Orleans, are undefeated in games since 2004 when they held opponents scoreless in the first half. The last time these teams lost a game when they held their foes scoreless at half were: Eagles (12/28/2002); Broncos (12/2/2001), Saints (10/17/1999).
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