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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