The Boston Red Sox are one win away from winning the 2013 World Series. They won last night 3-1 and now go back home to try to end the series in front of their hometown fans. The series continues on Wednesday night.
So, can the Cardinals win two games on the road to steal the series from the BoSox? Or, are the Red Sox about ready to celebrate? Let’s try to put some numbers to the crystal ball. The Red Sox and Cardinals were tied at 2-2 after four games. It was the 21st time since 1960 that the World Series was tied at two games apiece. So how did the previous 20 series end after Game 5?
In the previous 20 series tied at 2-2, five ended with the team winning Game 5 and Game 6. In seven of the series, the team that won Game 5, lost Game 6, but won Game 7 to clinch the series. In eight of the series, the team that lost Game 5 went on to win Games 6 and 7 to win the World Series. Bottom line: The team that won Game 5 after the series was tied at 2-2 won the World Series 12 times and lost eight. While this bottom line stat favors the Red Sox, the most frequent scenario in the past 20 series tied at 2-2 was that the team that lost Game 5 won the next two games and the series (that happened eight times of the 20).
But let’s dig a little deeper and look at what has happened since 1990. There were seven World series since 1990 where the two teams were tied at two games apiece going into Game 5. Four times (1991, 2001, 2002 and 2011) the team that lost Game 5 went on to win the next two games and the series. Twice (1996 and 2003) the team that won Game 5 also won Game 6 and won the World Series. The only time since 1990 that the team that won Game 5, lost Game 6 and then came back to win Game 7 was in 1997.
The above stat seems to favor the possibility of the Cardinals coming back to win Games 6 and 7. One problem… In those four games above where the team that lost Game 5 went on to win Games 6 and 7 to clinch the world championship, the team that won Game 5 was the home team. The Cards were the home team last night and lost Game 5. In the two cases where the road team won Game 5 in a World Series tied 2-2 since 1990, both times the away team that won Game 5 (which the Red Sox were last night) went on to win the World Series (once the series went six games; the other time the road team won Game 6 but the home team rebounded with a Game 7 victory).
That’s a lot of numbers and scenarios. Is it possible for the Cardinals to win two games on the road to win the series? There is a glimmer of hope because it has been done before. The last time it happened was in 1979 when the Pittsburgh Pirates, down 3-2 in the World Series, had to win Games 6 and 7 in the Baltimore Orioles ballpark to win the championship. They won Game 6 by a score of 4-0 and won Game 7 and the World Series with a 4-1 win in the finale.
Can the Cardinals take a piece of history and repeat the Pirates 1979 World Series comeback?
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Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published daily that focuses on stats that go beyond the numbers.
What stats could play a major role in tonight’s game? Over the past 25 NBA seasons there have been 12 Game Sevens in the conference finals. Following is a look at 10 stats that shaped the past conference finals Game 7s since 1987.
(Conference Finals Game 7= CFG7)
2. The team that won Game 6 in the series: The team that won Game 6 in the series went on to win Game 7 in only three of the 12 CFG7s since 1987.
3. Score: The average margin of victory has been just under 10 points in the last 12 CFG7s. In seven of the 12 games the margin of victory was six points or less. In the other five games, the teams won by 13 or more points. Five of the last six CFG7 games have been decided by six points or less.
4. Halftime Lead: The team that won Game 7 was leading at half in eight of the 12 games.
5. Lead going into the 4th quarter: The team that won Game 7 was leading going into the fourth quarter in eight of the 12 games.
6. Bench Scoring: Not a factor in Game 7s. Only two of the 12 teams that won Game 7 saw their bench outscore their opponents reserves in the game. What was significant was that the team whose starting five outscored the other team’s starting five won 11 of the 12 games.
7. Rebounding: The team that won Game 7 out-rebounded their opponents in 10 of the 12 games and tied for rebound totals in one game.
8. Turnovers: The winning team had fewer turnovers in six of the 12 games; in two games the two teams had the same number of turnovers.
9. Assists: The winning team had more assists in seven of the 12 games; in one game the two teams had the same number of assists. While the turnover and assist totals didn’t seem to make a significant difference, if you figure out the assist-to-turnover ratio, an interesting stat develops. The team that had a higher assist-to-turnover ratio in the 12 CFG7 games won 10 and lost only two.
10. Three-point field goals made: The team that made more three-point shots in the game won six times; the two teams had the same number of three-point shots made in three games.
Did you know? Five teams that won Game 7 of the Conference Final since 1987 won the NBA title that season. Seven of the teams that won Game 7 of the Conference Finals lost the NBA Finals that year.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp