WASHINGTON — If you spent all of Sunday watching football, you may have missed two of the most improbable comebacks in recent MLB history.
Baseball is a game of probabilities and percentages. Play the right odds enough over the course of nine innings 162 times and things will generally tilt in your favor. But within the context of one game, anything can happen. Even if the odds of such a thing are just a couple tenths of 1 percent.
Just ask the Mets and Astros, who each trailed by three runs on Sunday, on the road, with no runners on and two outs in the ninth inning. Both teams executed near-impossible rallies — made even more spectacular and unbelievable by the ways in which they almost didn’t happen — to win.
In Atlanta, the Mets entered the ninth trailing 7-4, and the first two batters struck out. At that point, their win probability rested at 0.2 percent.
On a 1-2 pitch, Juan Lagares floated a fly ball to the right-center field gap and Cameron Maybin laid out in a full dive, the ball dropping into the webbing of his mitt momentarily before popping out as he crashed to the ground, allowing Lagares to reach with a double. Curtis Granderson then walked to bring up Daniel Murphy as the tying run, and on an 0-1 count, he delivered the game-tying blast.
The Mets went on to score three more in the 10th, also all with two out, to win 10-7.
Not to be outdone, the Astros trailed the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 heading to the ninth and quickly made the first two outs as well. That left their win probability at a robust 0.3 percent, on the verge of a devastating three-game sweep.
With Preston Tucker facing a 1-2 count against Los Angeles closer Huston Street, who had closed out a pair of 3-2 wins already this weekend, Tucker blasted a solo shot out to right field. George Springer then fell in an 0-2 hole before poking a ball to right field, just out of the reach of a diving Kole Calhoun, wheeling around for a triple. He was followed by Jose Altuve, who lined the first pitch into left field for an RBI single to make it a 3-2 game. That brought up Carlos Correa, who hit a hot shot up the middle snagged by second baseman Taylor Featherston, who popped to his feet to make the throw to first, only to find the ball stuck in the webbing of his mitt and no play to be made.
So up stepped Jed Lawrie as a pinch-hitter. And on a 2-1 count, he lofted a ball high and deep toward the low wall in the right-field corner in Anaheim. Calhoun, in place to redeem himself for his near miss, ranged over toward the foul pole and appeared to have a play on the ball. But he mistimed his leap, the ball dropping into the stands for a go-ahead, three-run home run.
The Astros would close out the bottom of the ninth for a 5-3 win, showing why Yogi Berra’s self-evident idiom still applies best to baseball. It ain’t over till it’s over.
© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.