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Backwards K To End Your Team’s Post-Season

Posted by Steve Lombardi on October 24, 2010

How many batters have gone down looking to end his team's post-season - like Ryan Howard did for the Phillies in Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS, and, like Alex Rodriguez did for the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2010 AlCS?

Here's the answer - taking this Play Index Event Finder query and filtering it for just those looking -

Date Series Gm# Batter Tm Opp Pitcher Score Inn RoB Out Pit(cnt) Play Description 6
2010-10-23 NLCS 6 Ryan Howard PHI SFG Brian Wilson down 3-2 b9 12- 2 7 (3-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
2010-10-22 ALCS 6 Alex Rodriguez NYY @TEX Neftali Feliz down 6-1 t9 --- 2 4 (1-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
2006-10-19 NLCS 7 Carlos Beltran NYM STL Adam Wainwright down 3-1 b9 123 2 3 (0-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
2003-10-06 ALDS 5 Terrence Long OAK BOS Derek Lowe down 4-3 b9 123 2 4 (1-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
1997-10-15 ALCS 6 Roberto Alomar BAL CLE Jose Mesa down 1-0 b11 1-- 2 7 (3-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
1996-10-05 ALDS 4 Omar Vizquel CLE BAL Randy Myers down 4-3 b12 --- 2 5 (2-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
1988-10-12 NLCS 7 Howard Johnson NYM @LAD Orel Hershiser down 6-0 t9 -2- 2 7 (3-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
1980-10-10 ALCS 3 Willie Randolph NYY KCR Dan Quisenberry down 4-2 b9 --- 2 6 (3-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
1979-10-05 NLCS 3 Cesar Geronimo CIN @PIT Bert Blyleven down 7-1 t9 --- 2 6 (2-2) *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
1925-10-15 WS 7 Goose Goslin WSH @PIT Red Oldham down 9-7 t9 --- 2   *ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Looking
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/24/2010.


Just ten times in post-season history, huh? And, twice this year. It could be a long time before we see it happen twice in the same post-season again.

25 Responses to “Backwards K To End Your Team’s Post-Season”

  1. joe coleman Says:

    Alex Rodriguez has had problems in post season play, is it nerves, trying to hard?

  2. Zack Says:

    I wouldn't say that, necessarily. Look at his pre-Yankee playoff stats and his 2009 playoff stats. His postseasons have just been inconsistant.

  3. BobBobson Says:

    Well, for the longest time he was one of the worst clutch hitters in baseball.

  4. BSK Says:

    ARod regular season: 303/387/571
    ARod post-season: 290/396/528

    ARod regular season: 613 HRs in 8826 ABs; HR every 14.4 ABs
    ARod post-season: 13 HRs in 231 ABs; HR every 17.8 ABs

    Factoring in that you generally are facing stiffer competition in the playoffs and that most of ARod's playoff games came in the latter half of his career (13 games age 20-24, 11 games age 25-28, 13 games age 29-32, 24 games age 33+; all 11 games age 25-28 came during his age 28 season), and I think it's fair to say that ARod has fared well in the post-season.

    I'm no ARod fan, but can we get off the "ARod's too sad to hit in the playoffs" meme? It's not only lazy, it's wrong.

  5. Not the same Zack Says:

    Howard's K was pretty much the most marquee match-up on there, and the most intense. Watching the main power threat vs. the closer with runners on, in a 1-run elimination game... that's as intense as it gets. Bonus points for Howard taking it to 3-2.

    Beltran, Long, and Alomar could have won the games with one swing, but only Beltran was a major power threat. The rest could have (at best) tied the game, and most wouldn't have changed the lead.

    Last night was great.

    And about A-Rod and his post-season, aren't we long past the era of criticizing his post-seasons? I thought that issue was put to bed a couple seasons ago.

  6. Entwhistle Says:

    I still say that pitch to Alomar was inside.

  7. Steve Lombardi Says:

    Unless Goose Goslin did it too, Carlos Beltran was the only one to go "Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Night"...FWIW...

  8. PhilsPhan Says:

    Would you like something?

    No thanks, just looking

  9. kingcrab Says:

    was that enrico palazzo behind the plate last night? who else was waiting for the moon walk?

  10. pm Says:

    What is the rate of regular season games in 2010 ending on a K looking compared to how often this happens in the postseason?

  11. BSK Says:


    We're not just looking at games ending on a K-looking, but a series ending on a K-looking. I'm not sure how we'd compare frequency against the regular season. I guess we could do (Regular-season Games ending in K-looking)/(Regular Season Games) and (Playoff-series-ending Games ending in K-looking)/(Playoff-series-ending Games)?

  12. StephenH Says:

    As a Met fan, Beltran's no swing erased the memory of HoJo vs. the Dodgers in 1988.

  13. Gerry Says:

    Do we really have data on whether the strikeouts in long ago World Series were swinging or looking? I'm not sure I believe that Goslin was the only strikeout looking in WS history.

  14. Gerry Says:

    I mean, the only Series-ending strikeout looking in WS history

  15. Raphy Says:

    It doesn't look me like the data is complete.

    If you look at Steve's original search, there are three types of strikeouts listed; swinging, looking and those without any explanation (including some as late as 1999.) Gerry's probably correct that the list may be incomplete.

  16. rrr Says:

    There is something wrong

    Last out for Tampa Bay and Phillies won the World Series

  17. Christian Says:

    Hinske struck out swinging, not looking.

  18. Tim L Says:

    You have to wonder how good the data on this type of thing is for older games. Given the fact that the material effect of a strikeout looking vs. a strikeout swinging is nil, many scorekeepers over the years may not have bothered to record a backwards K.

  19. Todd Says:

    I don't really get the "A-Rod can't hit in the clutch" thing, either. Other than a couple of poor postseasons in 2005 and 2006, A-Rod hasn't been that bad and, at times, he's been really good. Like most players with a fairly large number of postseason plate appearances, he's had his ups and downs. But Mickey Mantle went through a 6-46 stretch during the '61, '62 and '63 World Series' (sandwiched by great performances in '60 and '64), and no one ever said he couldn't hit in the clutch. Mystifying.

  20. CatNamedManny Says:

    I know the Howard K was intense and all, but more intense than Derek Lowe striking out Terrence Long with the bases loaded in a one-run game, or Adam Wainwright striking out Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded in a two-run game? Don't forget that Lowe had runners on second and third, one out, before going strikeout-walk-strikeout. Brutal.

  21. Both Pennants end on called third strike Says:

    [...] again. This time, looking at something both Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez did this postseason -- ending their team's postseason by looking at a called third strike . On Friday Rodriguez became the ninth player in history to do so, and the next night Howard became [...]

  22. dodgerdave Says:

    I mentioned this before. There's a connection between the 1988 NLCS and the 2010 NLCS. An underdog West Coast team defeated a powerhouse East Coast team. A player by the name of Howard struck out looking on a fastball to end both series. Tim Lincecum has a similar head tilt in his follow through on his delivery as Orel Hershiser did. Lincecum also wears #55 like Hershiser.

  23. dodgerdave Says:

    Another note, notice how Howard Johnson and Ryan Howard both had 3-2 counts and 7 total pitches. That is strange.

  24. Johnny Twisto Says:

    And the Giants' traveling secretary is named Kennedy, while the Dodgers' was named Lincoln.


  25. Walewander Says:

    Surprised no one has pointed out Goslin was also the last batter of the 1935 WS, with a somewhat more rewarding outcome...