The 10 Greatest Games of the 2010s
A look at the best that big league ball had to offer within nine innings, and sometimes more, during the 2010s.
There was plenty of variety to be found when sifting back through the 2,500-plus major league games that took place in the 2010s. One could find unbelievable finishes, heartbreak, irony and just flat-out great performances. All of those angles are covered here on this list which we chose from the heart. No analytics, no math. Just 10 games that, in our opinion, stand above the rest. See if you agree.
September 26, 2016: Remembering #16
A heartbroken Miami Marlins team takes the field less than 48 hours after the tragic boating death of young ace pitcher and colorful teammate Jose Fernandez. The Marlins had postponed a scheduled game the day before and held a pregame tribute to their fallen friend before this game against the New York Mets, unable to hold back tears. The tears continued to flow after the first pitch; Dee Gordon found enough mental and physical strength to hit his first home run of the season (in his 304th at-bat) to lead off the Marlins’ first, but the emotions of the moment drove him straight to the clubhouse after he crossed the plate. The Marlins scored all seven of their runs in the first three innings, defeating the Mets, 7-3.
June 8, 2010: A Merry Strasmas to All
In the most memorable debut of any major leaguer during the decade, the highly heralded Stephen Strasburg—who made headlines throwing 103 MPH in college—takes the mound for the Washington Nationals and strikes out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates on just 95 pitches through seven innings. Washington wins the game, 5-2; Strasburg’s arrival signals the end of wretched baseball in the Nation’s Capitol five years after the Nationals’ move from Montreal, and begins a winning era that will culminate in 2019 with the franchise’s first-ever world title—with Strasburg prevailing as the World Series MVP.
October 26, 2018: Exhausting
In Game Three of the 2018 World Series, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are fit to be tied—for seven hours, 20 minutes and 18 innings before Max Muncy’s solo leadoff homer finally settles matters in the Dodgers’ favor, 3-2. With each passing inning—and each passing hour—the contest evolves into a punishing test of endurance not just for the players but for everyone watching, especially those on the East Coast who manage to stay alert until the game ends after 3:00 a.m. EDT. It’s the longest postseason game in terms of time, and just 46 minutes shy of the longest game, ever.
September 28, 2011: Longo Goes Long
The highlight of a spectacular final day to the 2011 regular season takes place at St. Petersburg, where the Tampa Bay Rays—nine games down in the American League wild card race less than four weeks earlier—go on the rampage and are all even with the Red Sox going into the final day of action. But things aren’t going well for the Rays; they trail the New York Yankees at home in the eighth, 7-0, while the Red Sox are leading at Baltimore. Suddenly, everything turns around; the Rays score six in the eighth, tie it in the ninth on a homer from Dan Johnson—he of a .108 season average—and win it in the 10th when Evan Longoria sneaks a line shot just past the left-field foul pole. Doubling Tampa Bay’s pleasure, the Red Sox blow a 3-2 lead in the ninth and fall to the Orioles, giving the Rays the wild card spot outright.
October 29, 2017: Astronomical!
A wacky, seesaw, extra-inning Game Five in a World Series pitting the Dodgers and Houston Astros is all but scripted to have one team boast, “There, top that!”—only to have the other do just that. The Dodgers blow two three-run leads early in the game, all the more amazing considering the guy on their mound is Clayton Kershaw, who never gives up a lead. The Astros rally and then some, taking a three-run lead of their own—but the Dodgers erase that in the ninth, forcing extra innings. In the 10th, the Astros start a two-out rally with a hit batsman and a walk, setting up Alex Bregman’s RBI single to prevail, 13-12. The wild win gives Houston momentum it will not concede as it takes its first ever championship in Game Six.
October 29, 2014: Bumgarnering History
Embroiled in a tough, tight World Series Game Seven in Kansas City, the Giants put out a bullpen SOS to Madison Bumgarner, who’s been shutting everyone down throughout the postseason. But does he have enough fuel left in the tank, especially after throwing a four-hit shutout three days earlier? The short answer: Yes. In five shutout innings of relief, Bumgarner allows just two hits—though the last one, a two-out, ninth-inning hit single by Alex Gordon, is nearly turned into an inside-the-parker as Giants outfielders play hot potato with the ball. Bumgarner recovers to earn the king-sized save, the Giants get additional help from the replay gods and nab their third world title in five years.
October 14, 2015: *The* Bat Flip
The deciding game of the 2015 ALDS between Toronto and Texas will always be remembered for the epic bat flip by the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista, thrusted high and defiantly toward the Rangers’ dugout after belting a tie-breaking, three-run homer in the seventh that would decide the game and the series. If this wasn’t the Game of the Decade, it certainly is the Inning of the Decade, as the seventh frame holds so much more than Bautista’s flip: The crazy sequence that gives the Rangers the lead in the top of the inning in which a return throw from catcher Russell Martin deflects off the bat of the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo, scoring an opportunistic Rougned Odor and sending a raucous Toronto crowd into a near-riotous mood; the three errors committed by the Rangers that set up Bautista’s blast; and the two near-brawls between both teams afterward.
June 2, 2010: The Imperfect Game
Armando Galarraga was a pitcher with a so-so career record—and thus an unlikely candidate to throw a perfect game. But he’s just an out away in front of the home crowd against Cleveland, and when he induces a ground ball to the first base side that he himself makes the putout on, the celebration is on—but only for a microsecond. That’s when umpire Jim Joyce sees the play differently, ruling that the Indians’ Jason Donald beats Galarraga to the bag. History is stolen, and Joyce knows it the moment he sees the replay under the stands; understandably, he feels awful and profusely apologizes to Galarraga. The botched call, more than any other, helps accelerate the push for MLB to adopt comprehensive video review.
November 2, 2016: Cubs Win! Cubs Win!
Yes, it finally happens—the Cubs actually win a World Series. But it isn’t easy. They trail the Indians 3-1 in the series, but win the next two games to force a winner-take-all at Cleveland. Building up a 6-3 lead after seven innings, the Cubs feel good about their chances as they put premier closer Aroldis Chapman out for a six-out save—but Chapman is on fumes, having been overused in the series. The Indians’ Rajai Davis takes advantage, launching a home run that barely clears the tall wall down the left-field line to cap a three-run rally and tie the game. Rain ensues and the 10th inning beckons—just enough downtime for Chicago outfielder Jason Heyward to channel Knute Rockne in the Cubs’ clubhouse with a rally speech for the ages. The chat pays off; the Cubs notch two in the 10th and repel a Cleveland response to win, 8-7—eradicating an epic 108-year championship drought.
October 27, 2011: When One Comeback Isn’t Enough…
Hands down, Game Six of the 2011 World Series between Texas and St. Louis tops this list. In fact, it should be right up there with some of the greatest games ever played, including the Bill Mazeroski game of 1960, Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ‘Round the World in 1951, and Kirk Gibson’s limp-off in 1988. It’s bad enough when you’re one strike away from winning it all and fail; it’s worse when you do it twice. That’s the moment—er, moments—that forces Rangers fans to reach for the Advil when the memory cruelly crops up. The Rangers blow a 7-5 lead in the ninth when David Freese, with two outs and a 1-2 count, hangs a game-tying triple off Texas closer Neftali Feliz; an inning later, Scott Feldman can’t bag the title either when, with a one-run lead restored to Texas, he also has the Cardinals down to their last strike—when Lance Berkman lifts a single to center that re-ties the game. In the 11th, Freese reappears as the leadoff batter—and send one over the center-field wall to win, 10-9, forcing a Game Seven that the Cardinals will grab over a mentally shattered Rangers side.
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