Pennant Race Heroes
Dizzy and Paul Dean
On Sept. 21, 1934, St. Louis' Dizzy Dean pitched a three-hit shutout against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first game of a doubleheader. His brother Paul then threw a no-hitter in the nightcap. "If I'd known you was gonna throw a no-hitter, I'd thrown one too!" Dizzy said to his brother after the game. The Cardinals needed both wins to edge the Giants for the NL pennant.
After leading the Indians to a first-place tie with the Red Sox in 1948, Cleveland shortstop and manager Lou Boudreau notched four hits (including two home runs) in a one-game playoff win over Boston.
At 3:58 PM EST on Oct. 3, 1951, Bobby Thomson swatted a walk-off home run off Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca at the Polo Grounds to give the Giants the National League pennant.
Sandy Koufax tossed a perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965, in Dodger Stadium, sparking L.A. to a season-ending 16-4 run during which Koufax notched five wins. The Dodgers won the pennant by two games and went on to topple the Twins in the World Series.
On Sept. 25, 1965, Duke Snider hit two home runs for Brooklyn as the Dodgers won the pennant on the season's final day.
Carl Yastrzemski amassed 13 hits in 21 at bats over the last six games of the Red Sox's "Impossible Dream" 1967 season. Yaz, who would go on to win AL MVP and the Triple Crown, went 7 for 8 with six RBIs in Boston's final two games against the Twins. The Red Sox finished the season one game ahead of the Twins and Tigers.
With a fierce wind blowing out to left field at Fenway Park, the Yankees' Bucky Dent swatted a hanging breaking ball from Mike Torrez over the Green Monster to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the 1978 AL East division playoff game. The Yankees went on to win the game 5-4 and the division title.
Orel Hershiser finished the 1988 season with a record 59 straight scoreless innings (he was 5-0 with 55 scoreless innings in September). Hershiser's run of perfection propelled the Dodgers past the Reds in the National League and to an eventual World Series win.
After a midseason trade sent him from San Diego to Atlanta, Fred McGriff hit .299 with six home runs and 25 home runs in September 1993 for the Braves, who won the National League pennant by a game over the Giants.
Randy Johnson was 5-0 with a 1.74 ERA in September 1995 for the Mariners, who won the AL West by one game over the Angels. Three years later, after a midseason trade to Houston, The Big Unit was clutch again, going 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA for the NL Central champion Astros.
Chipper Jones ended a dazzling 1999 season with a huge final month (.303, 10 home runs, 23 RBIs) to lead the Braves over the Mets in the NL East. The switchhitter would go on to win MVP honors.
On Aug. 30, 2000, Jason Giambi received a cortisone shot, then went on to hit .400 in September with 13 home runs, 26 RBIs and a .529 on base percentage. Giambi homered five times in his last eight games to lead Oakland to its first AL West title in eight years.
David Justice arrived in the Bronx in July 2000, then helped the Yankees reach the postseason by hitting seven home runs with 19 RBIs over the season's final month. New York finished the season 21/2 games in front of the Red Sox before winning the World Series.
Miguel Tejada won AL MVP honors in 2002 after leading the A's to their second AL West title in three years. Oakland's September included an American League record 20-game win streak, a stretch during which Miggi had the game-winning, walk-off hits in the 18th and 19th game of the run.
Vladimir Guerrero's incendiary September (.363, 11 home runs, 25 RBIs) earned him AL MVP honors in 2004 and led the Angels to win the AL West by just one game over the A's.
On his way to winning the the Major League pitching Triple Crown in 2006, Johan Santana led the Twins to an improbable division crown by allowing just seven runs in 35 1/3 innings in September.
Brian Giles broke out of a brutal slump on Sept. 26, 2007, by slugging a two-out ninth-inning home run against the Giants to keep the Padres atop the NL wild-card standings.
The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano has 12 home runs, 23 RBIs and a 1.029 OPS in September this year to help Chicago to the top in the NL Central.