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It ain’t over till it’s over: 8 teams have come back from down 0-2 in the Division Series

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Plus it happened once in a short LCS round

Oakland Athletics v Cincinnati Reds
It even happened to this guy once
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are down 0-2 in the ALDS, facing the possibility of elimination by the dreaded rival Houston Astros. It’s not looking good for the green and gold.

But as with everything in baseball, it ain’t over till it’s over. Sure, the team up 2-0 is highly likely to hold on and win the series, but it’s far from a guarantee. Comebacks do happen, and not just once in a blue moon.

In 26 postseasons that featured a Division Series round, eight teams have gone down 0-2 and then stormed back to win. That’s around once every three years, and remember not every series begins with a 2-0 lead. More recently, it’s happened twice since 2015 but not since 2017, so you might argue that we’re due to see one (even though probability doesn’t really work like that).

The full list is below, courtesy of Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. Note that 1981 was a standalone LDS year due to a work stoppage; the round returned permanently in 1995.

  • 1981 Dodgers
  • 1995 Mariners
  • 1999 Red Sox
  • 2001 Yankees
  • 2003 Red Sox
  • 2012 Giants
  • 2015 Blue Jays
  • 2017 Yankees

In addition, there were also 16 seasons in which the LCS round was only a best-of-five, and the 1984 Padres pulled off the feat in one such series.

Is nine times a lot? No. But it’s enough to inspire hope. It’s not a once-ever thing, nor a once-in-30-years thing. It’s rare, but it happens just often enough to feel attainable. In the last decade, it’s been more of a once-every-three-years thing. And it’s been three years now.

And if anyone was going to do it, why not these 2020 A’s? During the regular season they were the kings of comebacks, as they often have been the last few years. They notched six walk-off wins in 60 games, two of them via spectacular grand slams, and on multiple occasions (and even consecutive days) they came back from several runs down in the 9th. This group never gives up, whether you’re talking about the rest of the day or the rest of the week.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen this kind of comeback with our own eyes. Oakland has been on the wrong end of it themselves in a couple instances, at the hands of the ‘01 Yankees and ‘03 Red Sox. Isn’t it about time we landed the other side of that coin?

Perhaps more relevantly, someone in the other dugout has experience with precisely such a collapse. Astros manager Dusty Baker was the Reds skipper in 2012 and took a 2-0 NLDS lead, and then his own former team shocked him with three straight wins in Games 3-5. The hallmark of that series was an ill-timed injury to Baker’s ace pitcher, Johnny Cueto — and wouldn’t you know it, news came out yesterday that current Astros ace Zack Greinke is visiting a doctor due to arm soreness, casting his presence in doubt for the rest of the week.

The likeliest result is that the Astros will win this series. We all know that. It’s simple math. But it’s absolutely not over yet, and the A’s have a very real chance if they can get hot immediately. And with the latest Greinke news, if Oakland can just hold on in Game 3, then Houston might need to begin getting creative with their pitching staff the rest of the way.

Keep the fAith, Athletics Nation. Any comeback can only happen one day at a time, so focus on winning today’s game and then go from there. On Wednesday, we’ll look to Jesús Luzardo to save the season, so that the green and gold can continue playing for another day.