2012 sure was an exciting year for baseball fans. Playoff races ran until the final day of the regular season. Postseason games were decided with one swing of the bat. Legends went out in blazes of glory. And throughout all of those great moments, the walkoff stood tall. There were 205 walkoff wins during the 2012 season, ranging from the mundane (wild pitch, error) to the dramatic (home run). When looking at the impact of a walkoff, be sure to take the full situation into account. Did the team overcome a huge deficit late? Was the game a back and forth nail-biting affair? Was there a lot at stake? All are very important points to consider when looking at just how memorable a walkoff win was. Here are ten of the more memorable walkoffs from the 2012 season, in chronological order. Keep in mind that while a win in April means just as much as a win in September, the April wins aren't necessarily something that you'll remember forever, while the September wins are something that could stick with you for a lifetime.
April 29th. Orioles 5, A's 2.
Maybe we should have thought something was different about the 2012 Orioles after this game. Baltimore was dominated by Oakland starter Bartolo Colon for eight innings, and was down 2-0 going into the ninth. Colon allowed a pair of infield singles in the ninth before getting pulled in favor of A's closer Grant Balfour. Balfour immediately allowed a game-tying double to Matt Wieters, then intentionally walked Chris Davis to face Wilson Betemit. The move made sense considering that at the time, Davis was pounding the ball and Betemit was…not. Of course, because this is baseball and crazy stupid things happen a lot, Betemit launched a walkoff, three-run homer to right field, handing Baltimore an improbable comeback win that would be a hallmark of their season.
May 2nd. Braves 15, Phillies 13 (11 innings).
I can see the Phillies fans already cursing at me. But this game may have been the best of the entire 2012 season. The Phillies jumped out to a 6-0 lead after four and a half, pounding Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson and reliever Cristhian Martinez. The Braves scored six in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game, highlighted by a Brian McCann grand slam, and took the lead after a two-run single by Jason Heyward in the sixth, chasing Roy Halladay from the hill with an eight spot on his record. The Phililes swarmed back in the seventh and eighth, scoring six runs all driven in by catcher Carlos Ruiz to go back on top 12-8. Atlanta scored five in the eighth against the Phillies bullpen to take a 13-12 lead, but Shane Victorino beat out an infield single off of Craig Kimbrel to tie the game at 13 in the ninth. The game went into extras, and in the 11th, retiring Braves star Chipper Jones smashed a Brian Sanches fastball deep into the Atlanta night to top off the Braves comeback. They overcame deficits of six and four runs in the game, and walked away with an improbable victory.
May 13th. Marlins 8, Mets 4.
There were a lot of things that didn't go right for the 2012 Miami Marlins. Giancarlo Stanton was one of the things that *did* go right. In this Mothers Day tilt between the Mets and Marlins, New York controlled most of the game, but everything was knotted at two after a John Buck homer in the seventh inning. The Mets took a 4-2 lead after a two-run double in the ninth by Justin Turner, and turned things over to closer Frank Francisco. Of course, he allowed the first three hitters he faced to reach base before getting pulled for Manny Acosta, who immediately allowed a game-tying sacrifice fly to Jose Reyes. Acosta then walked Hanley Ramirez and hit Austin Kearns to load the bases for Stanton, who took the first pitch he saw deep to left field and set off the home run sculpture of doom at Marlins Park to give Miami a crazy walkoff win on Mothers Day.
May 13th. Reds 9, Nationals 6.
Another Mothers Day thriller, this one coming in Cincinnati. Washington picked, nibbled, and clawed away at the Reds pitching staff all game, but led just 4-3 after five innings. The Nationals increased their lead to 6-3 after their half of the eighth, but the lead shrunk to 6-5 after a two-run double by Jay Bruce. This game was before the emergence of Tyler Clippard as the Washington closer, so Henry Rodriguez came in to save the game. The Reds tried to play small ball to just get one run and tie the game up, bunting Devin Mesoraco (pinch running for Ryan Hanigan) over to second to try to get him in. Miguel Cairo popped up for the second out, but Rodriguez walked both Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey after throwing four straight balls to each after getting ahead of both batters. That brought up Joey Votto, who had already homered twice in the game. The former NL MVP took a 2-2 pitch from Rodriguez and dumped it just over the center field wall, giving the Reds a huge win in a battle of the two teams that would finish the season with the top two records in the National League.
June 5th. Nationals 7, Mets 6 (12 innings).
There was just something in the air when it came to the NL East this season. There were a lot of crazy, back and forth games, moreso here than in any other division. This game between the Mets and Nationals was no exception. After leading 3-0, Washington blew the lead, falling behind 4-3 after a two-run double by Andres Torres in the eighth. Ian Desmond tied the game back up with a solo homer, but the Mets regained the lead in the tenth after a wild pitch by Henry Rodriguez. Of course, the Nationals tied the game at five in the bottom of the inning after Jordany Valdespin's second error of the inning allowed Ryan Zimmerman to score. The Mets once again took the lead in the 12th after a solo homer by Scott Hairson off of Ross Detwiler made it a 6-5 game. But New York reliever Edwar Ramirez had a bad 12th inning, allowing back to back doubles to Michael Morse and Desmond to tie the game at six. Ramirez then loaded the bases, collecting two outs in the process, for 19-year old Nationals phenom Bryce Harper. Harper looped a soft liner into left that fell just in front of the glove of Vinny Rottino, giving Washinton a wild win and the wunderkind his first career walk-off hit.
July 14th. Orioles 8, Tigers 6.
Now this one was improbable. Baltimore led 4-1 going into the ninth, and the capable Jim Johnson was in to close the game out. Of course, Johnson allowed three runs and blew just his second save of the year, sending the game into extra innings deadlocked at four. The Tigers took a 5-4 lead in the 11th after an Alex Avila single, but the Orioles immediately rallied back to tie it on a single by Adam Jones. In the 13th, Detroit once again took the lead on a single by Quintin Berry. JJ Hardy homered in the 13th to tie the game at six, and Orioles backup catcher Taylor Teagarden played hero in his first game of the year, homering to right field off of Joaquin Benoit to hand Baltimore the victory.
August 1st. Rangers 11, Angels 10 (ten innings).
This game is a strong contender for game of the year. The Angels pounded Texas ace Yu Darvish early on, and led 7-1 after four innings. But the Rangers rallied, scoring six straight runs off of Los Angeles pitching, eventually tying the game at seven in the ninth after Ian Kinsler homered off of Ernesto Frieri. But the Angels didn't take their blown lead lying down, scoring three runs in the tenth after a solo homer by Chris Iannetta and a two-run homer by Albert Pujols off of Rangers closer Joe Nathan. Of course, Mike Scioscia sent Frieri out to start the tenth, and he immediately allowed a mammoth solo homer to Nelson Cruz to make it a 10-8 game. After Michael Young reached on an error and David Murphy walked, Jason Isringhausen replaced Frieri. Izzy allowed a single to former Angel Mike Napoli to load the bases, and another single to Mitch Moreland to make the game 10-9. Kinsler popped up for the first out before Elvis Andrus singled down the left field line to plate a pair, end the game, and send the Angels into a three week tailspin that essentially ended their season.
September 2nd. Braves 8, Phillies 7.
I promise Philadelphia, I don't hate you. But four months to the day after breaking the Phillies hearts for the first time in 2012, Chipper Jones did it again. Philadelphia led 7-1 after three innings, with a barrage of offense led by Ryan Howard, Erik Kratz, and starting pitcher Cole Hamels. After six, it was 7-3, and the Braves had nothing doing on offense. Then, the ninth inning rolled around…and things got weird. Still down four, the Braves loaded the bases with two outs for Martin Prado, who hit a hot shot to third base that Kevin Frandsen couldn't field, allowing a pair of runs to score. All of a sudden, it was 7-5, and the winning run was at the plate in the form of Jones against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. A hit of any kind would tie the game, but Jones did the same thing he did in May: golfed a fastball into the right field seats to end the game.
September 29th. A's 7, Mariners 4 (ten innings).
Heading into the final weekend of the season, the A's still had a shot to win the AL West. On September 27th, with six games to play, they trailed the Rangers by four games in the division. If Oakland could head into the final series of the year with Texas just a couple games out of the division, they could sweep them and take the crown. The Mariners jumped out to a 4-1 lead after four, and a victory looked like a slim possibility for the A's. Brandon Moss doubled in a run in the eighth to make it 4-2, but Stephen Drew was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. In the ninth, with Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen on the hill, budding Oakland superstar Josh Reddick walked to bring up Josh Donaldson, who tied the game at four with a two-run homer and set off pandemonium by the bay. In the tenth, Oliver Perez allowed a single to Coco Crisp and was relieved by Stephen Pryor, who walked Yoenis Cespedes to bring up Moss. Moss proceeded to hit a bomb into the afternoon air to give the A's a walkoff win. The Rangers game on Saturday was rained out, and they split a doubleheader with the Angels on Sunday before going into Oakland and getting swept, handing the A's the division title.
October 10th. Yankees 3, Orioles 2 (12 innings).
I hate the narrative of "clutch", but man…Raul Ibanez was *clutch* for the Yankees this season. With the Orioles leading the Yankees 2-1 in the ninth inning, Ibanez (pinch hitting for Alex Rodriguez) homered off of Jim Johnson to tie game three of the ALDS at two and send it into extra innings. In the 12th, Ibanez homered again, this time in walkoff fashion, to give the Yankees the victory, one that would save their season. The magic of Ibanez struck again in game one of the ALCS against the Tigers, but the Yankees would lose that game and the series.
October 10th. A's 4, Tigers 3.
On the same night as Ibanez's heroics in the Bronx, Coco Crisp finished off an A's comeback in Oakland. The A's were down 3-1 to the Tigers and facing elimination in the ALDS heading into the ninth. Tigers closer Jose Valverde imploded in epic fashion, allowing a single and two doubles to start the ninth, tying the game at three and putting the outcome of the game in doubt. After getting a pop-up and a strikeout, Valverde faced Crisp with Seth Smith as the winning run on second. Crisp singled to right and Smith scored as right fielder Avisail Garcia overran the ball, causing the A's to swarm Crisp at first and survive to play game five…where they ran into a buzzsaw named Justin Verlander.
October 11th. Nationals 2, Cardinals 1.
After running through the National League during the regular season, the Washington Nationals were facing elimination in the NLDS against the St Louis Cardinals. With the game tied at one in the ninth, Jayson Werth fought through a 13 pitch at bat against Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn, finally connecting on the 13th pitch and putting it into the bullpen to force a game five. The momentum from Werth's homer carried over to the first three innings of the deciding game in the series, but the Nationals blew a six run lead to St Louis, and their season ended with a heartbreaking 9-7 loss.