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Game 5 History: Most Memorable ALDS, NLDS Game 5 Matchups

First Posted: 10/06/11 04:48 PM ET   Updated: 12/06/11 05:12 AM ET

Entering the 2011 postseason, a Division Series had gone the distance of five games just 13 times since Major League Baseball introduced the Wild Card before the 1994 season. In 2011, both editions of the NLDS are going to a Game 5 while the Yankees and Tigers are meeting in the Bronx for a decisive fifth game. One almost feels sorry for the Texas Rangers since they'll be the lone LCS entrant to miss out on the fun.

While the World Series and the League Championship Series rightfully garner much of the attention in October, there is no denying that the NLDS and ALDS have provided their fair share of indelible baseball moments through the years. Although the players' strike in 1994 meant that the expanded postseason format didn't debut until the '95 playoffs, fans were immediately treated to a thrill they still haven't forgotten. The memory of a young Ken Griffey Jr. rounding third and sliding home with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 5 at the Kingdome still sends a chill down the spine of any diamond devotee. Unless, you're a Yankees fan. In that case, you're probably still wondering why Buck Showalter left Jack McDowell in to pitch to Edgar Martinez after he'd let the first two batters reach.

Here are several of the most memorable winner-take-all matchups in the history of the Division Series.

2002 NLDS: Giants vs. Braves
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Barry Bonds and the Giants took the first game against the Atlanta Braves during their 2002 NLDS matchup but were outscored in games 2 and 3 by a total of 17-5. Facing elimination in the fourth contest, Livan Hernandez delivered a strong start and San Francisco's offense finally got on track.

With the series knotted at two games apiece, both teams traveled to Atlanta for the decisive game. Both managers churned through pitchers as the game wore on but the visiting Giants held a 3-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth. One of those runs came on a solo blast from Bonds.

But the Braves would not go quietly in the ninth. Rafael Furcal and Julio Franco reached to open the bottom of the inning. Due up? Gary Sheffield and Chipper Jones. Sheffield dug in knowing that a home run would send his team to the LCS. Rob Nen struck him out swinging. With one out and two on, Nen coaxed a double play grounder from Jones to escape the jam.

MUST CLICK: Radio calls from the 2002 NLDS and the rest of their run to the World Series.
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Filed by Chris Greenberg  |