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Uphill battle

Game 1 losers have had tough climb back in best-of-5 series


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Posted: Monday October 18, 1999 08:46 PM

  Greg Maddux Greg Maddux and the Braves will have to overcome tremendous odds after losing Game 1. Andy Lyons/Allsport

By Ryan Hunt, CNN/SI

One thing is for certain after the first day of postseason play: The Braves, Rangers and Diamondbacks have their work cut out for them.

Since the Division Series started in 1995, only four of 16 Game 1 losers have rallied to win the best-of-five series. And no National League team (0-8) has rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the format since the implementation of the wild card.

Counting the days when the League Championship Series were five games (1969-84) and the 1981 Divisional Playoffs, Game 1 winners have gone on to win the series 73 percent (38 of 52) of the time.

Meanwhile, 20 of those 38 opening-game winners went on to sweep the series.

But of the 14 that have come from behind to win the short series, only six lost the first game at home -- including the 1996 Yankees, who lost to Texas in Yankee Stadium.

Rally Caps
Teams lost first game and won five-game series
Year W Series W 1st Gm Result
1998
1997
1996
1995
1983
1982
1981
1977
1977
1974
1973
1973
1972
1971
Indians
Indians
Yankees
Mariners
Orioles
Brewers
Dodgers
Dodgers
Yankees
Athletics
Mets
Athletics
Reds
Pirates
Red Sox
Yankees
Rangers
Yankees
White Sox
Angels
Astros
Phillies
Royals
Orioles
Reds
Orioles
Pirates
Giants
3-1*
3-2
3-1*
3-2
3-1*
3-2
3-2
3-1*
3-2*
3-1*
3-2
3-2
3-2
3-1
* Lost first game at home
 

That was the last time the Rangers beat New York in the playoffs, a streak that has now reached seven games. The 1998 Indians also rallied from a 1-0 deficit last season against Boston at Jacobs Field.

However, the only NL team to accomplish the feat was the 1977 Dodgers, who rallied from a Game 1 home loss to beat the Phillies in four.

That's not great news for the Braves and Diamondbacks. For Atlanta, the hole is especially rare.

The Braves had won 10 straight Division Series games before Tuesday's 6-1 loss to Houston. And they have had previous postseason success against the Astros.

In its 1997 sweep of the Astros, Atlanta outscored Houston 19-5. The Astros managed just 16 hits in the three games. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz never allowed the Astros a lead.

On Tuesday, the Astros scored six runs -- more than the entire '97 series -- and collected 13 hits.

Not bad for a team that has never won a playoff series. But Houston has been down this road before.

In the 1981 NL West Division Series (created thanks to the players' strike), the Astros jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. They lost the series in five games.

 
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