Ishikawa joins rare company with walk-off homer

Ishikawa joins rare company with walk-off homer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Travis Ishikawa walked off right into the history books on Thursday night with a three-run home run in the ninth inning that sent the Giants to the World Series with a 6-3 win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park.

The San Francisco left fielder became just the ninth player in history to end a postseason series with a home run. He also became part of an even shorter list of players with a walk-off of any kind to win the NLCS.

  Date     Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 21     SF 7, KC 1 video
Gm 2 Oct. 22     KC 7, SF 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 24     KC 3, SF 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 25     SF 11, KC 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 26     SF 5, KC 0 video
Gm 6 Oct. 28     KC 10, SF 0 video
Gm 7 Oct. 29     SF 3, KC 2 video
In fact, not only did Ishikawa become just the fifth player with a walk-off hit in a decisive NLCS game. He was the first to do so with a home run. 

You've probably heard "the Giants win the pennant" after a long ball before. After all, Bobby Thomson famously hit his "Shot Heard 'Round the World" to propel the New York Giants to the 1951 World Series in the third and final game of a playoff against the rival Brooklyn Dodgers. But while that series decided the NL champion, it wasn't a League Championship Series, because the Giants and Dodgers only met as a means to break their regular-season tie.

In any case, Ishikawa's home run was the first to send an NL team to the World Series since Thomson's historic blast. The last player to end an NLCS with a walk-off of any kind was the Giants' Kenny Lofton with an RBI single in 2002 -- also against the Cardinals, also in Game 5.

Before that, Kenny Rogers' bases-loaded walk of Andruw Jones sent the Braves to the World Series in 1999, as Atlanta knocked off the New York Mets in six games. The Braves' Francisco Cabrera, whose base hit in 1992 sent Sid Bream into his mad dash, is the only player with a walk-off hit in an NLCS Game 7.

Rounding out the list of players to end the NLCS with a walk-off RBI, the Reds' Ken Griffey Sr. (1976) and the Dodgers' Bill Russell ('78) sent their clubs to the World Series with walk-off singles. 

WALK-OFF RBI TO END AN NLCS
Year Player Club RBI
2014 Travis Ishikawa S.F. HR
2002 Kenny Lofton S.F. 1B
1999 Andruw Jones Atl. BB
1992 Francisco Cabrera Atl. 1B
1978 Bill Russell L.A. 1B
1976 Ken Griffey Sr. Cin. 1B

As for home runs, the list of players to end a postseason series with a long ball is limited to Pittsburgh's Bill Mazeroski (1960 World Series, Game 7), the Yankees' Chris Chambliss (1976 ALCS, Game 5), Toronto's Joe Carter (1993 World Series, Game 6), the Mets' Todd Pratt (1999 NLDS, Game 4), the Yankees' Aaron Boone (2003 ALCS, Game 7), Boston's David Ortiz (2004 ALDS, Game 3), Houston's Chris Burke (2005 NLDS, Game 4), Detroit's Magglio Ordonez (2006 ALCS Game 4) and now Ishikawa.

HR TO END ANY POSTSEASON SERIES
Year Player Club Series
2014 Travis Ishikawa S.F. NLCS
2006 Magglio Ordonez Det. ALCS
2005 Chris Burke Hou. NLDS
2004 David Ortiz Bos. ALDS
2003 Aaron Boone NYY ALCS
1999 Todd Pratt NYM NLDS
1993 Joe Carter Tor. WS
1976 Chris Chambliss NYY ALCS
1960 Bill Mazeroski Pit. WS

Including the American League, Ishikawa's blast was the fourth home run to clinch an LCS and send a team to the World Series. All three ALCS walk-offs came via a home run, most recently Ordonez's ninth-inning shot to propel the Tigers over the A's.

Ishikawa is the 27th player to end a series with a walk-off RBI of any kind and the 25th to do so with a hit. (Those lists don't include Salvador Perez's walk-off single for Kansas City to give the Royals a victory in this year's AL Wild Card Game.)

Before Ishikawa, no player had ended a series with a walk-off hit since Milwaukee's Nyjer Morgan ended the 2011 NLDS with a single off Arizona's J.J. Putz in the 10th.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.