Dennis Eckersley – Game 4 ALCS 1992
With the Toronto Blue Jays boasting one of the strongest teams in the American League, they met a solid competitor in the Oakland Athletics in the 1992 ALCS.
With the Blue Jays leading the series 2-1 heading into Game Four, the club looked to be in the weeds early, giving up five runs in the third inning and down by five heading into the eighth inning. Some solid hitting in the eight put three runs on the board but one of the more important Blue Jays hits was about to happen in the ninth against one of the toughest relievers in all of baseball.
The Athletics boasted one of the top closers in all of baseball in right-hander Dennis Eckersley. A fantastic shut-down pitcher, Eckersley actually won the Cy Young and AL MVP Award in 1992, finishing the year with a 1.91 ERA through 69 appearances with a Major League leading 51 saves.
Eckersley came into the ninth inning of Game 4 looking to finish out the Blue Jays but Roberto Alomar had different plans. After Devon White led off the inning with a single, Alomar put a fastball over the right-field wall to tie the ball game, sending it to the bottom of the ninth and ultimately to extra innings. From there, the Jays would eventually win the game in the 11th inning with Tom Henke finishing out the bottom half, with the club eventually taking home the series two games later. Before the Joe Carter home run, Alomar’s blast over the fence was regarded as one of the most important hits in franchise history (and to some it still is).
Eckersley pitched three more seasons in Oakland before finishing his career with stints in St. Louis and Boston. The right-hander finished his career with a 3.50 ERA through 1071 appearances (361 starts) and would amass 390 saves and 2401 strikeouts through 24 years in the MLB. The California product would win a World Series with the A’s in 1989 while also being named to six All-Star teams and eventually being elected to Cooperstown in 2004.