6/15/2014 6:48 P.M. ET
Sands' broken-bat RBI puts him in good company
Postseason has seen a pair of dramatic cracked bats
By Jamie Ross / MLB.com
Rays pinch-hitter Jerry Sands on Sunday broke three bats in his eighth-inning plate appearance against Astros reliever Jerome Williams -- the third one resulting in a line-drive single to left field that scored Matt Joyce, giving Tampa Bay a 4-3 win over Houston.
It wasn't the most dramatic broken-bat hit in MLB history, of course.
Mariano Rivera broke numerous bats as he sawed off hitters with a cut fastball over and over again throughout his 19-year Major League career. But his most memorable bat-breaking moment was also a heartbreaker for the Yankees closer.
In Game 7 of the 2001 World Series between the Yankees and the Diamondbacks, Rivera faced off against Luis Gonzalez with one out and the bases loaded, the game tied at 2-2.
With the New York infield playing in, Gonzalez choked up and hit a broken-bat fly ball just out of the reach of shortstop Derek Jeter to drive in Jay Bell from third base as the D-backs won their first and only World Series. The hit also ended the Yankees' shot at a fourth straight world title.
More recently, Hunter Pence famously made contact with the ball three times in one swing as he knocked a broken-bat double to center field in the bottom of the third inning in Game 7 of the 2012 NLCS between the Giants and Cardinals.
With the bases loaded, Pence lined a 95-mph fastball from Cardinals reliever Joe Kelly toward shortstop. The ball jumped off the busted bat and faded from left to right, baffling St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma as it bounced into the outfield.
The hit cleared the bases, giving the Giants a 5-0 lead. They'd go on to win the game, 9-0, and advance to the World Series against the Tigers.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.