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Dodgers-Giants series followed rare pattern

The Dodgers' 2-1 win at San Francisco on Thursday made it only the third divisional series in either league in which the visiting team won the second, third and fifth games.

All 3 have been in the National League.

The first series with the pattern of HVVHV was in 2011, when the Cardinals eliminated the Phillies.

The margin of victory in the final game that year also was 1 run, too. But instead of the decisive run scoring in the top of the ninth, as this year, it came in the top of the first, and was the only run of the game.

The second such series took place just 2 years ago, in 2019. In that one, the Dodgers lost the final game, 7-3 to the visiting Nationals.

The 2011 Cardinals and 2019 Nationals both went on to win the World Series.

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RARE PAIR

The other NL Division Series this year, won by the Braves over the Brewers, had a pattern of HVHH. So did one of the AL series, won by the Red Sox over the Rays.

That pattern had happened only 5 times before, and only once since 2006, in 2015.

The series in which the Astros defeated the White Sox went HHHV, the same as in 9 previous series, most recently in the NL, in 2018. The last time in the AL had been in 2017.

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DISTINCT PATTERNS

There have been 112 total divisional series: the one-time AL East, AL West, NL East and NL West series that followed the strike-interrupted 1981 season, then 2 series in each league for each of the 25 seasons from 1995-2020.

In all of those 112 series, there were:

10 distinct combinations that begin with Visitor winning the first game:

-- 7 combinations that begin with VH (26 series)

-- 1 combination that begins VVH (13 series)

-- 1 combination that begins VVVH (1 series)

-- 1 combination that begins VVVVH (8 series)

-- 1 combination that begins VVVVV (2 series)

...

12 distinct combinations that begin with Home winning the first game:

-- 8 combinations that begin with HV (19 series)

-- 1 combination that begins HHV (24 series)

-- 1 combination that begins HHHV (10 series)

-- 1 combination that begins HHHHV (4 series)

-- 1 combination that begins HHHHHV (1 series)

-- 1 combination that begins HHHHH (4 series)

...

So, there have been 22 distinct combinations in the 112 series (10 plus 12), with the Visitor winning the first game 50 times and Home winning the first game 62 times.

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MOST COMMON PATTERN

HHV, a 3-game sweep, is by far the most common pattern among the 112 series, having happened 24 times. VVH is a distant second, at 13.

HHV was the pattern in both NL series in 2020, in an AL series in 2019 and in a series in each league in 2018. It had happened in both series in the same league only twice before 2020: in the NL, in 1997, and in the AL in 2009.

...

There have been 9 combinations that began with a Home win and happened in 2 or more series.

That means there have been just 2 combinations that began with a Home win and happened only ONCE:

HVVHH: 1997 Indians-Yankees

HVHVH: 2013 Pirates-Cardinals

That 2013 series between the Pirates and Cardinals is the only division series that alternated wins by Home and Visitor, starting with Home winning Game 1.

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INCREASED FREQUENCY

Of the 7 division series that alternated wins by Visitor and Home, starting with Visitors winning the first game, 2 came in the same season, 2002.

Four more came in pairs of consecutive years, 2012-14 an 2019-20.

And 3 came in the last 5 seasons, the Dodgers against the Nationals, in both 2016and 2019, then the Astros and Athletics this year.

Here are all 7:

2002: Twins-A's and Giants-Braves

2012: Cardinals-Nationals

2013: Tigers-A's

2016: Dodgers-Nationals

2019: Dodgers-Nationals

2020: Astros-Athletics

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MULTIPLE OCCURRENCES

There have been 17 combinations that have happened in 2 or more series.

The 3-game sweeps that were HHV and VVH are the only 2 combinations that have happened at least 10 times.

...

Here are all the combinations that happened 2 or more times, with the year, A for American or N for National, then 1 for the first of the 2 series or 2 for the second of the two series, plus E for East or W for West for the one-time 1981 series:

...

24 times (1 combination, 24 series)

HHV (1995A1, 1996N2, 1997N1, 1997N2, 1998A2, 1998N1, 1999A2, 2000N1, 2005A1, 2005N1, 2006N1, 2007A1, 2007N1, 2009A1, 2009A2, 2009N1, 2010N2, 2014A2, 2016A2, 2018A1, 2018N1, 2019A2, 2020N1, 2020N2)

...

13 times (1 combination, 13 series)

VVH (1981AE, 1995N2, 1996N1, 2000A2, 2001N1, 2002N2, 2004A1, 2006A2, 2007N2, 2008N1, 2010A2, 2014A1, 2016A1)

...

10 times (1 combinations, 10 series)

HHHV (2004N, 2007A2, 2008A2, 2008N2, 2013A1, 2016N1, 2017A2, 2017N1, 2018N2, 2021A1)

...

8 times (1 combination, 8 series)

VVVVH (1981AE, 1995N1, 1996A2, 1997A2, 2001A, 2006N2, 2014N1, 2015A2)

...

7 times (2 combination, 14 series)

VHVHV (2002A2, 2002N1, 2012N1, 2013A2, 2016N2, 2019N2, 202A1)

HVHH (2000N2, 2002A1, 2003N1, 2006A1, 2015N1, 2021A2, 2021N1)

...

5 times (4 combinations, 20 series)

VHVV (1998A1, 1999N1, 2003A1, 2004A2, 2011A2)

VHHVV (2003N2, 2004N2, 2015A1, 2015N2, 2017N2)

VHHH (1998N2, 1999N2, 2005N2, 2010N2, 2014N2)

HHHHV (1981NE, 1999A1, 2003A2, 2012A2, 2017A1)

...

4 times (1 combination, 4 series)

HHHHH (1981NW, 1995A2, 2011N2, 2019A1)

...

3 times (2 combinations, 6 series)

HVVV (2009N2, 2010N2, 2018A2)

HVVHV (2011N1, 2019N1, 2021N2)

...

2 times (5 combinations, 10 series)

VVVVV (2010A1, 2012N2)

VVVH (2008A1, 2020A2)

VHHVH (2001A1, 2012A1)

HVHVV (2000A1, 2011A1)

HVVVV (1996A1, 2001N2)

...

Those are a total of 109 series. Here are the only 3 combinations that have happened precisely ONCE:

VHVHH (2005A2) (Angels over Yankees)

HVVHH (1997A1) (Indians over Yankees)

HVHVH (2013N1) (Cardinals over Pirates)

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RARITIES

Only 2 division series ever consisted of exactly 5 Visitor wins: 2010 Rangers-Ray and 2012 Reds-Giants.

Eight series began with 4 Visitor wins, then Home won game 5. The most recent was 2015 Rangers-Blue Jays.

Only 1 series began with exactly 3 Visitor wins, then Home won game 4: 2008 Red Sox-Angels and 2020 Astros-Athletics.

...

As noted, only 4 division series ever consisted of exactly 5 Home wins: 1981 Dodgers-Astros, 1995 Yankees-Mariners, 2011 Brewers-Diamondbacks and 2019 Astros-Rays.

Only 1 series began with 5 Home wins, then Visitor won game 6: 2003 Red Sox-A's.

Four series began with 4 Home wins, then Visitor won game 5. The most recent was 2017 Yankees-Indians.

Nine series began with 3 Home wins, then Visitor won game 4. The most recent was 2018 Braves-Dodgers.

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Two series had 5 Visitor wins.

Eight series had 4 Visitor wins.

Twenty-five series had 3 Visitor wins.

...

Four series had 5 Home wins.

Five series had 4 Home wins.

Twenty-seven series had 3 Home wins.

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ODDS AND ENDS, TO END

Here are some oddities:

--In 2009, both AL series and NL1 all went HHV, but NL2 went HVVV

--In 2012, AL2 went HHHHV, Home winning 4 of 5, but NL2 went VVVVV

--In 2013, AL2 alternated VHVHV and NL1 alternated HVHVH

--In 2017, Home won the first 4 games of AL1, and Home won the first 3 games of both AL2 and NL1, but NL2 went VHHVV, so there were as many Visitor wins in NL2 as in the three other series combined.

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