Friday, May 4, 2007

5 Memorable Games vs. Mariners

October 8, 1995

After a playoff cancelling strike in 1994, the Yankees finally returned to October baseball for the first time in 14 years. After winning the 1st 2 games at home, the Bombers dropped 2 straight in Seattle to set up a 5th and decisive game.

David Cone, acquired earlier in the year from Toronto, faced off against fellow right-hander, Andy Benes. The Yankees built up a 4-2 lead on a HR by Paul O'Neill and a double by Don Mattingly. Cone pitched well, but ran out of gas in the 8th. After allowing a HR to Ken Griffey Jr., Cone loaded the bases with a pair of walks sandwiched around a base hit. Manager Buck Showalter had lost faith in closer John Wetteland, and kept Cone in the game. A young Mariano Rivera would have been a good choice as well, but Cone walked Doug Strange to force in the tying run. Showalter then summoned Rivera, who struck out Mike Blowers to end the inning.

The Yankees had one more chance for glory when Randy Velarde singled in the go-ahead run in the 11th, but Showalter stayed with Jack McDowell, a starter, who had come into the game in the 9th. Joey Cora bunted for a single and Jr. followed with a single to center. Professional hitter and Yankees killer Edgar Martinez then rapped a pitch into the left field corner. Jr. never stopped running and slid home, easily beating the relay throw to give the Mariners the division series championship.

The Yankees flight home was a long one as Yankee's captain Don Mattingly said good bye to the players as he knew he was retiring.

May 14, 1996

Dwight Gooden was attempting to resurrect his career in pinstripes instead of orange jumpsuits. His season had started out rocky, but he would master the Mariners on this night. Though he walked 6, Doc didn't allow a hit as another former Met pitched a no-no in another uniform.

As with any no-hitter, big defensive plays are needed and Gerald Williams made the play in this one. Starting in centerfield in place of Bernie Williams, "Ice" ran down a deep drive by the M's Alex Rodriguez in the 1st inning.

The game was tight throughout as former and future Yankee, Sterling Hitchcock, was finally tagged for 2 runs in the 6th. Tino Martinez and Jim Leyritz each picked up an RBI.

The 9th proved very dramatic as the ball club still had a game to win. A-Rod drew a lead-off walk, before Ken Griffey Jr. grounded out to to Tino. Gooden then walked Edgar Martinez, and followed that up with a wild pitch, to put the tying runs in scoring position.

With the bullpen working quickly to get ready, Gooden struck out Jay Buhner and got Paul Sorrento to pop out to Derek Jeter to preserve the no-no. The team carried a jubilant Doc off on their shoulders.

Gooden pitched under incredible stress that night as his father was undergoing open heart surgery the very next morning. Gooden brought him the baseball from the game as a memento.

One other piece of trivia - Robert Eenhoorn was the Yankee's starting 2nd Base that night.

October 4, 1995

With a win over Toronto on the final day of the regular season, Don Mattingly finally had his name removed from the list of the active players who had played the most regular season games without appearing in the post-season.

Mattingly gave the fans one to remember when he came up in the 6th inning. The place was already rocking after Ruben Sierra lead off the inning with a game tying solo HR. Mattingly followed with a blast into the right-center field bleachers off of Andy Benes that sent The Stadium into pandemonium.

Gary Thorne, who has become infamous of late for bloody or non-bloody socks, made the memorable HR call. "OH HANG ON TO THE ROOF...GOODBYE, HOME RUN! DON MATTINGLY!".

The lead exchanged hands twice more before heading off to extra innings. Finally, in the 15th inning, after 5 hours and 12 minutes of baseball, Jim Leyritz smacked a Tim Belcher delivery into the right-center bleachers for a game winning HR.

October 14, 2000

Roger Clemens' first post-season in NY was a forgettable one. He had been embarrassed in the ALCS when the Yankees went to Fenway and the Rocket had to square off against Pedro Martinez. Pedro had become the new hero of Boston, with the turncoat Clemens now a member of the hated Yankees. Clemens only lasted 1 batter into the 3rd that day and was on the wrong end of a 13-1 pasting. Clemens felt he hadn't contributed to the championship as much as he could have and 2000 was the time for redemption.

The Yankees lead the Mariners 2 games to 1, with Clemens facing Paul Abbott in game 4. Clemens was nearly unhittable. As a matter of fact, he had a no-hitter through 6. Left fielder Al Martin finally lead off the 7th with a double. It would be the only hit the Mariners would get all day.

Clemens walked two, struck out 15 and blanked the Mariners 5-0. The win put the Yankees up 3 games to 1 and they were well on their way to their 3rd straight WS championship.

October 17, 2000 (on my birthday!)

The Yankees lead the Mariners 3 games to 2 with a chance to finish off the 2000 ALCS in game 6. The Mariners had other ideas though. They knocked El Duque around and took a 4-3 lead into the 7th inning.

Lets backtrack a moment before going on. After blanking the Yankees in game 1, the Mariners John Halama and the M's bullpen was shutting out them out again in game 2. The Mariners brought in Arthur Rhodes and the Yankees promptly rallied for a 7-run 8th inning and a series tying victory.

The M's Jose Paniagua was protecting the lead as the Yankees came to bat in the 7th. Jose Vizcaino, who would be a WS hero, led off with an infield single. Chuck Knoblauch then successfully sacrificed him to 2nd. A Derek Jeter single to left put runners on the corners with one out. M's manager Lou Piniella went back to Rhodes to face lefty David Justice. Big mistake Sweet Lou.

Justice blasted a shot off the facing of the upper deck for a 3-run HR to put the Yankees ahead for good, 6-4. But the Yankees weren't done yet. Berne Williams followed with a single. Tino Martinez doubled. Then an intentional walk to Jorge Posada to load the bases. Setting up another lefty match up for Rhodes, who came out on the wrong end again. Paul O'Neill singled to right to score 2 more before Piniella finally came out to get Rhodes. Vizcaino, who started the rally, finished it with a sac fly to give the Yankees a 9-4 lead. They would need it.

The Mariners rallied for 3 runs off of El Duque and Mariano Rivera in the 8th inning, before Rivera struck out Jay Buhner, who represented the tying run. The run allowed by Mo snapped his 34 inning scoreless streak.

The M's tried one more time in the 9th. A-Rod on 2nd with 2 outs and the Yankees killer, Edgar Martinez at the plate. There would be no repeat of 1995 this time. Rivera retired him on a grounder to Jeter and the Yankees were AL champions.

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