Friday, October 4, 2013

Top Yankees Postseason Home Runs by Inning: Fifth Inning

We finish the week with the biggest fifth-inning homers in Yankees playoff history. Things will heat up next week as we get later in the game with the sixth inning on Monday.

6. Johnny Damon - 2007 ALDS Game Three

After a swarm of midges attacked Joba Chamberlain and sparked a Game Two comeback victory for the Indians, the Yankees came home down 0-2 in the ALDS. Roger Clemens only retired 7 of 13 batters and left the Yankees in a 3-0 hole in what would be his final major league appearance.

Johnny Damon sent in the Yanks' first run with a third-inning single, but his big hit came in the fifth. Still trailing 3-2, Damon delivered a three-run homer off Jake Westbrook that put New York ahead.

Phil Hughes bailed out the Rocket and saved the Yankees season (for a day) with three and two-thirds scoreless innings of relief. New York won 8-4 to force a fourth game but the Tribe won that one 6-4 to move on to the ALCS.

5. Johnny Mize - 1952 World Series Game Five

The Dodgers led this one 4-0 as they tried to take a 3-2 lead back to Brooklyn. The Bombers broke out for five runs in the fifth off Carl Erskine, with the last three coming on a Johnny Mize home run. And how about that Fred McGriff-esque follow-through on the swing!

Duke Snider tied the game with a single in the seventh and won it in the top of the 11th with a double. Erskine went the distance in the 11-inning victory and the Dodgers did indeed leave the Bronx with a 3-2 series lead.

Brooklyn hearts would be broken yet again however, as the Yanks pulled out 3-2 and 4-2 victories at Ebbets Field to continue their dominance over their crosstown rivals.

4. Babe Ruth - 1927 World Series Game Four

The Murderers' Row Yankees are one of the greatest teams in the history of baseball and the fourth game of the 1927 World Series was the final victory for the 110-win juggernaut.

Babe Ruth tied the score at 1-1 with an RBI single in the first inning, then gave the Yankees a lead over the Pirates with a two-run bomb in the fifth. That would have been the winning margin if not for two New York errors in the seventh that let Pittsburgh tie the game.

It was 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth when Johnny Miljus walked Earle Combs to start the frame. Mark Koenig reached on a bunt single and after a wild pitch, Babe Ruth was intentionally walked to load the bases. Miljus struck out Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel and needed just one more strike to put away Tony Lazzeri and pull off the miraculous Houdini act.

Miljus uncorked a wild pitch that scored Combs and gave the Yankees a World Series sweep.

Catcher Johnny Gooch (named to my All-Time Bluefield Team last year) defended his pitcher after the game, as explained here:

Gooch argued that it was not a wild pitch, but was instead a "passed ball" that was his error and should not have been charged against the pitcher.  (Sixteen years later, a New York Times sportswriter described Miljus' pitch as "the wildest wild pitch that mortal man ever uncorked.")

3. Derek Jeter - 2000 ALCS Game Four

The Yankees led the ALCS against the Mariners 2-1 and the fourth game was quite a pitching duel. Roger Clemens was in the middle of pitching a one-hit 15-strikeout shutout and Seattle's Paul Abbott set down 14 of the first 17 Yankees to bat.

With two outs in the fifth, Scott Brosius singled and Chuck Knoblauch walked. That brought up Derek Jeter, who knocked a three-run homer that broke the deadlock and powered the Yanks to a 3-1 series lead. They won the series in six games before beating the Mets in the Subway World Series in five.

2. Jorge Posada - 2001 ALDS Game Three

Oakland won the first two ALDS games at Yankee Stadium and things were looking bleak for the Yankees. Mike Mussina and Barry Zito exchanged zeroes for four innings until Jorge Posada drew first blood.

His homer provided the only run of the game, and the shutout was preserved by this incredible play by Derek Jeter. New York rolled to a win in Game Four to send the series back to New York. The Stadium was as loud as I've ever heard it and the Yanks pulled out another win to complete the 0-2 comeback.

They dispatched the 116-win Mariners in five games and although they came up two outs shy of the championship, the Yankees run in the fall of 2001 was as memorable as any time in New York sports history.

1. Babe Ruth - 1932 World Series Game Three

The Called Shot. Whether or not Babe Ruth actually pointed to Wrigley Field's center-field bleachers, this was a huge home run.

Ruth's three-run homer off Charlie Rooth put the Yanks up 3-0 just three batters into the game.

The Cubs came back to tie the game at 4-4 in the fourth. Ruth led off the fifth and MLB's official historian, John Thorn, reprints Ruth's own account here:

"...when I got to the box, but I saw a lemon rolling out to the plate, and I looked over and there was Malone and Grimes with their thumbs in their ears wiggling their fingers at me.

I told Hartnett, “If that bum [Root] throws me in here, I’ll hit it over the fence again,” and I’ll say it for Gabby, he didn’t answer, but those other guys were standing up in the dugout, cocky because they’d got four runs back and everybody hollerin’. So I just changed my mind. I took two strikes and after each one I held up my finger and said, “That’s one” and “that’s two.” Ask Gabby … he could hear me. Then’s when I waved to the fence!

Gosh, that was a great feelin’ … gettin’ a hold of that ball and I knew it was going someplace … yessir, you can feel it in your hands when you’ve laid wood on one. How that mob howled. Me? I just laughed … laughed to myself going around the bases and thinking, “You lucky bum … lucky, lucky.”

Lou Gehrig was the next batter and he homered as well. New York won 7-5 and won again the next day to sweep the series (combined score in the four games: 37-19). Did he really call his shot? Who knows, but I'll defer to former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He was a 10-year-old in attendance at Wrigley that afternoon and insists that Ruth did indeed call his shot.

Monday, September 30: First Inning
Tuesday, October 1: Second Inning
Wednesday, October 2: Third Inning
Thursday, October 3: Fourth Inning
Friday, October 4: Fifth Inning
Monday, October 7: Sixth Inning
Tuesday, October 8: Seventh Inning
Wednesday, October 9: Eighth Inning
Thursday, October 10: Ninth Inning
Friday, October 11: Extra Innings

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