Thursday, October 10, 2013

Top Yankees Postseason Home Runs by Inning: Ninth Inning

We've made it to the ninth inning so it's time to go all out. The first eight parts of this series have had six homers for each inning, but let's expand it for the ninth. There have been 13 tying or go-ahead ninth-inning dingers in Yankees postseason history. Let's take a look at all 13.

13. Russell Martin - 2012 ALDS Game One

The Yankees and Orioles played an exciting ALDS in 2012, and the trend of tight games started with the opener. CC Sabathia and Jason Hammel both gave up a pair of runs over the first four innings, but that score held through eight. Russell Martin led off the top of the ninth against Jim Johnson and he hammered a 2-0 fastball into the left-field seats for a 3-2 lead. The Bombers piled on with four more runs in the inning to win it 7-2.

This series would provide another big ninth-inning blast for New York that appears later in the list. It would go the full five games, but the Yankees won the deciding contest at home to move on.

12. Elston Howard - 1957 World Series Game Four

The Milwaukee Braves were one out away from tying the World Series at two games apiece. Their ace, the great Warren Spahn, had a 4-1 lead and was polishing off a six-hitter. But New York mounted a rally when Yogi Berra and Gil McDougald singled to bring the tying run to the plate. Elston Howard came up and stunned the County Stadium faithful with a three-run homer.

With new life, the Yankees scored again in the tenth inning on Tony Kubek's infield single and Hank Bauer's RBI triple. Tommy Byrne needed three outs in the bottom of the inning to give the Yanks a 3-1 series lead. He started by hitting pinch-hitter Nippy Jones with a pitch. Two batters later with Bob Grim now on in relief, Johnny Logan delivered a game-tying double. Next up was Eddie Mathews and he smacked the third walk-off home run in World Series history. 

Lew Burdette pitched complete-game seven-hit shutouts in Games Five and Seven to lead the Braves to the championship.

11. Tom Tresh - 1964 World Series Game Five

The Yankees and Cardinals were locked in a great battle in the '64 Series, with the first four games being split 2-2. St. Louis was up 2-0 in this game and Bob Gibson was three outs away from completing a four-hit shutout in Game Five.

Mickey Mantle opened the bottom of the ninth with a ground ball to short that Dick Groat booted for an error. Gibson put down the next two batters and while the game should have been over, Tom Tresh took advantage of the fourth out.

Tresh knocked a two-run homer that tied the game, but the excitement didn't last long. In the next half-innng, Tim McCarver hit a three-run homer to give the Cards a 5-2 lead. Gibson locked it down in the tenth and St. Louis went home up 3-2 in the series. New York won Game Six, but Gibson came back on two days rest and won Game Seven.

10. Raul Ibanez - 2012 ALCS Game One

This veteran bench bat had already socked a game-tying ninth-inning homer in this postseason, but here the Tigers led the first game of the ALCS 4-0 in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees cut the lead in half on Ichiro Suzuki's two-run homer, but Jose Valverde still had Detroit one out from the win. That brought up Ibanez, who followed up his legendary game from three days prior with this:

It turned out to be a curse in disguise (is that the opposite of a blessing in disguise?) because of a nightmarish 12th inning. Delmon Young doubled past right fielder Nick Swisher for the Tigers' go-ahead run, then things got even worse. Jhonny Peralta hit a routine grounder to short, but Derek Jeter fractured his ankle while fielding it. It led to another run and knocked Jeter out for the series.

The Tigers went on to sweep the series before being swept themselves by the Giants in the World Series. Jeter missed almost all of this season as well, and it can all be traced back to this night in which the Stadium went from boredom to jubilation to despair.

9. Roger Maris - 1961 World Series Game Three

Roger Maris made history by hitting 61 home runs in 1961, but his 62nd round-tripper was the one that really keyed this championship run.

New York and the Reds split the first two games of the World Series before the scene shifted to Crosley Field.

Bob Purkey was shutting out the prolific Yankee offense and led 1-0 until Yogi Berra tied the game in the seventh with an RBI single. Bill Stafford gave the lead right back in the bottom of the inning on Eddie Kasko's single, but Johnny Blanchard tied it again for the Yanks in the eighth with a home run.

It was 2-2 in the top of the ninth when Maris led off against Purkey.

The Yankees had their first lead of the game and Luis Arroyo made it stick in the bottom of the ninth, closing out the 3-2 win that tilted the series to New York 2-1. The Yanks romped to consecutive victories (combined margin 20-5) to clinch the title. 

8. Raul Ibanez - 2012 ALDS Game Three

Here's Ibanez again.

One year ago today, the upstart Orioles were two outs away from taking a 2-1 lead in the ALDS when Joe Girardi made a gutsy (and correct) call to send Ibanez to the plate in lieu of Alex Rodriguez.

Ibanez sent the game to extra innings and then when his turn came back around to lead off the 12th inning, he wasted no time sending everyone home. Rauuuuul became the first player in postseason history to hit two home runs in a game as a substitute and also the first to hit a game-tying homer in the ninth and a game-winning homer in extras.

The Yankees won the series in five games before getting swept in the ALCS by Detroit, but not without more Raul heroics (see #10).

7. Alex Rodriguez - 2009 ALDS Game Two

The Yankees won 103 games in the inaugural season of the New Yankee Stadium, but everything went to 0-0 in the postseason. They beat the Twins in the playoff opener, but Minnesota rallied in Game Two to take a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning. Joe Nathan allowed a leadoff single to Mark Teixeira to bring Alex Rodriguez to the plate representing the tying run: 

His home run squared up the score, forcing some excruciatingly exciting extra innings. Both teams put men at the corners in their half of the tenth but couldn't cash in. Joe Mauer led off the 11th with an apparent double, but it was incorrectly ruled a foul ball. Mauer got a hit anyway and the Twins eventually loaded the bases with nobody out, but David Robertson escaped trouble to preserve the tie. Teixeira led off the home half of the 11th with a walk-off home run to put the Yanks up two games to none en route to a sweep.

6. Alfonso Soriano - 2001 ALCS Game Four

The Yankees lost the first two games of the ALDS to Oakland (at home!), then came back to win twice on the road before taking the deciding game in the Bronx. The road got harder still in the ALCS, as their opponent was the Seattle Mariners, who had won 116 games in the regular season to equal the all-time mark.

New York won the first two games in Seattle, prompting M's skipper Lou Piniella to declare, "We will be back here for Game Six -- just print it." His charges responded with a 14-3 win, but the pivotal fourth game was a nail-biter.

Paul Abbott pitched five hitless innings for Seattle, but walked eight and threw 97 pitches, ending his night prematurely. Tino Martinez broke up the no-no in the sixth with a one-out double off Norm Charlton, but despite two more walks the Yanks couldn't push the game's first run across.

That honor would go to Bret Boone, whose solo homer with two outs in the top of the eighth off Ramiro Mendoza had Seattle poised to even the series. But with one down in the bottom half Bernie Williams took old friend Arthur Rhodes deep to tie the game at 1-1. An inning later, Scott Brosius hit a one-out single against Kazuhiro Sasaki to set the stage for Alfonso Soriano:


The Yankees won 3-1 and now led the ALCS 3-1. The next night they blew out the M's 12-3 to win their fourth straight pennant (here's Joe Torre speaking to the team during that celebration).

5. Tommy Henrich - 1949 World Series Game One

This game featured a brilliant Allie Reynolds/Don Newcombe pitching matchup and it lived up to the billing. Reynolds pitched a two-hit shutout and Newcombe took a four-hit shutout into the bottom of the ninth. "Old Reliable" Tommy Henrich led off the frame with a home run into the right-field seats to give the Yankees a 1-0 victory (:30 mark of the video below).

This was the 264th game in the history of the World Series, but this one was the first to end on a walk-off home run. New York took down the Dodgers in five games to win the first of five consecutive World Series crowns.

4. Mickey Mantle - 1964 World Series Game Three

Both the '64 Fall Classic and the third game of the series were tied 1-1 when Mickey Mantle was due to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Knuckleballer Barney Schultz was warming up and as Jane Leavy writes:

"Jim Bouton, the Yankees' exhausted starting pitcher, was at the water cooler at the end of the dugout when Mantle came to collect his bat. "He was standing there with the bat on his shoulder watching Barney Schultz. His warm-up pitches were coming in about thigh high and breaking down to the shin, to the ankles -- two or three in a row. Mickey said, 'I'm gonna hit one outta here.'"

Well that's exactly what he did on the first pitch.

Not only did Mantle win the game for the Yankees and give them a 2-1 series lead, the home run was his 16th in World Series play, breaking Babe Ruth's record for the most in the Fall Classic. St. Louis came back to win three out of four to take the title, despite two more long balls from The Mick. Mantle's 18 homers are still a World Series record.

3. Chris Chambliss - 1976 ALCS Game Five

The Yankees went into a dark period after the 1964 World Series loss. They snapped their record streak of 39 consecutive winning seasons in 1965. They finished in last place in 1966 for the first time since 1912 and they finished second from the bottom in '67 for the first time since 1925. Their 11 years without a pennant marked their longest October drought since Babe Ruth was pitching in Boston.

That all changed in 1976 in a renovated Yankee Stadium. New York won the A.L. East and began a postseason rivalry with the Kansas City Royals. The Yanks went win-loss-win-loss through the first four games, setting up a winner-take-all game in the Bronx.

Both teams scored twice in the first inning and New York eventually took a 6-3 lead into the eighth. But George Brett, who would had a knack for punishing the Yankees in big spots, crushed a three-run homer to tie the game at six.

That was still the score when Chris Chambliss led off the bottom of the ninth against Mark Littell:

The euphoria did not last long, as the Big Red Machine came in and swept the World Series in four games by an aggregate score of 22-8.

2. Tino Martinez - 2001 World Series Game Four

New York's inspiring postseason in the wake of September 11th reached its pinnacle over the course of two nights during the World Series at Yankee Stadium. It was Halloween night, the latest the season had been played due to the postponement of games after the attacks.

Arizona led the series 2-1 and was in control in the fourth game as well, with Curt Schilling pitching seven great innings (3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K). He was removed after only 88 pitches for closer Byung-Hyun Kim, but manager Bob Brenly's decision didn't seem to matter much when Kim struck out the side in the eighth. He came out in the ninth for the six-out save up 3-1 and allowed a one-out single to Paul O'Neill. Kim then struck out Bernie Williams so Tino Martinez came up with New York down to its final out.

Later, after the clock struck midnight to usher in November baseball for the first time, Derek Jeter won the game with a home run in the tenth and the series was tied at two. But things were just getting started...

1. Scott Brosius - 2001 World Series Game Five

The very next night, the Diamondbacks once again led by two runs (2-0 this time) and once again called on Kim, who once again recorded two outs in the ninth. The Yankees were once again down to their final out, and it was déjà vu all over again:

Only three times had a team down to its last out hit a tying or winning home run in a World Series game (Kirk Gibson's was the only one in which the team won the game). Then it happened on back-to-back nights off the same pitcher.

The game went into extra innings again and carried into the 12th, when Alfonso Soriano singled home Chuck Knoblauch with the winning run to give the Yankees a 3-2 series lead. Well the Diamondbacks won the two games in the desert to take the title, but I don't care that they lost the series. It was one of the greatest Fall Classics ever played and those nights in the Bronx are still among the most thrilling in Yankees history.

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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