Monday, June 28, 2010
Torre's seen this before
We can't imagine that Dodgers manager Joe Torre slept well following Sunday's Yankees epic comeback win over his team, a rally from four down in the ninth.
But somewhere in the recesses of Torre's mind had to be a few memories, recollections of games in which he was on the right side of that kind of win.
There are those that stand out more than others -- the rally from 6-0 down early against the Braves in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series, the back-to-back ninth-inning comeback to beat the Diamondbacks in Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 World Series, and the remarkable effort against Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Those games are in a class by themselves.
But what about times when Torre's Yankees faced the same situation his team tried to protect last night -- a four-run lead with three outs to go?
Turns out that, thanks to the magic and wizardry of the Elias Sports Bureau, that there were six such games that Torre's Yankees won in that situation.
Perhaps Torre will take solace in his recollection of these.
August 4, 1998 -- Yankees 10, Athletics 5 The final score doesn't tell the full story here. The Yankees went from down four to up five in minutes, with a nine-run ninth. The pivotal hit: Darryl Strawberry's game-tying pinch-hit grand slam. The winning run scored when Derek Jeter crashed into Jason Giambi on a play at first base, allowing Chuck Knoblauch to score from second.
May 23, 1999 -- Yankees 8, White Sox 7 (10)
Torre had his share of epic wins in Chicago (a comeback from eight down in 1996 among them). This one was more a comedy of errors -- a four-run ninth-inning rally to tie that featured three walks, a wild pitch, a passed ball, and a game-tying balk. More traditional means would be used to win the game in the 10th: a Chad Curtis home run.
July 16, 2000 -- Yankees 9, Phillies 8 (10 innings)
Which comeback was more amazing in this one? The first rally from five runs down in the bottom of the ninth to tie on a Jose Vizcaino hit (foreshadowing his World Series heroics) or the one from two down in the 10th, featuring a game-tying hit from Bernie Williams and a walk-off winning one from Dave Justice?
August 27, 2005 -- Yankees 8, Royals 7
An error by Royals pitcher Jeremy Affeldt opened the floodgates to a five-run bottom of the ninth. Gary Sheffield tied things with a two-out double and Alex Rodriguez followed with a game-ending single.
May 20, 2006 -- Yankees 5, Mets 4 (11 innings) The Mets were cruising in this one, up 4-0 in the ninth on a day where Pedro Martinez dominated. The last thing they were expecting was what they got -- a Billy Wagner implosion.
A couple of walks and a hit batsman got the Yankees close, but they still came within a hair of defeat. Johnny Damon barely beat a relay on a potential game-ending double play grounder, allowing the Yankees to tie. They'd win in the 11th on a hit by unlikely hero Andy Phillips.
April 19, 2007 -- Yankees 8, Indians 6
According Elias Sports Bureau, this was the last time the Yankees rallied from four down in the ninth to win, prior to Sunday night.
This one bore strong similarity to Sunday -- a closer in a non-save situation couldn't finish the deal (in this case, Joe Borowski)-- With two outs, no one on, and the Yankees down four, they rallied for six to win. Alex Rodriguez capped it with a dramatic three-run home run.
Perhaps when Rodriguez and Torre greeted each other Sunday, the ex-Yankees skipper flashed back to that moment. He'd have reason to do so again by night's end.
Mark Simon is a researcher for Baseball Tonight. You can follow him on Twitter or e-mail him at email@example.com.