Yankees Top Moments: (#1) David Cone's perfect game vs. (#3) Leyritz's game-tying home run

USA Today Sports and Jim McIsaac

Leyritz's series-changing homer already knocked out Boomer's perfecto, but can it do the same with Coney's classic?

The Pinstripe Alley Top Moments Tournament enters the third and final round of the 1980-99 bracket. The moment with the most votes moves on to the semifinals against the winner of the 2000-present bracket. Vote for the moment that deserves to move on in the poll below.

#1: David Cone's Perfect Game


On July 18, 1999, the Yankees held "Yogi Berra Day" in the Bronx, celebrating Berra's terrific career in pinstripes, a career that saw him make 18 All-Star teams and win 13 World Series championships as a player and coach. Don Larsen, the very man who had tossed a perfect game with Berra behind the plate in the 1956 World Series, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

While memories of that perfect performance began the afternoon, fans would leave with another pitching masterpiece fresh in their minds. On that day, David Cone turned in the best game of his career, throwing just the third perfect game in Yankee history. Coming off a season in which he'd won 20 games, posted a 3.45 ERA and a 5.2 fWAR, Cone hadn't quite replicated those levels of success in 1999. Still, he was 9-4 when the Montreal Expos (remember them?) came to the Bronx, although the Detroit Tigers had roughed up Cone is his last start to the tune of six earned runs in seven innings.

In the top of the first, the Expos' came as close to a hit as they would all afternoon. Center fielder Terry Jones smacked a pitch up in the zone to right-center field, and Cone himself later said, "I was thinking triple, right off the bat." But Paul O'Neill robbed Jones with a diving save, and Cone retired James Mouton to end the inning.

Cone stuck out the side in the third before a 33-minute rain delay halted the game. But even a break in the action couldn't knock Cone out of his rhythm. Once the weather cleared, Cone went back to work, proceeding to strike out ten on the way to retiring 27 straight batters. It was the highlight of his career, made even more special by taking place in front of Yankee legends Larsen and Berra.

Yankees GIFs: Cone's perfect game

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Entry written by Scott Davis on December 3, 2013.

#3: Jim Leyritz's '96 World Series game-tying home run

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The Yankees got off to a very sluggish start to the 1996 World Series; they got outscored at home 16-1 through the first two games against the defending champion Atlanta Braves. They got back on track in Game 3, however, as David Cone gave them a very gritty six innings while yielding just one run, and the offense was able to outlast Tom Glavine and the Braves' bullpen in Atlanta. With the series now 2-1 in favor of the Braves, the Yankees, like the first two games, struggled mightily, this time through the first five innings of Game 4. Kenny Rogers started for the Bombers, and, like his first two playoff starts that October, got shelled. "The Gambler" allowed five runs and seven base runners through just two innings. The offense, meanwhile, had a hard time picking up their starter, as the Braves' Denny Neagle held New York in check. At least through the first five innings, anyway.

Neagle retired the first eight Yankees he faced before allowing a single to the opposing starter Rogers with two down in the third. The Yankees were able to scratch together a handful of walks (three, to be exact) in the fourth, but a poorly timed Bernie Williams double play hurt the rally. In the sixth, however, things changed, as the Yankees, down 6-0 to begin the frame, strung together four straight base runners together (Derek Jeter single, Bernie Williams walk, Cecil Fielder single, and a Charlie Hayes single) to knock Neagle out of the game and make the score 6-3. The Braves' bullpen was able to stop the damage and escape further trouble.

Although Jeff Nelson pieced together two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, the Yankees were running out of time to complete the comeback. The Braves attempted to put the nail in the Yankees' coffin by summoning their closer, Mark Wohlers, to record the final six outs. However, Hayes reached on an infield single that slowly rolled to third base and died in fair territory while Darryl Strawberry singled to left set the stage for Jim Leyritz to tie the game. Leyritz, who didn't even start the game, worked one hell of an at-bat against one of the best closers in baseball that year in Wohlers. With the count at 2-2, Wohlers hung a slider to Leyritz and the latter crushed it over the left field fence for a three-run home run to knot the game at six.

Though the Yankees were able to tie the game, the business wasn't finished quite yet. Thanks to more help from the Yankees' bullpen (namely Mariano Rivera and Graeme Lloyd), which was a very underrated part of this game, the team was able to take the lead in the 10th, courtesy of a bases loaded, pinch-hit walk by Wade Boggs. For insurance, Charlie Hayes reached on a Ryan Klesko error. With the score 8-6, Yankees, John Wetteland was able to wiggle out of trouble, though Paul O'Neill helped him out as the latter made a nice running catch to rob Terry Pendleton of a game-tying extra base hit to end the game.

If you believe in "momentum," Leyritz's game-tying three-run home run was surely a momentum-grabber that the Yankees would hold onto for good. After winning Game 4, the Yankees were able to win Game 5 in Atlanta (thanks to Andy Pettitte's masterful pitching performance) and Game 6 back in the Bronx to seal the franchise's 23rd World Series championship.

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Entry written by Jesse Schindler on December 5, 2013.

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