The Pinstripe Alley Top Moments Tournament enters the third and final round of the 2000-present bracket. The moment with the most votes moves on to the semifinals against the winner of the 1980-1999 bracket. Vote for the moment that deserves to move on in the poll below.
#1: Aaron Boone's Game 7 home run
Game 7. Yankees-Red Sox. If you're a fan of the greatest rivalry in sports, then 2003 was as good as you can hope for. The Yankees had won 101 games under Joe Torre behind one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. The starting rotation led by Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, and David Wells led the major leagues in innings pitched, FIP, and fWAR while their closer, some guy named Mariano Rivera, had a pretty decent season too with 40 saves and a minuscule 1.66 ERA.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, had hired a new General Manager in Theo Epstein, and signed little-known free agent backup DH David Ortiz a few weeks before the start of spring training. Ortiz went from starting the season as a part-time player to hitting 31 home runs and finishing fifth in the MVP voting, much to the delight of Red Sox fans.
The Yankees and Red Sox were neck-and-neck throughout much the 2003 season before the Yankees pulled away with the division title in the final two months. The ALCS was about as heated as this rivalry has been in a long time, from both the fans and the players. This was highlighted during Game 3 in Boston, where tempers flared and the benches cleared. Going into Game 7, the Yankees and Red Sox were dead even in head-to-head matchups throughout the season.
The game itself did not start off well for Yankee fans. Pedro Martinez was lights out early on while Yankees starter Roger Clemens struggled to get into rhythm. The Yankees were already down 4-0 when Mussina relieved Clemens with two on and nobody out in the top of the fourth to get out of the jam. Jason Giambi was able to get to Pedro with a pair of solo home runs in the fifth and seventh innings to cut it to 4-2, but Ortiz responded with a home run in the eighth to extend the lead back to three. After Nick Johnson popped out to lead off the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox were five outs away from the World Series. That's when the magic began.
Derek Jeter doubled to right and scored on a single by Bernie Williams to cut it to 5-3, prompting Boston manager Grady Little to go out to the mound, presumably to bring in a lefty to face Hideki Matsui. Instead, he left Pedro in the game, and two doubles later from Matsui and Jorge Posada, the game was tied at five. Little's decision to leave Pedro in the game was a big talking point for Red Sox fans in a classic second-guess situation.
The game went into extras, as Rivera came on in relief as the game remained tied through the ninth and tenth innings. The Yankees were running out of time after Rivera pitched his third inning of relief. Nobody knew if Rivera could pitch any more, and Jose Contreras was going to be the next guy out of the bullpen. Thankfully, we never had to see that happen, as with Tim Wakefield on the mound, Aaron Boone came to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 11th.
Boone didn't even start the game for the Yankees. He was sat down for Game 7 in favor of Enrique Wilson, who had a history of success against Pedro. Boone entered earlier as a pinch-runner before taking over at third base, and was getting his first at bat of the game. He connected on Wakefield's first pitch of the inning, homering over the left field wall and sending the Yankees to the World Series, breaking the hearts of plenty of Red Sox fans in the process. In a special moment, his brother Bret Boone was in the booth with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver as he hit one of the biggest home runs in Yankees history.
Entry written by Chris Kirby on December 9, 2013.
#2: Late-game homers in 2001 World Series
Already down two games to one to the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series, the Yankees were mowed down easily by Curt Schilling and trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4. The Yankees offense has mustered all of four runs scored to that point of the series. Exceptional D'Backs closer Byung-Hyun Kim came on for his second inning of work, and there was no real reason for Yankees fans to think there were any surprises left in the team's aging bats. But with two outs and Paul O'Neill on base, Tino Martinez crushed the first offering from Kim that he saw over the wall in right-center to tie the game up at 3 runs apiece. The job was only half done, so it was up to Derek Jeter. Shortly after the time struck midnight signalling the first instance of November baseball, The Captain responded to the unique occasion by lining a Kim offering the opposite way that just barely cleared the wall, giving the Yankees a shocking 4-3 victory in ten innings.
The absurdity was far from over, however, as the Yankees continued their paltry hitting and found themselves down in the final frame of Game 5 as well, trailing 2-0. Kim was on the mound again, once more only one final out from shutting the door on the Yankees. With Jorge Posada on, Scott Brosius played the role of hero hitting his two-run homer off Kim to square the game at 2-2. A devastated Kim was not left out there to languish for another batter as he was the night before, but it wouldn't matter. In the 12th an Alfonso Soriano single scored the winning run to give the Yankees a 3-2 series advantage. They were the first team ever with two back-to-back postseason victories after trailing going into the ninth inning.
Entry written by Michael Brown on December 10, 2013.
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