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Historical GIFs: Giambi slams the Twins

A clip once unavoidable on YES pretty much vanished on the airwaves after his '08 departure. It's back.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

When Jason Giambi came to New York in 2002, Yankees fans had very high expectations for him. After all, Giambi started off his MLB career so brilliantly with the Oakland Athletics. His bat slowly improved from above average as a rookie to All-Star caliber, and he hit .338/.476/.653 with 76 doubles, 81 homers, and a 193 OPS+ over his final two seasons in Oakland, winning the 2000 AL MVP and getting snubbed for the '01 honors by Ichiro Suzuki. Despite his '01 World Series heroics, first baseman Tino Martinez was aging and his contract expired after '01; the Yankees opened their wallet for Giambi, signing him to a monster seven-year, $120 million deal.

Giambi admitted to feeling the pressure of living up to that contract, and he got off to a 3-for-21 start before improving his numbers to .286/.385/.506 entering action on May 17th at home against the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees had one of their most exciting games of the decade that day, which I've recapped before and will now freely copy/paste from another article I wrote on the 2002 Yanks.

An early Yankees lead powered by a Bernie Williams solo homer was erased with a Twins-esque rally in the third inning off Mike Mussina: double-single-single-groundout-single, good for three runs. The Yankees laughed at this small ball, and promptly scored five in the fourth on a Robin Ventura two-run homer that reached the fabled black seats and a three-run homer by Alfonso Soriano. Both were red-hot and had hit their tenth homer of the year already, marks not reached by either in the season before until June 5th and August 1st, respectively. Twins starter Rick Reed was replaced in the fifth, and LaTroy Hawkins was promptly greeted with a Giambi single and a Jorge Posada two-run bomb, making it 8-3.

Mike Mussina didn't normally cough up five-run leads, and the Twins were not a fearsome offensive group, so the game appeared over. Nevertheless, the punch-and-judy Twins offense was at it again in the sixth off of Mussina and later, Mike Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza: double-single-single-double-single-single-sac bunt-intentional walk-sac fly-single (six runs). They might have scored more if Torii Hunter wasn't thrown out at third to end the inning, a baseball faux pas. The Twins now held the lead, and they held it until the bottom of the ninth, when All-Star closer Eddie Guardado took the mound with the Yankees down to their last two outs. Now batting from the right side, Bernie Williams was never someone to be intimidated by situations like these, and he homered on a 1-2 count to tie the game. It was a 46% WPA swing and the eighth time in Bernie's career that he had homered from both sides of the plate.

After Bernie tied it, Jason Giambi had a chance to quiet the chants of "Ti-no, Ti-no" and win the game with a homer, but he struck out looking and was booed going back to the dugout. The game stayed tied at nine until the 14th, when after the Yankees had squandered opportunities with runners in scoring position in the 12th and 13th, the Twins accomplished yet another rally without the benefit of a homer. Against long reliever Sterling Hitchcock, they mounted the following assault: walk-single-single-groundout-flyout-single-single, which somehow scored three runs. Fortunately for the Yankees, the Twins had to send out veteran reliever Mike Trombley, who was the seventh man to come out of their bullpen and (unbeknownst to him) was pitching in the third-to-last game of his career.

Despite Trombley's struggles, the Twins held a 95% chance of winning after a Soriano flyout left the Yankees with two outs to go and only a man on first base. Then Jeter singled, and Trombley walked Bernie. Giambi stepped to the plate in the rain. What followed was a 79% WPA swing, a walk-off grand slam deep into the right-center field bleachers, and Giambi joined Babe Ruth as the only Yankees to ever win a game where they were trailing by three with a grand slam. It was after this memorable game that I became positive that these Yankees were not going to trail behind the Red Sox in the standings for much longer. Giambi took the momentum from that game and won AL Player of the Month in May.

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That clip used to be all over YES Network since '02 was its first season and that was the first incredible moment of Yankees baseball on it. We haven't seen it in quite some time though, so now it is in GIF form. Huzzah.