The 1996 season was a pretty crazy one for the Yankees, and the run through the '96 playoffs was especially wild. However, none of those games may have been as remarkable on the one they played on May 1, 1996.
After beating the Orioles on April 30, 1996, the Yankees took over first place from Baltimore by half a game. The Yankees sent Kenny Rogers to the mound in the second game of the series the following day. Facing them was future Yankee David Wells.
As tended to happen for Rogers in his Yankee career, things didn't go great for him that day. In the bottom of the first, breakout slugger Brady Anderson led off for the Orioles with a home run.
The Yankees quickly struck back in the second. After a couple singles, a Mariano Duncan fielder's choice somehow turned into a run on an uncharacteristic fielding error by Roberto Alomar. Gerald Williams then started what would become one of the best games of his career with a two-run home run.
In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, the Yankees tacked on another couple runs. But in the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles started to get to Rogers again. The Orioles scored two in the fifth and two more in the sixth. Rogers was chased from the game after allowing a couple batters to reach in the sixth. After six innings, the Yankees led 6-5.
From there, the Yankees' bullpen did a decent job of holding the lead. Bob Wickman couldn't strand Rogers' inherited runners in the sixth, but Steve Howe and Jeff Nelson both had scoreless outings to keep the Yankees in front.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees sent out John Wetteland to finish the job. Wetteland would lead the league in saves in 1996 and became the World Series MVP. Unfortunately,, May 1st was not his night. After a Duncan error and a sacrifice bunt, Wetteland threw a wild pitch and then walked Anderson. An Alomar sacrifice fly tied the game, giving Wetteland a blown save (one of only four all year).
The night was only just beginning, however. After a scoreless tenth from the Yankees' offense, Jim Mecir came in to pitch. After a single, a sacrifice bunt and two intentional walks, the Orioles loaded the bases with just one out. Mecir had a 5.47 ERA in 74 career innings with the Yankees. Yet on this occasion, he managed to get out of the jam.
Mecir escaped another jam in the 11th. The game remained tied, eventually forcing Andy Pettitte to come in to pitch. Pettitte pitched in 35 games in 1996; 34 were starts. In his lone relief appearance of the year, and one of only ten for his career, Pettitte pitched three scoreless innings.
In the top of the 15th inning, the top of the Yankees' lineup was due up. Wade Boggs started things off with a single. Derek Jeter was then hit by a pitch. After a Paul O'Neill groundout, Baltimore intentionally walked Ruben Sierra to get to Tino Martinez.
Two innings earlier, with the bases loaded and one out, Martinez grounded into an inning-ending double play. Probably looking to recreate that, the Orioles opted to face Tino instead of Sierra. His first month in pinstripes had been incredibly frustrating, as he started off 3-for-34 while Yankee Stadium fans mocked him with "Donnie Baseball" chants. The double play only compounded the problem; Martinez did not make that mistake again, crushing a grand slam:
A couple batters later, Gerald Williams picked up another RBI on a single. That put the Yankees up 11-6, but it was also Williams' sixth hit of the game. Six hits in one game is a Yankees record. Williams is tied with Johnny Damon and Myril Hoag for the record. Williams recorded 82 hits in 1996. Seven percent of them came in this game.
Also of note is that Sierra was intentionally walked three times, which is tied for second most in Yankee history. The Yankees also managed to put up 11 runs, despite going 3-19 with runners in scoring position.
Pettitte closed out the bottom of the 15th and picked up the win. The Yankees ended up winning the AL East by four games in 1996. That was thanks in large part to a wild win they picked up on May 1st.
All data courtesy of the Baseball-Reference Play Index