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Remembering the time the Yankees allowed 13 unearned runs in one game

The Yankees had a bad day in the field on July 5, 1989, and it came back to haunt them.

Andy Hawkins
It was not the best of days for Andy Hawkins.
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Even good players make errors. It’s why they can’t really be used as the major factor in evaluating fielders. I have no way to judge how good the Yankees were in 1989 on defense considering that it was before I was born. However, no matter how good or bad they were, July 5, 1989 was not their day.

Andy Hawkins got the start for the Yankees on July 5th, as they hosted the Baltimore Orioles. In the top of the first, Hawkins recorded two quick outs before allowing a double to Cal Ripken, Jr. He then walked Mickey Tettleton and Joe Orsulak to load the bases. All three runners then came around to score when Jesse Barfield and Tom Brookens collided. Barfield was credited with an error on the play. After one inning, the Yankees trailed 3-0.

In the top of the third, the inning started with Don Mattingly making an uncharacteristic error by failing to step on first base. That was followed in the next at-bat by Hawkins throwing away a ground ball trying to start a double play. Steve Sax then got in on the action, making a third straight error to start the inning, booting away another double play ball. A run scored in the process.

Hawkins then didn’t help himself, as he allowed a single, a double, an intentional walk, a single, and a single. With the score now 7-0, Hawkins was pulled in favor of Chuck Cary. A few batters later, Cary allowed a grand slam for good measure. That put the Yankees down 11-0.

In the bottom of the third, the Yankees did get on the board with three straight singles. That cut their deficit to a paltry ten runs.

However, the Orioles got the run back in the fifth. After a leadoff double, Cary got two groundouts. However, he then made an error, allowing a run to score.

Cary was still pitching in the sixth when Mattingly made his second error of the game. That error was obviously immediately followed by a Jim Traber home run to make it 14-1.

The Orioles tacked on another two runs, somehow neither on errors. The Yankees also scored another two runs, and the game ended 16-3.

The Yankees finished the game with six errors. The Yankees put so many runners on via error, that of the 16 runs they allowed, only three were earned. At some points in the game, the crowd chanted “We want rain”.

The 13 unearned runs given up by the Yankees is the third most in a game of all-time. Only the Astros in 1985 and the Red Sox in 1923 have given up more.

Mattingly made two errors in the game. He made just seven for the season in 1989. There was only one other time in his career that he made two errors in a game, and that came in 1995, which was his final season.

As a team, the 1989 Yankee made 122 errors. This game accounted for nearly five percent of that total.

The Orioles finished the game with nine hits, which is actually less than the 13 the Yankees got. And yet Baltimore still won by 13 runs.

The 1989 Yankees finished in fifth place, 14.5 games behind first-place Toronto. July 5th was probably a good encapsulation of why.


All data courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index