March Madness is officially underway, and is always a nice bridge to baseball’s regular season as we await Opening Day. For the next few weeks, sports fans in general will be treated to major upsets and unbelievable comebacks. There has never been a NCAA Tournament without at least a handful of unbelievable endings.
Now is as good a time as any to remember when the Yankees seemed completely out of a game and somehow fought their way back to a thrilling victory that would make March Madness proud. There have been a handful of comeback efforts in this millennium that have become all-time classics. Here are the ones we remember the most fondly.
April 19, 2007: An A-Bomb!
The Yanks were off to an up and down start to the 2007 season, except for a red-hot Alex Rodriguez. Trailing 6-2 in the ninth against the Indians, even Rodriguez had little chance to save the Yanks from a loss.
After Indians’ reliever Joe Borowski breezed through the first two outs, the Yankees went to work. Despite being down to their last strike multiple times, the Yanks were able to score three runs off a home run by Josh Phelps (wow) and a collection of singles from Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Bobby Abreu to cut the deficit to one with Rodriguez coming to the plate. Here’s what happened.
The blast was A-Rod’s third in three games, and made him the second fastest player to 10 homers in a season behind Mike Schmidt. This would turn into an MVP season for Rodriguez, with this homer being one of the fondest moments of the year.
June 21, 2005: Runs, lots of runs
Randy Johnson better have bought every Yankee in the starting lineup dinner for this game. The Big Unit was smashed for seven earned runs over three innings, in a game where the Devil Rays would eventually take a 10-2 lead after four innings.
The Yanks would claw their way back and make it 10-7 before Tampa Bay added an insurance run in the seventh. The Yanks went scoreless in the bottom half of the inning, but must have been saving their offense for the eighth.
The Bombers lived up to their name by scoring an incredible 13 runs in the eighth inning, demolishing Travis Harper for nine earned runs in less than a full inning’s work. Bernie Williams, Gary Sheffield and Posada all homered in an inning where the Yankees sent 16 batters to hit, capped off by Hideki Matsui’s blast into the black bleachers in center.
In the blink of an eye, an 11-7 deficit turned into a 20-11 lead.
Jeter recorded five hits in the game while Sheffield hit two three-run homers. Williams had five RBI. The 17-run turnaround tied the largest margin of victory for a team that had been down by at least eight runs in major league history, passing the Indians for their comeback effort against the same Devil Rays, who probably didn’t want to hold large leads anymore.
May 16, 2006: HIP HIP!
The Yankees were down 9-0 by the top of the second, and would need the biggest comeback in franchise history to escape with a win. Thanks to Jeter and Posada, they did just that.
Jeter went 4-5 with a three-run homer to cut the Rangers’ lead to 10-8 in the sixth. Posada would drill the walk-off homer to win the game 14-13.
The heroics from Posada would come after he was leveled at home plate by Mark Teixeira, who was still playing for Texas and sent Posada flying into the home plate umpire. Posada somehow held on to the ball to record the out, and remained in the game to help cap off the unbelievable comeback.
What made this comeback even more amazing was the fact that the Yanks were without Matsui, Sheffield and Giambi. The team had to rely on hitters like Miguel Cairo to keep them in the game. Cairo actually hit a two-run single to give the Yanks an 11-10 lead in the sixth, which they would quickly relinquish. Apparently, they were saving the best for last.
April 21, 2012: Boston Beatdown
This may be the sweetest regular season comeback of them all. The Red Sox had recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park and were putting on a hit parade just one day after the festivities. Poor Freddy Garcia failed to make it out of the second inning as Boston built a 9-0 lead after five innings.
The Yanks brought a run across in the sixth to make it 9-1, but they were just warming up. The Bombers erupted for seven runs in the seventh, followed by ANOTHER seven runs in the eighth to match the largest comeback in franchise history with 15 unanswered runs in a three inning span to win 15-9.
Nick Swisher had the biggest contribution with a grand slam to account for four of his six RBI. Teixeira hit two homers to drive in six runs of his own. The bulk of the Yankee damage was against former pinstriped reliever Alfredo Aceves, who likely had a painfully long walk back to the dugout after surrendering five earned runs without recording an out.
2001 World Series Game 4, 5: Miracle, Part one and two
This is what I think about when the 2001 World Series is brought up. The ending to the series may have been painful, but these two nights were some of the greatest times to be a Yankee fan.
I don’t have to go too much into the details of this one. Instead, I’ll let the videos do the storytelling. To quickly sum up, the Yanks were on the ropes for two straight nights against Byung-Hyun Kim. Down to their last out in both games, the Yanks responded with some of the most unforgettable moments in World Series history, with both game-tying homers occurring with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.