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This Day in Yankees History: Clemens tosses a gem in WBC

Roger Clemens dominates Team South Africa; the Yankees sign José Quintana but do not reap the rewards.

World Baseball Classic - USA v South Korea

Welcome to the relaunched This Day in Yankees History. Now that spring training is officially underway, it’s time to get amped for the upcoming season. These daily posts will highlight two or three key moments in Yankees history on a given date, as well as recognize players born on the day. Hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane with us!

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This Day in Yankees History (March 10)

15 years ago

The United States advances to the second round of the World Baseball Classic as former/future Yankees hurler Roger Clemens spun 4.1 innings of one-hit ball against South Africa en route to a 17-0 victory. The game was stopped after five innings due to mercy rule, meaning that the 43-year-old future Hall of Famer recorded all but two outs for Team USA.

The United States finished in a three-way tie in Pool B with Mexico and Canada at 2-1, but they still advanced due to tiebreakers. Less than a week later, they were surprisingly dispatched from the WBC in another round-robin pool when Mexico beat them, 2-1, allowing eventual champion Japan to move on to the final round instead.

13 years ago

The Yankees made a small move that no one noticed at the time, signing a 19-year-old lefty pitcher from Colombia who had been cut loose by the Mets the previous summer while serving a drug suspension. His name was José Quintana, and he could’ve been a steal.

For the next four years, Quintana slowly rose in the Yankees’ system, though it took him until August 2010 to earn a shot at A-ball. In 2011 at age 22, he had a 2.91 ERA and 3.15 FIP in 102 innings with High-A Tampa, albeit in only 12 starts. After the season, Quintana became a minor league free agent and the Yankees didn’t make much of an effort to re-sign him. They thought he was a fringe prospect and only offered him another minor league deal.

Quintana found a team willing to give him a 40-man roster spot in the White Sox. They signed him, and despite only a handful of starts in Double-A, the big league club was in need of pitching and decided to give him a shot. By the end of May, Quintana was in the majors for good; he has since posted 25.7 career rWAR in 247 starts and is now entering his 10th MLB season. Whoops.

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Birthdays

Happy birthday to former reliever Steve Howe!

Howe won the 1981 NL Rookie of the Year and played 12 seasons in the majors, 6 of which came in pinstripes. Howe signed with the Yankees in 1991, despite not having stepped on a baseball field in four years. In 1994, he recorded 15 saves along with a 1.80 ERA as New York’s closer. Howe was a member of the eventual World Series champion Yankees of 1996, but the 38-year-old was released after a 6.35 ERA in 25 games. He never pitched in the majors again.

In Howe’s Yankees career, he threw 227 innings with a 3.57 ERA and 116 strikeouts. Sadly, the lefty battled substance abuse throughout his time in the pros, and he died young from a pickup truck accident in 2006. He was only 48.

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We thank the Baseball Reference and Nationalpastime.com for providing background information for these posts.