Last weekend, the Yankees finished off a homestand that saw them seemingly (hopefully) get back on track by winning two consecutive games on walk-off hits against Nationals.
While that’s not a rare occurrence, it’s also not something that happens every season for the Yankees. Notching wins of those varieties back-to-back like that is also a lot of fun. If it’s during an overall winning steak, it can lead to a feeling like a team is invincible, even if that’s not true.
In honor of the Yankees adding to their walk-off streak history, here are five of the best and most entertaining from that legacy.
September 25-26, 1943
The 1943 Yankees won 16 games via walk-off, including three different streaks of them. We’re going to focus on the last of them, where they won three-straight that way.
In the first, Tigers’ pitching retired all but six Yankees’ hitters from the fourth through 13th innings. Problem is, Detroit didn’t do anything themselves, and Bill Dickey eventually singled home the winning run in the 14th in a 2-1 win. The victory was an especially important one for New York, as it clinched their third AL pennant in a row.
The next day, Detroit was gone, but Cleveland was now in town for a doubleheader. In the first, the Yankees took the lead in the eighth, blew it in the top of the ninth, only for Charlie Keller to win it with a home run in the bottom half.
In the final game of this streak, the Yankees gave up an even bigger lead in the eighth, going from 5-1 up to having to go to extra innings. However, they again got things together, and won when Tuck Stainbeck hit a bases-loaded single in the 10th.
It was a good way to cap off a season where they won 10.3 percent of their games via walk-off and eventually secured their 10th World Series title.
August 6, 1961
Plenty of times over the years, the Yankees have won both games of a doubleheader via walk-off, including in the streak just above. Arguably fewer came in as weird of circumstances as when they did it during the championship season of 1961.
In the first game of the day, they fell behind in the top of the 10th after Whitey Ford allowed a homer in his 10th inning of work. Johnny Blanchard answered with a home run of his own to keep the game going. It went all the way to the 15th, where a Yogi Berra groundout led to a force out at second, but allowed the winning run to score at home. The second game was not as eventful as the first, but also ended on a walk-off, when Clete Boyer’s ninth-inning RBI single broke a 2-2 tie.
What adds to the remarkability of that doubleheader walk-off sweep is that two days before, the Yankees also beat Minnesota on a walk-off. Two days after, they won the second game of a series against the Angels on a walk-off. Throw in a walk-off over the Athletics a few days prior to the 6th, and at one point the Yankees won eight of nine games with five coming of the walk-off variety.
May 15-17, 2009
Arguably the most famous run of consecutive walk-offs came in 2009, which was a year full of them. After getting off to a .500 start and were 4.5 games back in the AL East, the Yankees hosted the Twins for a series starting May 15th.
In the opener, the Yankees trailed by two going into the ninth, but rallied off Twins closer Joe Nathan (that would be a theme all year long), scoring three runs, capped off by Melky Cabrera’s two-run single to win it. The next day, an eighth inning rally took the game to extra innings, where Alex Rodríguez’s two-run shot in the 11th off Craig Breslow made it two in a row. To cap things off, Johnny Damon won a third straight with a 10th-inning dinger to complete a walk-off filled weekend in the Bronx.
Despite that excitement, the Yankees didn’t gain any ground in the AL East race, and ended the third of those games still 4.5 back. However, they used that run as a springboard to go 9-4 over the rest of May, and ended the month in first place. A little more than two months later, they took over the AL East lead for good. Several more walk-offs later, the Yankees would bring home their 27th World Series championship that October.
September 21-22, 2012
Despite how it ended, the 2012 postseason is fondly remember for the heroics of Raúl Ibañez. Before he took any playoff at-bats as a Yankee, he began those heroics late in the regular season.
In a Friday night game, Rafael Soriano blew a 1-0 lead over Oakland in the ninth inning on a long ball by Brandon Moss, only for his catcher, Russell Martin, to bail him out with a 10th-inning home run off Sean Doolittle.
The real craziness came the next day, however.
The Yankees and A’s played a wild, back-and-forth game on Saturday that went into the 13th inning tied at five. In the top of the 13th, Oakland seemingly put the game away with four runs. However, the Yankees answered with three-straight hits to start the bottom of the inning. A wild pitch and a sac fly scored two of those runners, bringing Ibañez to the plate, who had already gone deep once. He delivered again with a two-run bomb to bring the Yankees back after they were down to a two-percent chance according to win expectancy.
The next inning, the Yankees won on an error, and the stage was set for more heroics yet to come.
August 29-30, 2020
The following afternoon, the Yankees were back to being the home team and blew a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth. Cut to the bottom of the ninth and former Yankee Dellin Betances was on the mound for the Mets. After a Clint Frazier walk, Jordy Mercer did the only good thing he did in his Yankee tenure and singled him over to third. A Betances wild pitch with Kratz at the plate allowed Frazier to score and win the game.
In the second W of this streak, the Yankees trailed 7-2 going into the seventh and final inning of a doubleheader. (Again, thanks COVID rules.) They were then quickly down to their last out after two of the first three batters of the inning were retired. However, a combination of Mike Ford, Tyler Wade, and Thairo Estrada managed to keep the inning alive long enough for Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks to deliver big hits that eventually tied the game. Gio Urshela then singled home the winning run an inning later to finish off a very weird run of games at Yankee Stadium.