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A Yankees error-filled gift exchange

In the season of giving, let’s look at some times when the Yankees gave and received some very timely presents.

New York Mets’ Luis Castillo reacts after missing a single b Photo by James Keivom/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

The Christmas season is a time of giving, and over the next couple days, millions of gifts will be exchanged by people worldwide. To get into the spirit, let’s take a look at some gifts the Yankees have given and received on the field over the years. The best gifts that teams can often grant each other on the field during the game are often some bad, back-breaking errors.

To check out some of these “gifts,” we’re going to take a look at the most consequential errors in games in Yankees’ history, according to Win Probability Added. We’ll start with some gifts given away by the Yankees.

3) vs. Red Sox - July 11, 1959

(WPA: -0.565)

Having already lost a run off a 3-1 lead thanks to a Ted Williams RBI single, the Yankees still held a one-run edge when Pete Daley stepped to the plate against Ryne Duren in the eighth inning of a game back in July 1959 (one of the few pennant-less seasons in the ‘50s). Duren seemingly won the battle to get out of the jam when he got Daley to ground a ball to third. However, the normally steady Tony Kubek erred on the play, allowing both runners to score, and flipping the game to a 4-3 Boston lead.

To make matters worse, the Yankees ended up tying the game after that, but still lost it anyway. Kubek made up for his error with a game-tying homer in the ninth. However, Don Buddin hit a walk-off grand slam for Boston in the 10th inning.

2) vs. Cleveland - August 21, 1930

(WPA: -0.644)

The Yankees held a one run lead going into the top of the ninth in this one. While pitcher Hank Johnson put a pair of runners on, he also recorded two outs in the inning, and seemed to seal the win when he got Ed Montague to hit a pop up. Unfortunately, Tony Lazzeri couldn’t make the catch, making an error as both runners raced around to score, giving Cleveland the lead.

Somewhat like the game above, the Yankees went on to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, only to see an inside-the-park homer by Dick Porter doom them in the 12th inning.

1) vs. Orioles - June 4, 1988

(WPA: -0.831)

Whew boy, this is a bad one. After rallying to tie the game in the top of the ninth, the Yankees took the lead in the 10th. However, Dave Righetti couldn’t seal the deal in the bottom of the inning, and the game rolled on. In the 14th, the Yankees’ offense broke through again thanks to RBI hits from Mike Pagliarulo and Dave Winfield. With a two-run lead, Hipólito Peña took the mound trying to seal the deal.

The inning couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start as a Bob Meacham error was followed by a single and a walk. The same sorry Baltimore club that had dropped 21 games in a row to start the ‘88 campaign had now loaded the bases. However, Peña struck out the next two batters, getting the Yankees an out away.

That brought Cal Ripken Jr. to the plate. The future Hall of Famer scorched a ball at Pagliarulo, who did a good job at knocking down the ball. However, the throw from his knees evaded first baseman Gary Ward — who arguably could’ve done better. The ball got into the very deep foul territory at old Memorial Stadium, allowing all three runners to score, with Billy Ripken crossing the plate as the winning run in a game that lasted nearly six hours.


Now, let’s get into the good half, and look at some very nice gifts received by the Yankees.

3) vs. Browns - May 25, 1935

(WPA: +0.468)

After taking 6-2 lead going into the top of the ninth, the Yankees suddenly found themselves down to their last two outs in the bottom of the ninth in one 1935 game. A combination of Johnny Broaca and Vito Tamulis coughed up five runs to the St. Louis Browns, suddenly putting the Yankees in a 7-6 hole.

In the bottom of the ninth, Earle Combs drew a lead-off walk, brining Red Rolfe to the plate. He hit a groundball to third baseman Harlond Clift, but Clift made an error on the play, sending the ball into center field. Adding to that, center fielder Sam West then added to that with another error on the same play. That allowed Combs to score, with Rolfe ended up at second base. A couple batters later, Lazzeri singled home Rolfe, completing the rally.

2) vs. Tigers - June 14, 1955

(WPA: +0.488)

The Yankees were down three runs going into the bottom of the ninth inning against the Tigers back in June 1955. They got one run back thanks to Irv Noren’s second dinger of the night, and an error on a groundball led to Detroit going to the bullpen and replacing starter Ned Garver after eight solid innings.

Al Aber replaced him and quickly got two outs and induced a Andy Carey grounder right back to him for what should’ve ended the game. Except, Aber threw the ball away for an error. Not only did Mickey Mantle — on base after the first error — score, but Carey managed to race all the way around for a second run, tying the game. An inning later, Mantle hit a walk-off single, completing the wild comeback.

1) vs. Mets - June 12, 2009

(WPA: +0.817)

Like anything else was going to be here.

Down 8-7 and down to their final out in an interleague game against the Mets, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate with two runners on. After working the count to 3-1, he got under a Francisco Rodríguez pitch and seemingly sent it towards Luis Castillo for an easy, game-ending popup. Except...

Derek Jeter scoring the tying run on the error, and Mark Teixeira raced all the way around from first to win the game. The Yankees have won games on walk-off errors before, but this remains the only one to have come when they’re losing and down to their final out.