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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 18- July 12, 1992

By now our readers know the story… I am looking back to see how the Yankees performed on my birthday each year since I’ve been born and then telling the story of what took place on that summer day.

As always, whenever I do research like this, my first two stops are always Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference.

Let’s head back to 1992 to see what took place in the Yankees game that night…

***

On Sunday, July 12, 1992, the Yankees were at home against the Mariners. This would be the baseball’s last day of play as the All-Star Break began the next day. This was the last game of a four game series. The Yankees had already dropped two out of three games. The Mariners came into this game with a dismal 35-53 record. The Yankees were a less unimpressive 42-44.

Mark Grant (0-1) took the mound for the Mariners. He would be making only his third start of the year after being moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Shawn Hillegas (0-3) was the Yankees starter. He was making only his second start of the season. A Cy Young caliber match-up this was not.

***

The Mariners sent the following line-up against the Yankees:

Omar Visquel – ss

Shane Turner – 3b

Ken Griffey, Jr. – cf

Edgar Martinez – dh

Tino Martinez – 1b

Jay Buhner – rf

Dave Cochrane – lf

Dave Valle – c

Harold Reynolds – 2b

The Yankees countered with the following:

Andy Stankiewicz – 2b

Dion James – cf

Mel Hall -lf

Don Mattingly – 1b

Danny Tartabull -rf

Kevin Maas – dh

Matt Nokes – c

Charlie Hayes – 3b

Randy Velarde – ss

***

Omar Visquel started off a game that would have 22 hits with a single. He was then caught stealing. Shane Turner then walked. (It would be that kind of day.) Ken Griffey then reached on an error by Randy Velarde. (It would be that kind of day.) Edgar Martinez then drove home Turner to make the score 1-0 in favor of the Mariners. (It would be that kind of day.) Tino Martinez then hit a sacrifice fly to up the Mariners’ lead to 2-0. In what might be the most unlikely event ever, Edgar Martinez then stole second. This actually wasn’t that unlikely in 1992 as Edgar stole 14 bases that year. (He never stole more than seven in any other season.) Mercifully, Jay Buhner then grounded out to end the top of the first inning.

The Yankees got a run back in the bottom of the first on a Dion James homer. Don Mattingly and Danny Tartabull also singled, but they didn’t score.

It would be that kind of day… In the top of the second, Dave Cochrane walked, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on an Harold Reynolds single. 3-1 Mariners.

The Yankees didn’t score in the bottom of the seconds.

The Mariners returned the favor by not scoring in their half of the third.

In an inning that truly demonstrates the ineptness of the early 1990 Yankees, in the bottom of the third, the Yankees worked three walks in the inning (Dion James, Mel Hall, and Danny Tartabull all walked) and then had Kevin Mass strikeout to end the frame without scoring any runs.

Neither team scored in the fourth inning.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Mariners managed three singles ( Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Dave Cochrane (RBI)) to take a 4-1 lead.

It was in the bottom of the fifth that the Yankees finally took control of the game. With one out, Mel Hall walked. With two outs, Danny Tartabull walked. That brought up Kevin Maas again. Mark Grant then threw a wild pitch putting runners on second and third. Kevin Maas then doubled to plate two runs making the score 4-3 with Matt Nokes coming up. The smart move was to replace right-handed Mark Grant with lefty reliever Dennis Powell – and that’s just what the Mariners did. Matt Nokes had great power, but he couldn’t hit lefties…

In 1992, Matt Nokes batted .197 against lefties…

But he also hit five homers off left-handed pitchers that year – and this was one of them. The Yankees were on top 5-4.

In the sixth, the Yankees went to a lefty, Greg Cadaret, with two outs and a man on to face Ken Griffey, Jr. Cadaret won the battle by getting Griffey to ground out.

Erik Hanson was brought in to pitch for the Seattle Nine. The Yankees promptly added to their lead on singles by Andy Stankiewicz and Dion James followed by a run scoring fielder’s choice from Mel Hall. The Yankees were now up 6-4.

It would be that kind of day…

In the seventh, Edgar Martinez singled off Greg Cadaret. Tino Martinez then singled. Jay Buhner, a big strong right-handed batter who often feasted on lefties like Greg Cadaret then came up. Buhner must have been hungry. He blasted a three-run homer to catapult the Mariners back into the lead at 7-6. Greg Cadaret then walked Dave Cochrane and was promptly pulled from the game. Jerry Nielsen, a pitcher who never lost a game in his big league career, came in and got the Yankees out of the inning.

(Jerry Nielsen’s lifetime record in 30 career Major League games was 1-0. His one win came on August 24, 1992 against the Brewers – a game in which he pitched a grand total of one inning.)

Now losing again, the Yankees responded by going down in order.

When the Mariners failed to score in the eighth, the Yankees responded by doing the same.

When the Mariners failed to score in the ninth, the Yankees came up, down by just one run with a chance to head into the All-Star Break with a win. The Mariners turned to Russ swan to close out the game.

Swan struck out Roberto Kelly (pinch hitting for Dion James).

Mel Hall then grounded out.

And that brought up Don Mattingly…

Remember, this was 1992, not 1986. This was Don Mattingly. He wasn’t DON MATTINGLY any longer. This Don Mattingly was a .279 batter.

He grounded out to shortstop.

Ball game over, the Yankees lost.

***

This game would be the last game the Yankees would play during this early 1990’s dismal period. In 1993 and 1994, July 12 fell during the All-Star Break.

The next time the Yankees would play on July 12 would be 1995. By then, it was a new team with new hopes and new excitement. A rookie named Andy Pettitte would start for the Yankees that day. It was would be his 9th career start in his young big league career.

***

Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 15-3

(There were no games played on July 12 in 1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1988, and 1989)

Don Mattingly on July 12 (through 1992): 10 for 28 (.357), 1 2b, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 1 BB, SO

Graig Nettles (as a Yankee on July 12): 33 AB, 7 hits (.212), 1 run, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks. 1 RBI (I had hoped that my favorite player would have done better on my birthday.)

#BirthdayBaseball

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