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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 24 – July 12, 2003

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 2003…

***

On Saturday, July 12, 2003, the Yankees found themselves in Toronto facing the Blue Jays. The Yankees came into this game with a 56-35 record. The Blue Jays were 48-45.

The Yankees sent future Hall-of-Famer Mike Mussina (10-5) faced future Hall-of-Famer Roy Halladay (12-2).

The visiting Yankees sent the following line-up against the Jays:

Alfonso Soriano – 2b

Derek Jeter – ss

Jason Giambi – 1b

Bernie Williams – cf

Hideki Matsui – cf

Jorge Posada – c

Robin Ventura – 3b

Karim Garcia – rf

Curtis Pride – lf

It’s interesting that Bernie Williams was the DH while Hideki Matsui was in center field. 2003 was Matsui’s first year in pinstripes. He appeared in center field in 46 games that year. Over the rest of his career, Matsui would play center only 31 more times (3 times in 2004 and 28 times in 2005).

The Blue Jays countered with:

Shannon Stewart – lf

Frank Catalanotto – dh

Vernon Wells – cf

Carlos Delgado – 1b

Greg Myers – c

Eric Hinske – 3b

Reed Johnson – rf

Howie Clark – 2b

Chris Woodward – ss

***

On this day, Roy Halladay pitched like he might go to the Hall-of-Fame one day… He must have brought his best stuff because the Yankees played small ball going for a quick run early.

Alfonso Soriano reached on a error by Eric Hinske. Derek Jeter (a future Hall-of-Famer himself) bunted Soriano to second. Jason Giambi then struck out and Bernie Williams grounded out. That was it for the Yankees in the first.

On this day, Mike Mussina pitched okay, but it wasn’t his greatest game. He didn’t look, necessarily, like a Hall-of-Famer. In the first inning, Vernon Wells hit a two-out home run giving the Jays a 1-0 lead.

In the second inning, the Yankees managed to get a single from Jorge Posada around three ground outs.

Mike Mussina had a strong second inning. He allowed a lead-off walk to Greg Myers, then retired the next three batters, the last two (Reed Johnson and Howie Clark) by strikeout.

Roy Halladay set the Yankees down in order in the third, striking out Curtis Pride and Derek Jeter.

In the bottom of the third, Derek Jeter made an error allowing Frank Catalanotto to reach base, but no further damage was done.

Halladay set the Yankees down in order in the fourth – all on ground outs.

The Blue Jays found themselves scoring again in the bottom of the fourth. Carlos Delgado singled,. Greg Myers singled. The Yankees almost got out of the inning when Eric Hinske grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, but, Alas, Reed Johnson singled to plate Delgado giving the Jays a 2-0 lead.

In the 5th, the Yankees went down in order.

So did the Jays.

In the top of the 6th, the Yankees made a game of it… with two outs, Derek Jeter singled. Jason Giambi followed this by hitting a homer run to tie the game at 2-2.

The Blue Jays then went down in order and the teams went into the final three frames tied.

Roy Halladay allowed just a two-out single to Robin Ventura (Enrique Wilson then pinch ran for Ventura) before retiring the side.

In the bottom of the seventh, Jays took the lead. It wasn’t pretty, and it all happened with two outs and it started with no other than Howie Clark who singled. Chris Woodward then singled. Shannon Stewart was then hit by a pitch to load the bases…

Frank Catalanotto then hit a two-run single giving the Blue Jays a 4-2 lead.

Vernon Wells then flew out to deep center field to end the inning and Mike Mussina’s late afternoon (it had been a 4:05 p.m. start time).

The Yankees responded in the 8th by going down in order.

Then it all fell apart.

Chris Hammond, who pitched pretty well for the Yankees in 2003 (3-2, 2.86, 1 save in 62 games) had an evening to forget. It went like this:

Carlos Delgado singled

Greg Myers singled

Eric Hinske reached on an E-9 (Karim Garcia) to load the bases.

That ended the game for Chris Hammond. Antonio Osuna then came in to pitch. It got worse:

Reed Johnson doubled home two runs.

Howie Clark then singled home two more.

“And when the dust had lifted and they saw what had occurred, the Jays were pummeling the Yankees… it was getting absurd.”

One out later, Jason Werth doubled home Howie Clark to give the Blue Jays a 9-2 lead.

One out after that, Vernon Wells drove home Werth with the Blue Jays’ tenth run.

The game (finally) went to the ninth inning.

Juan Acevedo came in to pitch for Toronto. With one out, Bernie Williams walked. A wild pitch moved him to second. A Hideki Matsui single moved him to third… then a Jorge Posad singled scored him. Juan Acevedo was taken out of the game.

Trever Miller arrived on the scene and retired Enrique Wilson and pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra.

The Blue Jays were victorious 10-3.

***

The Yankees wouldn’t play on July 12 in 2004, 2005, or 2006 thanks to the All-Star Break. They would return to action on Thursday, July 12, 2007. On that day they would find themselves in Tampa Bay facing the Devil Rays. Andy Pettitte would take the hill for the Yankees looking to end their losing streak on July 12 and win for the first time on that day in the 21st century.

***

Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 18-6

(There were no games played on July 12 in 1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999, and 2000.)

Hideki Matsui on July 12 (to date): 1 for 4 (.250)

Derek Jeter on July 12 (to date): 7 for 19 (.368), 4 runs, 3 RBI, 5 SO, 2 BB

Mariano Rivera on July 12 (to date): 2 innings, no runs, 1 hit, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 save, 1 blown save (0.00)

Don Mattingly on July 12 (in his career on July 12): 12 for 31 (.387), 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 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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