The Best Yankee Moments of the Decade (2010-2019) – Part 2
Despite not making a World Series appearance in the last decade,, there were several important and memorable Yankee moments from the decade.
Part One of this series appeared on Thursday morning. You can see it here: PART 1.
Here is how I rate the Top 5 Yankees moments from 2010 to 2019:
5) Didi’s three-run homer in the 2017 Wild Card Game
Luis Severino looked terrible in the top of the first inning of this game surrendering three runs to Minnesota’s emerging lineup. The young ace was removed from the game after recording only one out. The Yankees needed to answer quickly to stay competitive in a game where their backs were against the wall.
Brett Gardner worked a leadoff walk from Ervin Santana, and the Yankees were in business. Aaron Judge sliced a line-drive single into centerfield, moving Gardy to third. Gary Sanchez popped out behind home plate to bring up Didi Gregorius.
Calmy staring Santana down–waiting for his pitch–Didi worked the count full. Santana dealt a 96 mile-per-hour fastball low in the zone, and Didi belted it on a line to the short porch in right. Didi’s heroics elevated him in the minds of all Yankee fans when looking back on that 2017 playoff run. Didi the hero!
No man said it better than Yankees’ play-by-play broadcaster Michael Kay: “History, with an exclamation point!” Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit came in the form of a home run to left field at Yankee Stadium on July 9, 2011. The home run came after a single off Cy Young winner David Price earlier in the game, and sent the crowd into a state of uncontrolled excitement since the homer was only Jeter’s third of the season. The first player in franchise history to accrue 3,000 hits, Derek Jeter remains the Yankees all-time hits leader and sits at sixth on the all-time Major League list.
3) Raul Ibanez’ ALDS heroics in 2012
After heading home for Game Three of a tied ALDS against the Orioles, the Yankees were down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth. Manny Machado’s fifth inning homer put Baltimore up by a run, and the game remained relatively quiet until the ninth. With one out, and closer Jim Johnson on the mound for Baltimore, Joe Girardi put in Raul Ibañez to pinch hit for the struggling Alex Rodriguez, who watched glumly from the bench as the Yankees appeared on their way to losing the game. Johnson’s first pitch missed low and inside. His next pitch was hung in the middle of the zone, and Ibañez punished his mistake, sending the ball over the short porch in right. Tie game.
Ibañez came up again to lead off the bottom of the twelth. The first pitch he saw was up and on the outer part of the strike zone, but Ibañez timed his swing perfectly, crushing the ball into the Bronx night for a sweet walk-off victory.
2) Mo’s last appearance
Mariano Rivera ended his farewell tour on September 26th, 2013 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. Losing the meaningless September game 4-0, Joe Girardi (who caught “Mo” from 1996-1999) put in Rivera one last time in the bottom of the eighth with one away as Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” thundered throughout the Stadium. Rivera tipped his cap to the Ray’s dugout as they stood and clapped for him during his warm-up and then promptly retired the first two batters he faced. Coming out again for the top of the ninth, Mo retired the first two batters of the inning. As Rivera walked the mound after retiring the second hitter of the inning, he saw two figures emerge from the dugout: Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte (who was also retiring after the 2013 season). They called for the next pitcher and embraced Rivera on the mound. As Mo and Pettitte hugged, Rivera sobbed into his teammate’s shoulder while the crowd roared in support of one of the most beloved Yankees of all time.
1) Jeter’s walkoff single in his last Yankee Stadium at-bat
Derek Jeter was kneeling over in the on deck circle in front of the Yankees’ first base dugout as a recording of the late Bob Sheppard called the Captain up to the plate for the final time at Yankee Stadium. With Jeter’s parents in attendance, the crowd was raucous and on its feet as the beloved shortstop knocked the donut off of his bat and strode to the plate. “DEREK JETER!” The sellout crowd exclaimed in unison, repeating the chant until Jeter lowered his right arm and settled into the batter’s box. The score was 5-5. Baltimore was in town, visiting for another meaningless September game–with one out in the bottom of the ninth and a man (Antoan Richardson, a pinch runner for DH Jose Pirela) on second. Jeter had a chance to be a hero in his last at bat at the Stadium.
Orioles’ righty Evan Meek dealt high to Jeter and the Captain timed his swing perfectly, driving the ball on a line to right field. Richardson chugged around third, beating the throw to the plate…
“Did you have any doubt?!” Michael Kay shouted from the broadcast booth, “Derek Jeter, where fantasy becomes reality!” I still get goosebumps every time I watch that clip and hear those words, remembering the hero and role model that Derek Jeter was for me growing up. What better way to end an illustrious career than with a walk-off? The script couldn’t have been more perfect for Jeter that night: even in a meaningless game, everyone watching at Yankee Stadium or at home knows that it was one of the most meaningful moments of the decade for the Yankees.