The Sandy Alomar Jr. home run. Midges attacking Joba Chamberlain. Lonnie Chisenhall being awarded first base on a pitch that hit the knob of his bat, and Francisco Lindor following with a grand slam after Joe Girardi decided not to challenge Dan Iassogna’s call.
Now the Yankees have to beat the Indians in three straight games or go home for the winter. “The challenge is to win one game,” Girardi said on Sunday afternoon. “Win one game tonight. That’s the challenge that you express to your club, that you can’t look too far ahead, what we have to do. You have to look at we need to win a game tonight. And then you go from there and you see where you’re at.
At least the Yankees are back in the Bronx, where they went 51-30 in the regular season and beat the Twins in the playoffs. Because Progressive Field, formerly known as Jacobs Field, is a House of Horrors for the Yankees.
Every 10 years, the Yankees go into Cleveland and the Indians pull out a memorable win, or an infamous one depending how you look at it.
The first was in 1997. The Yankees came in as defending champions and had won 10 more games than the Indians during the regular season, even though the Indians had the home-field advantage.
New York led 2-1 in the series and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 4 against Orel Hershiser. Dwight Gooden gave up one run in 5.2 innings, and the Yankees entered the eighth six outs away from the ALCS.
With two outs in the inning, Sandy Alomar homered to right off Mariano Rivera. Cleveland would win the game against Ramiro Mendoza in the bottom of the ninth to force Game 5.
The Indians jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Andy Pettitte, but the Yankees fought back and cut it to 4-3. Facing Jose Mesa in the ninth, Paul O’Neill doubled with two outs and was pinch-run for by Scott Pose (how’s that for some trivia?). But Bernie Williams flew out to end the series. Game 5 is an afterthought to the infamous Alomar homer.
The playoff series loss the only hiccup the Yankees had from 1996-2000.
It was a different era when the teams met again in the 2007 ALDS. Joe Torre was managing for his job. And managing a roster that included MVP Alex Rodriguez.
The series started well as Johnny Damon homered off CC Sabathia but the Indians clobbered Chien-Mien Wang and won 12-3.
Then the infamous Game 2. A Melky Cabrera homer was all the scoring over the first seven innings. In the bottom of the eighth, Joba Chamberlain was infamously surrounded by midges and walked Grady Sizemore. Sizemore moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced on a sac bunt and scored on another wild pitch as Torre didn’t remove his team from the field. That’s the moment that is remembered, not Travis Hafner’s walk-off single in the 11th off Luis Vizcaino.
The Yankees weren’t officially eliminated, only down 2-0. Roger Clemens made the final start of his career in Game 3 and gave up three runs in 2.1 innings. The Yankees survived as Phil Hughes came out of the bullpen, Johnny Damon hit a three-run homer and Robinson Cano delivered a three-run single in the Yankees 8-4 win. It would be the final win of the Joe Torre era.
Chien-Mien Wang only recorded three outs in Game 4 as the Indians finished off the Bombers with a 6-4 win behind Paul Byrd.
Now the teams meet again, in part because of Joe Girardi being able to get 26 outs from his bullpen in the Wild Card game against Minnesota.
By now, you know the Indians took Game 1 and then came back from an 8-3 deficit to win Game 2 9-8 in 13 innings, with help from the challenge that wasn’t. If the Yankees don’t come back to win the series, it will be the controversial play in the sixth inning on Friday which will be remembered more than the actual clincher.