The 2019 regular season is now behind the New York Yankees, so let’s take a look at their top five moments of this season.
With all their injuries, home runs, next-man-ups, “Savages” puns, bat-banging celebrations and much more, the 2019 New York Yankees will certainly go down as a team to remember in Yankees lore. While fans everywhere have their minds set on the team’s upcoming ALDS matchup with the Minnesota Twins, it’s easy to get caught up in the playoffs and forget just how much has happened in this tumultuous Yankees season.
Any 100+ win team is bound to have more than its fair share of memorable moments from the season, and this Yankees team is certainly no exception. With that in mind, here’s a look at five of the most exciting, historic and simply unforgettable moments from this wild 2019 regular season.
5. September 1st- Back-to-back homers from Brett Gardner and Mike Ford walk off the A’s for the second day in a row
The A’s were a team the Yankees had some trouble with this season, as they lost each of their first four games against them, including a three-game sweep in Oakland in late August. Just a week after that sweep, Oakland came to the Bronx in the midst of their hunt for a Wild Card spot while the Yankees focused on further narrowing their magic number to clinch the AL East. After dropping the first game of the series on Friday, August 30th, the Yankees battled back on Saturday to beat Oakland 4-3 in 11 innings on a DJ LeMahieu walk-off homer. But the weekend’s heroics didn’t end there, as Sunday’s game was even more exciting.
The teams matched zeroes for the first six innings, but Oakland pushed across four runs in the 7th and 8th innings to go up 4-0. The Yankees countered by scratching across three runs in the 8th inning, including a big two-run single by Didi Gregorius off of Lou Trivino to slice Oakland’s lead to 1. A’s closer Liam Hendriks came in with one out in the 8th inning to attempt to record a
4. May 17th- Gio Urshela walks off the Rays as Yankees reclaim first place in the AL East
The Yankees spent the first leg of the 2019 season battling the Rays and Red Sox for first place in the AL East before eventually pulling away from the pack as the season carried on. When the Rays came to town in May for the teams’ second series matchup (and first in the Bronx) of the year, the division race was especially close, with Tampa entering the series up half a game on the Yankees and four games on the Red Sox. The Yankees took two of three from Tampa that weekend to claim their spot atop the AL East, but the highlight of the weekend was easily Friday night’s come from behind win. Tampa took a 3-1 lead over the Yankees into the 9th inning and brought in closer Jose Alvarado to face the heart of the Yankees’ order.
Luke Voit lead off the inning with a homer to cut the Rays’ lead to 3-2, and after a Gary Sanchez single, Gleyber Torres double and an intentional walk of Clint Frazier loaded the bases, Alvarado uncorked a wild pitch and pinch-runner Thairo Estrada scampered home to tie the game at 3. A Cameron Maybin fielder’s choice groundout then brought Gio Urshela to the plate with two runners in scoring position, and Urshela took advantage of this opportunity to prove that he was here to stay on the 2019 Yankees. He laced a double over the head of Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier to score Frazier and seal the 4-3
3. April 30th- CC Sabathia becomes the 17th pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts
As the only game on this list that ended in a loss rather than a win, the highlight of this game was not a big win for the Yankees but rather a historic personal accolade for an all-time Yankees fan favorite. CC Sabathia entered that night’s matchup against the Diamondbacks with 2,997 strikeouts, three away from the 3,000 strikeout plateau that only 16 pitchers and just two left-handers had ever achieved before. After striking out David Peralta and Christian Walker to start the third inning and put himself just one shy of history, Sabathia punched out former Yankees catcher John Ryan Murphy for the paramount #3,000. Sabathia and Murphy were close from Murphy’s days catching him with the Yankees, and Sabathia actually noted after the game that he didn’t want Murphy to be the victim of his milestone.
“I didn’t want it to be Murph”, he said. “
2. April 17th- Brett Gardner’s go-ahead grand slam leads Yankees to a comeback win and sweep of Red Sox
It may be difficult to remember now since we all know how wildly successful the Yankees’
The Red Sox had gotten off to a similarly slow start, and both teams were in desperate need of a big series win over their rival to flip the script on their season. James Paxton turned in what was at the time his most impressive start as a Yankee on April 16th, as his eight innings of shutout ball propelled the Yankees to an 8-0 drubbing of the Sox. The Yankees entered the next night looking to complete a 2-game sweep of the Sox, but J.A. Happ gave up two homers and three runs in 6.1 innings and Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi silenced the Yankees bats for the first six innings, as the Yankees entered the bottom of the 7th inning down 3-1. After Brandon Workman gave up a leadoff single to Clint Frazier and issued walks to Mike Tauchman and Austin Romine, the Red Sox turned to Ryan Brasier to face Brett Gardner with the bases loaded and one out. With an 0-2 count, Gardner drove a 96.7 MPH fastball from Brasier over the right-field wall, giving the Yankees a 5-3 lead with a grand slam- also the 100th home run of his career.
After Adam Ottavino worked out of trouble in the 8th inning and Aroldis Chapman shut the door on the Red Sox in the 9th, the Yankees had officially recorded a 2-game sweep of the Red Sox in the teams’ first matchup of the year. This sweep clearly lit a fire under the team, as they went 9-2 in their next 11 games, gaining four games of ground in the AL East race before they eventually surpassed the Rays in May.
1. July 23rd- Aaron Hicks’ diving catch in 10th inning seals wild win against Twins
No adjective that can be used to describe a baseball game could ever do this game justice, but maybe some numbers can. Five hours and three minutes of total game time. 14 pitchers used. 26 runs. 35 hits. 109 plate appearances. Four blown saves. It was a truly incredible game, the definition of a stomach-turner. After Domingo Germán’s rough outing put the Twins ahead 8-2 through four innings, the Yankees fought back and took a 10-9 lead in the top of the 8th inning on a two-run double by Didi Gregorius, only for the Twins to promptly take the lead back in the bottom half of the inning on a towering Miguel Sano 457-foot two-run home run off of Zack Britton. Aaron Hicks one-upped Sano with a two-run homer of his own in the top of the 9th inning, as his two-out shot off of Taylor Rogers put the Yankees up 12-11.
The Twins then rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th against Aroldis Chapman as Jorge Polanco’s sacrifice fly plated Ehire Adrianza to knot the score at 12. After a Gleyber Torres RBI single and Kohl Stewart wild pitch scoring Austin Romine put the Yankees back up 14-12 in the 10th, the team called on Adam Ottavino to close out the seemingly never-ending game for the bottom half of the inning. Ottavino recorded two outs but walked three hitters in the process, and the Yankees summoned Chad Green to face the dangerous Max Kepler with the game (yet again) on the line.
Kepler lined a 96.9 MPH fastball from Green into the left-center field gap, but Aaron Hicks lunged for the ball that seemed destined for extra bases and secured it in his glove, making an incredible diving play and finally putting an end to the most exhilarating game of the Yankees’ season.