As Yankee fans, we’re privy to many exciting and memorable moments. We have Aaron Boone taking Tim Wakefield deep, Derek Jeter diving into the stands, David Cone throwing a perfect game on the same day Don Larsen threw out the first pitch, Jim Leyritz turning a World Series around with one swing of the bat … I could go on and on, but we only have so much bandwidth to spare. The first half of the 2010 season was no different, as the Yanks again supplied plenty of memorable moments.
Today we’re going to vote for which first half moment was our favorite. After some consultation with Ben, Joe, and a few others, I picked out six of the best moments of the season’s first three months and present them below, not that you’ll need the refresher course. Once you relive the magic, vote in the poll at the bottom of the post.
April 7th: Granderson takes Papelbon deep (video)
The season was just two games old at this point, but new centerfielder Curtis Granderson had already made his mark in pinstripes by homering in his very first plate appearance of the year. After splitting the first two games of the series, the Yanks and Boston headed into extra innings tied at one in the third game. Jonathan Papelbon was on the bump for the Red Sox in the 10th inning, having already thrown a perfect 9th on just ten pitches. The first batter of extra innings was Granderson, who fouled off a first pitch fastball before connecting with a chest-high heater on pitch number two. The ball landed several rows deep in the right field seats, giving the Yanks a lead they would protect for the win. It takes quite a bit to win over Yankee fans, but hitting a pair of homers against the Sox in the first three games of the season is a good start.
April 21st: Hughes flirts with a no-hitter (video)
I wouldn’t call it controversial, but the team’s decision to go with Phil Hughes as the fifth starter in 2010 certainly wasn’t unanimously agreed with by the fans. It took Phil all of two starts to prove the Yanks right. After a solid outing against the Angels first time out, Hughes took the mound in front of his parents in Oakland and simply dominated the A’s. He started the game by striking out Cliff Pennington before walking Daric Barton on four pitches, but that was all the A’s would get for a while. Hughes retired the next 20 batters he faced, and there he was in the 8th inning just six outs away from a no-hitter with a very manageable pitch count of 85. Unfortunately, long-time Athletic Eric Chavez singled on a first pitch fastball off Hughes (literally) to start the 8th, Oakland’s first base hit of the game. Phil faced three more batters before giving way to the bullpen, and even though he didn’t finish off the no-no or even the game, he showed everyone why the Yanks were right to make him the fifth starter.
May 8th: Tex goes deep, again and again and again (video)
Mark Teixeira’s early season slumps have become a rite of spring, and things seemed to be turning the corner in early May, just like last season. The Yanks were back in Boston with Tex sporting a .181/.328/.295 batting line, though he got the scoring started with a 3rd inning run scoring single. That was his least productive hit of the day. Two innings later he took Clay Buchholz deep to right for a solo shot, and then two innings after that he did the exact same thing to Ramon Ramirez. Two homers from Tex were a godsend given his performance to that point (he had two homers total coming into the game), but he tacked on a two run shot in the 9th off outfielder turned mop-up man Jonathan Van Every for his third homer of the game. Teixeira raised his season OPS from .623 to .740 in this one game, simultaneously becoming the first Yankee to have a three homer game in Fenway since some dude named Lou Gehrig.
May 14th: A-Rod slams the Twins (video)
Much like Teixeira, the 2010 season started off a little slowly for Alex Rodriguez. He went into the May 14th game against Minnesota with just one homer in his previous 89 plate appearances, and unsurprisingly the team had lost four of their last five games. Down 4-3 in the 7th, the Yanks started to scratch out a rally when Derek Jeter singled and Frankie Cervelli doubled, though their struggles with runners in scoring position seemed to kick in again when Brett Gardner popped up to shallow left. Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire pulled a page out of the 2008 playbook, intentionally walking Tex to load the bases for the unclutch A-Rod. New pitcher Matt Guerrier needed all of two pitches to turn a 4-3 lead into a 7-4 deficit, surrendering a grand slam that carried just far enough to left-center. Alex had lifted the offensive burden off everyone’s shoulders, giving the team a much needed lead and win.
May 17th: Walking off against Papelbon (video and video)
I guess mid-May was a lot busier than I remember. Ben and I were in attendance for this one, and things started off very much in the Yanks’ favor. They hung a five spot on Daisuke Matsuzaka in the 1st inning, but slowly gave that lead away and then some over the next seven innings. The Red Sox carried a 9-7 lead in the 9th inning, and went to Papelbon to nail things down. Gardner made things interesting immediately, doubling to left to bring the tying run to the plate. Tex flew out deep to right, sending Gardner to third, but those extra 90 feet proved to be moot. A-Rod sent the first pitch of his at-bat into the visitor’s bullpen, tying the game at nine and giving the Yanks’ new life. Frankie Cervelli reached base on a hit by pitch after Robbie Cano made the second out of inning, and much like A-Rod three batters earlier, Marcus Thames jumped all over Papelbon’s first pitch for a two run walk-off homer. He became the second new Yankee of the season to take the Red Sox closer deep for a game winning homer.
June 27th: Comeback against the Dodgers (video, video, and video)
The calling card of the 2009 Yankees was their ability to come from behind and win, but up until this game they hadn’t really shown the same flair for the dramatic. The Dodgers headed into the 9th nursing a four run lead, and went for the kill by bringing in All-World closer Jonathan Broxton. What happened next? Tex struck out, A-Rod singled, Cano doubled in A-Rod, Posada singled and sent Cano to third, then Granderson walked. That loaded the bases with one run already in, but the rather punchless bottom of the order was due up. Boy, did they come through.
Chad Huffman singled to right to drive in two, sending Grandy to third. Colin Curtis, six days into his big league career, fouled off pitch after pitch in a ten pitch at-bat before grounding out to first, driving in Granderson to tie the game at six. One inning later, Cano muscled a ball over the left-centerfield fence for a two run homer, giving the Yanks a two run lead and grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat.
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These aren’t necessarily the biggest moments in terms of WPA swings or anything like that, they’re just memorable occasions that stick with us, regardless of how important they were in the grand scheme of things. Heck, some of these aren’t even individual moments, but rather a series of moments. Vote below to pick your favorite, and if one of these wasn’t your favorite moment of the first half, then tell us what you think it is in the comments. Thanks in advance.