The Yanks and ALDS Game Five: A Brief History

The Biggest Game of the Season
ALDS Game Four Chat

The current playoff format has been in effect since 1995, and the Yankees have made the postseason more than any other team during the wildcard era. They’ll play a winner-take-all Game Five against the Tigers tomorrow night after keeping their season alive last night, their sixth decisive Game Five since the current format was put in place. How did the Yankees fare in the previous five Game Fives? Let’s look back…


1995 vs. Mariners: Seattle wins 6-5 in 12 innings (box) (WPA)
This one will always and forever be the heart-breaker. I was just 13 years old at the time, about three weeks away from my 14th birthday. The Yankees had just made the postseason for the first time in my life, the first ever club to win a wildcard spot. New York won Game One thanks to five late-inning runs, then took Game Two in 15 innings thanks to Jim Leyritz’s two-run walk-off dinger. Up two games to zip in the best-of-five, I remember feeling pretty awesome about how things were going. We all know what happened next.

The Mariners scored six runs in the fifth and sixth innings of Game Three to extend their season, then evened up the series thanks to five eighth inning runs in Game Four. David Cone and Andy Benes squared off in Game Five, and the Yankees had a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a solo homer, and Cone unraveled. Tino Martinez walked, Jay Buhner singled, and Alex Diaz walked to load the bases. Buck Showalter stuck with Cone at 141 pitches, who then walked Doug Strange to force in the tying run. The score remained tied until Randy Velarde singled in a run off Randy Johnson in the top of the 12th, but Jack McDowell could not make the run stand up. Joey Cora led off the bottom of the 12th inning with a bunt single, then Griffey singled on a ground ball back up the middle. Edgar Martinez, who went 12-for-21 with six walks in the series, doubled into left, scoring both runs for the series clinching walk-off win. It was my first taste of brutal, gut-wrenching defeat.

1997 vs. Indians: Cleveland wins 4-3 (box) (WPA)
A back-and-forth series, the Yankees and Indians alternated wins and losses for the first four games of the series before coming together in Cleveland for matchup of young hurlers in Game Five: Andy Pettitte and Jaret Wright. The Tribe jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning thanks to a Manny Ramirez double and a Matt Williams single, and they tacked on another run in the fourth. The Yankees did rally back to make it 4-2 in fifth courtesy of a Bernie Williams single and a Manny error, then Wade Boggs made it 4-3 with a single in the sixth. The score would remain unchanged for the rest of the game though, which ended when Bernie flew out to deep center with the tying run on second against Jose Mesa.

2000 vs. Athletics: Yankees win 7-5 (box) (WPA)
Clearly the worse team of the late-90’s dynasty, the Yankees dropped the opener before winning the next two games. Oakland completely wrecked the Yankees in Game Four to force Game Five, another Pettitte start. Gil Heredia was on the bump for the A’s, and this one was over before it started. New York scored four runs before making an out in the first inning, and ended the frame up 6-0. The Athletics chipped away with solo homers and sac flies, but ultimately it was just too big of a hole to climb out of. Eric Chavez, representing the tying run, popped out in foul territory against Mariano Rivera to end the game and the A’s season. For the first time in the wildcard era, the Yankees had won a deciding Game Five in the ALDS.


2001 vs. Athletics: Yankees win 5-3 (box) (WPA)
Seven years after the Mariners made that huge comeback, it was time for the Yankees to make a comeback of their own. The A’s took the first game on the strength of solo homers from Jason Giambi and Terrence Long against Sterling Hitchcock. Tim Hudson completely stifled the Yankees in Game Two, and Oakland had a commanding two games to none series lead.

The comeback started in Game Three, a thrilling 1-0 win that featured Derek Jeter‘s famous flip play and seven shutout innings from Mike Mussina. The Yankees blew the doors off Game Four early, forcing a Game Five with a 9-2 win. The A’s did not go quietly in the deciding game, far from it. They scored a run in the first and a run in the second off Roger Clemens, but Alfonso Soriano knotted things up with a two-run single in the bottom of the second. Scott Brosius drove in a run on error the next inning, then Jeter tacked on another run with a sac fly the next inning. David Justice tacked on a homer off Hudson in relief, and the Yankees cruised to a 5-3 thanks to 4.2 scoreless, two-hit innings from their bullpen.

2005 vs. Angels: Anaheim wins 5-3 (box) (WPA)
This one was just painful. Not rip your heart out painful like 1995, just ugly. Ugly to watch. Mussina outdueled Bartolo Colon in a Game One win, but the Halos rebounded with a win behind John Lackey in Game Two. The Randy Johnson-Paul Byrd matchup in Game Three did not go planned, with the Angels winning a wild, 11-7 contest. Shawn Chacon (Shawn Chacon!) stood on his head with 6.1 shutout innings in Game Four to force the deciding game. Game Five was just awful. Moose didn’t get out of the third, outfielders were running into each other … just an unwatchable game. Francisco Rodriguez closed the game out, getting Hideki Matsui to ground out to first with the tying run on base.

* * *

So that’s five Game Fives in 16 postseasons, with two losses and three wins. The two wins came in back-to-back years against the Athletics, and of course the Yankees haven’t won an ALDS against a non-Twins team since that 2001 series against Oakland. Scary stat, but it’s meaningless. Different team, different manager, different opponents, yadda yadda yadda. What happened six years ago doesn’t matter now. Tomorrow’s game will have it’s own script, one that will be dictated by Ivan Nova and Doug Fister.

The Biggest Game of the Season
ALDS Game Four Chat
  • OXXbow

    If the Yanks get to Fister early they win.

    • MattG

      Slightly more compelling than “If the Yanks score more runs than the Tigers they win.”

      • Cuso

        Only slightly, though

      • IRF

        “Alias is a show about a spy!”

        • MattG

          Ooo…see, I actually did not know that.

    • Pants Lendelton

      And then have Bradley Penny shut them down ? Can’t assume things until the game is played.

      I do believe they’ll adjust to Fister quicker this time through though.

  • UncleArgyle

    What I will always wonder about that 1995 game five is why Gerald Williams was seemingly playing in Left Center feild when Edgar Martinez hit that winning double. It still looks like he has to cover that entire Kingdome outfield to get that ball out from the corner when I watch it on replay. So much for no doubles defense. I’m not saying a play could have been made with different positioning, but it just always seemed strange to me why he was SO far off the line.

    • mike

      and why Dion James was continually given at bats…….and why Buck started McDowell against Unit in Game 3 when he had a game in hand and could have done as his mentor Billy Martin did in sacrificing a game (Catfish) to set up the rest of the series, especially since Kamineki (sic) gave up a 6 run lead the next night….or Cone pulling a pre-Pedro convince job with Rivera in the pen..

    • vin

      Couldn’t agree more. If he was playing closer to the line, he absolutely may have gotten Griffey. With Ice Williams playing in the alley, it was still only half-a-second away from being a bang-bang play at the plate.

  • Myself

    So the Yanks are 0-3 on the road, but 2-0 at home? Like those odds…

    • Myself

      Take that back…

    • mt

      1-3 road and 1-0 home – still good odds (:-)

  • JScott

    What I will always wonder about is what if…Showalter had had the vaguest idea what he had in Mariano Rivera.

    Rivera struggled as a starter in his first taste of Major League Baseball, but looked like, well, Mariano Rivera coming out of the pen. Allowed 7 hits in 17 relief innings (he did walk an un-Rivera like 10 men) and pitched to a 1.00 WHIP.

    What if…

    • MattG

      Or what if he had not burned John Wetteland in game 4, trailing 10-6. I think that is right.

      Cone was gassed, and wasn’t even throwing his fastball. To hear him talk about it now is painful. He is still scarred.

      But, all is well that ends well. That series resulted in Joe Torre, and while I am a vocal critic of the 2002 on Torre, he was a brilliant manager those first six years.

      • MattG

        It’s not right. Wetteland entered with the score tied, 6-6, and left trailing 11-6. Funny how time tricks you. At the time, I thought that was bad managing. Now, I would expect the best reliever to pitch tied in the 8th.

        Nonetheless, if he did save Wetteland for the save in game 4, which never came, he would’ve had him available for Doug Strange in game 5.

        • CP

          It was game 5 and (obviously) an elimination game. There’s no reason he shouldn’t have been available. Besides, he threw only 15 pitches in game 4.

          • JohnC

            Showalter lost faith in him after his meltdown in game 4. Thats why he went to McDowell to try and finish it off

  • Lazy Bones Andruw Jones

    Who the hell was Scott Pose? I don’t even have the slightest memory of him, but he somehow got into 54 games on the ’97 team.

    No O’Neill (injured?) and Verlarde batting 2nd and DHing in the 2001 game… Torre sure made some zanny lineups!

    • Cuso

      I think he was one of the very first Marlins in ’93 if memory serves

      • Jorge (needs a new name)

        Yes, he was, before losing the starting CF job to someone who’s name escapes me but was terrible. Pose had a torrid spring that year. Never heard from him again until that cup of coffee with the Yankees.

  • JohnC

    The game 5 loss in Cleveland in 97 stuck with me for a while. Looked like Yanks were gonna come back and pull it out but just had some bad luck. I remember after Boggs’s single in the 6th made it 4-3. IN the 7th, Jeter led off with an infield hit and then the big play of the game happened. O’Neill, who was so locked in in that series, hit a hard grounder in the firt base hole, and somehow, Jim THome made a full body dive and smothered it before it could get through, and forced Jeter at 2nd. If that ball got through, Yanks would have had 1st and 3rd and nobody out. Instead, Bernie followed with a DP grounder and the inning was over.

    Then in the 9th with 2 out, O’Neill hit another rocket off the right center field wall that just wasn’t high enough to get out, cause it was hit so hard. He ended up on 2nd with a double, and then Bernie flew out to end it.

    • Cuso

      I’ll always remember O’Neill “sliding” into second base for that double in the 9th.

      I thought he got shot at the time.

    • MattG

      And the slide! He was so out at second base! Crazy.

      I was furious with Bernie after that game. I would tell anyone that listened that Bernie had one approach only, no instincts, and was fortunate to have such immense talent. I felt like if you could give Bernie Jeter’s instincts and baseball smarts, you would have the greatest player ever. Bernie’s DP, and flying out on the first damn pitch after O’Neill’s double, solidified that thinking for me for years.

      Now I know that was stupid, but at the time, I was no fan of Bernie Williams.

  • nsalem

    Game 5 in 2005 ended with a man on first and second and Matsui ending the game with a hard hit ground ball to Erstad at first. Sheffield with a pulled muscle was on first with the tying run. It was two pitches into Matsui’s AB before Torre and his bench coach Joe Girardi got around to pinch running Womack for Sheffield. Though it didn’t effect the outcome of the game it was one of the worst managerial blunders of the Torre era.

    • JohnC

      Arod was the one who killed them in that inning though. After Jeter led off with hit, he immediately hit into a DP which in effect finished them

      • nsalem

        Yes it was a horrible inning. A-Rod got killed for his offense in that series but they just gave him nothing to hit. He walked so much hi OBP was .435

  • Jorge (needs a new name)

    For those of us who grew up in the 80’s, ’95 was our first real taste of Yankee playoff baseball since we were way too young to remember (my earliest Yankee memory is either some random ’78 thing or, I shit you now, an Eric Solderholm at-bat, which would place that memory in 1980.) It just felt right to be watching Yankee playoff baseball. We also had to live through the Stump Merrill/Chuck Cary years right before all that.

    I didn’t think much of Mo in ’95 either.

  • GregM

    The 1995 loss still gets to me because Joey Cora was clearly out at 1b on that bunt. It wasn’t a Don Denkinger 1985 World Series level of egregiousness, but it was pretty bad. I remember Mattingly griping to the ump about the call — something he never did. The Boss got a hefty fine ($50k, iirc) after the series was over, too, for openly complaining about the officiating.

    • DSFC

      Cora also ran out of the base line to try to avoid the tag. I so despised Joey Cora.

  • Billabong

    Jared Wright? Lol.

    • nsalem

      He was great back then.

  • mike_h

    way to damper the mood, this article just made my penis soft

  • Mike T

    Not that it means anything, but in the ALDS as it is currently constituted (1995-present)

    Yankees vs. Texas, Oakland, Minnesota 9-0
    Yankees vs. Seattle, Cleveland, Anaheim, Detroit 0-6

    • nsalem

      it will be 1 and 6 in 36 hours

      • Mike T

        I think it will be as well, just thought that was an interesting pattern that had developed. With any luck, that pattern will no longer be applicable.

    • vin

      You’re right, it means nothing.

  • JohnC

    I wish that game 2 of that 95 series would be shown on Yankees Classics on YES. Wonder why they have never rebroadcast that one. That was indeed a CLASSIC

  • vin

    Love those ’01 A’s. Won 102 games and still finished 14 games in back of the Mariners.

    Also, imagine losing 4 straight game 5’s in the LDS? That’s what the ’00-’03 A’s did. Not quite Buffalo Bills territory, but pretty brutal nonetheless.

  • CP

    In the 15 Division Series that the Yankees have played in, they are 9-0 against the Rangers, Twins and A’s; they are 0-6 against everyone else (Tigers, Angels, Indians, and Mariners).

  • Pat D

    The 1997 loss I remember as being doubly painful because it was the last time I saw my grandfather before he died. We had to go see him literally on his deathbed.

  • Nuke LaDoosh

    Thanks for the stroll down Memory Lane. Following the Strike in ’94, I did not get into the Regular Season of ’95. The Yankees making the postseason brought me back to baseball. Good thing it did because that carried over into ’96 and I’m glad I didn’t miss that year !

  • Alibaba

    Three losses and two wins. Hopefully, it will be even after tomorrow.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Strange but after the Red Sox choke and AJ’s win and the dominant offensive performance with a side of Jesus it almost feels like we won it all today.

    Can it get any better?

    Jesus with a walkoff!!!! That’ll do.

  • Darren

    Joey Fuckin Cora. That pipsqueak little shit was totally out of the baseline.

  • dkidd

    wasn’t expecting to see the griffey pic. scrolled down and winced

    still stings after all these years. easy to forget that in 1995, yankee fans didn’t yet have the solace of “we’ll be back in the post-season next year”

  • Insanity

    Am I the only one who noticed the Mariner celebrating with the David Lee Roth pose? What is up with that???

    • DSFC

      I wish I could jump into that photo and kick that guy in the balls. 1995 was such a brutal, gut-wrenching experience. For fans around my age, we were too young to see the past Yankees champions (I was born in 1976). Saw some good (but never good enough) teams and great players in the ’80s, and then we saw….

      The horrific collapse in August of 1988, killing their chances. That led to…

      Dallas Green. Ugh.

      1990, the absolute nadir of Yankee fandom. Tim Leary losing 19. Yanks in last place. Poor Donnie’s back completely fails him, reducing him to mediocrity. A lineup that collectively hit .241/.300/.366 for an OPS+ of 86. Lee Guetterman, a middle reliever, leading the team in wins with 11.

      1991 wasn’t much better. Neither was 1992. 1993 was a decent team, but at the time it was a revelation after three straight awful seasons. They looked terrific in 1994, then Key got hurt and the strike killed the season.

      1995 held great promise…and then they stumbled around for most of the season and needed a fantastic finish to win the wild card. All they had to do was beat the sad-sack Mariners, who’d been a doormat my entire life. Game 2 was the greatest Yankee moment of my lifetime to that point. I have never cheered louder, even to this day, than I did when Donnie hit his homer. To then lose the series after all that was just crushing. We didn’t know what was soon to come – all I knew was the Yankees blew a 2-0 lead to a team that had never done anything, ever, and I didn’t know how long I’d have to wait to see them back in the playoffs.

      The Mariners remain, to this day, my most hated non-Boston team because of that series. I don’t think I forgave Wetteland until the last out of the 1996 Series.

  • gargoyle

    Didn’t the umps make some BS call on Cano running out of the baseline to first in that 2005 game 5 v Angels?