Ten years ago this afternoon, Tim Wakefield and Randy Johnson engaged in a bit of a pitcher's duel. It was the rubber game of a three-game series. The Yankees won the first game thanks to starter Aaron Small who pitched well enough to pick up the win - nine hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings - and three-hit nights from Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada. A-Rod and Posada both homered. The Yankees dropped the second game 9-2 thanks to Shawn Chacon and Felix Rodriguez combining to give up six runs in the fourth inning to the Red Sox who were already up 2-0 going into the inning. Fun fact: Al Leiter pitched 5 2/3 innings of relief.
That brings us to the Sunday afternoon rubber game. I attended this game with a couple of my friends who sat with me in my usual Sunday afternoon seats at the old Stadium.
The bottom of the first saw Derek Jeter hit a fly ball to right for out #1 and Robinson Cano ground out to short. Next up was Jason Giambi, who on the sixth offering he saw from Tim Wakefield, golfed a home run into the short porch at the old Stadium.
It would be the only run either team would score all day but things got a teensy bit sweaty in the top of the ninth.
Mariano Rivera came in for the save and got the first two outs without an issue. Then he walked Ramirez, Kevin Millar hit a single, advancing Manny to third, and things were looking slightly dicey with John Olerud coming up.
I remember standing there with my fingers crossed as Mo got Olerud swinging on the fifth and final pitch of the at bat to end the game. My old superstitions were hilarious.
Wakefield pitched eight innings and gave up three hits - Giambi's homer, a double by Cano and a triple by Bubba Crosby. Johnson pitched seven innings of one-hit ball with two walks and eight strikeouts. He was relieved by Tom Gordon in the top of the eighth. Gordon gave up a hit in his 2/3 inning of work.
The win helped the Yankees close the gap between them and the Sox for the AL East lead. If you recall, the Yankees went on to win the AL East during the last series of that season against the Red Sox in Fenway. They finished with the same record (95-67) but won the season series 10-9 and therefore won the tiebreak and won the division.