Turn Back The Clock: October 24th, 2000-Yankees World Series Win Streak Ends
By Billy Brost
It had been quite a run for the New York Yankees during the last half of the 1990s and first part of the new millennium. After getting smacked around to open the 1996 World Series at home against the Atlanta Braves, the Bronx Bombers came roaring back, winning three in Atlanta to close out Atlanta-Fulton Country Stadium, and then returned home to win their first title since 1978. The following season, the Cleveland Indians, winners of the 1995 AL pennant prior to the dynasty beginning in New York, derailed the Yankees’ plan for a repeat, and in the process showing the world that a young Mariano Rivera was indeed human.
That would be it though. The American League wouldn’t have another representative in the World Series for another half decade, when the upstart Anaheim Angels drove the Yankees from the playoffs with an early divisional round exit. During the the period of Game Three of the ’96 series, and Game Three of the 2000 World Series, the Yankees would win 14 straight Fall Classic contests–a record that stands to this day. We continue our “Turn Back The Clock” series with that very ending…on this day, October 24th, 2000, the day the record winning streak came to an abrupt ending.
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The Mets jumped out to the early lead against Orlando Hernandez, code name El Duque, who is now looked at as one of the most clutch postseason pitchers of all-time. Coming into Game Three of the 2000 Subway Series, Hernandez was 8-0 lifetime in the postseason. Pretty solid for the Cuban defector who was the Yankees’ X-Factor during their historic 1998 World Series title run.
Robin Ventura put the Mets up with a 2nd inning solo shot off of El Duque, giving the Mets the 1-0 lead. ALCS hero David Justice wasn’t going to let the Mets get comfortable however, as he hit an RBI-double to drive in Derek Jeter in the Yankees top of the 3rd to tie the score at 1. It appeared the Yankees had swung the momentum back their way the following inning, when Tino Martinez singled, and came around to score when Paul O’Neill tripled off of Mets’ starter Rick Reed. The Yankees had a 2-1 lead, El Duque was dealing, and the lockdown Yankees bullpen was ready and waiting.
Hernandez continued to control the tempo through the 5th inning, but in the bottom of the 6th, the Mets struck once again. Mets’ All-World catcher Mike Piazza led off the inning with a double, and after a fan interference call was sorted out, Ventura drew a walk, and Todd Zeile doubled to drive in Piazza and push Ventura to third. Benny Agbayani drew a walk to load the bases. El Duque hunkered down, and struck out back-to-back hitters, and a Mets pinch hitter forced Agbayani out at second to end the threat, with the scored tied once again at 2.
Joe Torre, never known for his great handling of his bullpen, perhaps stuck with Hernandez a tad too long in Game Three. After the Mets tied the score, El Duque worked a scoreless 7th, and then ran into trouble, enough trouble to cost the Yankees their 14-game winning streak. After Ventura struck out to lead off the inning, Zeile singled, and Agbayani ripped a double, which scored Zeile. Joe McEwing pinch ran for Big Benny. Jay Payton then singled, moving McEwing to third base. Lenny Harris hit for Mike Bordick, and Mike Stanton finally relieved El Duque. Bubba Trammell replaced Harris after the pitching change. Bubba hit a sac fly that scored McEwing, giving the Mets a two-run lead at 4-2.
That was all the Mets were going to need. In the Yankees’ half of the 9th inning, Chuck Knoblauch singled, while Luis Polonia flew out, Derek Jeter struck out, and Justice ended the game for the Yankees with a short pop out. The streak was over, but the Yankees were still in control of the series. The Yankees with their solid starting pitching and the best bullpen in baseball won the next two games to clinch their third straight World Series title, the first team to do so since the early 1970s Oakland A’s.