4. Orlando Hernandez, Game 1, 1999 World Series
El Duque was an underrated key to the Yankees dynasty in the 1990s.
You can’t write a “Yankees postseason dominance” list without including Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez.
Well, maybe you can, but I choose not to.
The Cuban dandy with the funky leg kick and signature dance that left David Cone embarrassed and practicing in a bathroom was riding high entering his second postseason in the states. In ’98, Duque saved the season for the greatest team in modern baseball history, winning Game 4 of the ALCS with seven shutout innings in Cleveland, evening that series en route to a title.
His encore in ’99 was even more impressive. After New York won all three of his postseason starts (two against Boston, one against Texas), Hernandez traveled to Atlanta to lock horns with Greg Maddux in Game 1 of the World Series, and did not blink.
A fourth-inning Chipper Jones solo shot was the only hit Hernandez allowed in seven innings, whiffing 10 Braves in the process. In the top of the eighth, the Yankees rallied against a tiring Maddux, taking a 4-1 lead and securing the Cuban righty’s reputation for being absolute nails.
This battle for “Team of the Decade” status quickly turned into a rout, with the Yankees polishing off a sweep in the Bronx. That history-changing swing was due almost entirely to Hernandez’s tenacity.