In a mercifully brief (2:27) ESPN Sunday night contest in Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2016, Boston righthanded knuckleballer Steven Wright silenced Yankee bats, allowing just three hits in a complete-game 5-1 win. At times during the game, Yankee switch hitters Mark Teixeira and Aaron Hicks batted from the right side to try for a hit, to no avail. Luis Severino was reached for two home runs by David Ortiz, but this one, it turned out, was over when Dustin Pedroia went yard for two with no outs in the first. Brett Gardner gave Yankee fans a last-minute slight rush, averting the shutout by homering with two down in the bottom of the ninth.
Few may remember it this way, but initially David Robertson, with Rafael Soriano serving as setup, actually closed for the 2012 Yanks once Mariano Rivera shocked the Bronx and the baseball world by injuring his knee in Kansas City. David saved Ivan Nova‘s 5-3 win over the Tampa Rays on May 8, 2010, after Soriano had given up a home run in the eighth. Raul Ibanez was the offensive star, as he drove in three runs with two jacks to right. Curtis Granderson homered as well.
Even if you forgot his stellar postseason, you would have to acknowledge that aside from being one of the best in the game, Alex Rodriguez is something of a magical force as well, based on the explosive way his 2009 regular season both began and ended. It began on May 8, the day he was activated from the 15-day disabled list following hip surgery and rehab. Debuting in Baltimore, Alex crushed Jeremy Guthrie‘s first pitch to him (the first Alex saw this year) for a three-run bomb in a 4-0 Yankee win. In a flurry of moves that same day, the Yanks designated righthander Steven Jackson for assignment to make needed room on the 40-man roster, and optioned righty Mark Melancon to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre to clear space on the 25 for Rodriguez. Further, catcher Jose Molina was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left quad. To replace Jose, they called up catcher Kevin Cash from Scranton-Wilkes Barre; the designation of Jackson was to make room for Cash on the 40-man list.
Jason Giambi, Robbie Cano, and Wilson Betemit home runs were the loud hits that carried the Yanks and Mike Mussina to a 6-3 win over the Indians in Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2008, but Cano and Johnny Damon doubles plated the tiebreaker in the bottom of the fifth. Yankee old-timer Oscar Gamble moved the games-left counter in Yankee Stadium to 63 from 64, the number ex-Manager Buck Showalter had unveiled the day before.
A couple of Doc Gooden highlights lead off May 8 Yankee history. Few realized how important a part Gooden would play in the magical 1996 pennant run, the season that could be titled “The Return to Glory.” On May 8 of that year, Doc won his first American League game, and did so in Pinstripes, a 10-3 victory over the Tigers.
Four years later, Dwight Gooden, who would actually have a small part yet to play in the Yankee success story, was trying to extend his career, and he did so by taking the mound for the Devil Rays against the Yanks on May 8, 2000. Paul O’Neill‘s two-run fifth inning homer followed Clay Bellinger‘s singleton, as Andy Pettitte and the Yanks beat Doc and his new team, 5-4.
The retired switch-hitting Yankee first baseman, Mark Teixeira, had a tough day playing for the Rangers in the May 8, 2007 Texas/Yankees tilt in Yankee Stadium. The box score records that Teixeira went one-for-five with a double, but the two-base hit was a popup to no-man’s land in short center in the first inning, and thereafter he was struck out four times, by Andy Pettitte, Scott Proctor, and Sean Henn. First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz sparked two early rallies with singles; Derek Jeter had two hits, a run scored and two rbi’s; and Alex Rodriguez went yard for two in the 8-2 Yankee win.
When the Yanks doubled up the Red Sox, 8-4, on May 8, 1994, the offensive fireworks were provided by sixth-inning back-to-back-to-back jacks from Danny Tartabull, Mike Stanley, and Gerald Williams.
A good trade that helped the Yanks win three of their four most recent Championships came back to bite them on May 8, 2001, as Eric Milton of the Twins shut them out 2-0 in the Bronx. Shortstop Christian Guzman, sent to the Twins with Milton in 1998 for second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, homered off hard-luck loser el duque Hernandez, and scored both runs.
At the risk of straining the reader’s credulity, I have to report that the hero of the Yanks’ 6-0 win over the A’s on May 8, 2005, was starter Kevin Brown, who allowed but five hits and one walk while blanking the visitors through seven innings. Of course, he couldn’t let the fans get by too easy, and he twice loaded the bases while the contest was still scoreless, escaping a no-out, three-on pickle in the second with a popup and two strike outs. The Alex Rodriguez who is so often castigated for never getting a big hit at a key moment broke up Brown’s scoreless duel with Dan Haren with a fourth inning bomb to left, and he later scored when Tino Martinez and Jorge Posada went yard back-to-back in the home eighth.
Lefthander Tommy John was toiling for the Indians, 10 years before he had the surgery that now carries his name, when Mickey Mantle blasted a three-run home run off him in the fourth inning of a 10-3 Yankee win in Cleveland on May 8, 1964.
The Mariners pummeled the Yanks 14-5 on May 8, 1999, when third baseman John Mabry stroked five hits.
Bernie Williams doubled and scored twice off Darren Oliver, Cecil Fielder knocked in two, and Derek Jeter scored twice as Andy Pettitte and the Yanks beat the Rangers on this day in 1997, 5-4 in the Bronx.
A huge Mickey Mantle fan, it thrills me no end that even Yankee losses in the fifties sometimes feature no. 7 highlights. On May 6, 1957, The Mick took Early Wynn out for a three-run bomb in a 10-4 Cleveland win.
Exactly one year earlier, Early Wynn wasn’t as fortunate. Mickey Mantle‘s sixth-inning jack tied matters at 2-2, and the Yankees went on to post a 4-3 win over the Indians righty.
On May 8, 1953, the Red Sox broke a 13-game losing streak in games vs. the Yanks as Billy Goodman homered off Yankee starter Johnny Sain in the bottom of the 11th in Fenway for a 2-1 Boston win.
The procession of Yankees to the plate in the fourth inning of a 10-3 romp over the Red Sox on this day in 1915 reached 16 batters as they plated all their runs in that frame.
And one more Yankee/Red Sox May 8 game, as Smoky Joe Wood shut out the Highlanders 4-0 at Hilltop Park on this day in 1911.
Not always the most polite of guests, Waite Hoyt and the Yankees shut the White Sox out 9-0 on May 8, 1927, in front of 50,000-plus in Comiskey. Catcher Pat Collins homered and Lou Gehrig blasted two triples.
The seven-run second the Yanks put together against the Tigers on May 8, 1926, wasn’t enough, as the Bombers fell, 14-10.
We feted Ron Davis a few days back for striking out the last eight batters in a game in 1981. On May 8, he extended that streak to 10 as he whiffed the first two Mariners he faced in a 3-2 Yankee loss.
On May 8, 2010, the Yankees placed first baseman Nick Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed tendon in his right wrist ending, in effect, Nick’s second — quite short &@151; stop with the team. The club recalled infielder Kevin Russo, who would fill in in the outfield as well, from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fill the spot.
The Yankees sent pitchers Ryne Duren and Johnny James and outfielder Lee Thomas to the Angels for hurler Tex Clevenger and outfielder Bob Cerv on May 8, 1961. As related in our May 5 history report detailing Cerv’s birthday that day, this began his third Pinstriped tour of duty.
The name for the Yanks’ crosstown rivals who were to start play the next season was officially designated the “Mets” (not the Metropolitans) on May 8, 1961.
An ugly episode had one of its (thankfully) last chapters as gambler Howie Spira was found guilty of trying to extort money from George Steinbrenner on May 8, 1991.
Among a group of noteworthy May 8 highlights featuring former and future Yankee players, two involve lefty Randy Johnson. On this day in 1991, the Orioles snapped his 16-game winning streak, all with the Mariners, in a 13-3 drubbing. And on May 8, 2001, The Big Unit struck out 20 Reds batters in a 4-3 win over Cincinnati in 11 innings. Even though he struck out all 20 in regulation, he is not considered to have tied the achievement shared by Roger Clemens (twice) and Kerry Wood, because they each notched 20 in a nine-inning game.
Further exploits in the same category feature Yankee outfielder-to-be Johnny Damon, whose streak of 10 consecutive games leading off the first inning with hits came to an end in a 4-1 Royals victory over the Tigers on May 8, 2000. And to the agony of fans of the pitching-starved Yankees everywhere, ex-Bomber starter Doug Drabek took a no-hitter into the ninth inning of the 6-2 Pittsburgh victory over San Diego on May 8, 1988.
Hall of Fame Reds catcher Ernie Lombardi not only equaled a record by stroking four straight doubles in a 15-4 win over the Phillies on May 8, 1935, he did it in consecutive innings: the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth, off four different pitchers.
The first of three May 8 no-hitters was by Frank Pfeffer of the Boston Doves as he blanked the Reds, 6-0, in 1907. Giants lefty Carl Hubbell allowed no safeties in an 11-0 victory over the Pirates on this day in 1929. But we save the best for last, as the no-hitter Oakland’s Catfish Hunter threw in his 3-0 victory over the Twins on May 8, 1968, was a Perfect Game.
Cardinals ace Bob Gibson made a record 242nd consecutive start on May 8, 1973. In so doing he surpassed the 20th-Century mark of Yankee Red Ruffing, who never pitched in relief during the last 10 years of his career.
Paul Hines made the first unassisted triple play in recorded baseball history on May 8, 1878.
The two Yankee players who have died May 8 have several things in common. Both played just a handful of games, both played only for the Yankees, both played in the same decade. Lefthanded outfielder Les Channell (1954) went 7-for-20 in seven games for New York in 1910 and 1914, good for three rbi’s. Though righthanded, outfielder Howie Camp (1960) hit from the left side, and he went 6-for-21 with the 1917 team. Camp failed to drive in any runs.
When former pitcher Ralph Miller passed away on this day in 1973, we lost the last survivor of 19th-Century ball. He won five and lost 17 with the 1898 Brroklyn Bridegrooms and with the National League 1899 Baltimore Orioles. Other noteworthy, non-Yankee players to have died May 8 include a third baseman, a catcher, and a righthanded pitcher. Third baseman Bill Joyce (1941) hit 70 home runs good for 607 rbi’s for the Senators and the Giants from 1890-1898; and catcher Frankie Pytlak (1977) reached seven fences and knocked in 272 runs from 1932-1940, playing for the Indians and the Red Sox. Righty Chick Fraser (1940) posted most of his 175-212 record with six saves from 1896-1909 with the Phillies, the Colonels, and the Cubs.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Signed as a free agent by the Yankees before the 1961 season, lefthanded outfielder Art Lopez (1937) stroked seven hits in his 49 at bats for the 1965 Yankees, his only major-league play. Although he hit no homers and drove in no runs, his 39 games with the club rank him as the seniority leader among the four guys who played for the Yanks and were born May 8.
Backup catcher Todd Greene (1971) hit a home run (in his first Yankee start, by the way) and drove in 11 in 35 games for the 2001 club. After seeing his work in Spring Training in 2001, New York signed him April 1; he was released almost exactly one year later. He backed up Jorge Posada once Joe Oliver proved incapable of handling the job.
The battle for third place in games played is close among the Bomber birthdays too. Lefthanded pitcher Chet Hoff (1891) broke in with the Highlanders by pitching in 12 games (two starts) for the 1911-1913 teams, to an 0-2 record. His only other experience came with the 1915 St. Louis Browns. And switch-hitting first baseman Orestes Destrade (1962) was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in May 1981. He drove in one run in nine games in the Bronx before he was traded to the Pirates for Hipolito Pena in May 1988. Destrade played in Japan after that season in Pittsburgh, and returned stateside for a 1993-1994 stint with the Marlins.
A trio of Hall of Famers lead off the list of other players of note who share this day as their birthday: Negro Leagues star Turkey Stearnes (1901); Cinncy Reds outfielder Ed Roush (1893), who hit 68 homers and drove in almost 1,000 from 1913-1931; and first baseman Dan Brouther (1858), who homered 106 times and notched 1,296 rbi’s from 1879-1904 with teams as recognizable as the Phillies and the Giants, but also with the Troy Trojans, the Buffalo Bisons, and the Detroit Wolverines. Others: Steve Braun (1948); Mike Cuellar (1948), who posted a fine 185-130 record in Houston and Baltimore; Dennis Leonard (1948), 144-106 with the Royals from 1974-1986; Jason Davis (1980); Alfredo Simon (1981); John Maine (1981); Adrian Gonzalez (1982); Adam Moore (1984); Wily Peralta (1989); Sean Gilmartin (1990); and Cody Ege (1991).
Players Born This Day