Viewing southpaw Rays starter Blake Snell‘s 2018 season, it’s hard to believe how successfully the Yankees got to him in a 6-1 win on September 26, 2017. A Starlin Castro homer leading off the home second was followed by three straight singles and back-to-back bases-loaded walks, and Snell was down and out 4-1 having recorded just three outs. Lefty Jordan Montgomery went six for the win, a victory that gave the Yanks a magic number of one to ensure they would be the home team in the upcoming Wild Card game with Minnesota.
New Supreme Court Justice, child of the Bronx, and Yankee fan Sonia Sotomayor threw out the first pitch in Yankee Stadium on September 26, 2009, and in the game that followed, the superb CC Sabathia reduced the Bombers’ magic number to clinch the AL East title to one with a 3-0 win over Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox. Robbie Cano broke a scoreless duel with a sixth-inning home run, and Johnny Damon singled in two in the eighth, but not until after pinch runner Brett Gardner escaped a rundown between home and third on a short almost wild pitch by diving back into third under an errant throw.
The Yankees won the last of three vs. the Red Sox in true “walkoff” fashion when Hideki Okajima issued a bases-loaded free pass to Juan Miranda in the bottom of the 10th for a 4-3 Yankee win on September 26, 2010. Alex Rodriguez‘s two-run seventh-inning home run off Daiusuke Matsuzaka gave the Yanks a 2-1 lead, but both closers failed, as Mariano Rivera allowed two runs on two singles, a sac fly and an error, and Jonathan Papelbon was reached for a run on three singles and a walk.
Yankee righthander Mel Stottlemyre was a one-man wrecking crew in the Bombers’ 7-0 shutout of Washington on September 26, 1964. Not only did Mel hold the Senators to two hits, he tied a major-league record by stroking five hits. Counting back to a single in his final at bat in his last game, Stottlemyre now had six hits in a row.
The glorious 1998 season in Pinstripes was one for the ages in many ways. In the Yanks’ 3-1 victory over the Devil Rays on September 26 of that year, David Cone earned his 20th win of the season. In so doing, Cone set a new record for the amount of years in between 20-win seasons, with 10. This surpassed the nine-year gap former lefty hurler and retired Yankee broadcaster Jim Kaat had recorded. Cone had last won 20 with the 1998 Mets. In this ’98 contest, Shane Spencer homered for the sixth time in nine days, and the seventh time in that, the highlight month of his career.
Tampa righty Alex Cobb didn’t just start throwing dominant baseball at the weak-hitting Yankee 2014 squad, as witnessed by the three-hitter he tossed in Yankee Stadium on September 26, 2013, a 4-0 Rays win in the last Bronx home game of the season. Cobb retired 20 Yankees following Eduardo Nunez‘s first-inning single with just two walks until a Curtis Granderson double and a Lyle Overbay single leading off the home eighth sent him to the showers. Hard-luck loser Ivan Nova allowed just two runs on eight hits through seven frames.
It seems impossible to believe that there were only 8,000 fans dotting the Yankee Stadium seats on September 26, 1961, when Roger Maris finally hit his 60th home run of that season. A drive off a Jack Fisher fastball, it came in the Yank’s 159th game of the year, and was key in the Bombers’ 3-2 victory over the Orioles.
The Yanks drove Tampa southpaw Wilson Alvarez from the mound on four quick runs in the first two innings of a September 26, 1999 battle in the Bronx. But things headed south once home plate ump Jim Joyce had to leave the game after a third-inning eye injury. Eighth-inning rbi singles from Mike Defilece and Tony Graffanino carried the Rays to a 6-5 come-from-behind victory.
In retrospect, the 8-2 one-hitter the Bombers cashed in against the Tigers on September 26, 1997, sounds like a laugher, but it was anything but. Starter Andy Pettitte left on the wrong side of a 2-1 score after Travis Fryman‘s two-run single, Brian Boehringer went three frames, and Mariano Rivera and Jeff Nelson tossed one apiece. But Rivera got the win when New York exploded for six tallies in the ninth inning.
Is it just me, or haven’t the Yankees been particularly susceptible to pitchers they have never seen before over the years? On September 26, 1956, the Bombers were the victims of the 1-0 shutout thrown by Charlie Beamon of the Orioles in his first major-league start.
September is the month for clinching pennants, and that is exactly what the Yankees did in an 11-inning, 5-2 win over the Athletics in Philadelphia on the 26th in 1952. It was the Bombers’ four straight flag, and their 19th overall.
Led by second- and third-inning long balls off Orioles starter Damian Moss from Ruben Sierra, Alfonso Soriano, Jorge Posada, and Aaron Boone, Andy Pettitte and the Yanks cruised to an 11-2 victory in Game One of a twinight doubleheader in the Bronx on September 26, 2003. But the O’s used an unearned 10th-inning run on a shortstop Erick Almonte error to take the late game 3-2.
The Indians battled gamely, but the Yankees took a two-game American League lead with an 8-7 victory behind Babe Ruth‘s 57th and 58th home runs of the season, plus a double and a walk, on September 26, 1921. George Burns contributed a triple and three singles to the Bombers’ cause. Carl Mays withstood a ninth-inning Cleveland onslaught by striking out Steve O’Neill on a fastball in the dirt with the bases loaded.
At least two aspects of the 8-6 victory over the Yankees by Art Ditmar of the Athletics on September 26, 1954, stand out historically. It was the last game that franchise would play in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City for the 1955 season, and it was the only game Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra would play at third base in his career. He played that game side by side with Mickey Mantle at short.
Both Bob Forsch of the Cardinals and Nolan Ryan of the Astros made repeat visits to the ranks of no-hit pitchers on September 26. Forsch turned in his second with a 3-0 shutout of the Expos in 1983, exactly two years after Ryan made the Dodgers victim no. five by a 5-0 score. And Lefty Leifeld of the Pirates held Philadelphia hitless in an 8-0 whitewashing in a six-inning, rain-shortened contest way back on September 26, 1906.
We mentioned David Cone‘s 20th win of 1998 above. The Yanks were the victims of Milwaukee hurler Jim Colborn‘s 20th on September 26, 1973, by a 5-2 score. George Scott‘s two rbi’s gave him 100 for the year.
And it is on that same day but in 1971 that we start a look at other pitchers to achieve 20 victories and above. When Baltimore’s Jim Palmer shut out the Indians by a 5-0 score that day, he joined teammates Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally, and Pat Dobson as the only four 20-game winners on the same team since the feat was first accomplished by the 1920 White Sox.
Other September 26, 20-game-winners: John Tudor of the Cardinals 5-0 over the Phillies in 1985; Atlanta’s Phil Niekro with a 9-4 win over his brother Joe Niekro and the Astros in 1979; and Pete Donohue of the Reds, who whipped the Cardinals 2-1 in 1926. Even better numbers were posted by Warren Spahn of the Braves and Sam Jones of the Giants, who both notched no. 21 on September 26, 1959; and Christy Matthewson moved up the ante with no. 23 over the Braves in 1912, which is still 12 less than the 35 he reached with a 6-2 win over the Reds on September 26, 1908. And in a number similar but actually depressingly different, Washington’s Denny McLain, three years removed from 31 wins, took his 22nd loss, against the Red Sox. on this day in 1971.
Fans can argue as to what has been the most intense Yankees/Red Sox stretch run battle ever, but many concede that when the Red Sox took a one-game lead over the Yankees with a 7-6 win in the Bronx on September 26, 1949, it was in a season during which the teams set the bar at a new high level. They would reconvene for two games in Yankee Stadium to close out the season five days later, with the Yankees behind by that same one-game deficit.
Meanwhile, in the feverishly contested ’78 race, the Red Sox beat the Tigers behind Dennis Eckersley on September 26, but the Yanks retained their one-game cushion with a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays.
What is remarkable about the St. Louis Browns’ doubleheader sweep over the Yankees on September 26, 1926, is not so much that the Bombers succumbed so easily (6-1, 6-2), but that the total time for both games was a mere two hours and seven minutes. Babe Ruth, who left the second game after one at bat, was leading the American League in runs, rbi’s, and bases on balls, but his claim to fame was that his 47 roundtrippers was double the number belonging to the runnerup. Famed with the most “boneheaded” play of the early years of the major leagues, ex-Giant Fred Merkle played in his final big-league game when he subbed for Lou Gehrig in the sixth.
On September 26, 2017, the Yankees activated center fielder Aaron Hicks from the 10-day disabled list.
On September 26, 2016, the Yankees sent righthander J.R. Graham outright to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
Teammates on the 2005 Yankees, Seattle’s Big Unit, Randy Johnson, struck out Oakland’s Ruben Sierra on September 26 for Randy’s 300th whiff of the 1993 campaign.
Led by Ted Williams as usual, the Red Sox blasted the Yankees 8-1 on September 26, 1955. The Splinter emerged from the contest with a .356 batting average that eclipsed that of runnerup Al Kaline by 16 points, but Williams lost the batting title due to too few at bats. Because of results like this one the rule was changed where the number of plate appearances, rather than at bats, would determine eligility. Ted walked 91 times in 1955.
When Cleveland’s Heinie Berger allowed just one hit in beating the Highlanders 6-0 on September 26, 1907, it marked the second time in the young century that a team’s pitchers had thrown back-to-back one-hitters. Addie Joss limited the New Yorkers to one hit in a 3-1 win over them the day before.
It is with a sense of frustration that we add a September 26 highlight featuring one-time Yankee reliever Dale Murray, who topped the Montreal staff in wins when he copped his 15th, all in relief, in a 3-2 win over the Cubs on this day in 1975. Murray would add nine saves that year, and he saved 11 along with eight wins for the 1982 Blue Jays. But once the Yanks shipped Dave Collins, Fred McGriff, and Mike Morgan to Toronto for him, Murray went 3-6 with one save in New York in 1983-1984.
Righthander Andy O’Connor (1980) is the only Yankee player to have died on September 26, a day on which we’ll list six noteworthy nonYankee player deaths. O’Connor’s career consisted of the one game (a start) he pitched for the 1908 Highlanders. Unfortunately, he suffered the loss in that contest.
The only catcher among the nonYankee players to pass this day, Ernie Lombardi (1977) cleared most of his 190 fences good for 990 runs driven in from 1931-1947 with the Reds and the Giants. There are two lefty throwers: Ed Cushman (1915) posted most of his 62-80-1 record between 1883 and 1890 with the Metropolitans; while Lefty Stewart (1974) won 101, lost 98, and saved eight games in 1921 and from 1927-1935 mostly with the Browns and the Senators. We’ll end the list with two first basemen after mentioning shortstop/third baseman Woody English (1997), who hit 32 home runs with 422 rbi’s with the Cubs and the Dodgers from 1927-1938. Paul Clancy (1968) hit most of his 12 long balls and knocked in 198 runs from 1924-1934 with the White Sox; and Rip Russell (1976) hit 29 roundtrippers and drove in 192 runs between 1939 and 1947 with the Cubs and the Red Sox.
Players Who Have Died This Day
Southpaw thrower Bobby Shantz (1925) is the only member of the baseball-playing Yankee family to celebrate September 26 as his birthday. The Yankees acquired Shantz with Clete Boyer, Wayne Belardi, Art Ditmar, Curt Roberts, and Jack McMahan in February 1957 from the Kansas City Athletics for Irv Noren, Milt Graff, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman, Billy Hunter, and Jack Urban. Bobby won 30 and saved 19 while only losing 18 games with the Yankees from 1957-1960. New York lost Shantz in the 1960 expansion draft that “re”stocked the team that was replacing the recently moved Washington Senators. Bobby’s 16-year totals: 119-99, with 48 saves.
Other birthdays: Cleveland third sacker from 1925-1932 Johnny Hodapp (1905); Dave Duncan (1945), father of one-time bopping Yankee prospect Shelley Duncan; Kevin Kennedy (1954); Doug Sisk(1957); Rich Gedman (1959); Steve Buechele (1961); Dave Martinez (1964); Brian Shouse (1968); Aaron Myette (1977); Daniel McCutcheon (1982); Scott Lewis (1983); Sean Doolittle (1986); Chris Archer (1988); Colin Walsh (1989); Brooks Pounders (1990); and Jordan Luplow (1993).
Players Born This Day