On This Date in Sports August 8, 2000: Making Izzy Dizzy

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The New York Yankees make Izzy dizzy as they rally to beat the Oakland Athletics 4-3 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees came to the plate trailing 3-2 in the ninth inning, as the Athletics called on closer Jason Isringhausen to get the save. It would take just pitches for the Yankees to turn a loss into a win as Bernie Williams and David Justice hit back-to-back home runs to win the game. 

It was an early August battle of playoff contenders in the Bronx as the New York Yankees seeking a third straight World Championship hosted the upstart Oakland Athletics. The Yankees led by Joe Torre entered the three-game series in first place with a record of 59-48, while the Athletics managed by Art Howe were in position for the Wild Card at 61-49.

A key to Oakland’s success was Jason Isringhausen. Once part of Generation K for the Mets, Izzy, like Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson, had his career derailed by injuries. After missing all of 1998 with Tommy John surgery, Jason Isringhausen struggled with the Mets and would be buried in the back of the bullpen. The Mets would trade Isringhausen to the Oakland Athletics in 1999 and the trade deadline for Billy Taylor. The Mets were under the heat of a pennant race, while the Athletics were in a rebuild in 1999, the lack of pressure was helpful for Jason Isringhausen as he was allowed to find his groove. In 2000, the A’s were back in the playoff chase as Isringhausen made the All-Star team for the first time as Oakland’s closer. 

Barry Zito, an impressive rookie, was making his fourth career start with the Athletics, while Roger Clemens and his five Cy Young Awards was on the mound for New York. The Yankees scratched out a run in the third inning as Scott Brosius, who led off the inning with a walk, scored on a double play off the bat of Derek Jeter. In the fifth inning, the Athletics took the lead scoring three runs on back-to-back home runs. The first of the home runs was an inside the park home run by Erick Chavez, scoring Jeremy Giambi, who had previously walked. Ramon Hernandez followed with a conventional home run. 

In the seventh inning, the Yankees cut the lead to 3-2, as David Justice drove home Paul O’Neill after he reached base on an error by Jason Giambi. Jim Mecir came in and held the Yankees at bay, as Zito appeared to be closing in on his second career win. The Yankees had Mariano Rivera on the mound for the eighth. Rivera had not pitched in several days and needed the work. He gave up a single and two walks to load the bases but retired Adam Piatt on a flyout to the warning track in right field. 

Jason Isringhausen was on the mound to close the game for Oakland. Bernie Williams, whose missed time dive led to the A’s first two runs, was at the plate. Swinging at the first pitch, Bernie tied the game with a home run to right field. The Bronx was on its feet as a crowd of 36,357 fans arose on hot Tuesday Night was ready to explode. David Justice, with the game tied 3-3, was the second batter in the ninth, also swinging at the first pitch. Justice would drive the ball to the right-center power alley into the stands to win the game 4-3. The Yankees had needed two pitches, two batters, and two home runs to win the game.  

The Yankees would sweep the three-game set. Both teams would win their divisions, the Yankees, despite a September swoon, the Athletics surging at the end to snatch the division away from the Seattle Mariners who settled for the Wild Card. This set up a battle between the Yankees and Athletics in the Division Series. The Yankees would win the series needing five games and would go on to win their third straight World Series.