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On This Date in Sports: October 22, 2000: Subway Ride

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The first Subway World Series in 54 years nearly goes off the rails when New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens throws a broken bat at Mike Piazza of the New York Mets in the first inning of Game 2 in the Bronx. In July, Clemens beaned Piazza forcing the Mets’ star to miss the All-Star Game. The benches clear, but cooler heads prevail as the Yankees win 6-5 to take a 2-0 series lead. The Yankees would win the series in five games, capturing a third straight World Championship. 

A new millennium began with the New York Yankees once again ruling the baseball world. The Yankees ended the 20th Century with two straight World Series sweeps and three championships in four years for manager Joe Torre. The Yankees won the American League East despite a September slump, posting a record of 87-74. The Yankees needed five games to beat the Oakland Athletics in the Division Series, needing a 7-5 win in Oakland to advance. The ALCS saw the Yankees take on the Seattle Mariners. With Rogers Clemens throwing a one-hitter after losing twice to Oakland, the Yankees reached their third straight Fall Classic in six games. 

The New York Mets suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS when Kenny Rodgers walked in the winning run in Game 6. The Mets claimed the Wild Card for the second straight season, posting a record of 94-68 for Bobby Valentine. In the Division Series, the Mets faced the San Francisco Giants. After splitting the first two games on the road, the Mets won Game 3 in 13 innings on a walk-off home run by Benny Agbayani, while Bobby Jones closed the series with a one-hit shutout in Game 4. The Mets would not face the archrival Braves in the NLCS, as they were stunned by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. The Mets would take down the Cardinals in five games to reach the Fall Classic for the first time since 1986.

The first Subway Series since 1956 began in the Bronx, with Al Leiter getting the start for the Mets, while Andy Pettitte took the mound for the Yankees. Through five innings, both pitchers had not allowed a run. In the sixth, the Mets appeared to breakthrough when a ball hit by Todd Zeile hit the top of the fence in left. Timo Perez thinking it was a home run, hesitated and was thrown out at the plate on a perfect relay from David Justice to Derek Jeter, who threw it to Jorge Posada, who tagged out Perez trying to score. In the bottom of the sixth, Justice gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead with a double, scoring Chuck Knoblauch and Jeter. The Mets loaded the bases in the seventh, as Bubba Trammell drove in a pair of runs to tie the game. After Jeff Nelson came in for relief, Edgardo Alfonzo drove in a run to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. The lead stood until the ninth inning when Armando Benitez came on to record the save. After getting Jorge Posada to flyout, Benitez lost a ten-pitch battle to Paul O’Neill, who worked out a walk. The Yankees loaded the bases on singles by Luis Polonia and Jose Vizcaino. Knoblauch would hit a sac-fly sending the game to extra innings tied 3-3. Mike Stanton pitched two perfect innings, following Mariano Rivera as the game went into the 12th inning, becoming the longest World Series opener. In the 12th inning, the Yankees won the game 4-3 as Vizcaino singled off Turk Wendell to score Tino Martinez with the winning run. 

In Game 2, Mike Hampton, who won two games in the NLCS and was named MVP, got the start for the Mets while Roger Clemens made the start for the Yankees. On July 8th, in a two-stadium doubleheader, Clemens beaned Mike Piazza in the first inning. Earlier in the year, Piazza hit a grand slam off Clemens. To protect Clemens, Joe Torre had him start Game 2 to avoid pitching at Shea Stadium, where he would come to the plate. After retiring the first two batters in Game 2, Clemens and Piazza faced each other for the first time since the beaning. Mike Piazza had his bat broken when he fouled off a pitch. Roger Clemens grabbed a piece of the bat and threw it at Piazza, who was jogging to first in case the ball went fair. This led both benches to come together as warnings were issued. Piazza would end the inning with a ground ball to second, as the tension was turned up to 11. In the bottom of the first, Hampton created his own trouble with a pair of two-out walks. Both would come into score on singles by Tino Martinez and Jorge Posada. Scott Brosius hit a home run to lead off the second to extend the lead to 3-0. The Yankees would build a 6-0 lead as Clemens allowed two hits in eight innings, striking out nine. In the ninth, Jeff Nelson took the mound looking to close the game out when the Mets’ bats woke up. Alfonzo singled, and Piazza homered to make it 6-2. After a single by Robin Ventura, the Yankees made the call for Marian Rivera. Rivera had one of his shakiest postseason outings, giving up a three-run home run to Jay Payton. However, he struck out Kurt Abbot to end the game as the Yankees held on to win 6-5.

As the series shifted to Shea Stadium for Game 3, the Mets hoped Rick Reed could pitch them back into the series, while Orlando Hernandez made the start for the Yankees. The Mets scored the game’s first run on a home run by Robin Ventura in the second inning. David Justice answered with an RBI double in the third. In the fourth, Paul O’Neill gave the Yankees the lead with a triple. The Mets tied the game 2-2 on an RBI double by Zeile in the sixth. In the eighth inning, the Mets took the lead s Benny Agbayani hit a double off a tiring Hernandez. It was the first loss the El Duque suffered in his postseason career. The Mets added a second run off Mike Stanton as Armando Benitez earned the save, while John Franco earned the 4-2 win. The loss ended the Yankees’ record 14-game World Series winning streak. 

Bobby Jones was on the mound looking to even the series in Game 4, when Derek Jeter, the eventual World Series MVP, led the game off with a home run. The Yankees also scratched across runs in the second and the third. In the bottom of the third, Mike Piazza took Yankees’ starter Denny Neagle downtown with a runner on base. With the score 3-2, Joe Torre called upon David Cone to enter the game in the fifth. Cone got Piazza to pop up as the game went over to the bullpen. Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton, and Mariano Rivera held the Mets hitless over the final four innings as the Yankees won the game 3-2 to take a commanding 3-1 lead. 

Andy Pettitte and Al Leiter faced each other again as the Yankees looked to close out the series in five games. Bernie Williams homered in the second to give the Yankees a lead in the second, but the Mets answered, scratching across two runs following an error by Pettitte on a ball struck by Leiter. The Yankees tied the game on a Jeter home run in the sixth. While the Yankees went to Mike Stanton in the eighth, Al Leiter was still on the mound with the game tied in the ninth. A tiring Leiter gave up a two-run single to Luis Sojo, giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Mariano came on to close out the series, walking Benny Agbayani. With two outs, Mike Piazza was the Mets' last hope. He hit the ball to the deepest part of the ballpark, but Bernie Williams was there to make the catch end the series.