Friday May 17, 2002
For Twins fans, Alex Rodriguez’ grand slam on Friday night may have opened some wounds from the early part of this decade.
In mid-May of 2002 the Twins were facing some of the same questions they are facing in 2002. Are they for real? Surely if they are they can beat the Yankees in the Bronx. It was Ron Gardenhire’s first trip to Yankee Stadium as manager. The Twins had been swept at the Metrodome a week earlier, and were looking to make a respectable showing.
After the Yankees scored first on a Bernie Williams home run off of Rick Reed, the Twins strung together four hits in five batters, putting a three on the board in the second inning.
After Reed battled through innings two and three without allowing another run, the Bronx Bombers came out in the fourth inning. Robin Ventura hit a two-run home run and Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run home run to give the Yankees a 6-3 lead. Jorge Posada made it 8-3 with his two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth off of LaTroy Hawkins. The rout seemed to be on.
The Twins answered, however, in the top of the sixth with six consecutive hits off of Mike Mussina and Mike Stanton. The first out of the inning came on a sacrifice bunt by Cristian Guzman with the Twins down two. The runner moved to second and third base and both eventually scored, capping a six-run inning in which the Twins took a 9-8 lead.
The scoring settled down from there, with both team’s bullpens holding the other scoreless. The Yankees came up for their last at-bat still down by one. One swing of Bernie Williams’ bat off of Eddie Guardado tied the game and sent it into extra innings.
Nothing happened until the top of the 15th inning. With Sterling Hitchcock on the mound, the Twins started to string hits together again. Four singles and a walk in the inning and the Twins had a 12-9 lead.
Mike Trombley returned to the Twins after pitching in Minnesota for most of the ’90s. His was a good comeback story, but it really went sour in the bottom of the 15th inning. He allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases with just one out mixed in. Jason Giambi, a brand new Yankee who had been struggling, broke out of his slump with a game-winning, 15th inning grand slam. It was the 21st time in major league history that a player hit a game-winning grand slam with his team down by three.
The Twins dropped the next two games to the Yankees and went 0-for-6 against the Yankees in 2002. The teams never met in the playoffs, however, because the Yankees were eliminated in the first round by the eventual World Series champion Angels.