Yankees Top 19 Games since 2000: No. 11, Derek Jeter's walk-off in his final game
To kick off 2019, we're unveiling our count of the Yankees' 19 best games since 2000. Historic feats, classic comebacks and postseason glory all find their way onto the list with an obvious No. 1 coming Jan. 20.
Let's continue with No. 11, Derek Jeter's walk-off in his final game.
Derek Jeter always had a flair for the dramati,c and he didn't disappoint in his final game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25, 2014. After battling injuries in 2013, Jeter announced the following offseason that he was planning on calling it a career after the 2014 campaign.
The long-time Yankee captain was showered with gifts and warm wishes by organizations throughout 2014 to celebrate his 20 seasons in baseball. With the season winding down, Jeter said his final time at shortstop would be at Yankee Stadium in the second-to-last series of the season. (He ended up serving as the designated hitter for two games against the Red Sox in the final series of season at Fenway Park, picking up two hits in four at-bats.)
Jeter entered the day batting .253 on the season but had a little left for his final home game. Despite the game in jeopardy of being rained out, 48,613 excited fans filed into the Stadium to see Jeter's finale.
The Orioles got on the board early with back-to-back home runs off Hiroki Kuroda in the first inning, but Jeter and the Yankees answered right away. Brett Gardner led off the bottom half of the inning with a single, and Jeter followed with an RBI double, just missing a two-run home run. He moved over to third base on a wild pitch and scored when Brian McCann reached on an error.
Neither team scored again until the seventh inning, and Jeter did not have a hit in his next three at-bats. He grounded out in the second inning and struck out swinging in the fifth inning before coming up again in the seventh.
Stephen Drew opened the seventh inning by reaching on a dropped strikeout. Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Pirela both singled to load the bases for Brett Gardner, who grounded into a force at home plate. Jeter came up again looking to play hero. He grounded out to the shortstop JJ Hardy, but a throwing error allowed him to reach base and two runs to score. Brian McCann added an insurance run on a sacrifice fly to pad the Yankees' lead to 5-2.
Kuroda threw a gem, allowing just the two runs on three hits and striking out nine batters over eight innings. With a 5-2 lead, manager Joe Girardi called for his closer David Robertson. He walked Nick Markakis to start the ninth inning, and Adam Jones brought him in with a home run. The Yankees were up 5-4 now, but the bases were clear for Robertson to finish the game off. He got Nelson Cruz to strike out, but then allowed a game-tying home run to Steve Pearce.
The Stadium was in disbelief as the usually reliable Robertson allowed three runs and took away the narrative of Jeter driving in the winning runs. It took a little energy out of the crowd, but everyone soon realized Jeter was due up third in the inning.
Pirela led off the inning with a single and was removed for the speedy pinch runner Antoan Richardson. Gardner came up next and laid down a beautiful bunt to advance Richardson to second base for Jeter. With one out and the game-winning run in scoring position, everyone wondered if the Captain had enough magic to do it one more time.
As we all know, he did. Jeter singled to right field on the first pitch, and Richardson scored just ahead of the throw by Markakis. The Stadium erupted as Jeter delivered the game-winning hit in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium. From start to finish the game was a classic and it was a fitting ending to Jeter's incredible career.