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One of the Yes Network's most aired shows are their Yankee Classics.  Generally, during the regular season on off days and mornings before a game when there was none the day before, you can catch the Yankees Classics.  Then they fill up a lot of the schedule with them during the off-season.  As a Yankee fan, I think it's a great idea, although the ranking of some games as "Classics" can sometimes be questions.

Well, this is an attempt to log as many of the Yankee Classics that have been shown including some commentary and rankings on whether they really are classics or...not so much.

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Regular Season vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Late Game Comeback vs. the Bucs
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Final Score: 7-5, 10 inn.
Yankee Classic Rating (1 low to 10 high): 3
A strange choice for a "classic." Surely there were plenty of Regular Season classics in the 2005 season against better opponents. But, this probably falls into the category that the Yankees hadn't had a "classic" against the Pirates yet, and since the Yankees goal is to try to have a "classic" ready to airĀ against every team, this might be the closest they get to one against the Pirates for a long time.

The hook in this game is a late game comeback capped off by a Jason Giambi, two-run game winning home run. At the time, the walk-off homer was significant because it was the first sign of life from Giambi all year as far as clutch hits go. Unfortunately, it was only Giambi's 5th round tripper of the year and he wouldn't add another to his tally until July 4th when he went deep twice against the Orioles in a 13-8 victory.

Those were actually the more significant and telling home runs as it was his first multi-homer game during his "comeback" from a disasterous 2004 season fraught with injuries, sickness and an off-season confession to steroid use. The two home runs on the 4th sparked a torrid month of July that saw 14 homers, 24 RBIs, a .355 batting average and an incredible .974 slugging percentage en route to the July Player of the Month award. Despite the fact that the walk off in this game was merely a hiccup on the comeback trail, in retrospect it's interesting knowing the Giambi the Yankees paid for was waiting just around the bend.

As for the rest of the game, well it actually was a fairly entertaining...and controversial one. Kevin Brown started the game for the Yankees, a common occurance on Yankee Classics since a Brown start usually meant an early Yankee defecit and potential comeback. However, to everyone's surprise, Brown actually lasted 3.1 innings before he surrendered his first runs.

The Yankees had an early 1-0 lead courtesy of a Jorge Posada lead-off home run in the second off Pittsburgh starter Mark Redman. But, in true Brown fashion, he didn't waste much time giving up that lead, surrendering RBI singles to Ryan Doumit and Daryle Ward in the top of the third.

Pittsburgh tacked on another run in the top of the fourth courtesy of an RBI single off the bat of 2004 NL Rookie of the Year Jason Bay. That single also chased Kevin Brown from the game in favor of Buddy Groom, who inherited a first and second, one out situation. The veteran lefty promptly induced Pittsburgh centerfielder Rob Mackowiak into a 4-6-3 double play.

Yankee bats were easily silenced for the next few innings while Buddy Groom did a good job holding the Pittsburgh lead at 3-1. In the top of the seventh, Groom was lifted and Joe Torre decided to go to Tanyon Sturtze. Sturtze's propensity for surrendering the long ball immediately reared it's ugly head when light hitting shortstop Jack Wilson touched him up for a lead off home run to stretch the Pirate lead to 4-1.

Finally in the bottom of the seventh, the Yankee bats arrived and they started their comeback in rather quiet fashion. A Hideki Matsui lead off double, followed by a Ruben Sierra grounder to second set the Yankees up with a runner on third and one out. Unfortunately, Giambi flied out to shallow center, not far enough to score Matsui. However, Robinson Cano was able to pick up Giambi with an RBI infield single. The Yankees would go on to load the bases later in the inning but could not cash in.

In the top of the 8th, Sturtze helped cancel out the Yankees 7th inning run by surrendering yet another lead-off home run, this time to Jason Bay. The rest of the inning went without incident and the Yankees entered the bottom of the eigth trailing 5-2.

The bottom of the eighth saw the Yankees plate two runs. Alex Rodriguez led off with a single and moved to second on a Posada ground out. Pittsburgh then turned to their nasty left-hander Mike Gonzalez to face Matsui. As we hadĀ seen time and time again, lefties didn't necesarily bother Matsui. Even those as good as Gonzalez. Naturally, Matsui singled to center, scoring Rodriguez. Andy Phillips, pinch running for Matsui, moved to second on a wild pitch right before scoring on a Ruben Sierra double to deep left. That capped the scoring for the inning, but the Yankees pulled to within one run at 5-4.

That's just where Torre wanted to keep things, so he turned to Mariano Rivera to fulfill his wish. Rivera set the Pirates down 1-2-3. In the bottom of the ninth, Lloyd McClendon turned it over to his closer, the less than reliable Jose Mesa. Jeter grounded out to start the inning, but Bernie Williams drew a one-out walk. Then came the true turning point of the game. Gary Sheffield grounded into what appeared to be a game ending double play, but first base ump Tony Randazzo ruled Sheffield safe at first. On the replay, it appeared Sheffield was out, but not according to the one man that mattered.

Given a reprieve, the Yankees were able to capitalize. Alex Rodriguez followed with a single and Posada doubled off the right-field wall to tie the game at 5-5. Unfortunately, the inning ended when Rodriguez also tried to score on the double, but was easily gunned down at the plate.

Pittsburgh managed a one-out walk in the 10th, but nothing else. Then, in the bottom of the tenth with Russ Johnson on second (pinch running for Tino Martinez who walked to lead off the inning) Jason Giambi took his first real step in the comeback season by depositing a 2-2 pitch into the upper deck in right. Giambi would go on to say after the game that, "Hopefully, this is a turning point." It wasn't quite so yet, but better things were on the horizon.
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