The 2000 New York Yankees won only 87 games during the regular season, yet they won their third consecutive Eastern Division title and made it to the World Series despite having the worst record of the eight playoff teams. Now they had a chance to sweep their third consecutive World Series.
The 1927-28 Yankees and the 1938-39 Yankees had each swept the World Series, but no team had ever swept three in a row The fact that the Yankees would be playing the New York Mets put added pressure on the fans, which many of the Yankees felt.
After winning the first two games of the Series at Yankee Stadium, talk of another sweep was rampant among media types and unrealistic fans. Neither the Yankees nor the Mets thought it would happen.
The fact that the Yankees had won six consecutive playoff series (two in each of 1998.1999 and 2000) plus two world championships was impressive.
‘It is remarkable when you think about it,” David Cone said prior to the third game at Shea Stadium.
Former Yankees’ left-hander Al Leiter, now the Mets’ ace, conceded nothing.
”Are we in awe or thinking we’re going to roll over and die?” Al Leiter said. ”Hell, no.”
Paul O’Neill, whose classic at-bat against Armando Benitz in Game 1 led to the Yankees tying the game, said that sweeping the Mets hadn’t crossed his mind until he was asked if he had thought about it.
”I try not to. Coming into this series, you know how important every game is. As soon as you lose a game, it seems the momentum changes. We’ve never come into a World Series expecting to sweep anybody.”
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez was starting the third game for the Yankees against Rick Reed. “El Duque” was starting his 10th post-season game. He was 8-0.
Reed had lasted only three and one-third innings in his last post-season start.
Robin Ventura hit a solo home run off Hernandez leading off the second inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, but David Justice’s two-out double scored Derek Jeter with the tying run and O’Neill’s triple scored Tino Martinez with the lead run in the fourth inning.
But that was all that the Yankees would score.
The Mets tied the game in the sixth inning and scored the winning runs in the eighth inning. Despite striking out 12 Mets, “El Duque” became the first Yankees’ pitcher to lose a World Series game since Jimmy Key lost Game 2 in 1996.
The Yankees didn’t sweep but they beat the Mets in five games. It was the last world championship they would win until Yankee Stadium was destroyed.