This list, from the perspective of a Yankee fan, ranks the team's 2009 postseason victories, with No. 1 being the most clutch/dramatic win. The Yankees defeated the Twins in three games, the Angels in six games, and the Phillies in six games to clinch their 27th World Championship.
Not that it wasn't important, but Game One of the 2009 ALDS against the Twins was probably the most mundane win of the Yankees' postseason run.
With what looked like an auspicious beginning in the Bombers' first postseason game since 2007, the Yanks fell behind 2-0 in the 3rd, but were right back in it after a two-run home run from Derek Jeter. Clutch hits from Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez in tandem with a strong effort from C.C. Sabathia set New York on the right track in the playoffs.
Getting off to a good start against a longtime nemesis was key for the Yankees in this best of seven series, but early miscues by a clearly uncomfortable Los Angeles team affected by cold weather along with lights-out work by C.C. Sabathia made Game One of the ALCS rather stress-free. Three Angel errors along with a botched pop-up in the first inning ruined a good effort from John Lackey, and nearly handed the Yankees the first game of what turned out to be an exciting six-game series.
Though this game wasn't one for the ages, it was definitely an important one for the Yankees after losing the first game to Philadelphia. A.J. Burnett had his best start of the entire postseason and the Yankees broke through just enough against an old foe, Pedro Martinez, thanks to solo home runs from Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui. After seven strong innings from Burnett, Mariano Rivera eluded trouble in the eighth, and after that, the game's outcome was no longer in doubt, as the series became even as the teams headed to Philly.
You might be wondering why a series and pennant clincher is so low on the list, but there wasn't much pressure on the Yankees that night, since they led this series three games to two, and had their ace looming for a potential Game Seven at home. Either way, the Angels took an early lead, but the Yankees answered with three in the fifth, highlighted by a clutch two-run single from Johnny Damon, The game was close into the eighth, but errors by Howie Kendrick and Game Four starter Scott Kazmir gave Mariano Rivera a three-run lead to work with en route to the Yanks' 40th American League Pennant.
After winning both Games One and Two at home, the Yankees were playing with house money as the series shifted to Minnesota. They were stymied by former Yankee Carl Pavano until the seventh inning when Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hit incredibly clutch back-to-back homeruns off the right-hander. The tying run for Minnesota fell victim to poor baserunning in the eighth, and the Yankees padded their lead for Rivera, who closed out the first postseason series win for the Bombers since 2004.
After an excruciatingly painful Game Three loss, which happened to be the first of the postseason for the Yankees, New York looked to ace C.C. Sabathia for a road victory especially with an unfavorable pitching matchup looming in Game Five, and a nervous Yankee fanbase back home. Alex Rodriguez's aggressive baserunning put the Yanks on top when he scored on a grounder in the fourth, and followed it up the next inning with a two-run home run. The final score was not indicative of the game's closeness as Sabathia gave manager Joe Girardi eight brilliant innings, and the offense provided five insurance runs over the final two innings. In my opinion, this was the most overlooked and underappreciated victory of the Yankees' postseason since it made it necessary for New York to win only one of the final three games of this series to clinch the pennant.
The World Series-clinching victory didn't exactly stand out as a memorable game since it's outcome was decided early on, but with it the Yankees won their first World Championship in nine years. They continued their dominance of Pedro Martinez, as Hideki Matsui drove in six runs, two via a home run in the second inning. Andy Pettitte won his third series clinching game of the 2009 postseason, and the Yankee bullpen continued to shine behind their starters. The season was capped off when Shane Victorino grounded out to second to seal the Yankees' 27th World Series title. The championship was the fifth for Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada, and the first for other notables, such as Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, and Mark Teixeira.
The Yankees were eager to win both Games One and Two of the ALCS at home, since Angel Stadium had been a virtual house of horrors for them in years past. A pitcher's duel between A.J. Burnett and Joe Saunders had a Derek Jeter home run sprinkled in, but the game remained 2-2 into extra innings. As it began to rain in the frigid Bronx, the Angels took the lead in the top of the eleventh, but Alex Rodriguez answered with a monumental solo home run off of Brian Fuentes to tie the game. The game continued on into the 13th inning when Melky Cabrera hit a potential double play grounder to second. Maicer Izturis made an errant throw to second which rolled down the left-field line, when Jerry Hairston Jr. scored the winning run to give the Yankees a 2-0 series lead.
Having split the first two games of the World Series, the teams traveled to Philadelphia for three consecutive games. A lengthy rain delay pushed back the start of the game on this Halloween night where conditions were less than ideal for baseball. The Phillies struck with three runs in the second off of Andy Pettitte, as it looked like they were poised to take over this series in their home ballpark. However, Alex Rodriguez proved to be clutch again as he hit a ball off of a camera down the right field line, which after review, was ruled a home run. Pettitte himself hit a big single in a fifth inning rally, which was capped off by a hard-hit two-run double by Johnny Damon. The struggling Nick Swisher had two extra-base hits, including a solo home run, and Hideki Matsui added a pinch-hit home run in the eighth. Rivera recorded a five-pitch save and the Yankees led the World Series after their second straight win.
The first postseason start in the Yankee career of A.J. Burnett went smoothly, but the Yankee bats were stifled by Nick Blackburn as this Game Two was even at 1 into the eighth. The Twins struck with two runs off of reliever Phil Hughes and were three outs away from a crucial win, with their great closer Joe Nathan on the mound. Teixeira singled, and Alex Rodriguez blasted a mammoth two-run home run to center to tie the game, his biggest hit in six seasons as a Yankee up to that point. Extra innings proved to be an incredible emotional rollercoaster. With the winning run at third in the tenth, Johnny Damon lined into a double play to send the game to the eleventh. In the top of the inning, AL MVP Joe Mauer drove a ball down the left field line which landed fair, but was ruled foul by umpire Phil Cuzzi, who claimed he was shielded by left fielder Melky Cabrera. Mauer singled, as did the next two Twins hitters. The bases were loaded with no one out, and the Yankees brought in young reliever David Robertson, who proceeded to magically work out of inning without allowing a run. Mark Teixeira led off the bottom of the inning with his first postseason home run as a Yankee as he hit a line drive that just cleared the left field wall, giving the New York a walk-off win and a 2-0 series lead.
The most dramatic and important win of the 2009 Yankee postseason came in Game Four of the World Series. With a two games to one series lead, the Yankees sent Sabathia to the mound on three days rest, with the Phillies' ace, Cliff Lee, looming in Game Five. The Yankees drew first blood with two in the top of the first, but the Phillies answered with one in the first and one in the fourth. Two runs in the fifth gave New York a 4-2 lead, but Chase Utley's third home run of the series brought Philadelphia to within one. Four outs away from a win, and with Joba Chamberlain on in the bottom of the eighth, Pedro Feliz hit a dramatic solo home run off of Chamberlain to tie the game at 4. The Phillies countered with their inconsistent closer Brad Lidge, who after retiring the first two batters, lost a nine-pitch battle with Johnny Damon, who singled to left field. Damon stole second, and with a defensive shift on, Damon took third uncontested in what may have been one of the turning points of the series. With a man on third, Lidge had to shy away from his sharp slider, which often bounced to the plater. Lidge plunked Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez drove a incredibly clutch RBI double down the left field line to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Jorge Posada provided insurance with a two-run single, and Mariano Rivera closed it out. As close as this series was to being tied at two, the Yankees escaped with a three games to one lead and eventually won the series in six games.