It was Game Five, and the “Refuse to Lose” Mariners had rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to force a decisive final game at the old Kingdome.
The game was a classic and is undoubtedly remembered for the infamous Edgar Martinez walk-off, two-run double that scored a jet-fueled Ken Griffey Jr. in the 11th inning.
But I want to flash back to the bottom of the ninth inning, with the game tied at 4-4.
The Mariners had rallied from down 4-2 earlier in the contest and mounted runners on first and second and just one out, giving them the chance to put the nail in the coffin on the Yankees’ season.
The Yanks had just taken out a young Mariano Rivera after he issued an intentional walk to Griffey, and Buck Showalter brought on the veteran Jack McDowell to navigate the rest of the frame.
McDowell began by striking out Martinez and with two outs, that brought a 19-year old kid from Miami to the plate for his first career postseason at-bat.
That kid was Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez watched a called strike on the first offering, and then anxiously rolled over on the second pitch and bounced into a fielder’s choice.
Side retired, stage set for the 11th inning heroics.
Now let’s consider the situation that unraveled last night in Game Four of the World Series.
The Bronx Bombers put runners on first and third with two outs and A-Rod steps to the plate.
Just like in ’95, he takes a called strike on the first pitch.
The second pitch is a fastball on the inner half, but instead of grounding out, Rodriguez unleashes his lightning quick hands on the delivery and lashes the ball on one hop off of the left field wall.
He drove in the go-ahead run, and the ever-dominant Rivera shut the in the bottom half of the inning.
It was the exact same situation as 1995, and this time A-Rod made it count.
He didn’t afford the Phillies a chance to complete a late-inning comeback like his ’95 Mariners had done against the Yankees.
Instead, a matured Rodriguez made the necessary adjustment and shut the door on Brad Lidge and the Phillies.
His double delivered the knockdown blow to the defending champions and forces them to get up off the mat and win three straight games to save their season.
I’ve had this at-bat from 1995 etched into my memory since I began obsessively watching the rerun of that Game Five whenever it’s on MLB Network.
Interestingly enough, A-Rod was on deck when Martinez hit the game-winning double, never getting his chance on that day to get his moment in the sun.
I was a kid in Seattle when the ’95 Mariners stole the city’s heart that season, and I always have felt for A-Rod as he struggled through so many postseason appearances.
I waited for him to get another shot at winning a postseason contest for that forgetful ’95 at-bat as a rookie.
I just never imagined that he would get such a replicated chance to redeem his missed opportunity in the 1995 ALDS.
But last night, Rodriguez came through on baseball's biggest stage, finally undoing the notion that he lacks the ability to produce in the clutch.
Isn’t baseball a beautiful game?