On this day 17 years ago the Yankees edged Baltimore in what was then the longest 9-inning game in Major League history, eclipsing the 4:18 mark set by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in 1962. In a 4 hour, 21 minute affair, the Bombers outlasted the Orioles in the first game of a 2-game series that would set the tone for their heated division race in ’96.
The game began with a frenetic first two innings in which 14 runs were scored between the two clubs. The Yanks struck in the top of the 1st when a Paul O’Neill homer scored Derek Jeter, who led off with a single. The O’s retaliated with 3 runs in their half of the 1st off of Andy Pettitte. The Yanks retook the lead in the 2nd thanks to an RBI groundout from Joe Girardi and a single off the bat of Ruben Sierra, but the Birds exploded for 6 in their half of the frame, chasing Pettitte from the game and taking a commanding 9-4 lead.
After scoreless ball in the 3rd and 4th innings, the Yanks hung a 5-spot on Arthur Rhodes and Jimmy Myers in the 5th courtesy of a Gerald Williams double, a 2-run single from Girardi and a 2-run bomb by Jim Leyritz, tying the game at 9. Two innings later the Yankees took the lead for good when the newly acquired Tino Martinez, desperately in need of a big hit with a .226 BA entering the game, enjoyed his first of many great moments in pinstripes, sending a 3-run blast into the Baltimore night. The Yanks had 17 hits and 9 walks, including 4 free passes for O’Neill, in the 13-10 victory. Jeff Nelson got the win and John Wetteland picked up his 5th save.