On the whole, the year 2022 was good to the New York Yankees.
Forget the Houston Astros sweeping them out of the ALCS and focus on everything else. 99 wins. Aaron Judge’s historic MVP season. Another AL East crown. An offseason defined by re-signing Judge and making him the captain, plus signing Carlos Rodon.
And how about Nestor Cortes becoming a new fan favorite, among other great individual moments?
2022 wasn’t a World Series year for the Yankees, but still provided a fun season with plenty of memories. Let’s take a look at ten of them.
10. Josh Donaldson walks off Opening Day (4/8/22)
Donaldson is a polarizing figure and didn’t have a great first season in the Bronx, but one thing he did well was get walk-off hits. He was responsible for four of the Yankees’ 16 walk-off wins this season and got started with a simple seeing-eye single against the Red Sox on Opening Day.
This was a meaningless game in the grand scheme, but the fans really needed it. 2021 was a disappointing season and 2022 needed to start off on a good note. Donaldson made sure of that and earned his pinstripes early, even if his overall season was bad.
9. IKF stuns the Sawx (8/13/22)
Isiah Kiner-Falefa was often on the receiving end of #YankeesTwitter’s ire, but not this game. New York was in the midst of an awful August slump and needed a win over the rival Red Sox at Fenway Park. The whole lineup was struggling, and IKF took his turn to step up.
Not only did the light-hitting shortstop tie the game with his first home run of the year, but he knocked in the go-ahead run with a ninth-inning bunt. Even in a year that saw him benched in the playoffs, IKF managed to be king for a day.
8. Aaron Judge’s first walk-off homer (5/10/22)
Believe it or not, Aaron Judge didn’t hit his first career walk-off home run until this year. But what a home run it was, coming in the ninth inning against the rival Blue Jays. Jose Trevino and Aaron Hicks worked back-to-back walks against Toronto closer Jordan Romano to set the stage.
Six pitches, a hung slider, and 450 feet later, the future captain said, “Game over” as New York won 6-5.
7. Josh Donaldson’s walk-off grand slam (8/18/22)
Of Donaldson’s four walk-off hits this year, this one was easily the biggest. It was in the thick of the Yankees’ August slump and the Bronx Bombers entered this game against the Rays having lost 10 of their last 12. To add insult to injury, another loss would mean a Tampa Bay sweep. The Yankees’ bats showed signs of life and rallied from trailing 4-0, but New York was still behind 7-4 entering the tenth inning.
The Rays sent Jalen Beeks out to shut the door and the Yankees knew what to do. Gleyber Torres singled Judge, the ghost runner, over to third. Anthony Rizzo walked to load the bases. Donaldson just found a fastball he liked, and the Bronx roared.
6. King closes court (4/14/22)
2022 was when we saw Michael King go from failed starter to deadly bullpen arm. This April tilt against Toronto is a textbook example of how.
Picture the scene. Then-closer Aroldis Chapman enters in the ninth inning with the Yankees up 3-0, then walks the bases loaded. Manager Aaron Boone knows this story all too well and pulls the former All-Star for King. The young righty has never been in this high leverage a situation.
Cut to the fearless King catching George Springer looking at a fastball. Then, Bo Bichette lines into a double play to end the game. In an instant, the Yankees’ legendary bullpen lab was successful once again.
5. Jose Trevino walks off the Orioles (5/22/22)
May 24 was an emotional day for Jose Trevino. Not only was it his late father Joe’s birthday, but another senseless school shooting took place in Uvalde, Texas, his home state. The Yankees honored the victims with a moment of silence before a game with the Orioles.
Trevino went on to have a night that easily sparked his eventual All-Star season. He had three hits. A solo home run, a game-tying single, and the walk-off single in the 11th inning. The cherry on top was Trevino shouting, “Papi!” to the sky as he rounded first base on his winning hit. Trevino also added a Gold Glove at the end of the season and should be penciled in as the starting catcher next year.
4. Nestor’s near-no-hitter (5/9/22)
“Nasty” Nestor earned his nickname in this start against the Texas Rangers, who ditched their lowly status and made it a pitcher’s duel. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Cortes would win out despite not earning the actual win himself. The Rangers were hitless for 7.1 innings as the crafty left fed them a diet of spinning fastballs and crafty cutters.
Cortes turned in an All-Star season and pitched well down the stretch despite a second-half slump. Entering next year, he should remain one of the more popular Yankees amongst fans.
3. Judge slugs No. 61 (9/28/22)
Judge continued his MVP season and made history with a go-ahead two-run blast in Toronto. It was bittersweet, seeing as how the Yankees clinched the AL East the night before and Judge walked four times, but it didn’t matter. Tim Mayza made the pitch, and the new Yankee captain hit it far and hard.
2. No. 62 (10/4/22)
Poor, poor Jesus Tinoco. All he wanted to do was show up to work, get in a couple of innings for his Texas Rangers, and enjoy the rest of the game. After all, would that be so much to ask following another bad year in Arlington?
Unfortunately for Tinoco, history had plans for him and put his name in the books for good. His second pitch of the game made Aaron Judge the new American League home run king and put a cap on a great regular season.
1. The Pirates comeback (9/20/22)
Things weren’t looking good for the Yankees entering the ninth inning of this September game against the Pirates. Wrapping up the AL East crown was taking longer than expected. Everyone felt tired and banged up, and Pittsburgh took the lead in the eighth inning when Jonathan Loasiga didn’t have his best stuff. But then, baseball magic took over once Wil Crowe took the mound in the ninth.
Judge got the party started with his 60th home run of the year and cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 8-5. Then, Rizzo doubled. Enter Gleyber Torres, who stayed patient enough to work a walk. Josh Donaldson loaded the bases with a single.
And then, when a slumping and injured Giancarlo Stanton stepped up, time slowed down. He too was uncharacteristically patient and worked the count to 2-2. Then, he hit Crowe’s changeup for a bullet over the left-field wall, and the crowd’s cheers made the ground shake.