Just before Game 3, Luis Sojo flew in from Venezuela to rejoin the Yankees. Just before the World series had begun, his father passed away unexpectedly. There was a tragic air around the 1999 Yankees and the World Series in particular. As Matt mentioned during the Game 1 recap, Darryl Strawberry was still recovering from cancer as the season began. Joe Torre was diagnosed with prostate cancer and Scott Brosius lost his father, Marty, after a long bout with colon cancer.
Further adding to the general gloom, on the travel day between Games 2 & 3, golfer Payne Stewart's death made national headlines. On the morning of October 25th, Stewart boarded a private plane flight out of Orlando, bound for Dallas and the season-ending PGA Tour Championship. While en route, the cabin lost pressure and everyone on board was killed almost immediately. The Learjet, presumably still on autopilot, continued it's journey, flanked by F-16's until it crashed in an unpopulated area in South Dakota. Just a month removed from the American's dramatic Ryder Cup victory at Brookline, and four months past Stewart's U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst (the first of Phil Mickelson's many seconds), the American sporting landscape had lost one of it's more iconic characters.
The temperature at game time was an unseasonably warm 62 degrees with a steady breeze blowing out to right field. Lefties Tom Glavine and Andy Pettitte took the hill for the pivotal Game 3. Both had turned into two excellent starts thus far in the '99 postseason, but each stumbled out of the gate.
To begin the top of the first, Pettitte gave up a single to Gerald Williams and a double to Bret Boone. Williams was driven in on a groundout by Chipper Jones, but Pettitte avoided further damage. Chuck Knoblauch reached on an E9 and was advanced to third on a fly ball by Derek Jeter. A single by Paul O'Neill evened the score at 1.
After a scoreless second inning for both hurlers, Pettitte ran into trouble in the third. He gave up a single, two doubles and another single, and by the time he had recorded three outs, the Braves were up 4-1.
Already facing the top of the order for the third time in the fourth inning, Pettitte gave up a triple to Williams and a double to Boone, making the 1-2 hitters for the Braves 5 for 6 against Pettitte with three runs scored. The next batter, Chipper Jones, finally chased Pettitte with a single. Andy had put up another poor performance in the Fall Classic, getting tagged for 10 hits and 5 runs in 3 2/3 IP. Jason Grimsley mopped up nicely however, keeping the Yanks in the game with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Meanwhile, Glavine rolled along up until the 5th inning, when he allowed a solo shot to Chad Curtis. He didn't allow another hit until he gave up another homer to Tino Martinez in the 7th. 5-3 Braves.
Jeff Nelson came on after Grimsley and also did his part admirably, pitching perfect 7th and 8th innings. The Yankees had clawed back to within two runs when Joe Girardi led off the bottom of the 8th. He singled to center, bringing up Chuck Knoblauch, owner of exactly one home run in 160 postseason at bats. He lofted one just over the short porch in right, tying the game at 5. Bobby Cox decided he had seen enough and brought in his closer, John Rocker to close out the frame. Despite the 5 runs, (4 earned) Glavine pitched pretty well, but like Pettitte, he would not factor into the decision.
With the Yanks having pulled even, Torre brought in his closer to try to keep it that way. Mo faced the minimum three batters in the top of the 9th, but Rocker sat down the side in order in the bottom half to take the game into extra innings.
Bobby Cox burned through three pinch hitters in the top of the tenth, but all he got in return was a two out single by Ryan Klesko, who never made it past first.
Since Rocker had already pitched two innings, Cox called on Mike Remlinger to extend the game. He did not. Chad Curtis hit his second home run of the game, brought the house down and gave the Yankees a seemingly insurmountable lead of three games to none in the series.
During his postgame interview with Jim Gray, Curtis informed Gray on live television that the Yankees were upset with his treatment of Pete Rose two days earlier and that they refused to speak with him. When asked by the media after the game, Joe Torre said that there had been no meeting. There in fact had been an agreement between the players only to which Torre was not privy and Tino Martinez informed the manager that was the case. Curtis, asked Torre to set the record straight since the mix up had shown Curtis in a bad light, but Torre never did. Curtis remained bitter about the incident and was traded to Texas during the ensuing offseason for Brandon Knight and Sam Marsonek.
Sitting on the verge of yet another World Series sweep, the Yankees would still have to traverse another loss, but not on the field.