After the 1998 Yankees dropped the season opener on April 1st, they got right back into the saddle on the 2nd. No off-day after Opening Day. No sir. The good news: Boomer Wells was getting the ball for New York as they tried to even the series.
When first pitch arrived at 7:05 on the west coast, nearly 30,000 fans entered Edison Field to see how the second game would unfold. Unfortunately for the Yankees, as they endured a rather dreadful start to 1998, game two was more of the same, but a little bit worse.
April 2: Yankees 2, Angels 10 (box score)
Record: 0-2, .000 (2 GB)
There was no indication early that this would turn into a shellacking. After the Yankees stranded Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neill in the top of the first, Wells took the mound. And outside of giving up a single in each of the second and third innings, Wells retired the Angels bats in short order.
And good thing, because the Yanks again stranded two runners in the second, facing Angels starter Ken Hill, and left another on the bases in the top of the fourth. Unfortunately for New York, those missed opportunities rapidly came back to bite them.
First, Dave Hollins took Wells yard for a solo shot. No big deal. But then some shaky defense from Jeets did Boomer no favors. First, the Captain fielded a Tim Salmon ground ball in the shortstop hole, but his throw short-hopped Tino at first. The official scorer gave Salmon a single, but a better throw had him at first.
Then, with two runners on, Jeter bobbled what looked like a tailor-made double play ball up the middle. He managed to get the out at first, and since you can’t assume a double play, he got away without an error on the play. But he easily could have had two errors in the frame. One throwing and one fielding.
Phil Nevin, famously taken first overall in the 1992 MLB Draft that saw the Yankees take Jeter sixth, then ripped a double to left field that scored both runners, putting a crooked number in the run column. I liked Nevin a lot more when he was the team’s third-base coach 20 years later.
From there, New York continued to get runners on against the Angels, and continued to leave them there. Chuck Knoblauch reached in the fifth to no avail, and thanks to a sparkling sliding catch in left field by Garret Anderson on a Darryl Strawberry fly ball, O’Neill and Chili Davis were left on in the sixth. Finally, with runners on second and third in the top of the seventh, Jeter got rid of the Yankee goose egg in the run column, with a sacrifice fly that plated newcomer Scott Brosius.
That was as close as the Yankees would come on this day. The Angels tacked two runs on in the bottom of the seventh against Jeff Nelson. In the eighth, Willie Banks entered the game in one of his nine lifetime appearances for New York. And the Angels drubbed him; perhaps there’s a correlation between this and his short career in the Bronx and. Four singles and a Jim Edmonds home run later, five more runs crossed the plate and this one was all but over. The Yankees managed another lonely run in the ninth, on an RBI single by Knoblauch.
At least the first game stayed close. A rough defensive third inning for Jeter in this one put the Yankees behind the eight-ball, and the Angels feasted once Joe Torre turned to the bullpen. I’m glad we all know how 1998 turned out, because the way it started is nothing to write home about.
Note: The ‘98 Yankees didn’t play on April 3rd, so we’ll skip the feature tomorrow since there weren’t any notable offday stories either. Tune back in on Tuesday morning!