The 1998 Yankees may have had an eight-game win streak snapped on April 19th, but they very quickly got back on their horse as their schedule sent them north of the border. As part of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees took the opening two games. However, they had a tough task on their plate for the series finale.
The reigning Cy Young winner, who was on his way to repeating in ‘98, Roger Clemens was set to take the mound for the Jays. The future Yankee had signed with Toronto ahead of the 1997 season and put in a dominant year. While he would again be awarded in ‘98, the Yankees got to him in a big way on April 22nd.
April 22: Yankees 9, Blue Jays 1 (box score)
Record: 12-5, .706 (0.5 GB)
The day’s action really got going in the second inning. In the top half of the frame, Clemens allowed a walk to Tino Martinez and a double to Tim Raines, setting things up for Scott Brosius. While Brosius would obviously have some more well known heroics in 1998, this was a pretty solid day for him. With two outs in the inning, the Yankees’ third baseman dropped a single into shallow right field, allowing both runs to score to give the Yankees the early lead.
Clemens settled down over the next couple innings, but in that time he was outdueled by Yankees starter Andy Pettitte. Over the first five frames, Pettitte allowed just one hit, one walk, and one hit by pitch, keeping Toronto off the board. That allowed Brosius and the Yankees to extend the lead in the sixth.
Two errors by Blue Jays shortstop Alex Gonzalez allowed Brosius to step to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth. This time, Brosius lined a pitch past a diving Gonzalez. Thanks probably in part to the 1998 SkyDome turf, the ball bounced all the way to the wall, scoring all three runners.
In the seventh, the Yankees tacked on four more runs, knocking out Clemens after 6.2 innings. The nine runs that went on his record that day is tied for the most he ever allowed in a single game. Prior to April 22, 1998, the last time Clemens had given up that many runs in a game was in 1991.
Meanwhile, some who wasn’t having much trouble on the day was Pettitte. He was in a groove almost straight from the jump, throwing a first pitch strike to 17 of the first 21 batters he faced. He kept cruising along until finally running into some resistance in the seventh. After striking out the first two batters of the seventh, the Blue Jays picked up a couple singles. The second, in conjunction with an error by Brosius, allowed a run to score to get Toronto on the board. Of course by that point, it was pretty much too little, too late.
Coming back out for the eighth, Pettitte gave up a leadoff double, before immediately getting a double play to erase that runner. He then retired the next four hitters in order to seal a complete game and the Yankees’ win. He finished the day with one unearned run allowed on six hits and a walk, with six strikeouts. As for Brosius, his five RBI on the day matched his career high at the time, although he would later top that in a 1999 game.
Considering that he won the AL Cy Young in 1998, Roger Clemens didn’t have a ton of bad days that season. However, the 1998 Yankees were good enough to doom him to one of his career-worst performances, even in a great year.