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1998 Yankees Diary, April 28: Each winning streak lost is just a chance for a new one

The Yankees ended a six-game win streak, as the lineup couldn’t get much going against the Jays.

USA TODAY Sports RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees hadn’t lost a game since my last entry into this diary, a streak that would sadly die with this one. New York had begun their home series against the Blue Jays with a narrow 1-0 pitchers’ duel victory. Ramiro Mendoza and the Yankees staff couldn’t maintain their excellence from the day prior, as they battled in the second game of the series against Toronto’s Woody Williams.

April 28: Yankees 2, Blue Jays 5 (Box Score)

Record: 15-6, .714 (0.5 GB)

Mendoza’s last start, also against the Jays, was a solid one. He tossed seven innings of two-run ball, with a pair of strikeouts. This would be his fourth starting nod of the year, and he looked to build on his last performance against a familiar opponent. From the other dugout, Toronto sent out Williams, a 31-year-old innings eater whose last start was against the Yanks as well, where he threw 6.2 scoreless frames.

The Yankees grabbed the lead early in this one. In the bottom of the first, after back-to-back singles from Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez lined a single to left to capture an early 1-0 lead. The Bombers sadly couldn't bask for long, as the Jays punched right back. Top of the second, the Jays started with their own pair of singles, followed by a hit-by-pitch. Former Yankee Tony Fernandez then delivered in a big spot, slashing a double into left-center, clearing the bases, and giving Toronto a 3-1 lead.

Both pitchers were able to settle down briefly, as Mendoza and Williams worked clean innings through the third. In their turn of the fourth, after a Bernie Williams triple, the Yanks got their second run of the night on an error off the bat of Chad Curtis.

Mendoza would pitch into the sixth, but couldn’t record an out in the frame. After walking Darrin Fletcher, the righty gave up a home run to Ed Sprague Jr. down the left field line that would give Toronto a 5-2 lead. He gave up another extra-base hit and was done for the day as a result. He would finish with a line of five earned runs in as many innings, with two strikeouts and a walk. For the Blue Jays, Williams was also unable to get out of the sixth, as he finished with a pair of earned runs over 5.2 innings.

In the top of the seventh, Toronto was threatening to add to their three-run lead, with Sprague once again in the batter’s box. The righty put a good swing on the ball, shooting it up the middle before Yankees reliever Darren Holmes spun and caught the line drive behind his back to keep the score where it was.

The exciting play, however, would be for naught on the Yankee side of things. New York managed just a pair of hits in their final three innings, a Knoblauch single and a Bernie double. They had their chance in the eighth, with runners on the corners and one out, but it was quickly given up as Curtis grounded into an inning-ending double play.

A combination of Bill Risley, Dan Plesac, Paul Quantrill, and Randy Myers stymied the Yankee bats out of the ‘pen from the seventh inning on, and secured a 5-2 win for the Jays over the Yankees.

The Yankees’ six-game winning streak was now over, but this was too good of a team to get down for too long. They would enter a series against the Mariners next, looking to hop right back into the winning ways they had become quite familiar with already. The Red Sox lost to Detroit on this day, but thus kept pace with the Yankees in the standings, making it all the more important that New York could rebound off of the loss.