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1998 Yankees Diary, May 20: Offense does the talking in aftermath of brawl

In the day after the famous fight against the Orioles, the Yankees came out firing in a non-pugnacious manner.

Derek Jeter

When two teams meet again the day after brawling, it’s hard not to keep a watchful eye on what the aftermath will be. On one hand, that accounts for the backlash of any ill will still in the air. Will any pitcher try and take matters into their own hands and throw inside or at an opposing batter? What will the batter then do if that happens?

On the other hand, there’s also potential backlash that could lead to changes in the win column. Even beyond just teams losing players to suspension, there also a chance that a brawl could lead to one team wanting to come out and play with their hair on fire, letting their play do the talking.

The day after the famous Armando Benítez-instigated brawl against the Orioles in 1998, the Yankees let their play do the talking.

May 20: Yankees 9, Orioles 6 (box score)

Record: 30-9, .769 (4.5 GA)

After previous night’s action, the Yankees were set to be without Darryl Strawberry. While three Yankees received suspensions for the fighting, they were set to be staggered, and Strawberry was the only one sitting that day for the Bombers. However, Tino Martinez was out for the day injured after being the one hit by the pitch that led to the kerfuffle. Meanwhile, two Orioles also got suspensions, but the instigator Benítez was the only one out for the next day after getting eight games off. Joe Torre and Ray Miller — the teams’ managers — also talked in the aftermath trying to clear the air.

On the mound for the teams that day were Hideki Irabu and former Yankee Jimmy Key, who would be in charge of setting the tone for any nonsense that day. Irabu didn’t do much to incite things, but did allow a run in the first. Brady Anderson led off the game with a triple and came around to score on a Jeffrey Hammonds sacrifice fly.

In the bottom of the first, Key showed that he wasn’t going to let the previous day’s events impact the way he was going to pitch. On the first pitch he threw, he went a little inside on Chuck Knoblauch. However, Knoblauch responded by singling, with Derek Jeter then hitting a triple of his own to tie the score. Two batters later, Bernie Williams walked, followed by a Tim Raines single to give the Yankees the lead. Right after that, Chad Curtis was hit by pitch...

...but not in a way that was intentional and led to any more fisticuffs. However, it did lead to more fireworks from the offense. Jorge Posada added a double to score two more runs, as the Yankees put up a four-spot in the inning.

While Irabu did put a couple runners on in the innings after that — including a couple hit-by-pitches that went by without incident — he did manage to get out of the jams without allowing runs. The Yankees went on to add to the lead in the fifth thanks to an RBI double from Jeter and a RBI single from Paul O’Neill.

The Orioles got one run back off Irabu in the sixth when B.J. Surhoff drove home Harold Baines. However, the Yankees immediately answered back. Scott Brosius led off the bottom of the inning with a home run. Raines then added a run with single that scored Luis Sojo — playing at first for Martinez — later on in the inning.

Irabu came back out for the seventh, but after two runners got on via a single and an error, he departed. Replacing him was Graeme Lloyd. Despite being one of the ones suspended after being one of the most memorable parts of the brawl, Lloyd did have his suspension staggered, allowing him to pitch the next day. He got a couple outs to get out of the jam. Jeff Nelson, another one cited for his involvement, got the eighth inning and put two runners on before getting out of the inning.

In the ninth, Torre tasked reliever Darren Holmes with getting the last three outs of the game. While he eventually did that, Holmes also gave up four runs on three home runs in the process. Things never got to the point where the tying run came to the plate or anything like that, but it definitely would’ve been frustrating to sit through.

Things definitely had the potential to get spicy considering what happened the previous day, but on May 20, 1998, the Yankees let their offense do the talking.