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1998 Yankees Diary, May 26: Late rally secures southside series

On the heels of a blowout win, the Bombers win a tight one with some late heroics.

Paul O’’Neill

It feels a bit like stating the obvious throughout this series, but the Yankees were rolling headed into their May 26th matchup with the White Sox. They had just beaten them 12-0 the night prior, scored double-digit runs in three straight, and had won eight of their last nine. Turns out, this was a good team. They sent out a 25-year-old Andy Pettitte to the bump to square off with Jim Parque and the Sox’ lineup. This game was not the blowout the Yankees had briefly become accustomed to, but a late rally allowed the good times to roll on.

May 26: Yankees 7, White Sox 5 (Box Score)

Record: 35-10, .778 (Up 8.0)

The scoring this evening started in the top of the second for the Yankees. After Chad Curtis singled and advanced to third on a hit-by-pitch and sacrifice bunt, Luis Sojo knocked him in with a groundball to the shortstop. It gave New York an early 1-0 advantage, but it wouldn’t last long. In their turn, the White Sox took the lead right back: after a walk to Albert Belle, Robin Ventura took a 2-1 pitch into the seats in right-center, giving Chicago a lead the same as his count.

Pettitte and Parque settled in after the second frame, however, working around a handful of baserunners to post clean third and fourth innings. Leading off the top of the fifth, Derek Jeter walked, while Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams each followed with singles to load the bags. Tim Raines kept the chain moving with a walk of his own, scoring Jeter and knotting things up at two. It would knock Parque out of the game, as he finished with just four innings pitched, giving up two runs on five hits and five walks. New York had a golden opportunity still in front of them with the bases full of Yanks and no one out, but Carlos Castillo kept things right there, escaping the inning without any more damage.

The score would remain 2-2 until the top of the seventh. Raines opened the gates with a double to right field, advanced on a ground ball, and scored via a Scott Brosius groundout up the middle. Pettitte would come out to defend the newfound lead in the seventh, but surrendered a hit to Chris Snopek to lead things off, while Ray Durhan followed by reaching on an error. This would be the end of Pettitte’s leash, as Joe Torre opted to go to the ‘pen. Pettitte would finish giving up three runs over six innings, with an unsightly seven free passes given out.

Jeff Nelson then gave up a bunt single to load the bases, and the White Sox would not let the opportunity go to waste. Frank Thomas and Albert Belle would cash in, in the form of back-to-back sacrifice flies to abruptly snatch the lead and put the Sox up 4-3.

In the top of the eighth, Chuck Knoblauch began the rally with a one-out double and was followed by Jeter taking one off the arm. Next in line was O’Neill, who worked ahead in the count 3-1, got a pitch he liked, and slashed it into the left field seats. After trailing by a run at the beginning of the eighth, in a flash the Yankees were up 6-3.

Despite a Mike Cameron home run in the eighth and a very threatening foul ball off the bat of Ventura with two outs in the ninth inning, Mariano Rivera and the back end of the Yankee bullpen were able to maintain the lead. Mo would shut things down for his 10th save of the year, and the Yankees 35th victory of ‘98. The division lead for this squad was up to eight games now, and it seems like very little could get in their way.