In a season where you win 114 games, you win in all sorts of ways. You win thrillers and blowouts, games where you play clean, tight baseball, and ones where you play sloppy. Sometimes, you win a game that’s entirely unremarkable, where you simply just get a few more hits and score a few more runs than your opponent.
The Yankees didn’t really do much that was incredible on this night, notching just one extra-base hit against the rival Red Sox. But they put the ball in play against Derek Lowe and nickel-and-dimed Boston enough to cruise to an easy win.
May 29: Yankees 6, Red Sox 2 (box score)
Record: 37-11, .761 (9.5 GA)
The pitching matchup was an interesting one, with the 25-year-old Lowe making just his 13th career start, up against Cone, the wily veteran who was still trying to find his footing in this 1998 campaign. Things actually started a little inauspiciously for the Yankees, with Reggie Jefferson roping a solo homer in the top of the first to put Boston in front.
But that would be just about all the bad news on the day for the New York. Lowe managed a pair of 1-2-3 innings to start the evening, but got taken to task by the bottom of the Yankee order in the third. Chad Curtis singled and Joe Girardi walked, and Chuck Knoblauch got the Yankees on the board with an RBI single. After a Derek Jeter single, Paul O’Neill looped a base hit into left to score two and put the Yankees up for good:
Perhaps it’s a banal observation, but in watching the footage of this game, I was pleasantly struck by how raucous the crowd seemed as they cheered on a single in the third inning Yankee Stadium appears completely packed and amped up as if it’s a playoff game, not a game in May. Clearly, with the Yankees already 25 games above .500, the Bronx faithful had quickly internalized that something special was happening with their club, and that the only appropriate response was to turn things up for every home game.
The very next inning, the Yankees decided that one three-spot simply wouldn’t do. Singles from Bernie Williams and Scott Brosius and a walk to Curtis loaded the bases for Girardi. The catcher drove home two with a single, and Knoblauch picked up another RBI with a single of his own. You don’t often see a team notch ten singles in one game these days, but that’s how the Yankee offense prevailed over Lowe in this one.
Meanwhile, Cone was in control, facing just one more than the minimum between Jefferson’s home run and the top of the sixth. There, Jefferson got Cone again, for a second solo homer on the day. Jefferson was the only one to damage Cone, as the right-hander finished with the two runs allowed over seven innings with two strikeouts, one of his strongest starts of the year thus far.
Todd Erdos and Mike Stanton handled the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, and the Yankees had themselves a straightforward win, their second in a row over the Red Sox. At 9.5 games clear in the AL East at this point, the Yankees were well on their way to building a lead that would soon become insurmountable.