clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

1998 Yankees Diary, June 16: Bats shut down by Birds

The Bombers got blanked by the O’s in a rare quiet night, securing their first series loss since the beginning of 1998.

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson pitches to Photo credit should read HEATHER HALL/AFP via Getty Images

On the heels of a relatively rare loss to open up their series in Baltimore, the Yankees headed into the second game looking to turn things around. The Orioles were coming off an AL East crown and back-to-back playoff appearances, but they were underachieving while floating around .500. At this point, they weren’t a team that New York expected to lose to, but that’s what they did the night before.

The Yankees hadn’t lost back-to-back games since the end of May, and impressively, they hadn’t dropped a series since the very start of ‘98, when they went 0-2 in Anaheim. Surprisingly, they came up short again on June 16th to secure that elusive series loss, as even with a solid effort on the mound from Hideki Irabu, the lineup couldn’t muster any support.

June 16: Yankees 0, Orioles 2 (Box Score)

Record: 47-16, .746 (Up 9.0)

Irabu was coming off of a clunker against Cleveland, in which he gave up five runs in three innings, including three homers. He would square off against Baltimore righty Sidney Ponson, making his second appearance of the year against the Bombers. He began the year in the bullpen, but firmly established himself in the starting five by the beginning of June; he’d remain a rotation staple until 2005 (and later had two separate stints in the Bronx). Ponson’s start on this day would provide good evidence for why the O’s trusted the 21-year-old rookie.

The first inning of this game was a quiet one, with a walk thrown in there, but both lineups were set down on five groundouts and a fly out; some good foreshadowing for the rest of this game. The second inning was even quieter, as the heart of the Yankees’ order, and 5-6-7 for the Baltimore were set down in order. Irabu and Ponson seemed to have the good stuff working.

Speaking in relative terms, the third inning was an offensive outburst for both of these squads. In the Yankees’ turn, after a popout and a strikeout, Luis Sojo mustered New York’s first hit of the ballgame. The Orioles would do the same in their half, as Lenny Webster led things off with their first hit. In similar fashion however, Irabu retired the O’s in order after the hit.

The fourth held more of the same, the Yanks went 1-2-3, and Irabu surrendered a pair of walks, but Baltimore couldn’t make anything of it once again. The fifth, however, was a different story, at least for the birds. Webster once again started things with his second single of the game, followed by Mike Bordick, who would do the same. Two batters later, Harold Baines broke the seal on this one, as he singled up the middle, scoring Webster and giving Baltimore their first lead.

Ponson continued to baffle Yankee hitters in the sixth, as he worked through Scott Brosius, Sojo, and Chuck Knoblauch in succession. With only one run of support for the rookie, the Orioles got back to work in the sixth. Leading things off, Roberto Alomar launched a homer to right-center, giving Baltimore a 2-0 lead that they wouldn’t lose.

Irabu would finish the sixth however, as well as a the seventh. He’d wrap things up giving up seven hits in as many innings, striking out three, and giving up just those two runs. It was a good start, but not enough to compensate for the quiet Yankee lineup. Ponson ran into a little trouble in the seventh, giving up the second and final Yankee hit to Jorge Posada, following a walk. It would knock him out of the game, as he finished with a very impressive 6.2 shutout innings against a formidable lineup.

Arthur Rhodes would quickly clean up that seventh inning for the Orioles, and work a spotless eighth as well. He would come back out for the ninth, and with relative ease, get Knoblauch to groundout, and fan Tim Raines and Paul O’Neill to wrap things up.

This was a forgettable game for the Yankees, as they could only muster two hits against the fourth-place O’s, and failed to tally anything on the scoreboard. This was only the second time all season that the Bombers were blanked, and as noted at the top, a rare occasion in which they lost two out of three in a series. It was an unfamiliar feeling for this team, but one (believe it or not) they would overcome.