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1998 Yankees Diary, June 2: Bombers take advantage of mistakes

The White Sox weren’t exactly tight on defense, and the Yankees cashed in on it.

Derek Jeter

With all things considered for the 1998 Yankees, the team was in a “rough” stretch headed in this June clash with the White Sox ... meaning, of course, they had lost two of three. This was unusual for this squad, to be fair, as it was only the third time to this point that they’d lost consecutive games. After a win the day prior, the David Wells-led Yankees would continue their winning ways, as they took advantage of some costly mistakes from the Sox.

June 2: Yankees 6, White Sox 3 (Box Score)

Record: 39-13, .778 (7.5 game lead)

Wells had been on a nice run, with his last three starts including a perfect game, and a pair of seven-inning, three-run outings. He would oppose fellow southpaw Mike Sirotka for the South Siders, who was coming off of back-to-back excellent starts, where he totaled 11 strikeouts and 4 earned runs over 17.1 innings of work.

After a clean first inning of work for the Yankees’ big lefty, the lineup got to work almost immediately. With two out and no one on, Paul O’Neill popped a ball into foul territory, Robin Ventura gave it an effort but failed to reign it in, granting O’Neill a second life. He’d cash in later in the at-bat, by yanking a 3-2 pitch down the right field line into the seats to make it 1-0 New York.

Chicago would answer back in quick fashion, however, as Albert Belle took the first pitch of the second up and out to right-center field. It was the beginning of a very good night for the feared slugger, and tied the game up at one. It would remain that way for a bit, Wells got out of the second after the Belle homer, and navigated around a couple of singles in the third, while Sirotka set the Yankees down in order in both frames, thanks in part to a Mike Cameron home run robbery.

In the top of the fourth, Wells was bit by the homer bug once again, as Wil Cordero took him deep to left field to give the Sox a one run lead. After Wells settled in once again, the Yankee lineup would retaliate in the fifth. With Tim Raines on third base, Scott Brosius grounded a ball to shortstop for an RBI single, on a ball that easily could have been an inning-ending out. Chuck Knoblauch would follow by reaching on a routine-as-it-gets groundball that Ray Durham botched to extend the inning even further.

Derek Jeter would not let this opportunity go to waste, with a green light on a 3-0 count, he laced a patented Jeterian home run into the right-field seats, just over the 314-foot sign. In the ugly blink of an eye, the Yankees were now leading 5-2.

Belle would continue to carry his weight for Chicago, leading off yet another inning off with a homer in the top of the sixth. Sadly for Sox fans, his efforts alone would not be enough. Knoblauch added some insurance in the seventh with an RBI double, to make the score 6-3, the same as the final.

Mariano Rivera closed this one out with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, to collect his 11th save of the ‘98 season. Wells improved his record to 8-1, as he pitched a mostly solid eight innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, with eight K’s along the way. The Yankees’ record would improve to 39-13, as you might imagine, winning three times as many games as you lose, typically means you’re dealing with a pretty special squad.

June 2nd was also the date of the amateur draft in 1998. Of the Yankees’ picks that day, the most recognizable name is that of Mark Prior, who they took in the first round. Unfortunately, he didn’t end up signing with the Yankees, as he went on to an impressive but unfulfilling career with the Cubs. Marcus will have more on that draft later today.