In the second of this three-game set with their crosstown rivals, the Yankees were in a spot they’d find themselves in consistently through 1998: in position to cinch a series. The Yankees had dispatched the Mets with ease the night before, cruising to an 8-4 win in the first-ever game between the two clubs at Shea Stadium.
On this day, the Mets had Jerry Seinfeld throw out the first pitch, with the comedian at the height of his notoriety. Perhaps it’s fitting that a comedy of errors would ensue on the field.
June 27: Yankees 7, Mets 2 (box score)
Record: 55-19, .740 (10.0 game lead)
Andy Pettitte started for the Yankees, still searching for his groove in the 1998 season, and he and his defenders kicked off the stream of miscues in the second. After a leadoff single, Pettitte uncorked a wild pitch and a walk. The lefty then got a double play groundball from Rey Ordóñez, but a throwing error from Chuck Knoblauch allowed a run to score and give the Mets an early 1-0 lead.
Opposite Pettitte was Bobby Jones, with the right-hander coming off an All-Star campaign in 1997. Jones had little trouble to open the game, allowing just one hit through three innings, but come the fourth inning, it was his defense’s turn to fail him.
With one down and no one on, Paul O’Neill hit a pretty routine groundball to Ordóñez. The shortstop’s throw to first was in time and on the money, but John Olerud just dropped it. It’s one of the simplest, most egregious errors you’ll see:
Darryl Strawberry followed with a single to put two on for Tino Martinez, who made the Mets pay for their largesse:
Tino’s 11th homer of the year was good for a 3-1 lead, and from there, Pettitte settled in. After that messy second frame, Pettitte allowed just one hit over the next four innings, though he did hit a batter and see a batter reach on a Scott Brosius error, adhering to the theme of the day.
Even so, he carried the Yankees’ lead into the seventh, where they broke things open thanks to even more sloppy play. A Martinez double and Jorge Posada single put two on with none out, and a Chad Curtis sac fly brought home a run and advanced Posada to second. Scott Brosius followed with a grounder to Ordóñez, who attempted to nab Posada as he advanced to third. Instead, Ordóñez nailed Posada in the back, and all runners were safe:
A walk loaded the bases, and Derek Jeter followed with a bloop two-run single that acted as the dagger. O’Neill tacked on an RBI single for another insurance run, and the Yankees led 7-1.
Pettitte walked two of the first three batters he faced in the seventh, which spelled the end of his day. Mike Buddie relieved Pettitte and allowed one of his inherited runners to score, leaving Pettitte’s line at 6.1 innings with two runs. He struck out nine, but also walked four to go along with the hit batsman and wild pitch, an effectively wild outing some might say.
Mike Stanton relieved Buddie after just two batters (something that would be outlawed a couple decades later!) and took the game to its conclusion with little incident. This was far from the cleanest game the Yankees played, and the 7-2 score line does flatter them a bit. But when you win 114 games in a season, you win some close games, some blowouts, some well-played games, and some ugly ones. Chalk this up as a sloppy one that the Yankees nonetheless won going away.