Pretty much every month was an impressive one for the 1998 Yankees, but you could make an argument that July was their best. Over the course of July 1998, the Yankees would go 20-7, which is a .741 winning percentage. That matched May as their best month by winning percentage, but the Yankees’ pitching was especially on point in July. In the 27 games, the staff allowed just 89 runs in total, which is slightly less than 3.3 per game.
All of that began on the 1st of the month, when one big name put in a good performance on the mound, and another put in a good one at the plate.
Record: 57-20, .740 (10 GA)
Earlier in the day on July 1st, the pitching rosters for the upcoming All-Star Game had been announce, and to no surprise, David Wells was among them. After a slow start to the season, he had turned things around, and of course had that whole perfect game thing going for him. He got his All-Star celebrations started with a couple scoreless frames against the Phillies, working around a Scott Rolen single in the first.
One Yankee who had been slumping in recent weeks despite all the wins was Tino Martinez. Since getting drilled by Armando Benítez in the infamous brawl game, Martinez had struggled. In his 29 games after that, he had gone 18-for-101, which gave him a .178/.267/.376 slash line in that time. However, he got off to a good start in this game. With Tim Raines on after a walk, Martinez hit a two-run homer to get the Yankees on the board in the bottom of the second.
In the fourth, the Phillies rallied back to tie things up. Rolen got things started for them when he hit a solo homer off Wells. A few batters later after two singles and a Chad Curtis error, catcher Mike Lieberthal’s groundout was enough to score a run and tie things up.
After Martinez’s homer, Phillies starter Matt Beech settled down. Going into the fifth, he had retied eight of the previous nine batters he had faced, with another Raines walk being the only blemish. However, he then ran into trouble in the fifth. Joe Girardi drew a walk to start the inning, and Chuck Knoblauch added a single. While Beech then struck out Derek Jeter, he walked Paul O’Neill, and then allowed a single to Raines. That gave the Yankees the lead and also loaded the bases for Martinez. His big day continued as he laced a single between first and second. Knoblauch and O’Neill both came around to score, giving the Yankees some breathing room.
After that, Wells added two more scoreless frames. He had to work around runners in scoring position in each, but did so without damage. On the day, Wells went seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out four.
Mike Stanton came in for the eighth, and while he got one out, he also allowed a single and a walk. That led to Joe Torre going to Mariano Rivera for a five-out save. Per usual, the task proved to be no issue, as Mo went five-up/five-down over the eighth and ninth to seal a win.