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1998 Yankees Diary, July 17: The Rocket quiets the Bombers

Roger Clemens and the Jays take the series opener up north.


After a two-game split in the Motor City, the Yankees headed north of the border to take on the Blue Jays. Toronto sat below .500 headed into play, thanks to a 2-7 stretch prior to this series with New York. Roger Clemens would make the start for the Jays, his third against the Yankees in ‘98. Ramiro Mendoza got the nod for New York, in what was his first start since the beginning of June after a stint in the bullpen. Although Clemens would eventually become a Yankee, he showed them what they were missing as he helped Toronto cruise to a win.

July 17: Yankees 6, Blue Jays 9 (Box Score)

Record: 67-23, .759 (Up 14.0)

Both Mendoza and Clemens started strong in this one, as both teams were kept out of the run column until the fourth inning. Derek Jeter and Shawn Green both singled in the first to start big days for both of them, but nothing came of them. In the second and third, just one other batter was able to reach.

The Yankees got the ball rolling in the fourth, after Jeter led off with a double (and an error to advance to third), Darryl Strawberry knocked him in with a single to secure the first lead of the game. The Jays, however, answered back in quick fashion as Green led off their turn of the fourth with a towering solo shot to right field. Mendoza quickly set down the next three Jays hitters, and things were once again square after four.

Clemens and Mendoza cleaned things up in the subsequent innings. The fifth saw a couple of Yankees reach base, but to no avail, and Mendoza worked a 1-2-3 frame. The two squads switched those exact outcomes in the sixth for another quick inning, but one that would end Mendoza’s evening. The righty finished with a very solid one run and three hits over 5.2 innings.

Clemens stayed clean in the seventh, and his offense began to back him up big time. After Mike Stanley and Tony Fernandez reached, Alex Gonzalez pushed across the go-ahead run with a double to center. Tony Phillips was intentionally walked to load the bases, which sadly brought up the red hot Shawn Green. And of course, with the count full, he took a middle-middle fastball up and out to center field. It would be the crushing blow for this game, as Toronto was now up 6-1.

Clemens’ day was over after that seventh, and it was a welcome sight for the Yankees’ hitters. Clemens wrapped up allowing just one run, while striking out 10 in those seven frames. New York quickly took advantage in the eighth, as Jeter led off with his second two-bagger of the game, and was immediately pushed home by a Paul O’Neill single. Three batter’s later, Jorge Posada did the same for him, scoring O’Neill on a groundball single up the middle to bring the deficit to three.

The Blue Jays wouldn’t relent however, as they more than made up for the progress made. Carlos Delgado and Juan Samuel reached to start the inning, and Fernandez doubled to center to score both of ‘em and restore their lead. He advanced to third on an error on the play, and it was a costly one. Two batters later, Shannon Stewart pushed Fernandez across on an infield single. After relieving in the seventh, Mike Stanton had the unfortunate line of six earned runs in just one inning of work.

With the score 9-3, the Yankees had plenty of work to do in the ninth. Brosius reached to lead off, and Jeter notched his fourth hit of the game. O’Neill followed by slashing a three-run homer to left-center to cut the lead in half.

With two outs, Tim Raines was hit by a first pitch fastball from Paul Quantrill. Uninteresting, except for the fact that Tony Phillips received the same for the Jays the inning prior and was none too pleased. Emotions were visible but nothing would come of the situation. Randy Meyers came in to finish the job, and did just that, striking out Dale Sveum, and securing the 9-6 Toronto victory.

It was the Yankees’ second straight loss, something that hadn’t happened in a month. They were in the heart of a mediocre run, but one, of course, they could shoulder with their already impressive lead.