The Yankees stormed out of the All-Star break in 1998, winning six of their first seven to start their second half in the same manner with which they finished the first. However, the fatigue of an 11-game road trip to open the second half was perhaps finally catching up with them. They found themselves temporarily halted, dropping four of five to close out the third week of June while also suffering their first series loss in a month.
Record: 68-24, .739 (up 14.0)
Even though the Blue Jays were far removed from their halcyon days in the early 1990s, their lineup still boasted a pair of prodigious sluggers in Jose Canseco and Carlos Delgado, something Andy Pettitte learned the hard way on this particular afternoon at the Rogers Centre. He was actually cruising early, retiring the side in order in the first and second, inducing four ground outs and striking out a pair.
New York’s offense made Woody Williams work, putting a pair on in each of the first and second by drawing three walks and reaching on an error. They’d even open the scoring in the third, though would instantly rue not pushing across more in the frame. A leadoff Chuck Knoblauch walk followed by back-to-back singles from Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neill loaded the bases with no outs. A Tino Martinez sac fly to center plated the first run, but that’s all they’d get in the inning.
In the bottom-half, Craig Grebeck got things started with a one-out double, followed by walks from Alex Gonzalez and Shannon Stewart to load the bases for Jose Canseco. The 1988 AL MVP demolished an elevated 2-0 fastball for a grand slam to immediately punish the Yankees for not capitalizing further on their own bases-loaded situation.
The Bombers continued to chip away at Williams, a pair of doubles by Knoblauch and O’Neill in the fifth reducing the deficit to 4-2. However, the slow trickle of runs could not keep up with the onslaught from the Blue Jays bats. After Stewart walked to lead off the fifth, Delgado launched a moonshot to the furthest deck in right field—the first to ever go so high in the young history of the then-Skydome—extending the lead to 6-2.
A brief reprieve saw both sides go down in order in the sixth. In the seventh, a leadoff single by Joe Girardi and a one-out walk drawn by Jeter knocked Woody Williams from the contest with a pair on base. Bernie Williams drove one home with a single of Dan Plesac, but yet again one run was all the Bombers could manage in the inning.
Canseco cancelled it out with his second home run of the game, this one a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh.
It was almost like he and Delgado were trying to outdo each other — Delgado’s fifth-inning shot traveling 467 feet and Canseco’s second traveling 460.
Pettitte departed the contest having given up seven runs on six hits and seven walks in 6.2 innings. Mike Buddie came on in relief and even he wasn’t spared by the hungry Toronto offense. Kevin Brown led off the eighth with a double followed by a Gonzalez walk, setting up an RBI double by Tony Phillips.
The Blue Jays scored their final run with Buddie balking Gonzalez home as this one finished with 9-3 score. On the bright side, it’d take a whole separate month for the Yankees to drop their next series.