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1998 Yankees Diary, July 2: Tino ties it in the ninth as Phils get walked off

A late rally set the stage for extra inning heroics from Ricky Ledee.

Tino Martinez

The Yankees entered this game having taken the first two from Philly, giving them the chance for the sweep and wrapping up a stretch of interleague play against NL East opponents. For most of this game, it did not look good for the Bronx Bombers.

But clutch bombs late sent this one to extras and New York walked it off, finishing the sweep and sending the club into a matchup with Baltimore with plenty of momentum and good vibes.

July 2: Yankees 9, Phillies 8 (box score)

Record: 58-20, .744 (10 GA)

Hideki Irabu took the ball for New York, and there were some warning signs that the bloom was coming off Irabu’s stellar start to the season. On June 4, he boasted a sparkling 1.45 ERA. Four weeks later, when this game came to a close, his ERA had more than doubled to 2.91. The longball was the culprit. Entering this one, he’d surrendered five dingers in 8.2 innings. Spoiler alert: that will be an issue in this one as well.

Irabu got off to a perfectly cromulent start. Though he plunked leadoff man Doug Glanville, he induced a double play then got the third out of the first. No harm no foul. But that was the high point of this one for Irabu.

Leading off the second, Rico Brogna greeted him with a solo shot. Later in the frame, with a runner on first (future Yankee Bobby Abreu had been thrown out trying to steal second or they might have been two men on), Mark Lewis also took Irabu out of the park. Two longballs in the frame and Philly had a 3-0 lead.

After an uneventful third inning, Brogna again crushed an Irabu offering for a solo shot leading off the fourth. Mike Lieberthal later drove in a fifth Philly run and ended Irabu’s day. He went 3+ innings and gave up three home runs. Yikes. There had been concern a week earlier that Irabu was tipping pitches after Mets skipper Bobby Valentine hinted at that. Whatever the case, Irabu’s torrid start to 1998 was officially a thing of the past.

Down five-zip, the Yankees got off the mat in the bottom of the fourth. Tino Martinez launched a solo shot into right off Philly starter Tyler Green to cut the lead to 5-1. More on Tino as this one progresses. In the bottom of the sixth, Derek Jeter followed suit with a solo dinger of his own to make it a three-run ballgame.

And then this one turned into a game of throwing bombs at each other in the late innings. First, Philly pushed two more runs across against Mike Stanton. Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Paul O’Neill launched a two-run round-tripper into the New York night. Jorge Posada drove in another run later in the frame and this was went to the ninth with Philly up 7-5.

There, the Phils tacked on another run, pushing the lead to three as New York was down to its final frame. Phillies reliever Mark Leiter made quick work of the first two Yanks to come to the dish and all of a sudden, the Bombers were on their last chance. But this ‘98 squad did not go gently into the night. Jeter doubled and O’Neill followed that with a walk, bringing Tino to the dish as the tying run. It was a situation similar to one that the slugger found himself over three years later. Just like in 2001, Tino came through:

Pandemonium. An almost palpable euphoria as the crowd exploded when Tino launched that moonshot into the upper deck in right. Tie game, and this one was off to extras, where the score stayed tied into the bottom of the eleventh.

Back-to-back singles from O’Neill and Tino led off the stanza. Darryl Strawberry then walked, loading the bases for rookie Ricky Ledee. With the Philly infield drawn in, Ledee grounded a ball back up the middle, plating the winning run and finishing off a spectacular comeback.

This would have been a fun game to attend in-person, though I’m sure it was rather frustrating until the final few innings. Victory cures all ailments though and I suspect no Yankee fan left this one dwelling on the rough start to the game.