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1998 Yankees Diary, July 26: Bernie’s big day seals series over White Sox

Bernie’s three hits, Wells’ ten strikeouts lead the way to victory.

Sports Contributor Archive 2020 Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images

The Yankees stumbled a bit in the early days of the second half including a stretch that saw them lose four of five toward the end of a long road trip. The team returned home just in time to recharge their batteries for a push through the dog days of summer. They took three of four from the Tigers before splitting the first two games against the White Sox, leaving them a victory in the rubber match away from consecutive series wins in the first home stand following the All-Star break.

July 26: Yankees 6, White Sox 3 (box score)

Record: 73-26, .737 (up 15.0)

It was a picture perfect summer day at the Stadium as the Yankees jogged out onto the field for the rubber match against the White Sox. David Wells was on dominant form since his perfect game, with a 2.60 ERA in ten contests starting with the perfecto, as if the historic feat jumpstarted a season that had been floundering to that point. A 15-pitch 1-2-3 first got things started with Boomer striking out Ray Durham and Frank Thomas to open and close the frame.

Albert Belle, in the midst of one of the greatest single season performances by a position player in White Sox history, showed why he was one of the most feared sluggers of the 1990s with a mammoth home run to leadoff the second and open the scoring. They threatened with more as Robin Ventura walked and Mike Cameron singled, but Wells whiffed Robert Machado to strand the pair.

Bernie Williams had been on quite a tear since returning from a month-long injury absence and he continued that with a double to leadoff the bottom of the second. Just when it looked like the Bombers would squander the man in scoring position, Jorge Posada clubbed a two-out, two-run bomb to right off Chicago starter Jaime Navarro to give the Yankees the lead, 2-1. Like their opponents in the top-half, New York put a further pair on in the frame but Scott Brosius got back picked at first to end the inning.

Williams struck again in the third, this time with traffic on. Chuck Knoblauch singled to lead off, advancing to second on a weak grounder and then to third on a wild pitch. This allowed Williams to knock him home with a single to left, extending the Yankees’ lead, 3-1. The extra run of support seemed to invigorate Wells as he struck out the side to give him seven through four.

That jolt of energy would only last an inning, however, with Wells running into his toughest jam in the fifth. He walked Cameron with one out, only for Posada to throw him out attempting to steal second. A walk of the next batter did not have as fortunate a conclusion, as Ray Durham smacked a two-run shot to level the scores at three apiece.

The Bombers responded in the bottom of the sixth with Williams leading off with a home run to reclaim the lead. Walks by Tino Martinez and Darryl Strawberry followed by a wild pitch put men on second and third with one out for Brosius, who grounded a single through the right side to plate the pair and make it 6-3 Yankees, knocking Navarro from the contest in the process.

Wells was allowed to stay in the contest pitching with a three-run lead, and navigated around a pair of two-out singles in the seventh. He recorded two outs in the eighth before a Wil Cordero single prompted Joe Torre to go to closer Mariano Rivera for the final four outs. Boomer ended his night with 7.2 innings pitched, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks against ten strikeouts on 132 pitches. Mo completed a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out a pair to seal the victory, 6-3.