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1998 Yankees Diary, July 3: Moose vs. Andy to start, then Brosius walks it off

The Yankees walk it off after a pair of future teammates duel it out on the mound.

Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles

Today, the New York Yankees take on the Baltimore Orioles, opening up a four-game set the week before the All-Star break. Rewind the clocks 25 years ago, and the New York Yankees took on the Baltimore Orioles, opening up a three-game set the week before the All-Star break.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.

July 3: Yankees 3, Orioles 2 (box score)

Record: 59-20, .747 (10.0 game lead)

To those of us born in the late ‘90s, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte represent the backbone of the Yankees starting rotation of our childhood. From 2001 to 2008, Moose was the one constant on a pitching staff that saw former aces (Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown) come and go, promising young pitchers make a splash but fade out (Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes), several players who excelled elsewhere but failed in the Bronx (Javier Vázquez, Jaret Wright) and The Carl Pavano Experience. Pettitte, on the other hand, was a key member of the Core Four, the final link to the dynasty years in the rotation, whose trio of years in Houston were forgiven upon his return and forgotten completely after the 2009 World Series championship.

Before they were teammates, however, Mussina and Pettitte were foes in the American League East. In fact, July 3, 1998, was their fourth career matchup, and in all three, the Yankees had come out on top. Just two weeks prior, in fact, the Yankees lit up Mussina for five runs on eight hits in six innings, while Pettitte kept the O’s to just two runs in 7.1 frames, as the Yankees went on to a decisive 5-3 victory. This time around, it would be a pitcher’s duel, but the outcome ultimately would be the same.

Right from the jump, the Yankees put pressure on Mussina with their speed atop the order, as both Derek Jeter and Luis Sojo reached on infield singles; Jeter would go to third on Sojo’s hit. Paul O’Neill flew out to left field, scoring Jeter and giving the Yankees an early 1-0 lead in the Bronx. After that, however, Moose buckled down and retired 10 of his next 12 batters. Unfortunately for him, one of those two hits would be a Chad Curtis solo shot in the fourth that tied the game at two.

Pettitte’s outing, meanwhile, began as an inverse of Mussina’s. After retiring the first six batters in order, the lefty allowed a leadoff single to Joe Carter and a Chris Hoiles double to start the third. A Mike Bordick sacrifice fly and a B.J. Surhoff double plated two runs, giving the O’s a 2-1 lead that would be erased by the aforementioned homer in the fourth.

With the game tied at two after four, both starters entered cruise control. Pettitte allowed just one runner to reach scoring position across the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings (and that runner, Cal Ripken Jr., only reached based in the first place because of an E5). On the other side, Mussina allowed just three hits before being removed with one out in the bottom of the eighth.

As little action as there was on the basepaths in the middle innings, the ninth more than made up for it. Pettitte walked Cal Ripken Jr. to start the frame, then proceeded to pick off pinch-runner Jeff Reboulet. After Brady Anderson popped out, Joe Carter worked a walk and Chris Hoiles singled to put the go-ahead run in scoring position, but Pettitte got Mike Bordick to ground out to third to end the frame.

Mirroring the top of the frame, Tim Raines opened the bottom of the ninth by getting plunked; he would advance to second on a Chad Curtis single. Joe Torre then sent up Dale Sveum to pinch-hit for Ricky Ledee, asking him to bunt the runners over. Baltimore pitcher Jesse Orosco was ready for it, however, and they combined to throw Raines out at third. With Scott Brosius at the plate, however, Curtis swiped third, allowing him to score when the third baseman laced a single up the middle into center field to give the Yankees the win.