Even with the dog days of August in full flow, the Yankees were hitting their second-half stride. Heading into the night’s contest, the team were winners of six in a row and nine of their previous ten, having completed a four-game sweep of the Royals and taken the first two games over the Twins at the Stadium. With a surging David Cone on the mound and an offense firing on all cylinders now that Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams were fully recovered from their mid-season injuries, Minnesota stood no chance of avoiding the fate that befell the team that faced the Bombers before them.
Record: 87-29, .750 (up 18.5)
Despite a minor hiccup in a recent start — six runs on nine hits in seven innings against the Mariners — Cone was still one of the top starters in the AL, sitting at 16-4 with a 3.50 ERA, 3.44 FIP, and 150 strikeouts across 22 starts totaling 149 innings. He had tallied double-digit strikeouts in 5 of his previous 11 outings with sterling walk and home run rates. And while he wasn’t quite as dominant today, he held down a rather punchless Twins lineup, allowing his offense to do their thing.
Cone ran into some immediate issues in the first three innings, with a pair of one-out singles followed by a hit-by-pitch in the first loading the bases. Terry Steinbach grounded out to short to plate the first run of the contest, but the former Cy Young Award winner held it there by getting Todd Walker to also groundout. The Twins again loaded the bases with one out the following frame on a pair of walks and a single, but Cone induced the inning-ending double play to escape this time unscathed. Although a Walker RBI double in the third extended the Twins’ lead to 2-0, Cone locked it down from there, and his offense took over.
It took until the fourth for the Yankees bats to find their footing against LaTroy Hawkins, but the floodgates opened from there. Tino Martinez and Darryl Strawberry led off with a pair of singles, the former scoring on a Scott Brosius one-out single to get the Bombers on the board. Joe Girardi followed up with a double to clear both runners and hand the Yankees their first lead, 3-2, and a wild pitch to Derek Jeter plated the fourth run of the frame.
Following a quiet fifth, Tim Raines led off the sixth with a single, advanced second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Chuck Knoblauch single to make it 5-2 Yankees and knock Hawkins from the contest. He’d escape the inning, but it was only delaying the offensive outburst in the seventh that would put this contest well and truly out of reach.
In that frame, Williams homered to lead off, followed by a Martinez walk and Brosius two-run bomb. All of a sudden, what looked like a difficult situation through the early innings was turning into a comprehensive victory.
The exclamation mark came in the form of a three-run eighth, all with two outs. Martinez walked and Luis Sojo singled while pinch-hitting for Strawberry, the former scoring on a Chad Curtis single. Up stepped Brosius, who doubled home both runners for his fourth and fifth RBIs of the contest to give the Bombers their sixth double-digit scoring effort in an eleven game stretch as they wrapped this one up, 11-2.