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1998 Yankees Diary, August 16: Bernie walks it off against Rangers

After a back-and-forth game against Texas, Bernie sent the fans home happy.

New York Yankees Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

It’s always a bit of a bummer to have a long win streak snapped like the Yankees did on August 15, 1998. After nine consecutive victories, they took a blowout loss to the Rangers. However, in baseball, almost every day brings a new game, and a new day to do something cool, like they did on August 16th.

August 16: Yankees 6, Rangers 5 (box score)

Record: 90-30, .750 (19.5 GA)

With future less than stellar Yankee Esteban Loaiza on the mound for the Rangers, the Yankees’ offense got off to a hot start. After Homer Bush led off the bottom of the first with a single, Derek Jeter got the Yankees on the board with a two-run shot. Darryl Strawberry then led off the second with a homer of his own.

Meanwhile, David Wells got the ball that day for the Yankees. He began his outing off with two scoreless innings, although he did have to work out of some trouble in the first inning. Texas then got to him in the third. With Royce Clayton on after a single, former Yankee Roberto Kelly got the Rangers on the board with a two-run home run.

While a Tino Martinez RBI in the third extended the Yankees’ lead, Texas evened things up in the fourth. A Jorge Posada throwing error on a stolen base attempt allowed one run to score, and Clayton then hit a homer of his own. The Rangers would go on to take the lead in the fifth when Kelly continued his big day by hitting a second home run, a solo shot to give Texas a 5-4 lead. Wells ended up making it through six innings, but he finished his day having allowed five runs on ten hits.

The Yankees didn’t end up trailing for particularly long, though. Paul O’Neill and Bernie Williams led off the bottom of the fifth with two-straight singles, with O’Neill moving to third. Martinez then grounded into a double play, but with O’Neill on third and nobody out, the Rangers opted to trade the run for the outs, tying the game.

The game remained tied for a while after that, with both teams trading zeroes. The Yankees had the better of the opportunities, getting a runner in scoring position in the sixth and seven innings, and then loaded the bases in the ninth. Despite having the top of the order due up when they had the bases juiced and one out in the eighth, they couldn’t get anything done, with Jeter grounding out to end the threat.

As for the Rangers, they were mostly held in check by Ramiro Mendoza, who had replaced Wells. However, the Yankees then went to Mariano Rivera for the ninth, and strangely, that’s when things got a little scary.

After Mo got the first out of the inning, he then gave up a single to Mark McLemore and walked a pinch-hitting Tom Goodwin. While he got a second out in the next at-bat, a walk to Juan González loaded the bases for Will Clark. Rivera got him to hit one to Jeter at short. It took an awkward trajectory to Jeter, and there was potential for a weird hop, but the shortstop handled it well and got the ball over to first to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers brought in Xavier Hernandez to try and get the game into extra innings. He got off to a good start when he struck out O’Neill. However, that brought Bernie to the plate. On just the second pitch of the at-bat, Williams sent everyone home happy as he launched a home run to right.

As alluded by beloved Yankees announcer Bobby Murcer on the call, Bernie’s walk-off homer was a fitting tribute on the 50th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s passing.

The homer got the Yankees to a pretty .750 winning percentage on the season and got them to the 90-win mark. It was also another fun win in a season that had a lot of them.