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1998 Yankees Diary, August 18: Extra-innings thriller in Kansas City

Bernie Williams made sure that this 13-inning marathon went the Yankees’ way.

World Series - New York Yankees v San Diego Padres - Game Three

With other teams wilting in the August heat, the Bombers kept their foot on the accelerator, building their comically-large gap in the division and over the rest of baseball. They had just completed a remarkable home stand that saw them go 10-1, scoring 11 or more runs in three of those contests. It was exactly the kind of momentum they wanted to take into a seven-game road trip, with the first stop a two-game blitz in Kansas City.

August 18: Yankees 3, Royals 2 (box score)

Record: 92-30, .754 (up 19.5)

Coming off a resounding 7-1 victory in the first game and with Orlando Hernandez on the mound, the Yankees had to like their chances to sweep the first of three away series. El Duque set the tone early, facing the minimum in each of the first three innings, requiring just 27 pitches to do so. While he didn’t quite have his elite swing-and-miss stuff working, he kept the Royals hitters off-balance just enough to avoid particularly damaging contact, with many lifting fly balls that died just short of the warning track.

Hernandez’s offense spotted him an early lead, with Bernie Williams leading off the second with a solo shot to dead center on the second pitch he saw from Pat Rapp. New York threatened with more in the third, a Scott Brosius leadoff double and Derek Jeter walk putting runners on the corners, only for Paul O’Neill to ground into the inning-ending double play. They again put a pair on in the fifth, with Chuck Knoblauch singling and Jeter walking with two outs, but both would remain stranded. While all this was going on, the hosts were forced into two early defensive substitutions, Shane Halter replacing Hal Morris and Luis Rivera replacing Dean Palmer.

Kansas City leveled the scores in the bottom of the fifth on a Larry Sutton solo shot with one out. New York responded in the top of the following frame, Tino Martinez and Chili Davis reaching on a pair of one-out walks, with the former being driven in on a Darryl Strawberry single to reclaim the lead, 2-1.

El Duque hit his groove from there, working a scoreless sixth and seventh and striking out the first two batters of the eighth to give him 7.2 innings of one-run ball, having surrendered five hits against five strikeouts on 86 pitches. Graeme Lloyd came in to face the lefty Johnny Damon, but hit him with his second pitch, prompting Joe Torre to go to Mariano Rivera for the four-out save. He got out of the eighth, but a walk, single, passed ball, and intentional walk with one out in the ninth loaded the bases for Mike Sweeney, who lifted a sac fly to center to send the game to extra innings.

Jeff Montgomery and Bart Evans combined to pitch a scoreless 10th and 11th, with Mike Stanton matching the feat for the Yankees. Facing Matt Whisenant in the 13th, Williams led off with a single before advancing to second on a wild pitch, and from there he would score the winning run on a Chad Curtis single to center — all part of a 3-for-6 day with a home run and double for the Bombers’ center fielder and batting champion. Joe Borowski worked a scoreless 12th and 13th inning to earn his one and only win for the Yankees as they took this one, 3-2.