New York came into this one having already dropped a contest to the Twins, a club that entered play on August 20th with a record 38 games worse than the Yankees. So of course, Minnesota came out and took a second straight contest from the Yanks, putting the club in danger of its first three-game losing streak all season.
You can’t predict baseball, Suzyn. Actually, you kind of can. When you commit five fielding errors, you are probably going to lose.
August 20: Yankees 4, Twins 9 (box score)
Record: 92-32, .742 (18.5 GA)
There was no immediate evidence that suggested this game was going to go off the rails. Outside of a solo shot by Ron Coomer, the Twins were unable to touch up Yankee starter Mike Buddie early. Through three, Minnesota managed merely that one lone run. And in the fourth, the Yankees got it back, via a Tino Martinez RBI single that brought Bernie Williams in to score.
But it all started to go squirrely in the fourth. With a Twin already on base, catcher’s interference on future skipper Joe Girardi (the Yankees’ first error of the day) put another man on. Singles from Coomer and Ron Walker followed, and when Buddie finally escaped the frame, Minnesota had a two-run lead.
And that was just a sign of things to come. The very next inning a walk and a pair of singles scored a fourth Minnesota run. They also spelled the end of the road for Buddie. Joe Torre came out to get the Yankee starter, and in came Graeme Lloyd to try and limit the damage. Good idea. But the Aussie southpaw had no more luck than his predecessor.
He promptly walked future Yankee archenemy David Ortiz to load the bases. A Coomer sacrifice fly (seriously, that dude was all over the box score in this one) made it 5-1 for the bad guys. Error two on the night, this time Tino booting a ground ball, was followed by another single. By the time the fifth ended, the Twins had a comfortable six-run cushion.
After a Tino sac fly scored Jeter in the top of the sixth, the third and fourth Yankee errors of the contest led to Minnesota’s eighth run of the night. First, Scott Brosius booted an Otis Nixon ball to third. Then, Lloyd took the E1 on a bad pickoff throw to first that allowed Nixon to scamper all the way to third. An Ortiz single ultimately brought Nixon home. Womp womp.
To this point, all the fielding tomfoolery had taken place on the infield. Well, the outfielders weren’t going to be left out of the fun. In the seventh, Paul O’Neill flubbed a ball off the wall in right. His miscue allowed Todd Walker to advance to third on what would have just been a double. To the surprise of no one, I’m sure, Walker later scored, closing out Minnesota’s scoring.
New York managed to make score a bit more respectable in the eighth, thanks to a Chad Curtis RBI groundout and a Brosius RBI single. But they never really threatened to come back in this one.
I guess you can’t win them all, but five errors in a game? That should be illegal. I can’t imagine any Yankee fans in attendance at the Metrodome were too happy with the life choices that led to them sitting through this one. But at the end of the day, those fans went home with the Bronx Bombers 60 games above .500, so ... it’s really difficult to ever get too upset with the ‘98 Yankees.