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1998 Yankees Diary, August 24: Good, except for the seventh

Andy Pettitte melts down in the seventh as the Yanks drop their second straight game.

Troy Glaus #14

Four months earlier, a steal beam and five hundred pounds of concrete collapsed right before batting practice. As part of the schedule shuffle that saw the Yankees call Shea Stadium home for two days and swapped home series with the Detroit Tigers, both teams lost their off day originally scheduled for Monday, August 24th and added a doubleheader on Wednesday to turn a three-game series into a five-game superset.

It could not have gotten off to a worse start for the Yankees, who were in the early days of a late-August, early-September slump.

August 24: Angels 7, Yankees 3 (box score)

Record: 94-34, .734 (18.0 game lead)

For much of the game, this matchup looked like your prototypical 1998 decisive Yankees win. Although Anaheim starter Jack McDowell largely kept their explosive offense in check, the Bombers were nonetheless rallied in the bottom of the fifth. Chili Davis grounded a single up the middle to lead off the inning, and he would advance to second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout to second. Scott Brosius doubled him in, and Joe Girardi followed that up with an RBI single. Girardi, however, got himself thrown out stealing second, so when Chuck Knoblauch doubled for the team’s third straight hit, he didn’t drive in a run, and Derek Jeter grounded out to the catcher to end the frame.

While the inning was ultimately a bit of a disappointment, it did give the Yankees a 2-0 lead, and Yankees starter Andy Pettitte was absolutely electric. Over the first six innings, he allowed just three hits — all singles — while striking out three and not walking a batter.

The seventh inning, however, turned the game on its head. Tim Salmon led off the inning with a double, the Angels’ first extra-base hit of the evening. Two batters later, Garret Anderson tied the game with a two-run homer. A Troy Glaus single, a Phil Nevin double, and a Gary Disarcina double plated two more, and Darin Erstad brought Disarcina in to score on an infield single. In all, 11 batters came to the plate — more than Pettitte had faced in the three previous innings combined! — to give Anaheim a 5-2 lead.

For his part, Pettitte settled down after that, and set the Angels down in order in the top of the eighth, but the bullpen allowed them to put the dagger in the game in the ninth. Disarcina led off with a single, advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt. Randy Velarde drove him in with a groundball single, and after advancing to second when Erstad walked, scored on a Salmon single to extend the lead to 7-2.

To their credit, the Yankees batters didn’t go down quietly even with two outs in the ninth, with Curtis working a walk and Brosius bringing him in on an infield single and an E5. But it would be too little, too late, as the Bombers dropped their fourth game in six days.