For the first time since the first few days of the ‘98 season, the New York Yankees had lost three in a row. In the midst of a five-game series in the Bronx against the Angels (due to the structural issues at the Stadium in April), the Bombers looked to bust out of the rare funk. They would have two chances to do it on this day, with a day-night doubleheader scheduled with the Halos.
August 26, game one: Yankees 4, Angels 6 (box score)
August 26, game two: Yankees 7, Angels 6 (box score)
Record: 95-36, .725 (16.5 games ahead)
For game one, the Yankees handed the ball to 22-year-old Ryan Bradley. The righty, drafted just the year prior, was making his third appearance and his first (and only) career start in the big leagues. He’d square off with Jeff Juden, a 27-year-old fifth starter type for the Angels.
Both right-handers were clean in the first inning, until the Yankees got things rolling in the bottom of the second. On the first pitch of the inning, Tino Martinez took a Juden pitch into the seats in right field, his 23rd homer of the year, to give the Yankees a quick 1-0 advantage. They’d strike again in the third, where Chuck Knoblauch singled, stole second, and was eventually pushed across thanks to a Paul O’Neill double into the left-center gap. After three, the Bombers were up 2-0.
The Anaheim bats would make some noise in the top of the fifth, however. Jim Edmonds led off with a single, and was scored on a Gary Disarcina double down the left-field line. With two outs, Reggie Williams followed it with a towering two-run shot over the 385 sign in right-center. It flipped the script on this game, putting the Halos up 3-2, and they wouldn’t look back.
The punches kept rolling in the sixth, as the Angels continued to string hits together. Darin Erstad led off with a double, and back-to-back hits from Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon scored a pair of runs. Matt Walbeck scored another later in the inning on a single to center, bringing the tally to 6-2 in favor of Anaheim.
The Yankees would chip away in the seventh, with consecutive singles from Knoblauch and Derek Jeter, which brought the deficit to two and knocked Juden out of the game. It ultimately wouldn’t be enough however, as Rich DeLucia and Troy Percival worked quiet eighth and ninth innings out of the ‘pen for Anaheim and secured the 6-4 victory in game one.
In game two, they Yankees had a bit more experience on the hill, as David Wells got the nod against Steve Sparks. It was an important nightcap, as the Yanks had now lost four consecutive games for the first time in 1998, and looked to right the ship.
The first two frames of this one were quiet, but the Angels stayed hot and jumped on the scoreboard first. With two outs in the third, Jim Edmonds pulled a little lefty-lefty magic and launched a solo shot halfway up the bleachers in right to put his squad up 1-0.
It remained that way up until the fifth, where the Yankee bats finally broke out. After Jorge Posada and Scott Brosius reached on a pair of hits, Homer Bush yanked a 2-0 pitch into the seats near the left-field foul pole. It was Homer’s first homer in the big leagues, and put the Yanks up 3-1. They would add two more, to go up 5-1, on another O’Neill double and a passed ball (with an interesting call at the plate) later in the inning.
Sparks and Wells calmed down for 1-2-3 innings in the sixth, but the scoring would roll on in the seventh. With Disarcina on first base, Edmonds stepped up and promptly laced his second homer of the game to right field, to dwindle the Yankee lead to two.
In their turn, with Mike Fetters now on the hill for Anaheim, a pair of baserunners frazzled him enough for the Yankees to steal another run. A failed pickoff attempt and an errant throw from Fetters allowed Brosius to score and put New York up 6-3. In the eighth, the Angels once again displayed some timely hitting. Tim Salmon knocked in a run on a single to knock Wells out of the game after seven innings, after which the Yankees turned to Mariano Rivera to shut things down.
Even he couldn’t quite stop them though, as Todd Greene doubled and they scored once again on an Anderson ground out, putting them down just one run. With a save opportunity in the ninth, the Halos faced a daunting task with Mo still on the mound. In rare fashion, he couldn’t fend them off, as Erstad scored the tying run with a two-out single.
Luckily for Rivera, the Yankees showed they had his back in the bottom of the ninth. With a knotted 6-6 score, Posada led off with a walk, and was advanced on a Brosius bunt. With two outs, Jeter stepped up, and did what he did 3,000+ times in his career, shooting a single through the right side of the infield.
It secured the dramatic 7-6 victory for the Yankees, and halted their four-game skid. Even with four games done, the Yankees and Angels would meet for a fifth the following night in yet another exciting one in the Bronx.