New York had split the first two games of this four-game set against the Angels, so heading into this Thursday night affair, they had the chance to take the series from an opponent they could theoretically see again in October.
It was a back-and-forth game, with each team squandering leads. Eventually, however, the Yankees came through when it really mattered, coming away with the one-run win and setting themselves up to take three of four.
August 27: Yankees 6, Angels 5 (box score)
Record: 96-36, .727 (17.5 GA)
New York faced Angels starter Chuck Finley in this one, who had previously tossed an excellent game against the Yankees earlier in the season. On July 30th, he’d hurled eight scoreless, striking out nine. Early, it looked like more of the same. New York managed a couple of baserunners via the free pass in the first, but a caught stealing and a double play negated them rather quickly. From there Finley settled in, and through the few first frames, held the Bronx Bombers off the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, David Cone was having a solid outing of his own until he ran into a bit of trouble in the third. After allowing a single to Troy Glaus, Coney tried to pick him off. Unfortunately, the result was an E1 that moved Glaus into scoring position, and he came around on a tow-out knock by Randy Velarde to score the game’s first run.
New York wasted no time getting that one back. Grizzled veteran Chili Davis, a man who’d spent his share of games in an Angels uniform launched a bomb to right center field. Bernie Williams happened to be standing on first after another Finley walk, and all of a sudden New York had the 2-1 lead.
The Yankees tacked another run on in the fifth, when Tim Raines singled in Joe Girardi. The club missed a chance to blow the game open though, as Bernie whiffed with runners on second and third to end the frame.
Cone’s command deserted him in the top of the sixth, allowing the Angels to come back, and ending his night after only 5.1 innings. He walked the bases loaded with no one out. A sacrifice fly finally got an out, but scored a second Angels run. Then, Jim Edmonds doubled to right-center, bringing two more runs in. That was the end of the line for Cone and he departed on the hook for the L, with New York down 4-3.
The game stayed there until the bottom of the seventh. With the bases full of Yankees, a Paul O’Neill sac fly allowed Chuck Knoblauch to scamper home and knot the contest up at four runs apiece. It was more of the same the next inning as Knoblauch, with a sac fly of his own, brought in the go-ahead run.
Mariano Rivera had pitched in each of the previous two games, so Joe Torre allowed Ramiro Mendoza, who’d come into the game in the sixth and done yeoman’s work, to try and close it out. Unfortunately, Mendoza ran out of gas and allowed a game-tying single. After the Yankees failed to walk it off in the ninth, we were off to bonus cantos.
The Angels had their best chance to win in the 10th, when they put two men on against Mike Stanton, but he escaped. Ultimately, the Yankees managed to take this one in the 11th. With Derek Jeter on base, Bernie stepped to the plate. He narrowly missed a walk-off two-run dinger, but his single brought Jeets home and gave New York the W.
The victory gave the Yankees the series win against the AL West-leading Angels and was the kind of win that clubs need to pull out in October. Jack Curry summed it up perfectly in the next morning’s New York Times:
“Their usually precise starter failed miserably, their usually reliable middle reliever stumbled as a closer... Just when the Angels were poised to smack the Yankees one last time before they boarded an airplane, the Yankees smacked back.”
Excellent win for the Yankees against a quality opponent.