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1998 Yankees Diary, August 3: Chuck & Friends

Chuck Knoblauch blasts two homers as the Yankees’ offense obliterates some A’s pitching.

MLB: USA TODAY Sports-Archive RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline came and went, and all the while, the 1998 Yankees continued on their midsummer West Coast trip. With the dog days of the summer coming, the Bombers once again began to heat up, starting with a shellacking of an Oakland team filled with names well-known in New York, both of the beloved and notorious variety.

August 3: Yankees 14, Athletics 1 (box score)

Record: 78-28, .736 (15.0 game lead)

Yankees starter Orlando Hernández put together arguably his best start of his young career. Against a lineup that included future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson and a pair of future AL MVPs in Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada, El Duque spun his second career complete game, striking out eight, walking two, and allowing just three hits. Aside from a second inning homer off the bat of Matt Stairs, the A’s managed to put a runner in scoring position only in the fifth. It was an absolutely dominant performance.

And yet, Hernández’s brilliance was simply the B-plot of the night, as from the top of the first inning, the Yankees’ offense seized the game. Chuck Knoblauch led off the game with a double to left field, and Derek Jeter would hit a double to the wall in center to bring him home to give New York an early 1-0 lead. While starter Mike Oquist worked out of that jam, it was a sign of things to come.

Chad Curtis led off the second with a single. Jorge Posada followed that up with a walk, putting runners on first and second. Scott Brosius reached on an infield single, while a throwing error by Tejada sent Brosius to second, Posada to third, and brought Curtis around to score. After working the count to 3-1, Knoblauch drilled a fly ball deep over the right-center field fence. Just like that, the Yankees had plated four on the inning without recording an out.

Jeter kept the rally going, and Paul O’Neill joined the party with a two-run shot down the left field line. Bernie Williams followed that up by grounding a double down the right field line, coming around to score when Tino Martinez lined a single into left field.

Finally, mercifully, at long last, Oquist recorded an out, striking out Darryl Strawberry on four pitches. That burst the bubble of the Yankees’ rally, as Curtis proceeded to fly out to right field and Posada lined out to first to end the inning, but the damage was already done. In all, the Yankees sent 12 batters to the plate, had nine consecutive batters reach base, and scored seven runs. If that was the sum total of their offensive performance on the night, people would be thrilled. On this night, however, it was only the beginning.

The Athletics sent Oquist out again for the third, hoping to get him to eat some innings. Immediately, that plan backfired. Brosius led off the inning with his second infield single of the night, and Knoblauch followed that up with his second homer of the night. O’Neill kickstarted things again with a one-out single up the middle, and after he advanced to second when Bernie grounded out to second, he scored when Martinez singled up the middle. Looking to make up for his rally-killing strikeout in the second, Strawberry blasted a home run over the fence in left. When Curtis struck out to end the inning, the score had ballooned to 13-1 in favor of the Yankees.

At this point, the game was pretty much over, and aside from a brief rally in the fifth that plated an insurance run, this is where things stood. The offense finished the day with an incredibly efficient 14 runs on 17 hits to secure the W.