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1998 Yankees Diary, August 4: A pair of 10-run outputs fuel doubleheader sweep

20 runs over the long day get the Bombers to 80 wins.

Darryl Strawberry

The Yankees opened up their series with the last-place Oakland Athletics the night prior, with a 14-run outburst en route to an easy win. Now, with a doubleheader set for the fourth, the Yankee bats would stay scorching hot. Doubleheader’s can be a real stressor for pitching staffs, but putting up a 20-spot across two games can take that weight away in a flash.

August 4, Game 1: Yankees 10, Athletics 4 (box score)

August 4, Game 2: Yankees 10, Athletics 5 (box score)

Record: 80-28, .741 (15.5 game lead)

Ramiro Mendoza was on the bump for the Yanks in game one, getting just his second start since the early June. The A’s would send out Jay Witasick, making just his third appearance and first start for Oakland in ‘98.

The Yankees jumped right out in this one, as Chuck Knoblauch took a 3-2 pitch deep to left field for a leadoff homer, his third in two games. After Mendoza worked around a pair of walks for a scoreless first, the Yanks were up 1-0.

Oakland would answer back in the second, however. Ed Sprague took Mendoza deep for a two-run shot that gave them their first lead, and Miguel Tejada was able to score on a Scott Brosius error two batters later.

With the A’s now up 3-1, the Yankees quickly punched back in the next half inning. After Knoblauch reached on an error and Derek Jeter walked, Bernie Williams singled up the middle to score one. Three batters later, Chad Curtis did the same to score two more, and the Yanks were able to add another after Witasick unleashed a wild pitch. After three innings, the Bombers were up again, 5-3.

Witasick and Mendoza worked 1-2-3 fourth innings, and the Yankees got back to pounding in the fifth. With a runner on, Darryl Strawberry launched his 19th homer of the season, a two-run shot that grew the lead to four, and the Yankees wouldn’t look back.

They would tack on three more in the top of the ninth to bring their total to ten. Mendoza was able to work through 7.1, while Mike Stanton finished the final two innings and change to secure the eventual 10-4 victory. On to game two.

Mike Buddie started this one, and though he had spent time in the bullpen, it was his first big league start. From the other dugout, the A’s went with Kenny Rogers, a 33-year-old in the midst of perhaps his best season, after spending the previous two with the Yankees. Although the result ended up being similar in game 2, the path to it was much different.

Rogers worked a 1-2-3 fist inning, and the Oakland bats got to work right away, evidently fueled by the loss a couple of hours prior. After a walk, Ryan Christenson doubled to score their first run of the game, and he was driven in himself two batters later by a double from Matt Stairs. Two pitches later, Jason Giambi slashed a double of his own, and they were up 4-0. Three straight singles after would add another run, and ultimately put Oakland up by five after just the first inning.

Rogers and Buddie worked through the second, and the Yankees were able to get on the board in the third. Luis Sojo led off with a double, and Derek Jeter was able to push him across with a single up the middle. With the score at 5-1, both pitchers found their groove for a while.

Rogers kept the Yankees off-base entirely in the fourth, fifth, and sixth, while Buddie followed close behind and allowed just one Athletic to reach in that span. The Yanks were able to muster a pair of hits in the seventh, and a couple of baserunners in the eighth, but to no avail, as Rogers got through eight full innings allowing just that one run.

With their backs against the wall, the Bombers had some ground to make up in the ninth. Tino Martinez and Tim Raines started things with a pair of singles, while Chad Curtis reached on an E5, and in the blink of an eye, New York had the tying run at the plate. Darryl Strawberry would pinch-hit for Joe Girardi, and after hitting his 19th homer in the first game of the day, he thought 20 was a much nicer number.

Just like that, this one was all tied up, and the Yankees weren’t done there. Jeter brought home the go-ahead run with a groundout, and Paul O’Neill pushed him across with a homer of his own. Two batters later, in his second at-bat of the inning, Tino Martinez joined the home run parade and launched a two-run shot of his own. Tim Raines then singled again, and Curtis scored him with a two-out double. Just like that the Yanks had put up another 10-spot, and put Oakland up against the wall.

Now up 10-5, the Yankees went to Mariano Rivera in the ninth. He would allow a pair of baserunners, but as he did so often, he escaped the inning unscathed. After some pitching woes in the first, and a quiet offense for much of this second game, the Bombers exploded for nine runs in the ninth, and escaped with their second victory of the day.