The Yankees’ offense was obviously ridiculously good in 1998. For the season, they averaged 5.96 runs per game, which was a full run over the league’s average that season. The days they were completely held in check offensively were pretty rare.
However thanks to the guile of a nearly 42-year-old Tom Candiotti, they were on August 5th.
August 5: Yankees 1, Athletics 3 (box score)
Record: 80-29, .734 (15 GA)
Taking on the A’s in Oakland, the Yankees’ offense seemingly got off to a pretty good start against the veteran knuckleballer Candiotti. In the second at-bat of the game, Derek Jeter doubled, and he ended up on third shortly after thanks to a stolen base. However, Candiotti eventually worked out of the jam, getting Bernie Williams to foul out to end the inning.
On the mound that day for the Yankees was Hideki Irabu. He started off the game on fire, retiring the first 11 hitters. That streak was ended by a Ben Grieve walk in the fourth, but Irabu got through the first four innings without allowing a hit. The Yankees then finally rewarded him with some run support when Tino Martinez led off the top of the fifth with a homer.
However, Irabu then ran into his first real trouble in the bottom of the fifth. He started off the inning by hitting Ed Sprague with a pitch and then walking Mike Blowers. After a bunt moved both runners into scoring position, Rafael Bournigal singled. Not only did that end Irabu’s no-hitter, but the shutout as well. The single only scored one of the runners, but a sacrifice fly from future Yankee arch-enemy A.J. Hinch plated another run to give the A’s the lead.
After that inning, Irabu mostly returned to dominating. Including the last out of the fifth, he retired the next nine batters in a row. That streak was eventually broken by a home run from Rickey Henderson, who was back in Oakland for his fourth and final stint. It was still just the A’s second hit of the day.
Unfortunately for Irabu, the Yankees’ offense just had no answers for Candiotti. They had a good chance in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases. Paul O’Neill and Williams started the frame with singles, and after a Martinez strikeout, Darryl Strawberry drew a walk to give the Yankees a golden chance. However, neither Chad Curtis or Jorge Posada could do anything with that opportunity, as they both flew out to end inning.
In the ninth inning, Oakland sent out Candiotti to try and finish off a complete game, despite the heart of the Yankees’ order coming to the plate. He got the first two outs of the inning before Martinez drew a walk to give the Yankees one last opportunity. They couldn’t do anything with it though, as Strawberry struck out to give the A’s the win.
In his nine innings, Candiotti allowed just one run on four hits and two walks. His performance would be just one of two nine inning complete games thrown by an opposing pitcher against the Yankees in 1998, and the only one they actually lost. Meanwhile, Irabu threw a two-hitter in a losing effort, but Oakland did just enough damage with those hits to pin a loss on the Yankees.
The Yankees’ offense didn’t get totally held in check too often in 1998, but on this day, a wily old veteran had their number.