clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

1998 Yankees Diary, August 7: Shane Spencer steals the show in doubleheader sweep

The Yankees took a pair from the Royals, while a rookie outfielder had the night of a lifetime.

New York Yankees’ Shane Spencer in the dugout after hitting Photo by Gerald Herbert/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

The Royals had come to the Bronx in May of 1998, and had one-half of a two-game set rained out. With Kansas City back in town in August, the Yankees were set to play four games over the course of three days. With a huge lead in the division in hand, it wasn’t crucial or anything for the Yankees to take the chance to fatten up at home against a lowly opponent. You’ll be surprised to hear that they did so anyway.

August 7, game one: Yankees 8, Royals 2 (box score)

August 7, game two: Yankees 14, Royals 2 (box score)

Record: 82-29, .739 (17 GA)

Over the course of a split doubleheader, the Yankees simply took it to the poor Royals. KC managed an RBI single from Jose Offerman in the first off of David Cone, but that lead would be very short-lived.

Two walks from starter Pat Rapp, quickly set things up for Bernie Williams in the bottom half. Williams singled one home, and Tino Martinez followed with an RBI double. After intentionally walking Darryl Strawberry, Rapp unintentionally walked Tim Raines to force in a run, and after Scott Brosius’ sac fly, it was 4-1 Yankees.

A 24-year-old Johnny Damon led off the third with a solo shot to provide the rest of the Royals offense for the afternoon. Otherwise, Kansas City could hardly produce another rally. They strung together a couple of singles off Cone in the seventh to chase the righty, but that would be the only real threat they could manage. Mike Stanton came on to escape the inning, leaving Cone’s line at 6.2 innings, two runs, five strikeouts and no walks.

The Yankees had tacked on earlier, with another RBI single from Williams in the second and a solo homer from Strawberry in the third putting them up 6-2. Martinez drove home two more in the sixth with a double to make the score 8-2. With a comfortable lead in hand, the Yankees were able to cruise home, always a lovely sight in the front-end of a doubleheader. After Stanton came on, Yankee legend Joe Borowski entered to close things out, tossing a scoreless ninth as part of his eight total appearances as a Yankee.

With an offense clicking and a rested bullpen coming off the easy win, things got even easier in the night matchup. In fact, the bullpen would get even more rest, with David Wells shouldering the load with his fourth complete game of the year, and his second CG in as many starts.

Much like game one, the Royals took an early lead that proved to mean little, with Jermaine Allensworth doubling home Damon in the third to put the Royals up 1-0. Chuck Knoblauch quickly evened the score with a solo shot in the home half of the inning.

Wells settled in nicely, and at one point retired 11 Royals in a row, giving his offense plenty of time to go to work on KC starter Chris Haney. In the fourth, Luis Sojo scored Jorge Posada with a single, Knoblauch knocked in Shane Spencer with a sac fly for a 3-1 lead.

The Yankees started to pour it on in the bottom of the fifth. Bernie Williams smashed a two-run homer for a 5-1 advantage, and after a Posada walk and a Spencer double, the rookie’s second of the game, Haney’s night was finished. Things didn’t go much better for the excellently-named Ricky Bones, as a two-run triple from Sojo and RBI single from Homer Bush pushed the lead to 8-1.

Things went quiet until the seventh, when Spencer fully announced his arrival:

Spencer flew one just over the wall in left for his first career homer, a solo shot. Spencer would come up next inning, with the Yankees have staged another rally, with three runs already having scored to bring the score to 12-1. The young outfielder sent a shot deep into the left-field seats for a two-run jack:

The 26-year-old was making just his fifth career start, and carried a .177 average over his first 17 at-bats in the majors. He finished 5-for-5 with two doubles, two homers, and a single, driving in three and scoring four times. While Spencer would be sent back down to the minors not long after this game, he would of course come back up in September to put together a month for the ages. We may know now that Spencer’s career would never really take off outside of his 1998 run, but it’s still fun to watch the young man have the game of his life 25 years on.

The Royals would scratch a run across in the ninth to bring the score to 14-2. Wells needed just 107 pitches, 80 of them strikes, to finish off KC, allowing two runs on six hits with no walks. Boomer struck out just four, with the lefty pounding the strike zone and daring the Royals to do something damage him. They couldn’t, and the Yankees ended the night with a an easy, satisfying doubleheader sweep.