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1998 Yankees Diary, August 9: Bernie’s late RBI rallies Bombers past Royals

Kansas City may have chased Andy Pettitte early, but the Yankees got the last laugh.

New York Yankees

Even on their bad days, the 1998 Yankees could win games. On August 9th of that season, Andy Pettitte was clearly not at his best. Making a start after missing some time with a shoulder strain, he gave up four runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings against a Royals’ team that finished well below .500. Meanwhile, the offense were held to one run in five innings by the “wonderfully named but struggling that season” Hipólito Pichardo.

Yet when the opponent gave them an opening, they could take it and rally for a win, as they did on August 9th.

August 9: Yankees 5, Royals 4 (box score)

Record: 84-29, .743 (17 GA)

Despite their eventual need to rally, the Yankees did score the first run of the game. Scott Brosius took Pichardo deep with a solo homer in the bottom of the third inning. However, things quickly got worse after that.

Making his first start in 10 days, Pettitte started the game with three no-hit innings, with a first inning José Offerman walk the only blemish. That quickly changed in the fourth. After a lead-off walk from Jermaine Allensworth, Offerman, Dean Palmer, and Jeff King followed with three-straight singles, scoring two runs. While Pettitte did get a double play in the next at-bat, Hal Morris then added another single for another run. In total, Pettitte ended up allowing five hits in the inning.

The following inning, Pettite then allowed a lead-off double to future teammate Johnny Damon. After a bunt moved him over to third, Damon scored on Offerman’s sacrifice fly, plating another run. In the sixth, Pettitte got two outs, but allowed two singles, which would be the end of his day after 5.2 innings. Ramiro Mendoza came in to strand a runner at third and finish off the sixth, and the Yankees’ fortunes would change after that.

With one out in the sixth inning, the Yankees’ offense finally began to get to Pichardo. As the lineup went back to the top, Chuck Knoblauch and Derek Jeter set the table with a single each. Paul O’Neill then brought them both home with a double. A wild pitch moved O’Neill to third with Bernie Williams at the plate. A couple pitches after that, Williams made good contact on a pitch, with the ball looking destined for extra bases. However, Damon flashed some leather in the field to rob Bernie.

O’Neill tagged up and scored to tie the game, but the Yankees easily could’ve gotten more in the inning.

In replacing Pettitte, Mendoza played a big role in the game. Not only did he get the last out of the sixth, but he followed that with two more scoreless frames. He hit Allensworth with a pitch in the seventh, but that was the only baserunner he allowed in his 2.1 innings.

With the game still tied, the Yankees had their top of their order due up in the eighth. They seemingly got the inning off to a perfect start when Knoblauch drew a walk. However, he was thrown out by future brief Yankee Sal Fasano when he tried to steal second. After that, Jeter also drew a walk. He too bolted for second after that, and Jeter’s worked out way better. The pitch skipped past Fasano and an alert Jeter kept moving and ended up taking both second and third bases on the play.

The Royals then intentionally walked O’Neill to set up a double play and bring Williams to the plate. However this time, Bernie would not be denied. His deepish fly ball managed to land just in between a pair of Royals’ fielders, as Jeter scored to give the Yankees the lead.

Now in front, Joe Torre then sent in Mariano Rivera for the save in the ninth. He threw a drama-free 1-2-3 inning to seal the win.

At their lowest point, the Yankees had just a 10 percent chance of winning this game according to win expectancy. However for the ‘98 Yankees, 10 percent was more than enough.