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1998 Yankees Diary, September 15: Bombers drop bullpen game to Boston

The Red Sox scored nine runs against a parade of Yankees relievers.

Jason Varitek #47

The first half of September was likely the roughest stretch the 1998 Yankees had to endure. The fatigue of a long campaign was beginning to show, with the team going 6-8 in the first 14 games of the final month of the regular season. That culminated in a 9-4 loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, dropping the Bombers’ winning percentage below .700 for the first time since the third week of April.

September 15: Yankees 4, Red Sox 9 (box score)

Record: 104-45, .698 (up 20.0)

Mike Jerzembeck had an unfortunate Yankees career probably best reserved for a deep trivia quiz about the team. Drafted by the organization in the fifth round of the 1993 MLB Draft, the righty finally got a chance to win a spot on the major league roster out of spring training in 1998. However, a freak accident in which Jorge Posada hit him in the elbow with a throw resulted in Jerzembeck spending the majority of the season at Triple-A pitching with diminished fastball velocity while losing command of the curveball. He finally got called for his major league debut on August 8th but would only make three appearances in MLB, allowing nine runs across three outings totaling 6.1 innings (12.79 ERA) before missing all of 1999 and 2000 to elbow and shoulder surgeries and never making it back to the show.

This day marked Jerzembeck’s second big league appearance and first start and the Red Sox could scarcely have given him a ruder “welcome to the big leagues, kid” experience. He was able to work a 1-2-3 first on eight pitches but struggled with command starting in the second. Nomar Garciaparra singled to lead off followed by a Damon Buford walk to set up a Jason Varitek three-run blast to right.

The command had all but disappeared by the third, with Darren Lewis leading off with a single before advancing to second on a wild pitch. This allowed John Valentin to drive him home with a single, who himself would advance to second on a grounder and third on a balk. Jerzembeck walked Garciaparra to put runners on the corners at which point Joe Torre yanked him for Mike Buddie. A sac fly by Mike Stanley scored Boston’s fifth run of the contest and wrapped up Jerzembeck’s line for the night at 2.1 innings, giving up five runs on four hits and two walks with no strikeouts.

From here, the Yankees were staring at a bullpen game. Jerzembeck’s replacement Buddie hardly fared much better than his predecessor, surrendering a Buford single to lead off the fourth followed by a two-run shot by Varitek, his second long ball of the first four innings to go along with five RBI. At least Jay Tessmer and Jeff Nelson completed the task put to them, retiring the side in order in the fifth and sixth, respectively. The same couldn’t be said of Mike Stanton, who yielded a pair of singles to open the seventh, the second leading to a throwing error by Chad Curtis that allowed the runners to advance to second and third with no outs. Mo Vaughn capitalized, lining a single to center to plate the pair and make it 9-0 Red Sox.

The Yankees offense meanwhile could get nothing going against Tim Wakefield. They managed to put a pair on with two outs in each of the first and third but ended up stranding all four runners. It took until the seventh for them to break through, though by that point the outcome of the game was a foregone conclusion with the Red Sox up by nine.

Posada singled and Curtis doubled with one out, setting up a Scott Brosius three-run bomb down the left field line. Chuck Knoblauch doubled to knock Wakefield from the contest having gone 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk. Jim Corsi came on in relief and induced a pair of ground outs to strand Knoblauch at third. He’d surrender a leadoff home to Bernie Williams the following frame, but that was all the offense the Yankees would muster, dropping this one to the Red Sox, 9-4.