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1998 Yankees Diary, September 2: A’s outlast Bombers in pitchers’ duel

The Yanks get a taste of their own medicine, getting blanked by the A’s.

MLB: USA TODAY Sports-Archive RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

On a night following a complete-game shutout from David Wells, the Yankees and their other David searched for their 100th win of the ‘98 season. David Cone took on the last-place Athletics on the heels of two rough starts by his standards. It was the second of a two-game set in the Bronx, and after an over-two-hour rain delay, shutouts would remain the theme in the short, lopsided series.

September 2: Yankees 0, Athletics 2 (box score)

Record: 99-38, .723 (up 18.0)

As mentioned, Cone had hit a small rough patch, after an excellent month of July. This included his last two starts, during which he allowed 10 earned runs over 11 total innings of work. But, despite the eventual outcome, Cone would right the ship on this night against the A’s. Oakland, in turn, would send out Gil Heredia, a 32-year-old righty making just his second start of the 1998 season. Despite the difference in pitching resumes, this would be a pitcher’s duel most of the way.

Although the theme thus far appears to be scarcity of runs in this one, Oakland did hit the scoreboard early, even if they didn’t do it very often. In the top of the first, Ryan Christenson and Jason Giambi notched back-to-back singles with one out, and Matt Stairs promptly put them on the board with an RBI groundout. Heredia would work around a Derek Jeter to keep the Yankee bats quiet in their turn, and the A’s were up 1-0 after an inning.

The scoreboard operator had it easy on this night, as it would stay that way for some time. Coney worked a quick 1-2-3 second, notching his third strikeout of the night already, while Heredia would do the same, needing just five pitches. The third was much the same, as the A’s tallied a hit but couldn’t make anything of it, while the Yanks went down in order again.

In the bottom of the fourth, Bernie Williams doubled with two outs, but fittingly, Tino Martinez followed with a 1-3 groundout to close the frame, as Heredia and Cone continued to roll.

The Athletics tried to make some noise in the top of the fifth, when Miguel Tejada led off with a single and Jason McDonald later reached on a walk. But Cone followed by striking out Christenson and Giambi, bringing his total to 10 through just five innings. Both lineups went down in order in the sixth, and this game pushed into its final third, with the A’s still leading 1-0.

Cone had a spotless seventh, and Martinez singled in the Yanks’ turn. Still, the Bombers were again unable to make anything of it. After 113 pitches, Cone was done for the night, going seven strong innings with just the one run, while striking out 10 Athletics.

Mike Stanton got the ball in his relief, and the difference was clearly a welcome sight to Oakland bats. With one out, Christenson came up and made his impact again, taking an 0-1 pitch around the left field foul pole for a solo homer, doubling the Oakland lead. Although Scott Brosius doubled against his old team in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees yet again were unable to crack the run column.

Rivera came in for the ninth to keep the deficit where it was. He allowed a pair of baserunners, but kept the score at 2-0, giving the Yankees an opportunity to produce a rally from their bones.

In their turn, Williams reached on a two-out single to bring up Martinez as the tying run. The slugger would give it a good run, launching a ball into center field, only for it to land in Christenson’s glove on the warning track, securing the 2-0 win for Oakland. It was a rare quiet night for the Yankee lineup, as it was the first time they’d been shut out since June 21st. It’s never a good feeling to get blanked, but the Yankees could rest on their 18-game lead, as the ‘98 season pushed through its final month.