One of the most infuriating things to watch as a baseball fan is when your teams scores some late inning runs that would’ve been game changing had they not just allowed runs right prior to that.
On this day in 1998, the Yankees were actually on the good end of that situation not once, but twice. That allowed them to pick up a nice little win over the Orioles. However, the win was a bit overshadowed by what was going on over in the other dugout.
September 20: Yankees 5, Orioles 4 (box score)
Record: 107-47, .695 (21 GA)
The big news of this game came not on the field, but rather who wasn’t on it. Earlier that day, Orioles’ legend Cal Ripken Jr. had told manager Ray Miller that this was going to be the day that he was going to end his consecutive games played streak at 2,632. It was Baltimore’s final home game of the season, and Ripken decided that was the best time to finally get a day off. In his place, Ryan Minor got the start at third base.
The occasion was not lost on the fans in the stadium and the Yankees’ team themselves. After Chuck Knoblauch grounded out to officially get the game underway, the fans, Ripken’s teammates, and the Yankees in the other dugout all joined in on a long standing ovation to salute the baseball legend.
Back on the field, the Yankees took a lead in the second inning. With Chad Curtis and Mike Lowell on, Luis Sojo added a single to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. In the fifth, they added to that lead when Tim Raines hit an RBI double that scored Bernie Williams.
On the mound for the Yankees that day was Orlando Hernández. El Duque started the game off with four scoreless innings, although he did have to work out of some trouble in the first and fourth frames. Then in the fifth, Baltimore finally got something off him. Two batters after Lenny Webster’s double, Roberto Alomar singled to get the O’s on the board.
After that single, things got even more difficult for Hernández. He balked in the next at-bat, then threw a wild pitch, and put on another runner with a walk. He somehow got out of that jam to keep the Yankees in front, and ended up getting through one more inning. El Duque finished with a final line of one run allowed on five hits and two walks in six innings. It wasn’t his prettiest outing, but he got the Yankees into the late innings with a lead.
In the eighth, the Yankees seemingly put the game away and added to their lead. With two runners on, Derek Jeter tripled, giving the Yankees some more breathing room.
Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton had combined to finish throw the seventh, and Stanton was then sent back out for the eighth. He got one out but then issued a walk, after which Joe Torre went to Darren Holmes. Facing just one batter, Holmes got an out. Torre then decided to go back to the ‘pen and bring in Graeme Lloyd to face the lefty B.J. Surhoff. That backfired as Surhoff took Lloyd deep to get right back with a run.
However, the Yankees then once again got some insurance. Shane Spencer continued his hot streak, doubling home Homer Bush, who pinch ran after Chili Davis singled.
With a two-run lead, Torre turned to Mariano Rivera for the ninth. He got two quick outs, but in the middle of them, Alomar doubled. Eric Davis then singled, making Spencer’s RBI the previous half inning quite important, as Alomar scored. Down to their last out, Rafael Palmero could only muster a ground out, officially ending the game and Ripken’s streak.
(Not surprisingly, the highlights of the game in that video are all Ripken-centric, just so you know.)