Hideki Irabu’s Yankee career famously did not go great. He lasted just three seasons with the team, and was the subject of a fairly rude comment from George Steinbrenner.
Yet, throughout the early part of the 1998 season, you might’ve thought hat he was on his way to a nice major league career. You could’ve made an argument for him as an All-Star based on his first half of 1998, as he went into the break with a 2.91 ERA in 86.2 innings.
However, as the season wore on, he got worse, and unfortunately that continued in a big way on this day in 1998. Despite that, the Yankees nearly won the game anyway.
Record: 100-40, .714 (19.5 GA)
On the road in Chicago, Irabu pretty quickly found himself in some trouble against the White Sox, walking the first two batters of the game. While he then got Frank Thomas to fly out — moving a runner to third, Albert Belle drove a run with a fly out. The Yankees did manage to get out of inning on that same play, getting Craig Wilson out as he tried to go from first to second.
The Yankees then bounced back and got on the board themselves in the second. With two on and two out, Scott Brosius doubled home Tino Martinez, tying the game. The tie didn’t last particularly long, though.
An inning later, Irabu really came apart. All nine White Sox hitter came to the plate over the course of the second, as they put up four runs in the process. Chicago pounded him for six hits in the frame, though that number could’ve been zero. With two on and one out, Chad Kreuter grounded into what could’ve been an inning-ending double play. Instead after getting the first out, Luis Sojo, filling in at shortstop, threw the throw to first away, allowing the first run of the inning to score. Things spiraled after that and the White Sox were up 5-1 when the dust settled.
The Yankees got one of those runs back in the third. With runners on second and third, Bernie Williams grounded out, but it was enough for Chuck Knoblauch to come home fand score another run.
Robin Venture then quickly led off the bottom of the inning with a home run, putting Chicago back up five. A couple batters later, Irabu’s day would be over. In 2.1 innings, he allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks. At 4.29, his ERA moved above four for the first time all season.
Ramiro Mendoza came for him and settled things down while the Yankees’ offense slowly began to get back into the game. In the fourth inning, the Yankees got a run back when Jorge Posada scored on a James Baldwin wild pitch.
Down to their last couple outs, the Yankees really made a game of it in the eighth. With one out and Tim Raines on, Williams homered off reliever Bill Simas to get the Yankees with a run. Darryl Strawberry reached a couple batters later to put the tying run on, but was caught stealing second to end the inning.
In the ninth, the first two Yankees’ hitters went down in order. At that point, Joe Torre sent up Derek Jeter as a pinch hitter to try and get something going. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Jeter was rung up on a questionable called third strike, ending the game.