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Birthday Baseball (An Occasional Series): Game 21 – July 12, 1998

By now our readers know the story… I am looking back to see how the Yankees performed on my birthday each year since I’ve been born and then telling the story of what took place on that summer day.

As always, whenever I do research like this, my first two stops are always Retrosheet and Baseball-Reference.

Let’s head back to 1998…

***

Sunday, July 12, 1998 saw the Yankees in Tampa Bay playing on the road against the Devil Rays. This was the fourth game the Yankees were playing following the All-Star break. The Yankees had won their first three games of the second half after winning their final six games heading into the break. Make no mistake, the 1998 Yankees were a juggernaut.

The 1998 Yankees headed into this game with a 64-20 record. Tampa Bay was 35-55.

The Yankees sent David Wells (11-2) out to face Tony Saunders (1-9).

By all measures, the game shaped up to be a miss-match.

***

The Yankees sent the following line-up to begin the game:


Chuck Knoblauch – 2b


Derek Jeter – ss


Tim Raines – lf


Tino Martinez – 1b


Jorge Posada – c


Darryl Starwberry – dh


Chad Curtis – cf


Scott Brosius – 3b


Ricky Ledee – rf

The Devil Rays countered with the following:


Randy Winn – cf


Quinton McCracken – lf


Bob Smith – 3b


Fred McGriff – 1b


Bubba Tammell – dh


Mike Kelly – rf


Aaron Ledesma – ss


Mike Difelice – c


Miguel Cairo – 2b

***

The Yankees made things a little interesting to begin the game in the top of the first. After Chuck Knoblauch lined out, Derek Jeter Singled. Tim Raines then walked. With Tino Martinez up, Jeter attempted to steal third and was caught. Martinez then flew out.

In the bottom of the first, the Devil Rays returned the favor. Quinton McCracken walked with one out and was also caught stealing. The Rays did no other damage.

In the Yankees’ second, Jorge Posada walked and advanced to second on a Darryl Strawberry fly out. Posada, when he first came up, could run a bit. Chad Curtis then doubled home Posada to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Scott Brosius and Ricky Ledee then struck out.

A Fred McGriff single followed by a force out and then further followed by a double play made the second inning go quickly.

In the third, the Yankees used doubled by Chuck Knoblauch and Tino Martinez to trake a 2-0 lead.

Aaron Ledemsa singled for the Devil Rays, but he was thrown out trying to steal. A Miguel Cairo single was the only other base runner they garnered.

The Yankees got another double (Chad Curtis) and a walk (Scott Brosius), but Ricky Ledee and Chuck Knoblauch could not plate the runners.

The men from Tampa earned two walks off David Wells, but again couldn’t score.

The Yankees failed to score in the fifth, and the Devil Rays were in danger of doing the same, but then Miguel Cairo came up with two outs and lifted a solo homer down the left field line cutting the Yankees’ lead to 2-1.

In the sixth, the mighty Yankees again failed to score. This wouldn’t be true of the Devil Rays. Now facing Ramiro Mendoza, the Rays’ Quinton McCracken doubled, was bunted to third and he scored the tying run on a Fred McGriff ground out.

We had a game! It was 2-2 heading into the final three frames…

Albie Lopez set the Yankees down without a run in the top of the 7th.

Ramiro Mendoza set the Devil Rays down without a run in the bottom of the 7th.

Albie Lopez set the Yankees down without a run in the top of the 8th.

Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Stanton did the same to the Rays in the bottom of the 8th.

The Yankees and the Devil Rays went into the ninth inning tied at two…

And this is where the might Yankees, or shall we say the Mighty Yankees, decided to stop making a game of it. If you’re not sitting, you might need to sit for the following explosion.

Roberto Hernandez came into pitch for Tampa Bay and then:


Darryl Strawberry walked. Homer Bush went in to run for Strawberry


Chad Curtis sacrifice bunted, but reached base anyway


Scott Brosius sacrifice bunted, but reached base anyway to load the bases


Ricky Ledee struck out


Chuck Knoblauch then had an RBI hit-by-pitch (Yankees lead 3-2)


Derek Jeter then had a two-run single. (Yankees 5-2)


Scott Adldred came in to pitch


Tim Raines was intentionally walked to lead the bases


Tino Martinez doubled home three more runs (8-2)


Jorge Posada singled home Martinez (9-2)


Rick White was brought in to pitch and allowed a single, but struck out two to end the frame.

In the bottom of the ninth, Mike Stanton retired the Rays in order to closeout the game.

The Yankees won 9-2.

***

The next game wouldn’t take place until 2001 with the Yankees again in Florida, only this time against the Marlins… Would they keep winning on July 12 in a new century?

***

Yankees Record on July 12 (in this series – since 1968): 18-3.

(There were no games played on July 12 in 1971, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, and 1996.)

Derek Jeter on July 12 (to date): 4 for 10 (.400), 3 runs, 3 RBI, 2 SO

Mariano Rivera on July 12 (to date): .2 innings, no runs, no hits, no walks, 2 strikeouts, 1 save (0.00)

Don Mattingly on July 12 (in his career on July 12): 12 for 31 (.387), 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 BB, SO

Graig Nettles (as a Yankee on July 12): 33 AB, 7 hits (.212), 1 run, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks. 1 RBI (I had hoped that my favorite player would have done better on my birthday.)

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