In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The New York Yankees win their second World Series in three years by completing a four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres with a 3-0 win. The unsung Scott Brosius is named World Series MVP, batting .471 with two home runs and six RBI. Combining their 114 regular season wins, with 11 playoff wins the Yankees establish a new record with 125 wins, for championship number 24.
Following their 1996 World Championship, the New York Yankees led by Joe Torre suffered a letdown losing a five-game series to the Cleveland Indians in 1997. There would be no letdowns in 1998, as the Yankees set a new American League record at 114-48. As the postseason began the Yankees got a dose of bad news when Designated Hitter Darryl Strawberry was diagnosed with colon cancer. The Yankees would make quick work of the Texas Rangers, winning the Division Series in three straight games. In the ALCS, the Yankees ran into trouble losing Game 2 in extra innings to the Cleveland Indians, as Chuck Knoblauch had a brain freeze arguing with the umpires while a run scored. The Tribe also won Game 3, behind the pitching of Bartolo Colon. The Yankees though bounced back as Orlando Hernandez beat Dwight Gooden in Game 4, as the Yankees won the last three to take the series in six games.
The San Diego Padres managed by Bruce Bochy also had the best season in franchise history at 98-64. In the Division Series, the Padres upset the 102-60 Houston Astros in four games, beating Randy Johnson, whom Houston picked up at the trade deadline twice. In the NLCS the Padres did one better, beating the 106-win Atlanta Braves in six games, as Sterling Hitchcock won the NLCS MVP with a pair of wins, including a 5-0 shutout at Turner Field in Game 6.
The World Series opened at Yankee Stadium, with San Diego native David Wells getting the start for the Yankees, while Kevin Brown made the start for the Padres. Ricky Ledee gave New York an early lead with a two-run double in the second inning, the Padres quickly answered as Greg Vaughn hit a two-run homer in the third. In the fifth San Diego surged ahead, with Tony Gwynn depositing a ball into the right-field stands with Quilvio Veras on base. One batter later Vaughn hit his second home run of the game to make it 5-2 in favor of the Padres. After allowing two runners to reach base in the seventh, Kevin Brown was relieved by Donnie Wall, who did not provide any relief at all, as Chuck Knoblauch tied the game with at three-run blast. Jeter followed with a single, leading Mark Langston to come into the game. The Yankees would load the bases against Langston, as Tino Martinez batted with two outs. It appeared that Langston had Martinez struck out on a close 2-2 pitch, but a ball was called leading to a full count and the fateful pitch of the series as the Yankees first baseman launched a grand slam into the upper deck. The grand slam would be the decisive blow as the Yankees won the game 9-6, with the Padres scoring an unearned run in the eighth.
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez made the start for the Yankees in Game 2, while Andy Ashby started for the Padres. The Yankees scratched out three unearned runs in the first, with Paul O’Neill, Chili Davis, and Scott Brosius each driving in a run. In the second Jeter drove in a run and scored on a two-run homer by Bernie Williams, giving the Yankees a commanding 6-0 lead. The Yankees made it 7-0 on a double by Ledee in the third, turning the 1998 World Series into a laugher. Veras doubled home Chris Gomes in the fourth, but Jorge Posada made it 9-1 with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning. The Padres would score two runs in the eighth but left the Bronx down 2-0 after losing 9-3.
In Game 3 at Qualcomm Stadium, the Padres had their NLCS MVP Sterling Hitchcock, a former Yankee on the mound while David Cone made the start for the Yankees. Both pitchers were strong as the game was scoreless until the sixth inning with Tony Gwynn driving in a pair of runs for San Diego. The Padres added a third run when Gwynn scored on sacrifice fly by Ken Caminiti. The Yankees got a run back on a Brosius homer leading off the seventh. The Yankees added a second run on an error by Caminiti at third. In the eighth, the Padres called on Trevor Hoffman to preserve the 3-2 lead after Randy Myers walked O’Neill to start the inning after getting Bernie Williams to fly out, Hoffman walked Tino Martinez, setting up the deciding moment of the series, as Scott Brosius slammed a three-run homer to put the Yankees in front 5-3. The Padres would score once off Marino Rivera as Greg Vaughn continued to have a big series, but it was not enough as New York was up 3-0 after a 5-4 win.
Looking for the sweep, the Yankees had Andy Pettitte on the mound in Game 4 as Kevin Brown on three-days rest started for San Diego. The game was scoreless until the sixth inning when Derek Jeter who reached on an infield hit scored on a groundout by Bernie Williams. In the eighth, the Yankees added runs, on RBI singles by Scott Brosius and Ricky Ledee. Leading 3-0 the Yankees had their closer Mariano Rivera on the mound. His cousin Ruben Rivera led off the inning with a single but was erased on a double play. Mark Sweeney, San Diego’s last hope came up and hit a soft bouncer to Scott Brosius at third, who tossed it over to Tino Martinez at first to give the Yankees their 24th World Championship, tying them with the Montreal Canadiens for the most professional titles in North America.