August 27, 1998: Yankees blow 9th-inning lead before beating Angels in 11th

This article was written by Alan Raylesberg

WilliamsBernieIt was a battle of division leaders on August 27, 1998, when the Yankees hosted the Anaheim Angels.1 The Yankees were first in the AL East with a record of 95-36 and a 16½-game lead over the Boston Red Sox. The Angels were first in the AL West with a record of 74-60 and a three-game lead over the Texas Rangers. The two teams had played a day-night doubleheader the day before, with the Angels winning the first game to give them a five-game winning streak; the Yankees lost their fourth straight. The Yankees won the nightcap to snap their losing streak.

The losing streak was the Yankees’ longest in a season that would end up being one of the best in their storied history. After winning the World Series in 1996, the Yankees lost to Cleveland in the 1997 AL Division Series. Striving to get back to the World Series a year later, the Yankees were on a record-setting pace for regular-season wins as the month of August wound down. With most observers expecting the team to cruise to the World Series, the late August slump raised concerns. As Yankees manager Joe Torre said after the August 26 doubleheader, “Now all of a sudden, the questions aren’t about who we’re going to play in the World Series. … Now we’re concerned about getting there. It’s funny what a week does.”2

Going into the August 27 game, the Yankees needed a second straight win to restore their suddenly shaken confidence and regain the momentum needed in their quest to break what was then the American League record of 111 wins in the regular season.3 The stakes were even higher for the Angels, who were in a battle with Texas for the AL West title.

The Angels had never been to the World Series, having lost in the AL Championship Series three times, in 1979, 1982, and 1986. Anaheim was looking to make it to the postseason for the first time since 1986. The 1998 Angels had a solid offensive core led by Darrin Erstad, Tim Salmon, Garrett Anderson, and Jim Edmonds.4 Chuck Finley, in his 13th season with the Angels, anchored the starting rotation.5 All-Star Troy Percival was the dominant closer.6

The 1998 Yankees were one of the best teams in history. The offense was led by Derek JeterJorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, and Paul O’Neill.7 Andy Pettitte, David Wells, and David Cone8 led the starting rotation and Mariano Rivera was the closer.9

Having played a doubleheader the day before, the Yankees did not include Martinez, O’Neill, Posada, and regular third baseman Scott Brosius10 in their starting lineup. Before the night was over, three of them would play in the game as New York used five pitchers and 12 position players in an exciting contest that featured multiple strategic moves by Torre and Angels skipper Terry Collins.

Cone started for the Yankees. A two-run home run by designated hitter Chili Davis and an RBI single by future Hall of Famer Tim Raines11 gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead after five innings. In the sixth, Cone walked the bases loaded with none out. A sacrifice fly by Salmon made it 3-2 before Edmonds doubled, driving in two runs and putting the Angels ahead 4-3. With a left-handed hitter coming up, Torre replaced Cone with lefty reliever Graeme Lloyd. Lloyd did the job, getting the second out before Torre brought in right-hander Ramiro Mendoza to face Troy Glaus,12 who struck out to end the inning.

Trailing 4-3, the Yankees rallied in the seventh against Pep Harris, who relieved Finley in the sixth. After the Yankees loaded the bases with none out, Angels manager Collins brought in Trevor Wilson to face the dangerous Chili Davis. Torre countered by putting lefty-swinging O’Neill up to pinch hit. O’Neill came through with a sacrifice fly and the game was tied at 4-4.

In the eighth, the Yankees took the lead. With Rich DeLucia now on the mound for Anaheim, Martinez (who entered the game earlier as a pinch-hitter) drew a leadoff walk. Joe Girardi13 bunted and an error by Erstad put runners on first and second with none out. After a groundout moved the runners to second and third with one out, Chuck Knoblauch hit a sacrifice fly to score the lead run and the teams went to the ninth with the Yankees leading, 5-4.

Mendoza was still on the mound in the ninth. Angels Catcher Matt Walbeck led off with a single. After a sacrifice moved the runner to second, Orlando Palmeiro singled in a run to tie the game. When Randy Velarde followed with another single, Torre replaced Mendoza with Mike Stanton, who retired the next two batters to preserve the tie. The Yankees went down one-two-three in the bottom of the ninth and the game went to extra innings.

In the 10th, Stanton gave up two hits but worked out of trouble. The Yankees managed only a single hit in the bottom of the 10th. As the 11th inning began, Torre replaced Stanton with Jay Tessmer. The 26-year-old Tessmer had been called up only the day before and was making his first major-league appearance. The side-arming righty started by striking out Phil Nevin.14 He then retired Velarde on a fly to right and completed a well-pitched frame by striking out the very tough Erstad.

In the bottom of the 11th, with Mike Fetters now pitching for the Angels, Jeter led off with a walk and took second on a groundout. Bernie Williams then hit one deep to center field. Edmonds was one of the greatest defensive center fielders of his era.15 It was a race between the ball and Edmonds, and the ball won.16 Williams had a double, scoring Jeter, and the Yankees had the walk-off win. Tessmer, who had never been in Yankee Stadium until he arrived from the minors the day before, had his first major-league win in a dramatic, exciting, game.17

Writing in the New York Times, Jack Curry observed that the Yankees’ “usually precise starter [Cone] failed miserably, their usually reliable middle reliever [Mendoza] stumbled as a closer, but their unreliable setup man [Stanton] and a rookie [Tessmer] making his major league debut finally pitched sharply enough for the Yankees to erase some of their concerns and give them life last night.”18 After the game, Torre noted the significance of the win, maintaining that “we needed to win this game. We didn’t need it for the standings. But we needed this game for our psyche and our pride.”19

Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Angels came away from the game believing in themselves. “You can rest assured we are not going away,” said skipper Collins. “The Yankees are an outstanding team, and I would sure like the chance to play them in October.”20 Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Mike Digiovanna concluded that the “Angels gave the Yankees everything they could handle this week, and in the process may have validated their status as pennant contenders.”21

The Angels remained in first place until September 17, when they lost to the Rangers, in Texas, for the second time in two days, giving Texas a one-game division lead. After tying for first on September 20, the Angels lost three straight to Texas, in Anaheim, sealing their second-place finish. They ended the season 85-77, three games behind Texas and seven behind Boston for the wild card. Although they came up short in 1998, Erstad, Salmon, Anderson, and the then-rookie Glaus were all part of the 2002 Angels team that won the World Series.

With a record of 96-36 after the August 27 game, the newly resurgent Yankees went on to win 18 of their final 30 games and finish 114-48, setting a new American League record for regular season wins. The Yankees swept Texas in the Division Series and then beat Cleveland in the Championship Series in six games. They played the San Diego Padres in the World Series and swept them to win their second World Series championship in three years. New York went on to win the World Series the next two seasons (1999 and 2000) and fell just short in 2001 when they lost the Series in seven games to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The 1998 Yankees were one of the greatest teams in baseball history and part of one of baseball’s greatest dynasties. Their stirring walk-off win on August 27,1998 restored the team’s confidence following their longest losing streak of the season. While it was only one of their record 114 wins, the August 27 victory over the Angels was instrumental in helping to ensure that the Yankees would finish with a record number of wins and cement their place in baseball history.



This article was fact-checked by Bruce Slutsky and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author relied on Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org.





1 The Angels were an expansion franchise that began play in 1961, based in Los Angeles, where they were known as the Los Angeles Angels. They moved to Anaheim before the 1966 season and were known as the California Angels from 1965 to 1996. From 1997 to 2004 they were known as the Anaheim Angels, before becoming the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from 2005 to 2015. After 2015 they reverted to their original name, Los Angeles Angels.

2 Jack Curry, “Baseball: Yankees Notebook; Tired of Team’s Funk, Joe Torre Talks Soul,” New York Times, August 27, 1998: C5.

3 The 1954 Cleveland Indians won 111 games before losing to the New York Giants in the World Series. The 1998 Yankees broke that record, winning 114 regular-season games. As of the 2022 season only the 1906 Chicago Cubs and the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who each won 116 games, had more wins in a regular season. Including 11 postseason victories in 1998, the Yankees total of 125 wins in a season were the most in baseball history.

4 In 1998 first baseman Erstad hit .296 with 19 home runs, right fielder Salmon hit .300 with 26 homers, left fielder Anderson hit .294 with 15 homers, and center fielder Edmonds hit .307 with 25 homers.

5 Finley, age 35, led the 1998 Angels in wins with 11 (11-9).

6 Percival was tied for second in the AL in 1998 with 42 saves.

7 In 1998 shortstop Jeter hit .324 with 19 home runs, catcher Posada hit .268 with 17 homers, first baseman Martinez hit .281 with 28 homers, center fielder Williams hit .339 with 26 homers, and right fielder O’Neill hit .317 with 24 homers.

8 Cone, at age 35, won 20 games (20-7) in 1998. Wells, also 35, had an .818 winning percentage (18-8) and 26 -year-old Pettitte won 16.

9 Rivera had 36 saves in 1998.

10 Brosius was in his first season with the Yankees, after seven with Oakland. He was an All-Star in 1998, batting .300 with 19 home runs and 98 RBIs.

11 Raines was 38 years old, in his third season with the Yankees, as a part-time left fielder and designated hitter. In 321 at-bats in 1998, Raines hit .290, with 8 stolen bases in 11 attempts. Raines left the Yankees after the 1998 season and played three more seasons before ending a 23-year career after the 2002 season.

12 Glaus was a rookie in 1998. He went on to play six more seasons with the Angels as part of a 13-year career, making the All-Star team four times.

13 Girardi was the backup catcher in 1998, in his third of four seasons with the Yankees. An excellent defensive catcher, Girardi played 15 years in the majors. He managed the Yankees from 2008 through 2017, winning the World Series in 2009. He also managed one season with the Florida Marlins (2006) and two-plus seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (2020-22).

14 Nevin played 12 seasons in the majors. The 1998 season was his only one with the Angels. Primarily an infielder, Nevin was the backup catcher for Anaheim in 1998. After his playing career, Nevin became a coach with the Yankees and later the manager of the Angels during the 2022 season. His son, Tyler, made it to the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles in 2021.

15 Edmonds won eight Gold Gloves in his career, two with the Angels (1997-1998) and six with the St. Louis Cardinals (2000-2005).

16 Edmonds said, “[I]t just sliced away from me a little more than I expected. I did the best I could and came up short. That’s the way it goes.” Mike Digiovanna, “No Shame in This Loss,” Los Angeles Times, August 28, 1998, available at https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1998-aug-28-sp-17419-story.html.

17 The win was the only one in Tessmer’s major-league career, which consisted of 23⅓ innings over parts of four seasons (1998-2000 and 2002) with the Yankees. Tessmer could not have been more excited after the game, telling the New York Times, “I’d have to say I’m the happiest guy in the Stadium. … When [Williams] hit the ball, I was praying [center fielder Edmonds] didn’t catch it. I can’t explain how I felt. It was unbelievable.” Curry, “Baseball: Yankees Are Now Working Harder for Their Victories,” New York Times, August 28, 1998: C1.

18 Curry, “Yankees Are Now Working Harder for Their Victories.”

19 Curry, “Yankees Are Now Working Harder for Their Victories.”

20 Digiovanna, “No Shame in This Loss.”     

21 Digiovanna.

Additional Stats

New York Yankees 6
Anaheim Angels 5
11 innings

Yankee Stadium
New York, NY


Box Score + PBP:

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