Padres: This Day in History: Reliving Game 1 of the 1998 World Series

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Today, we begin reliving the 1998 World Series, the last time the Padres competed for a world championship. On this day in history, Game one took place at Yankee Stadium.

1998 was a magical season for the San Diego Padres. The incredible offensive firepower of an aging Tony Gwynn combined with a dominant pitching staff and a brilliant mind in Bruce Bochy culminated in the team’s second pennant. Game six against the Atlanta Braves took place on October 14th, the game that clinched San Diego’s spot in the World Series.

On this day in history, the series against the New York Yankees got underway at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. In one of the more compelling games of the series, both starting pitchers stumbled their way through the first few innings. After the Yankees jumped on top 2-0 in the second inning, the Padres went to work on offense.

In the top of the third, Greg Vaughn, the team’s best power hitter, hit a game tying two run blast off of Yankee starter and ALCS MVP David Wells. This tied the game at two, and served as an immediate answer to the Yankees’ first score. As the exciting game continued, Padre pitching started to lock in, and it seemed that the next team to push a run across in the closing innings would gain the upper hand early in the series by winning game one.

This offense came in the top of the fifth, when 38-year-old future hall-of-fame inductee Tony Gwynn hit a long two run home run off of the facing of Yankee Stadium’s upper deck. Immediately following this resounding boom, Vaughn struck again. The emerging offensive juggernaut hit his second of the game, adding an insurance run and widening the Padres’ lead to 5-2.

The score would remain this way through six innings, as it appeared the Padres were in the driver’s seat with the way their pitching staff was performing from top to bottom.

The Yankees had other ideas though. In the bottom of the seventh, their offensive explosion not only erased San Diego’s lead, but blew the game wide open in their favor. A three run home run by Chuck Knoblauch knotted the score at five a piece. Then, on a 2-2 count to Tino Martinez with the bases loaded, San Diego reliever Mark Langston appeared to catch part of the plate, but was called a ball by home plate umpire Rich Garcia. On the payoff pitch, Martinez hit a go-ahead grand slam to basically seal the victory for the Yankees.

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The Padres did manage a run in the top of the eighth, but were shut down by legendary closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth, who earned the save. The final score of game one was 9-6, and the Yankees had an early edge in the 1998 World Series, leading the series 1-0.

Many San Diego fans remember this game for the seventh inning, as they should. The call made was controversial at best, and the Yankees benefited.

Still, at this point, there was no need for the Padres to panic. All in all, they were not pitching poorly, and they had a powerful lineup ready to strike at any moment. Despite the extremely disappointing loss, the Padres entered game two with confidence, riding what got them to the World Series to try to get them through it.

Next: This Day in History: Padres Win 1998 NLCS

Tomorrow, Friars on Base will relive game two of this most recent World Series with the Yankees, which occurred on October 18th, 18 years ago. Stay tuned as we reflect on this series which is beginning to feel like the distant past to many.

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