Home run #: 27
Date: May 30
Opponent: San Diego Padres
Location: Qualcomm Stadium
Pitcher: Andy Ashby
Runners on: 0
Distance: 423 feet
End of day Sammy Sosa total: 13
End of day Ken Griffey Jr. total: 18
We said yesterday that it’s tough for anyone to hit a home run every day. But when you are on your way to the home run record, you can’t take too many days off. Our hero didn’t waste any time adding to his tally after his ninth-inning shot the night before.
Andy Ashby took the mound, trying to build on the good start Joey Hamilton had the night before. He got Willie McGee to strike out and Delino DeShields to pop out, but then Mark McGwire stepped in. Ashby got McGwire to foul off the first pitch but that was as much as he could do against the Cardinal slugger.
While this might have seemed to be a harbinger of another offensive explosion, it was not to be. Juan Acevado did a good job keeping the Padres off the board early on and the Cardinals scored again in the third, when DeShields singled with one out and the Padres walked McGwire on a full count. After Ray Lankford flew out, Brian Jordan tacked on a run with an RBI single.
That was all the Cardinal scoring though as Ashby went the distance in this one. Meanwhile, San Diego struck for their first run in the fifth, when Acevado allowed a one-out single to Greg Myers and wild pitched him to second. Andy Sheets then followed with a single, breaking the seal and putting the Padres down 2-1.
That’s the way it looked in the eighth when Curtis King relieved John Frascatore. King got Quilvio Veras to ground out but Steve Finley singled and went to second on a Tony Gwynn groundout. The extra base really didn’t matter, though, because Ken Caminiti followed up with a ringing double to right center, plating Finley and tying the game up.
The Cards got out of that mess but turned to Jeff Brantley in the ninth and, as we know, that rarely seemed to work out in 1998. It wasn’t entirely his fault, though, as Carlos Hernandez, a couple of years before he finished his career not catching Rick Ankiel in the 2000 playoffs, wound up on second on an error by DeShields. Sheets bunted Hernandez to third and Mark Sweeney, pinch-hitting for Ashby, worked a full count before drawing a walk. With two on and one out, Veras also got the count full before singling to right, bringing in Hernandez and giving the Padres their 34th win of the year.