On April 14, 1998, the Padres saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end, but another, longer, streak lived to see another day. Greg Vaughn hit a pair of home runs in the 13-7 loss to the Giants, giving the club ten consecutive games with a home run. At the time it tied the team record set in 1970; that record is now the National League record 25 games they put together in July, 2016.
The Padres’ ninth win in a row looked in the bag when they scored five runs before Giants starter Mark Gardner could record a single out, but the Giants scored four in their half of the inning, and took the lead with a seven-run fifth inning. By that time the Padres had scored all the runs they’d score, thanks to Vaughn’s second home run — a solo shot in the third inning — and an RBI single off the bat of Quilvio Veras in the top of the fifth.
After that rough first inning, San Diego starter Mark Langston cruised through the second, third, and fourth innings, allowing no hits and two walks. He allowed another walk to begin the fifth inning, and Barry Bonds followed that up with his second home run of the year. The murder of that baseball meant that was all she wrote for Langston’s day. He was replaced by Brian “Give ‘Em A Dinger” Boehringer, who amazingly did not live up to his nickname, but did give up three singles and two walks before recording an out, and that out was gifted to him by way of a bunt. After a double by Rey Sanchez plated the last of the four runs allowed by Boehringer, he stuck around to intentionally walk Bonds before Carlos Reyes came in to strike out Jeff Kent for the final out of the inning. Reyes and Don Wengert held San Francisco scoreless in the sixth and seventh innings before the Giants added insult to injury by tacking on two more runs with Dan Miceli on the hill.
While Vaughn finished the season with 50 home runs, he was still 20 shy of the league lead, which is a ridiculous sentence to type. The leader, of course, was Mark McGwire, who riveted the world — baseball fans and non-fans alike — while leaving Maris and Ruth in his dust and outpacing unlikely sidekick Sammy Sosa. McGwire’s first multihomer game of the season came on this day; he hit three in the Cardinals’ 15-5 win over the hapless Diamondbacks to put him at seven on the year, a mere 10% of the way to his eventual tally. The trio of blasts ended an eight-game homerless streak which began after he homered in each of the season’s first four games. It was his first three-homer game since the Cardinals acquired him from Oakland the previous summer; he had two such games in his time with the A’s, and would do it two more times before he retired.
All of this happened while this was the Billboard number one song in the country: