THE CURSE OF THE BAMBINO, PART 6 ...
"THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM"
The Sox sweep their way to one
percentage point of first place
22, 1967 ... After the Red Sox swept a
doubleheader from the Washington Senators, 2 to 1 and a 5 to 3, the
standings showed that they were only one percentage point behind the
American League leading Chicago White Sox.
Jerry Stephenson won the
opening game for the Red Sox, pitching a little over seven innings and having
Dalton Jones knock in the winning runs. Then a three run explosion in the
seventh inning of the second game, brought the Sox back for their seventh
straight home win and ninth in their last ten games.
The first game had a near miracle finish, as John Wyatt stood on the mound in
the eighth-inning with the bases loaded, nobody out and a slim one run lead to
protect. Wyatt managed to get Paul Casanova to hit a ground ball down to Jerry
Adair at second, who pegged it home to Elston Howard, who then threw it down to
George Scott, to complete the double-play. Wyatt then got Tim Cullen on a pop
fly to first to end the game.
Stephenson had to get by Phil Ortega, who won eight straight games for
Washington, and he would need some luck to do it. In the fourth inning, with one
out, George Scott slammed the ball to center and legged it out for a triple.
Reggie Smith lofted a fly ball to left-field. Scott tagged up and came home to
apparently score the first run of the game. But the Senators appealed, saying he
had left to early, and it held up. The run was canceled.
And so, the game proceeded into the seventh inning as a scoreless tie. In the
Red Sox half, Dalton Jones came in to pinch-hit for Mike Andrews. Reggie Smith
was on second, having doubled to left and Rico Petrocelli was on first having
been given an intentional walk, that the Senators would hope set up a
doubleplay. But Jones slammed one down the right-field line and it rolled around
the corner, as both Smith and Petrocelli scored, and Jones legged it to third
for a triple.
With the Red Sox up 2 to 0, Stephenson started the eighth-inning by giving up
a single to Tim Cullen. After a groundout and a pop fly out, Ken McMullen
doubled to the wall in left-center, to score Cullen and cut the Red Sox lead to
one run. At that point Dick Williams brought in his closer, John Wyatt. Wyatt
had to face big Frank Howard and struck him out to preserve the lead.
Then came the ninth-inning and Wyatt walked Fred Valentine to start things
off. The next batter was Peterson and he hit a fly ball to left that Carl
Yastrzemski faked and played as if he was going to catch it on the warning
track. That held Valentine half way between first and second. But Yaz knew the
ball would be over his head and let it bounce off the wall to Reggie Smith.
Smith got the rebound and threw to third as Valentine had to hold at second
base. Wyatt, however, walked Mike Epstein to load the bases, which set up the
eventual game ending double play, giving the Red Sox a 2 to 1 win.
Gary Bell started poorly in the second game, giving up two runs in the first
inning on three hits and a walk. He settled down after that, breezing into the
sixth inning. Unfortunately, the Red Sox batters had not helped him and the Sox
were down, 2 to 0.
Barry Moore had started for Washington, pulled a muscle, and had to be
replaced by Bob Humphreys. Humphreys did well until the bottom of the sixth when
Reggie Smith tagged him for a home run, his sixth in ten home games. Adair
followed with a double and Humphreys put him on third-base with a wild pitch.
Petrocelli next lined a single to left that tied up the game.
The next inning, however, the Senators got the lead back when Bell gave up
back-to-back hits to Mike Epstein and Cap Peterson.
In the bottom of the seventh, José Tartabull singled and was bunted along to
second by George Thomas. Tartabull had to stay at second as Joe Foy beat out an
infield hit. Yaz then hit a grounder down to first base, and Epstein tried to
turn a doubleplay. But his throw to second was high and wide, and shortstop Bob
Saverine was pulled off the bag, to load the bases.
The Senators weren't able to get out of this jam, when George Scott lined a
single to right center that score two runs. Reggie Smith followed him with a pop
fly that Saverine caught going away, with his back toward the infield, and it
scored Yaz. The Sox were up 5 to 3.
Darrell Brandon came in and got the Senators in order in the eighth and again
in the ninth, putting the Red Sox one percentage point out of first place with a
sweep of the doubleheader.
The Red Sox announced that they have signed outfielder Jim Landis, who had
been released by the Detroit Tigers.