“DIARY OF A WINNER”
THE CURSE OF
THE BAMBINO, PART 9
May 10, 1986 ... The hitters were the difference in the Red Sox 10-inning, 4-2 victory over the Oakland A's in the kind of game that a week ago might have resulted in a demoralizing defeat. Instead, lefthander Bruce Hurst wound up with his third victory of the year, and Boston found itself the owner of a four-game winning streak.
The winning blow came off the bat of designated hitter Don Baylor, who hit a two-run homer off reliever Steve Ontiveros after Jim Rice had singled with one out and, in so doing, joined the 2,000-hit club. Baylor's salute was his fourth game-winning hit of the season, giving him 18 runs batted in.
Hurst didn't deserve to lose this one, not on a day when he struck out 11 batters. He has recorded 10 or more strikeouts eight times in his career, tying a Sox record set by Cy Young and matched by Roger Clemens. And it's only May.
What made this one special was that Hurst managed to survive some defensive lapses in the eighth inning and pitch out of a serious jam in the ninth. In the eighth, shortstop Ed Romero let two balls get away from him, enabling Oakland to tie the game at 2-2. In the ninth, Hurst had runners on second and third with one out and didn't allow a run. Oakland also had two base runners in the bottom of the 10th, but again Hurst survived to improve his career log against the A's to 9- 2.
The Red Sox had precious little time to enjoy Friday night's 9-6 victory, with Jose Rijo waiting for them. The A's righthander began the day as the league's No. 2 man in strikeouts (48).
Rijo normally has good control, but yesterday he was off and it cost him two runs in the second inning. After walking Rice, Rijo committed a balk with one out. Then he gave up a run-scoring double to Rich Gedman, the ball shooting down the left-field line and hitting the wall just inside the foul line. The lead grew to 2-0 on a play that should make a Little League instructional film. Marty Barrett hit a line drive to right, and rookie Jose Canseco gave it a matador's swipe. He missed it, and the ball got by him and rolled to the wall. By the time he recovered, Gedman had scored and Barrett was on third base.
Rijo continued to struggle in the next two innings as Boston loaded the bases twice but failed to score. In the third, Wade Boggs singled with one out and moved around to third on walks to Rice and Baylor with two out. The threat ended when Gedman lined to center.
In the fourth, Barrett opened with a single and stole second with one out. But he could advance only as far as third. Romero and Boggs walked after two were out, but Bill Buckner popped up to end the inning. Rijo had three-ball counts on 12 batters in the first four innings.
Hurst, meanwhile, was on cruise control for his first four innings, striking out seven batters, including three in a row in the third. His 2-0 lead looked very big.
But things seem to turn around drastically in the fifth inning. It was Rijo who struck out two of the three men he faced. Then the A's came to bat and used two hits to push across a run off Hurst.
Former Sox third baseman Carney Lansford, who had created a 5-5 tie on Friday night with a ninth-inning, three-run homer against Bob Stanley, got Oakland started by singling past short. He then scored all the way from first on Mike Davis' double up the gap in right-center. Lansford just beat the relay home, sliding under the tag by Gedman.
Steve Lyons, who had watched Davis' shot sail over his head, didn't fare any better in the sixth inning. He was called out on strikes by plate umpire Terry Cooney on what appeared to be an inside pitch. Lyons told Cooney so, and he was ejected from the game. Tony Armas went into center field in the bottom of the sixth, marking his first appearance since April 26th.
Hurst bore down, and so did the Red Sox' defense. Hill walked with one out in the sixth, but Hurst escaped when Boggs turned a wicked shot to third by Canseco into a 5-4-3 double play.
Kingman led off the seventh with a single to left, but Hurst came back to strike out Lansford and then get Steve Henderson to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play.
Hurst couldn't get out of his eighth-inning jam, though. After Davis' pop to short left drifted away from Romero's glove and was ruled a double, Hurst retired the next two men, Griffin and pinch hitter Dusty Baker, on pop-ups. But then Tony Phillips' grounder to short scooted past Romero's diving effort for a single that scored Davis and tied the game.
Jose Rijo threw 172 pitches and had three-ball counts on 15 batters.
Bruce Hurst had more help than he knew. His father showed up to pay him a surprise visit, but Hurst was not even aware he was in the park.
Marty Barrett picked up another hit, extending his hitting streak to 11 games, two short of his career best. He has struck out only three times in 115 at-bats.