“DIARY OF A WINNER”
THE CURSE OF
THE BAMBINO, PART 9
June 11, 1986 ... What Roger Clemens showed the Toronto Blue Jays in a tough 3-2 Red Sox victory was more than a 97-mile-per-hour fastball. He showed some of the resiliency that has carried him to an 11-0 record, the best record in the majors. Clemens pitched eight gutty innings following a rain delay of 2 hours 47 minutes. He bounced back after losing a 1-0 lead in the first, retiring 16 batters in a row. Through seven innings, he had allowed only three hits.
In the eighth, Clemens surrendered a walk and a single and seemed to be running out of gas. But when he found his second wind, he retired the next two batters with relative ease. The biggest out was the last, a strikeout of Lloyd Moseby on a fastball that traveled with such velocity, Clemens did the Oil Can Shuffle in celebration.
As a result, Clemens tied the Red Sox record for victories at the start of a season, set by Roger Moret in 1973. More important, he enabled the Sox to retain their four-game American League East lead over Baltimore. His six strikeouts raised his season total to a league-leading 104, and he provided Boston with its second straight victory, helping the Sox salvage a trip that started with a dismal 1-4 record.
Clemens got all the offense he would need in the fourth inning. Don Baylor followed a single by Jim Rice with his 15th homer of the year, breaking a 1-1 tie.
After retiring Moseby in the eighth, Clemens gave way to Bob Stanley for the last inning. Stanley recorded his 10th save despite giving up a run with two outs on a single by Cliff Johnson, who advanced to second on a throwing error by Rice. With the tying run in scoring position, Stanley survived by getting Ernie Whitt on a grounder to second.
Clemens came at the Blue Jays, outdueling Doyle Alexander, who struck out a personal season high of nine but wound up with his third loss against four victories. Of course, it seemed Clemens and Alexander might never get a chance to take the mound. But the game finally started at 10:22 p.m., and the wait was worth it for the Sox.
Wade Boggs, returning to the starting lineup after being restricted to pinch-hitting duties Tuesday because of bruised ribs, drew a one-out walk from Alexander in the first. He moved to second as Bill Buckner grounded out and scored as Rice ripped a double down the left-field line.
Clemens normally does well with a lead. But he faltered in the bottom of the first as Toronto tied the game, 1-1. He walked leadoff man Tony Fernandez. Then Rance Mulliniks sliced a double past Bill Buckner at first, and the speedy Fernandez raced home.
In the next two innings, Alexander was hit hard, but the balls were at people.
Meanwhile, Clemens struck out two in the second and breezed through the third with three ground balls. He definitely had recovered from his early control problems.
The Red Sox got to Alexander again in the fourth. With one out, Rice singled to right. Baylor drove a 1-1 pitch over the fence in left-center, giving Clemens a 3-1 lead. With two out, Steve Lyons doubled down the right-field line. But he was stranded when Jesse Barfield made a nice running catch of a drive by Marc Sullivan.
After the Red Sox scored in the fourth, Alexander came back strong in the fifth and sixth, striking out four of seven batters. Barrett singled with one out in the fifth, but it was harmless.
Clemens just kept rolling. After Mulliniks' double in the first, he mowed down 16 straight Blue Jays, striking out four, and was in complete command.
The string was broken with one out in the sixth when Fernandez doubled to left. The ball was a low liner that normally would have been caught. But, running on a downhill slope, Rice saw it sail over his glove. Clemens regrouped immediately. He made Mulliniks his fifth strikeout victim, then got Moseby to line to center.
In the seventh, Clemens gave up another hit. Barfield hit a two-out grounder to deep short, and the throw from Rey Quinones was late and wide. But he came right back against the dangerous Johnson, who walked out of the box in an attempt to upset him and got a strike called for his troubles. Johnson eventually popped to first.
Clemens began to lose some of his pinpoint control in sixth and seventh innings, when the Blue Jays got base hits. But he was still getting outs with his fastball until the eighth, when the Jays threatened for the first time since scoring in the first. Pinch hitter Rick Leach walked with one out, and Fernandez, who had two hits, stroked a single to left. But Roger came right back to get Mulliniks on a fly ball, and whistled a third strike past Lloyd Moseby. It was his sixth strikeout of the night and 104th of the season, tops in the American League.
Catcher Rich Gedman, still suffering from a stiff neck, will see team physician Arthur Pappas tomorrow when the Sox return home to open a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.