“DIARY OF A WINNER”
THE CURSE OF
THE BAMBINO, PART 9
August 9, 1986 ... The Red Sox beat Detroit, 8-7, before a pennant-race crowd of 47,869 at Tiger Stadium. Thanks to the incredible leadoff artistry of Wade Boggs (4 hits, 2 walks), the Sox took an early 6-1 lead, and held on for their first three-game win streak since the All-Star break (July 8-10).
The real drama was saved for the finish as the Tigers roared back, scoring three in the seventh and three in the eighth. In the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers hit four balls which, stretched end- to-end, would have reached the Pontiac Silverdome; but all they got was a 440-foot Darrell Evans double and three fly ball outs off Calvin Schiraldi.
Meanwhile, the chest-thumping Tigers may have to re-think their position. Detroit had hopes of sweeping the Sox this weekend and pulling within a half- game. Instead, the Tigers have trotted out humble hurlers named Randy O'Neal and Jack Lazorko, and rest 6 1/2 games off the pace.
Detroit almost pulled this one out. The Tigers chased Sox reliever Joe Sambito with four straight singles (including a couple of cheapies) in the eighth. When Lou Whitaker's single scored Chet Lemon to cut Boston's lead to 8-6, Schiraldi came on to face Alan Trammell with two on and two out. Trammell (4 hits) said hello to Schiraldi with a sharp single to center, scoring Dwight Lowry. The ever-menacing Kirk Gibson was next. Gibson drove a fly 420 feet to center where Kevin Romine flagged it down to end the inning.
In the ninth, Evans hit his one-out double to center. Tom Brookens ran for Evans and reached third on a long fly to left by Dave Collins. Darnell Coles flied to right to end it.
The Sox looked like easy winners in the early innings. Al Nipper (7-7) pitched 6 2/3 serviceable innings and got his runs early. Boggs continued his leadoff wizardry while Dwight Evans (three RBIs) and Rich Gedman cracked solo homers.
Boggs swung the bat like a man hitting in a slow-pitch softball league. The Chicken Man stroked four singles and walked twice, while scoring three runs and knocking in one.
Boggs isn't doing cartwheels over the lineup shift, but he's hardly playing himself out of the new spot. Since moving to the top rung of the batting order Boggs is 9 for 10 with six walks and has scored seven runs in three games. His on-base percentage is a stratospheric .934 (15 for 16). Facing Tiger lefthander Frank Tanana (9-5) Boggs singled and scored Boston's first run in the first, then singled and scored again in the second.
Boston went ahead, 3-1, in the fourth, and again, Boggs was in the middle of it. Ed Romero (2 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs) drew a two- out walk, stole second and scored on Boggs' third straight single to center.
In the fifth, Evans made it 4-1 with his 15th homer, a high drive which barely cleared the fence in left.
An inning later, Gedman led with his ninth homer, a bazooka shot into the lower deck in right-center. When Romero followed with a one- out double to left, Anderson hooked Tanana in favor of the immortal Lazorko. The 30-year-old Lazorko issued an intentional walk to Boggs before Rice drilled a run-scoring single to right to make it 6-1.
Meanwhile, Nipper cruised through the middle innings and took a four-hitter into the seventh before the Tigers chased him with three hits and a walk. It was 6-3 when Nipper left. Then Gibson plopped a run-scoring single to center off Sambito and it was 6-4 at the end of seven.
The Sox padded their lead and KO'd Lazorko in the eighth. Romero led with an infield hit and Boggs walked. Barrett scored Romero with a bloop single to center and Boggs took third. Willie Hernandez replaced Lazorko. Rice greeted Hernandez with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Boggs to make it 8-4.
Detroit rallied again in the eighth and ninth, but the Sox are doing their best to promote a new no-choke image.
As a result, the Townies are five games ahead of the Yankees, and six ahead of the Orioles, who were 2 1/2 out Wednesday.
Jim Rice knocked in two runs and is tied with Bobby Doerr for third on the All-Time Red Sox RBI list with 1,247. Don Baylor was hit by a pitch for the 24th time, tying a league and personal best.
Bill Buckner has a bone spur in his left foot. Buckner already has scheduled postseason surgery.