“DIARY OF A WINNER”
THE CURSE OF
THE BAMBINO, PART 9
August 10, 1986 ... This long, cloudy, August weekend in the Motor City may be remembered as the series that turned the beat around for the 1986 Boston Red Sox. Rich Gedman's eighth-inning pinch-hit grand slam pushed the Townies to a 9-6 victory over the heretofore surging Tigers. Roger Clemens, who was roughed up for seven hits and five walks in six innings, failed to get the win.
Indeed, the Red Sox have reverted to their early-season weird science of winning ballgames. And today's grand slam fest (Darrell Evans hit one, too) was a calamity classic.
Rust-belt rains greeted the two teams as they resumed their weekend war a few hours after Boston's uptown Saturday night 8-7 victory. The Sox jumped to a 4-0 lead in the third when Jim Rice and Don Baylor smashed back-to-back homers. Baylor would hit another homer before the day was through, but a two-homer effort was a mere footnote in this tangled web.
Clemens breezed through the first two frames, getting six straight and striking out Kirk Gibson on a 100-mile-per-hour (according to Clemens) fastball.
Cy Future got wild in the third and appeared to be bothered when Sparky Anderson complained that Clemens was balking. The Tigers had at least two men on in the third and fourth, but didn't score. Clemens said Anderson's ploy meant nothing, but that he was bothered by the sloppy conditions.
After Clemens walked No. 9 hitter Dwight Lowry to start the fifth, Alan Trammell cranked a two-run homer into the seats in left to cut Boston's lead to 4-2. Clemens escaped another jam in the sixth, but didn't have much left.
Trammell led off the seventh with a single to center and McNamara hooked the 24-year-old righty (who has failed to win his last three starts). Enter Tim Lollar.
Joe Sambito had thrown 30 pitches in Saturday's slugfest and Mac needed a lefty. Hello Lollar, a man who had given up 14 hits and nine earned runs in his last 6 1/3 innings.
It was ugly. Lollar went to 0-and-2, then hit Gibson. Pinch hitter Larry Herndon drove another 0-and-2 pitch to right for a single. The bases were loaded for Darrell Evans. Evans worked the count to 1-and-2, then crushed a high fastball into the short porch in right for a grand slam.
Bill Campbell came on to pitch the eighth and preserve the 6-4 lead.
Tiger fans squirmed when Baylor lined another solo homer into the seats in left to trim Detroit's margin to 6-5. It was only the beginning. Dwight Evans was next and he hit a ground-ball single through the hole into left. Campbell was livid because he didn't think there should have been a hole. Bill Buckner followed Evans' hit with a single to right, then Tony Armas struck out. When lefty-hitting Mike Greenwell came out to hit for Ed Romero, Anderson summoned Willie Hernandez. McNamara countered with Rey Quinones. The Q took one for the team. Hernandez' second pitch smacked Quinones' elbow and the bases were loaded. Marc Sullivan (.187) was scheduled to hit, but McNamara broke with convention and sent a lefty up to bat against a lefthanded pitcher.
Gedman had been enjoying a day off, resting his sore back. Worcester's greatest gift to baseball in the '80s fouled one off, then drove Hernandez' next serving (a hanging curve) over the fence in right.
Sambito pitched the eighth and got the side in order. Sambito gave up a walk and a single, and was relieved by Calvin Schiraldi with two out in the ninth. Schiraldi struck out Coles to earn his third major league save, his second in 17 hours.
Sambito was credited with the victory. Customarily, Lollar would have been the winner, but the official scorer invoked a rare rule that allows the victory to be snatched from an unworthy relief pitcher.
Boston's first-place pincushion, which was only 2 1/2 games on Wednesday, is up to six games. The Sox have at least eight fewer losses than every team in the division. The Tigers trail by nine in the loss column, and are only a half-game ahead of the fifth-place Indians.
Roger Clemens lasted only six innings, giving up seven hits, five walks and three runs. It was his second-shortest stint of the season (five innings vs. Oakland July 7) excepting the game in which he was ejected, and he tied his season- high for walks.
Jim Rice's third-inning homer moved him into sole possession of third place on the career Sox RBI list with 1,249. Rice trails only Carl Yastrzemski (1,844) and Ted Williams (1,839).
The back-to-back homers by Rice and Baylor were the first for the Sox since Rice and Baylor turned the trick June 10th in Toronto.