“DIARY OF A WINNER”
THE CURSE OF
THE BAMBINO, PART 9
September 8, 1986 ... The Red Sox erupted in the 11th inning with six runs to grab the first game of the series in Baltimore, 9-3. Bill Buckner doubled home Wade Boggs and then scored on a double by Dwight Evans. Rich Gedman capped off the inning after Dave Henderson reached on an infield hit, with a three-run blast to ice the game.
Wade Boggs went 4 for 6, extending his current hitting streak to 10 games and boosting his league-leading average to .352. It was Boggs' third four-hit game of the season.
Tom Seaver had given up a cheap run in the first inning and then settled back to pitch seven strong innings. Meanwhile, home runs by Dwight Evans and Jim Rice wiped out the early Baltimore lead. Evans' two-run homer in the fourth inning off Mike Flanagan erased a 1-0 deficit and Rice homered in the sixth.
Rice contributed with his glove, too. In the fifth inning, he saved a sure double by Lacy with a sliding catch for the final out.
The Orioles, hoping to be spoilers, at least, took the lead in the first inning. In a sense, it was a gift. With one out, Lee Lacy was credited with a double to right on a ball that Evans might have caught if he was willing to run into the wall down the right-field line. After a walk to Cal Ripken and a fly out by Murray, Lacy scored on a bloop double to left by Larry Sheets.
The lead held up for three innings, even though Flanagan allowed a base runner in each of the first three innings. Wade Boggs singled and was sacrificed to second in the first, but was stranded as both Bill Buckner and Rice grounded to second. Evans walked in the second but failed to advance. Boggs doubled with one out in the third, but also was stranded. Finally, in the fourth inning, the pattern was broken.
Rice was given a free pass as leadoff man. Don Baylor flied to left, but Evans hit a rocket which cleared the left-field fence. It was Evans' 20th home run and gave Boston a 2-1 lead. Evans has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last six season.
Boston continued the assault in the fifth inning but again failed to score. Marty Barrett tripled to center with two out as John Shelby missed on a try for a diving catch. But for the third straight time, Buckner grounded to second with a man in scoring position.
Seaver survived a threat in the fifth inning, thanks to a diving catch by Rice. With two out, Lacy hit a line drive to left, which Rice deftly picked out of the lights and hauled in with a diving catch. As he raised his glove the show the umpires, the ball squirted out and hit the ground. The Orioles took this to mean Rice had dropped the ball, and went out to protest to third base umpire Rick Reed who made the call. The TV replay showed that Rice had indeed held the ball long enough.
Ironically, Rice came to the plate as leadoff man in the sixth and hit a long drive to center. At first, it appeared John Shelby had hauled it in. Umpire Dale Ford called Rice out, but changed the decision when he saw the ball sail off Shelby's glove and over the fence. It was Rice's 17th home run.
Boston chased Flanagan in the seventh inning when Boggs led off with his third hit of the night. Again, he moved to second on a sacrifice by Barrett. But for the fourth time, Buckner failed in the clutch, grounding to first, unassisted. When Flanagan walked Rice, he was replaced by Odell Jones, who got Baylor to pop up to end the inning.
Seaver faced another challenge in the eighth inning and made it look easy. Lacy singled with one out and went to second oin a ground ball. Murray came up and went ahead in the count, 3-1. But Seaver came back with a hard fastball for strike two, and a breaking ball for strike three to retire Murray and the side.
In the ninth inning, the Sox had a golden shot to put the game on ice, but couldn't. Jones had control problems and walked Spike Owen and Boggs. Barrett tried to sacrifice and couldn't. But his ground ball to third advanced the runners, and forced Weaver to make a decision. He decided to walk Buckner and face Rice. This time, Jones prevailed and Rice hit into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
Boston's failure came back to haunt it in the bottom of the ninth when Weaver used three straight pinch hitters, and the third came through with a bases-loaded single that scored two runs and tied the game at 3-3. Seaver ran out of gas, allowing singles to Sheets and Jim Traber. He was replaced by Calvin Schiraldi, who had failed only once this year to protect a lead. Schiraldi struck out pinch hitter Jim Dwyer. But then he walked John Stefaro to load the bases, and gave up a game-tying single to Juan Beniquez as the Orioles evened the contest.
In the tenth inning, the Sox squandered another scoring opportunity when Mike Greenwell struck out with Don Baylor and Rich Gedman on second and third.
Schiraldi again held down the Orioles in the 10th, striking out Cal Ripken and Larry Sheets. He then set the O’s down in order in the 11th, to pick up his third win of the season.
Did somebody forget about Jim Rice? George Bell of Toronto and Joe Carter of Cleveland were named co-Players of the Week even though Rice actually outdid both. Bell hit .480 (12 for 25), with three home runs and six RBIs. Rice batted .458 (11 for 24), but his three home runs produced 12 RBIs. Carter batted .433 (13 for 30) with three homers and 10 RBIs.
Gedman had two extra-base hits, one was his 13th homer of the season. The other was a line drive that bounced off Murray's glove and into the Boston dugout for a double.
The win was the Sox 9th in a row and put them seven games ahead of second place Toronto.