REVERSING THE CURSE,
& TEK COME TO TOWN
Jim Leyritz leads the Sox
to another comeback win
April 12, 1998 ... When
the smoke finally cleared after 211 minutes, 10 pitchers, 6 home
runs, 5 lead changes, and yet another bottom-of-the-ninth meltdown by
Seattle, the Red Sox had an 8-7 win and a three-game sweep of the
Mariners before 23,270 Easter revelers in Fenway Park.
the mound in the bottom of the ninth by the cheers of fans along the right-field
railing whose grasp of history was matched only by their lack of mercy, former
Sox closer Slocumb gave up a game-tying home run to Jim Leyritz, his second home
run of the afternoon and third in 24 hours.
scent of blood now clogging their nostrils, the Red Sox moved in for the kill,
with a Kevorkianesque assist from Slocumb, who walked Troy O'Leary, threw a wild
pitch, walked Damon Buford, then gave up a game-winning pinch-hit single by
Reggie Jefferson, whose only previous appearances this weekend had come during
pregame introductions. Down went the Mariners, who can't say they weren't
forewarned, having blown a five-run lead Friday and then being blown away by
Pedro Martinez Saturday.
confidence spent much of the afternoon on a wind-blown seesaw. When Red Sox
starter Tim Wakefield saw that the flag atop the pressbox was pointed at a spot
far beyond his head, he suspected there might be an increase in air traffic, and
he was right. Rodriguez hit an 0-and-2 pitch into the screen in left for a 1-0
lead in the first; Griffey followed a double by Joey Cora with an opposite-field
home run that made it 3-1 in the fourth.
The Red Sox
answered with some long balls of their own. After rookie catcher Jason Varitek
singled home a run in the second for his first big league RBI, Leyritz tied the
score, 3-3, in the sixth with a two-run home run off starter Jeff Fassero.
Seattle manager Lou Piniella went to his bullpen and Paul Spoljaric, the lefty
last seen giving up a game-winning grand slam to Vaughn two days earlier. It
took only four pitches for Spoljaric to be taken deep again, this time by
O'Leary, who had three hits on the day.
was protecting that 4-3 lead when he gave up a double to Joey Cora with two out
and nobody on in the seventh. Williams summoned Jim Corsi, who was greeted by a
drive from Rodriguez that delayed its landing until after it had cleared the
center-field wall, landing on the newly restored tarp in Conig's Corner.
still two more rounds of counterpunching to follow before Leyritz and Jefferson
landed their winning combination. The Red Sox scored two in the seventh, O'Leary
putting them ahead, 6-5, with a double off lefty Tony Fossas.
roughed up Eckersley in the eighth on three singles, the last an infield hit by
Glenallen Hill when the Eck was late to cover, and Dan Wilson greeted John
Wasdin with an RBI single that made it 7-6, Mariners. Eckersley may have
snapped, but it was Slocumb who broke after striking out Vaughn to start the
ninth. In two games here, Slocumb faced eight Red Sox batters. He retired just
one, Vaughn. The other seven reached safely; five of them scored.