Don Baylor's walk-off grandslam wins the game

ON THIS DATE (April 17, 1986) ... There are a few moments that a good hitter savors above all others. Don Baylor experienced his first cherished accomplishment in a Red Sox uniform. Baylor's jubilant reaction to his 11th career grand slam was an indication to the Fenway Park crowd of 10,493 about the importance of his first game-winning hit for Boston. Its significance transcended the fact that it gave the Sox a 6-2 victory, their first Fenway triumph in three games this season.

When Baylor, a la Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, raised his hands gleefully after his eighth-inning shot snapped a 2-2 tie, it was evident that the 17-year veteran had passed the test. One of the reasons the Red Sox had obtained him was his reputation for delivering with games on the line, and he came through as advertised.

Baylor's leadership qualities and drill sergeant approach are well documented. But what makes him even more valuable is his toughness under pressure. The situation was tailor-made for Baylor, who like a lot of his teammates has been frustrated by the Red Sox' inconsistency at the plate. Boston had five hits yesterday, all for extra bases. But the Sox were still tied after seven innings, and it appeared that another good pitching effort by Roger Clemens would not be enough.

But the opposition pitching fell apart for a change. Ironically, KC starter Mark Gubicza triggered the Royals' downfall by walking Evans with one out. The rally seemed to stall when Wade Boggs lined to left. But Bill Buckner followed with a booming double off the wall, ending Gubicza's day and setting the stage for Baylor's dramatics.

So Dick Howser brought in right-hander Steve Farr, whose breaking ball has been known to fool right-handed batters. But when Rice didn't bite for any bad pitches, drawing a walk that loaded the bases, Farr had to face Baylor. Farr was ahead on the count, 1-and-2, after dodging a bullet. Baylor smashed a low breaking ball to left but hooked it foul. Then he took the 1-2 pitch under his chin. He lofted the next pitch into the screen. Baylor, who is now third among active players in grand slams, maintained this was just one battle he won.



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W-Roger Clemens (2-0)
L-Mark Gubicza (0-2)
Attendance - 10,583

 2B-Brett (KC), Law (KC), Barrett (Bost),
 Evans (Bost), Gedman (Bost), Buckner (Bost)

 HR-Balboni (KC), Baylor (Bost)