George Scott and Yaz hit clutch homers and
ON THIS DATE (September 30, 1967) ... Josť Santiago started for the Red Sox and his task was a big one, keeping the Red Sox' hopes alive in the American League pennant race. He did his job, leaving in the eighth-inning with the Red Sox leading 6 to 2. Gary Bell came on and in spite of a mammoth home run in the ninth-inning by Harmon Killebrew, he saved the game for Josť and the Red Sox, 6 to 4.
With 32,909 screaming fans, Santiago had to dig himself out of two bases-loaded situations, right off the bat in the first inning and again in the sixth, when it looked like the Twins were going to end the Red Sox hopes of staying alive.
The Twins were first to get on board in the opening frame. Zoilo Versalles led off the game with a single to left. After Santiago got Tovar on the fly ball, he walked Harmon Killebrew. Tony Oliva came up next and drilled a single to center that scored Versalles while Killebrew moved to second. The dangerous Bob Allison followed with another single to left, but Yaz held Killebrew at third while Oliva moved over to second. Santiago wiped his brow and got Rod Carew to line out to Jerry Adair at third, and Ted Uhlaender to hit a hopper down to Mike Andrews at second to end the inning.
The Twins were up 1 to 0 and had their hottest pitcher in the month of September working for them, Jim Kaat. After shutting down the Sox for two innings, Kaat felt something pop in his elbow, as he faced Mike Andrews in the third and had to be replaced by Jim Perry.
Santiago had to contend with some outfield troubles in the fourth inning. Ted Uhlaender hit a long fly ball to right-field that Ken Harrelson let bounce off his glove, hitting Reggie Smith on the shoulder. Uhlaender made it all the way around to third and there was just one out. But Josť fanned Jerry Zimmerman and got Perry to fly to Reggie in center.
Perry pitched well in relief in the third and fourth innings, but in the fifth, the good luck the Red Sox had been having all year, showed up again. Reggie lined a double to left-center and Dick Williams went to the bench, sending Dalton Jones in to pitch hit for Russ Gibson. Jones hit the weakest kind of ground ball down to Rod Carew at second and just as Carew reached down for it, the ball took a crazy bounce and hit him on the shoulder. Jones ended up on first with a base hit, while Reggie legged it out to third.
Perry struck out Santiago and Andrews and the next batter was Jerry Adair. He flicked a small piece of the ball out to right center for a base hit, allowing Smith to score the tying run.
With Jones at third, Yastrzemski came up and slammed a ground ball to the right of Killebrew at first. Killebrew missed it, but Rod Carew got to it and Perry was still standing on the mound, instead of covering first. Jones scored, Adair went to second and Yaz had a base hit and his league leading, 119th RBI the season. The Sox were given a gift and were winning 2 to 1.
But the joy was short-lived, because in the sixth inning after a walk to Allison and a strikeout by Rod Carew, Santiago allowed Uhlaender to single to left. Rich Reese was sent up to pinch-hit for Zimmerman and also lined a single to left, that scored Allison with the tying run. Santiago walked pinch-hitter Frank Kostro, who batted for Perry, and the bases were loaded. But he got Versalles to hit a weak pop-up that Adair pulled in for the final out in a now, tie ballgame.
In the bottom of the sixth, Minnesota brought in Ron Kline to pitch and the first batter he faced was George Scott. Scott hit his first pitch, a low fastball, five rows up into the centerfield bleachers and the mob in the dugout almost tore his shirt off after he crossed home.
That was mild compared to the excitement that came the seventh. With one out Mike Andrews checked his swing and beat it out for an infield hit. Adair then hit what should've been an easy doubleplay ball back to the mound. Kline threw to second in time, but Versalles dropped the throw and everybody was safe.
That brought up Carl Yastrzemski. The Twins brought in Jim Merritt and with the count 3 and 1, Yaz lined a fastball into the Twins bullpen for a three run homer, his 44th. The Sox were now up 6 to 2.
When Santiago couldn't get the ball over the plate in the eighth-inning and walked Allison to start things off, Dick Williams brought in Gary Bell. Santiago came off the mound to the wildest cheering he had ever heard as a member of the Red Sox.
Bell got the next three batters out in order, to finish the eighth-inning and in the ninth, with two outs, he gave up a double to Cesar Tovar. Killebrew then cleared everything with a home run that went over the wall in left field. It was his 44th also, tying him with Yaz for the American League lead in home runs. There was only one thing left to do, and Bell got Oliva to hit a soft line drive down to Jerry Adair, that ended the game.
And so it will come down to the last game of the season, with the Red Sox and Twins are tied for the American League lead. The Detroit Tigers split their doubleheader with the Angels and trail by one half game.
The Red Sox were opportunists. They made the mistakes, but the Twins made more of them. They also got lucky breaks and used all them. Everything went right for the Red Sox in this do or die game, as it has all season.