The Sox roll over the Angels to win the 1986 A.L. pennant

JIM RICE

ON THIS DATE (October 15, 1986) ... The American League pennant has returned to Fenway Park after an 11-year absence. Although New England fans were holding their breath, Roger Clemens and the Red Sox made it look easy with a resounding 8-1 victory over the California Angels in the seventh and deciding game of the AL Championship Series, a decision that left no doubt about the Sox supremacy.

With the victory, which capped their comeback from a 3-1 series deficit, the Red Sox advanced to the World Series against the Mets. And they extended a remarkable season that began with a host of doubts but has proceeded to a pennant party.

It has been a season of peaks and valleys. Few believed the Sox were for real, and even in September, skeptics pointed to history as a sign that the Olde Towne Team would fold in the stretch. But the remarkable revival that began with Dave Henderson's go-ahead homer and game-winning sacrifice fly in Game #5, reached its climax tonight, when a towel-waving, card-carrying crowd of 33,001 watched the Red Sox overcome the final challenge.

Clemens turned the climactic game into a virtual anticlimax, allowing only four hits in seven-plus innings as he won for the first time in three series starts. He had been shelled in the opener, but tonight there was no denying Roger, who gave the Sox their first victory in the deciding game of a postseason series since 1912.

Clemens rode an eight-hit attack highlighted by home runs from Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, the lone holdovers from the 1975 pennant club. He left the game to a standing ovation after surrendering a single to Ruppert Jones leading off the eighth. His old University of Texas teammate, Calvin Schiraldi, finished up. And he did so in spectacular fashion, despite allowing a single to Doug DeCinces that brought in the Angels' lone run (charged to Clemens). Schiraldi wound up with five strikeouts in his two innings of work, the icing on the evening for the delirious crowd.

For the most part, the crowd showed deference to the champions, remaining off the field and allowing the Sox to celebrate in relative privacy. It was gesture the players greatly appreciated.

Jim Rice was among the siege gunners who finally produced. Overall, the little guys, Marty Barrett (the series MVP with a record-tying 11 hits) and Spike Owen, dominated the offense.

But in the finale, the veteran sluggers unloaded. Rice, who didn't play in the 1975 ALCS or World Series because of a broken hand, announced he was ready for the Mets in the fourth inning. Sox captain Jim Rice, who was the lowest of the low when the Sox bottomed out in California, delivered the key blow in the cruise-control clincher. After struggling for the entire series, his calling card was a booming three-run homer off the light tower above the left-field wall that highlighted a four-run outburst against Angels starter and loser John Candelaria. And then Dwight Evans drilled a solo homer in the seventh that gave Clemens a 7-0 cushion.

But the issue basically had been decided before either blast, because the Angels were never really in this contest after the second, when the Red Sox scored three times. Rice began the inning with a routine grounder that Angels shortstop Dick Schofield turned into a two-base gift by throwing the ball into the Boston dugout. Don Baylor, who also will be making his World Series debut, followed with a single, sending Rice to third. Evans walked, loading the bases, and Rich Gedman delivered the first run with groundout. Henderson was intentionally walked, again loading the bases, and Owen popped to second for the second out. But Wade Boggs, the AL batting champion, then stroked a two-run single for a 3-0 lead. And after the surge in the fourth, it was smooth sailing for Boston and sheer agony for California.

Henderson opened the fourth by reaching third when Angel center fielder Gary Pettis dropped his Boston counterpart's deep drive. Then Owen hit a bloop single to right, making it 4-0. With two out, Dave Stapleton, who had replaced the injured Bill Buckner at first base, drew a walk, Rice followed with his shot, and celebration time was a virtual formality.

For most of the second half of the season, as the Red Sox rolled ahead in the American League East and the New York Mets did likewise, in more emphatic fashion, in the National League. On this night the matchup not only was possible, it was here. The Mets were champions in Houston after 16 innings and a 7-6 win over the Houston Astros. The Red Sox were champions here. The whole show would be moved to Shea Stadium in Flushing and the first pitch would be thrown at 8PM on Saturday night. New York vs Boston.



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1986 ALCS, Game #7

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W-Roger Clemens (1-1)
L-John Candelaria (1-1)
Attendance - 33,001
 

 2B-Baylor (Bost)

 HR-Rice (Bost), Evans (Bost)