Ralph Houk was hired to manage the 1981 Red Sox, but Haywood Sullivan was dismantling the team. He decided not to pay anyone more than Jim Rice, who was earning $700,000 a year. He balked when Rick Burleson, Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn all wanted contracts in the same price range.
In December he traded Butch Hobson and Burleson to the California Angels for Rick Miller, pitcher Mark Clear, and young thirdbaseman Carney Lansford. A few days later Sullivan and Buddy LeRoux made the biggest front office blunder ever in the history of baseball. They misinterpreted a confusing clause in the MLB Basic Agreement, and failed to deliver a contract to either Carlton Fisk or Fred Lynn by the December 20th deadline. Arriving with a postmark of December 22nd, both players noticed the error and filed grievances that promised to make each one a free agent.
The Red Sox instead traded Fred Lynn to the Angels, along with Steve Renko, for pitchers Frank Tanana, Jim Dorsey and the aging Joe Rudi. But they lost, Carlton Fisk forever. He was declared a free agent and signed with the Chicago White Sox on March 10th.
Fisk and the White Sox were the Red Sox opening day opponent at Fenway Park on April 10th. In the eighth-inning, Fisk came up with two on and the Red Sox leading 2 to 0. Bob Stanley threw a sinker that didn't sink and Fisk bounced it off the top of the left-field wall to give the White Sox a 3 to 2 lead. Chicago held on to win the game 3 to 2. But in the next game, Jim Rice's eight inning grandslam brought the Red Sox from behind to win on April 12th.
Carl Yastrzemski's 1981 debut included three RBIs in a 7-2 win over the Orioles on April 15th.
Carney Lansford's defensive skills at third base that saved the Red Sox in their 8-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park on April 17th. The White Sox hit three home runs and even got a little divine help in the form of hailstones the size of golf balls that stirred them in the eighth inning. However, by then it was much too late, because the Red Sox' bullpen was in command and Lansford had already saved the day by making his heads-up defensive play - a double play he pulled off in the sixth inning that helped preserve a 5-3 lead and snuff out a promising Chicago rally. Lansford also was hot at the plate, going 4 for 5, including a hustle double, a line-drive home run to center and two singles, one of which went 400 feet.
If the three home runs that Carlton Fisk hit against the Red Sox so far this season carried any message, then so did the game-winning home run by Gary Allenson in Chicago on April 19th, in a 9-4 Red Sox win. He also showed his ability to a establish himself as a tough cookie behind the plate, as Boston took two of three from the White Sox.
The Sox came home and took the next two games from the Rangers. Carney Lansford, who had hit safely in the last 14 spring training games, then after going hitless in the first two of the regular season, was on this tear. He was hitting .485, 16 for 26, on base 19 times in 36 plate appearances, had 23 total bases in 33 at-bats and six multiple-hit games.
On April 26th, Dennis Eckersley was down, 4-0 in Baltimore, after the first four batters he faced, and then won. Eck survived the early shelling (4-0 and 5-3 deficits) to pitch a complete game. The Sox began the chipping-away process with a two-run homer off Jim Palmer in the second. From top to bottom, the Red Sox had contributions: from Rick Miller's three hits (two in key situations) to Jerry Remy's two-run eighth-inning single to his scoring from second on a Carl Yastrzemski sacrifice fly. All of which added up to a 7-5 Red Sox win over the Orioles.
But the Sox then went to Texas and, not only got shutout in three straight games, but gave up 24 runs. They came home and were swept in a four game series with the Twins, for seven straight losses. Their record was 7-12, and were in 6th place, 5 games behind. Carl Yastrzemski was presented a gold watch as the Red Sox "Player of the Month" for April, during which time he batted .156
On May 6th, just when it looked like the Red Sox had run themselves out of an inning, Dwight Evans made sure they didn't with a two-run home run. His fifth homer of the season, gave the Sox a 2-1 lead in the eighth and Dennis Eckersley made it stand up in a 3-1 victory over the Royals, giving the Sox 2 of 3 games in Kansas City.
Evans was producing the most in the early part of the season. He was not only second in the league in hitting, but his .491 on-base percentage was leading the AL, his 20 walks tied him for first, his 19 RBIs tied him for second, his 57 total bases ranked third and his .667 slugging percentage was also third.
In the 10th inning on May 10th, Joe Rudi took Roy Lee Jackson's fastball downtown and crashed a three-run homer, his first with Boston, to wrap up a 9-5 Red Sox victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Sox swept the series with the Jays, winning the next game and making it five straight.
David Schmidt hit his first major league homer in the 11th inning to break up a 7-7 tie in the May 14th game in Minnesota. Schmidt's game-winning clout helped the Red Sox forget blowing a 6-0 lead. The Twins’ fielding and baserunning slapstick got the game into extra innings and sent the Sox home to Boston with an 11-inning, 9-7 victory over the Twins. Bill Campbell strongly finished off his first win of the season by striking out three of the final four batters and the Red Sox returned home from an 8-2 road trip that brought them over .500 (15-14).
In their first game home back at Fenway, the Sox battled back from a 3-0 deficit with Dwight Evans and Carl Yastrzemski homers, and held on thanks to another brilliant performance by Mark Clear and, with a two out, bottom-of-the-ninth rally culminated by Carney Lansford's bases-loaded walk-off single, beat the Royals, 4-3, on May 15th.
On May 19th, Frank Tanana allowed five singles, struck out a 1981 team-high nine Mariners and allowed one runner as far as second base, going through Seattle for the 4-0 victory, his first in any uniform but that of the Angels. It was not only Boston's first shutout of 1981, but the first for Tanana since June 5, 1979 against Toronto. What he needed he got from Carl Yastrzemski who knocked in two runs with a drive off the Wall in the fifth. Then, for last-inning insurance, Tony Perez drove his fifth homer into the center-field bleachers in the eighth for the final two runs. He also had Jerry (.364) Remy and Dwight (.346) Evans on base five times.
On May 21st, Jim Rice's graceful home run swing had been completed in the ninth inning and the Red Sox had a 3-0 walk-off victory over the Oakland A's and a sweep of their two-game series. The Sox won six in a row before losing a doubleheader to the Brewers on May 24th.
On May 25th, standing at center stage on the night of his 3000th major league game was Carl Yastrzemski. With three stirring rallies, the Sox stormed back to beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-7. The winning hit went only about 30 feet. But it was a high chopper with the bases loaded in the ninth inning by Carney Lansford, and Cleveland shortstop Tom Veryzer could only helplessly wait for the ball to come down. His throw to the plate was too late to get the sliding Yaz, who had begun the decisive rally with a leadoff walk.
Dwight Evans bashed a Rollie Fingers pitch in the ninth inning for a three-run homer that tied the game, 6-6, on May 30th against the Brewers. It set up the Red Sox' 10-inning, 7-6 triumph. The Brewers had appeared to be certain winners, carrying a 6-1 lead into the ninth inning. The home run was a crusher. Just as disastrous was a fielding misplay in the 10th, which was aggravated by an apparent umpiring mistake on a sacrifice bunt. Jim Rice had singled to open the inning. Joe Rudi followed with the bunt. Fingers bobbled the ball and thus was charged with an error when Rudi was called safe. That meant that when Rice moved to third on a fly ball, there was only one out, a much better situation for Dave Stapleton, because the infield had to be drawn in and he is a contact hitter. And he capitalized on it by poking the winning single.
After a month in which he had nine homers, 26 RBIs, 27 runs, 25 walks, slugged .581 and was on base 44.4 percent of the time, Evans was named American League player for May. Mark Clear, 6-0 with three saves, a 1.09 ERA, 27 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings and nine leads or ties preserved in nine tries, was also named AL pitcher of the month, a rare double feature. No club has won both outright in two years. The Sox were 18-12 in May.
Dwight Evans began June as he ended May with an RBI double and his 13th homer that presented Dennis Eckersley with his first two runs, as Rich Gedman continued his impressive work, Eckersley threw a four-hitter at the Indians for a 4-0 victory at Cleveland Stadium on June 2nd. When the Red Sox walked off the field as 6-5 winners over the Cleveland Indians on June 4th, there were handshakes all around for those who had come through and helped Boston win the rubber game of this three-game series at Cleveland Stadium.
On the west coast the Sox lost 2 of 3 in Oakland and then won 2 of 3 in Seattle. On June 11th, the Sox lost to the Angels before play stopped and a players strike began on June 12th. The Sox were 30-26, in 5th place, 4 games behind at the time of the work stoppage.
The players’ strike was in response to the owners wanting to win back the prerogatives over the players. The owners had already lost at the bargaining table and in the courts, on the issue of the free agency draft. At issue during the negotiations was the owners demanding compensation for losing a free agent player to another team. The compensation in question was a player who was selected from the signing team's roster (not including 12 "protected" players). The players maintained that any form of compensation would undermine the value of free agency.
When the strike ended in August, baseball treated the season like a bowling league, deciding to crown the first half champion and also the second half champion, and add another tier to the playoffs.
The Sox re-opened against the White Sox and split a four game series. Then in Texas, run-scoring singles by Carl Yastrzemski and Carney Lansford in the 10th inning rallied the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Rangers on August 15th. But they lost 2 of 3 in Texas, and then lost another 2 of 3 in Oakland. The Sox were hitting .200 on the six games on the road (37-185), the 3-4-5 hitters 8 for 54 with one RBI, Jerry Remy was 3 for 24. The Sox had no home runs on the trip.
In Seattle on August 21st, Bob Stanley got them into the ninth inning with a chance to win - his 6 2/3 innings of scoreless relief kept them within a run. Joe Rudi pinch hit a towering two-run homer for the lead, Jim Rice lined out another two-run job for the insurance, and when Garry Hancock culminated his memorable night by throwing Jerry Narron out at the plate, the Red Sox had pulled off a 7-4 win over the Mariners in the Kingdome. The Sox swept their series with the Mariners.
In Anaheim, the Sox season was shown in microcosm in a game on August 25th. Jim Rice hit a solo home run in the 10th inning and that should have been enough to give the Red Sox a 7-6 victory. But, instead, the Angels came back to load the bases in the bottom of the inning and won the game, 8-7, on a two-run single by Bobby Grich.
The Sox simply didn't play like they wanted this game, even though the Angels spotted them six runs in the first inning, thanks to two errors. The Angels, who stole a club record of seven bases, scored four runs in the third inning off Dennis Eckersley, and single runs off Mark Clear in the eighth and ninth innings to create a 6-6 tie. Rice put them ahead again briefly. But neither Tom Burgmeier nor Bob Stanley could stem the tide.
The Sox returned home and faced the Athletics to start the home stand. On August 27th, Dwight Evans took an effortless-looking swing that carried the ball over the left-field screen in the eighth inning and brought the Sox back from a 5-4 deficit. Evans had nailed his 15th home run. It was a drive that not only brought the crowd to its feet but also gave the Sox an important victory at home after a two-game losing streak and a 5-6 road trip.
In a 12-5 rout of the Oakland A's the next night, Rich Gedman, the 21-year-old Worcester product who stepped into the breach left by the loss of Carlton Fisk, played far better than anyone dared suspect. After Gedman slammed a two-run single in the second inning to highlight a three-run inning that got the Sox off to its second straight and sixth victory in the last eight games.
Of all the players who have played for both California and Boston these days, Jerry Remy was the smallest and still the one with the most to prove. But on August 31st, he was a one-man wrecking crew, driving in a pair of runs to lead the Red Sox to a 4-1 victory over the Angels at Fenway Park. His double in the fifth inning scored Glenn Hoffman from second base and broke a 1-1 tie, and Remy's single in the seventh scored Dave Stapleton with the fourth run. Remy was now hitting .417 with men in scoring position. Dennis Eckersley went the distance for the Sox, allowing just seven hits.
Dave Stapleton’s ability to play practically ever position in the infield has always made him valuable. And on September 2nd, he showed the kind of intelligent hitting that got him to the majors in the first place. Stapleton's two-run homer in the fourth inning and was all the Sox needed for a 3-1 victory over the California.
Jerry Remy continued the hitting tear that has suddenly vaulted him among the top hitters in the American League. He went 4 for 4 in the 12-5 victory over the Mariners on September 5th, raising his average to .331, and had 12 hits in 19 at-bats over the last three games. Jim Rice, had 17 hits in his last 38 at-bats with men on base, now lead the club with 15 RBIs to tie games or put the Red Sox ahead.
Carl Yastrzemski's game-winning home run on September 5th, certainly was a familiar sight to Tiger fans. He had hit 63 of his 425 career homers against the Tigers. Thirty-five have been hit in Tiger Stadium. Yaz, despite a nagging pull in his left hamstring muscle, led the Red Sox with 16 game-tying or game-winning RBIs. In the second-half season, Yaz was hitting .307 (23-75 and 15 RBIs). In the last three games, Yaz was 5-for-12, .417, with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs.
On September 12th, Bobby Ojeda pitched the game of his (14-game) career. He had stood out there in Yankee Stadium, baseball's national shrine, with a no-hitter that he had painted into the ninth inning. It ended when pinch hitter Rick Cerone led off the ninth with a shot to right-center that ticked off the outstretched glove of the diving Dwight Evans, and when Dave Winfield pinch hit another double that made the no-hit bid, 2-1, with a runner in scoring position and none out, he had had to leave to be saved by Mark Clear.
The pitching and defense that had made the first two games of the Yankees series a delight for the Sox, vanished, and New York took the rubber game despite the fact that the winners got only one more hit, 12, than the losers.
The Sox returned to Fenway on September 14th, and Jerry Remy sliced a bases-loaded single past short in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie and helped spark the Red Sox to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Of all the offseason deals the Red Sox made last winter, the one that brought Carney Lansford has borne the ripest fruit. Lansford's line-drive single in the 10th inning on September 16th, brought home Jerry Remy with the winning run and gave the Red Sox a 2-1 victory over the American League East-leading Detroit Tigers in the first game of a doubleheader at Fenway. It also gave Dennis Eckersley, who went the distance, his eighth victory and pinned loser Jack Morris with only his fifth defeat in 17 decisions. The Sox swept their series with the Tigers, ending up only 3 games behind the league leading Yankees.
To run down the Boys in Exile: Fred Lynn (.220, 5, 31) was physically reduced to pinch-hitting the rest of the season, Rick Burleson (.307) was hitting, and Carlton Fisk (.256, 5, 37) was in one of the worst slumps of his career.
In a showdown at Fenway with the Yankees on September 19th, Rick Miller became the toast of Kenmore square in the eighth inning when the Red Sox overcame a 5-1 deficit with their two-out rally, winning the game 8-5. In the final game of the series, on September 20th, the Red Sox had been down, 5-1, to Ron Guidry and won. They had been down, 1-0, after the first three batters against Tommy John and won. And they had culminated a 6-1 week to the cheers of the fans who returned to Fenway. They were now in second place in the American League East, a half-game back of the Tigers, .005 ahead of the Brewers.
Dave Stapleton capped a five-run third inning with a three-run homer as the Red Sox came from behind to wallop the Milwaukee Brewers, 9-3, the next night. Dennis Eckersley survived a rocky start to chalk up his ninth victory, surrendering nine hits.
The spotlight fell on Gary Allenson on September 23rd and he responded with a dramatic grand slam that keyed an eight-run rally that whipped the Milwaukee Brewers, 11-5. Yet, Allenson is the first to tell you that his second career grand slam is just part of the stirring Second Season play that has now brought the Sox back to within a half game of first place Detroit in the American League East. Each night, it seems, there is a new hero for the Red Sox, and it was finally Allenson's turn. Inspired by a noisy crowd, Allenson responded with his slam in the seventh inning off Reggie Cleveland that broke up 4-4 tie.
Catcher Rich Gedman was one of the reasons that the Red Sox were still in the pennant race in the Second Season. His third base hit of the night, a double past first in the fifth inning off loser Wayne Garland (3-6), scored Carney Lansford with the tie-breaking run and sent Boston to a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on September 25th. But the Sox lost 3 of the 4 games they played against Cleveland and were slipping out if the race.
The Brewers' Pete Vuckovich outlasted Frank Tanana and the Red Sox at County Stadium on September 28th, 1-0. The next night, Mike Torrez pitched one of the biggest games of his four-year Red Sox career. He completely overpowered Milwaukee on two hits until the ninth inning while Dave Stapleton, Rich Gedman and friends pounded out three homers and 12 hits. In the ninth, Torrez used two outs of Mark Clear relief for the 7-2 win over the Brewers that put Boston one game behind Detroit and a half-game back of second-place Milwaukee.
The Red Sox self-destructed on September 30th, threw themselves over a cliff, three games before the end of the pennant race on a sodden night at County Stadium. Their final big game in a string of big games came and the Red Sox were lost from beginning to end, flat in 1001 different ways, just plain awful, losing 10-5.
His final gesture said more about the way Frank Tanana felt about the 1981 season than any words on October 3rd. He flung his glove high into the air and his sigh of relief could almost be felt through Cleveland's huge Municipal Stadium. Two long ordeals for the California-born lefthander finally ended with his last game with the Red Sox, his second-half losing streak, which was halted with a 4-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians, and his tenure in Boston.
Although the Red Sox played better in the second half they didn't make the cut. In the first half of the season, the Red Sox finished fifth in the American League East with a record of 30 wins and 26 losses, four games behind the New York Yankees. In the second half of the season, the Red Sox finished second in the division with a record of 29 wins and 23 losses, 1½ games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. The Red Sox' overall record for the season was 59 wins and 49 losses.
Carney Lansford hit .336 to win the batting title, the first right-handed batter to do so since Jimmie Foxx. A few singular achievements provided a temporary distraction. Dwight Evans finally fulfilled his promise, displaying offensive skills that matched his defensive prowess. Although he manned right-field better than anyone since Harry Hooper, he was all promise and little production at the plate previously. But under the tutelage of batting coach Walt Hriniak, Evans put it all together in 1981, tying for the league lead with 22 home runs and hitting almost .300.
Unfortunately Jim Rice ended his spectacular imitation of Jimmie Foxx and started to hit more like Jackie Jensen. Still very good, but no longer great, he missed the protection offered to him by the bat of Fred Lynn. Rice and the fans never embraced each other in the first place, but things got worse for him. All Rice ever wanted from the fans was to be judged by his numbers and left alone. As Carl Yastrzemski was transformed into a beloved icon, Jim Rice sank down to a level of his team. Bleacher fans turned vicious a Rice, Dennis Eckersley and Mark Clear all got blamed for the lousy ball club, and were jeered regularly. The taunts sometimes turn racial and as result Jim Rice became even more remote.
On most nights it was possible to go to Fenway Park at the last minute
and get a decent seat for almost any game. Most nights only 10,000 or
12,000 fans sat scattered throughout the ballpark. Fans in the bleachers
could hear the home plate umpire calling balls and strikes. Turnstiles
were usually abandoned by the fifth inning and people from the street
wandered in for free.
|04/10/1981||0-1||6th||-1||Chicago White Sox||L||5-3||Bob Stanley||0-1|
|04/12/1981||1-1||4th||-1||Chicago White Sox||W||5-4||Mark Clear||1-0|
|04/13/1981||1-2||6th||-1 1/2||Baltimore Orioles||L||5-1||Steve Crawford||0-1|
|04/14/1981||1-2||6th||-1 1/2||Baltimore Orioles||pp|
|04/15/1981||2-2||3rd||-1 1/2||Baltimore Orioles||W||7-2||Bob Stanley||1-1|
|04/17/1981||3-2||3rd||-2||at Chicago White Sox||W||8-5||Dennis Eckersley||1-0|
|04/18/1981||3-3||4th||-3||at Chicago White Sox||L||2-1||Frank Tanana||0-1|
|04/19/1981||4-3||2nd||-2||at Chicago White Sox||W||9-4||Bob Stanley||2-1|
|04/20/1981||5-3||2nd||-1||Texas Rangers||W||4-2||Mike Torrez||1-0|
|04/21/1981||6-3||1st||-||Texas Rangers||W||10-4||John Tudor||1-0|
|04/22/1981||6-4||3rd||-1/2||Texas Rangers||L||16-8||Dennis Eckersley||1-1|
|04/23/1981||6-4||3rd||-1/2||at Pawtucket Red Sox||pp|
|04/25/1981||6-5||3rd||-1||at Baltimore Orioles||L||7-2||Frank Tanana||0-2|
|04/26/1981||7-5||2nd||-1/2||at Baltimore Orioles||W||7-5||Dennis Eckersley||2-1|
|04/27/1981||7-6||4th||-1||at Texas Rangers||L||10-0||Mike Torrez||1-1|
|04/28/1981||7-7||4th||-2||at Texas Rangers||L||9-0||Steve Crawford||0-2|
|04/29/1981||7-8||4th||-3||at Texas Rangers||L||5-0||John Tudor||1-1|
|04/30/1981||7-9||5th||-3 1/2||Minnesota Twins||L||8-4||Frank Tanana||0-3|
|05/01/1981||7-10||6th||-4||Minnesota Twins||L||6-1||Dennis Eckersley||2-2|
|05/02/1981||7-11||6th||-5||Minnesota Twins||L||11-2||Mike Torrez||1-2|
|05/03/1981||7-12||6th||-5||Minnesota Twins||L||3-1||Steve Crawford||0-3|
|05/04/1981||8-12||6th||-5||at Kansas City Royals||W||8-7||Tom Burgmeier||1-0|
|05/05/1981||8-13||6th||-5||at Kansas City Royals||L||2-1||Frank Tanana||0-4|
|05/06/1981||9-13||6th||-5||at Kansas City Royals||W||3-1||Dennis Eckersley||3-2|
|05/08/1981||10-13||6th||-3 1/2||at Toronto Blue Jays||W||4-2||Mike Torrez||2-2|
|05/09/1981||11-13||5th||-3 1/2||at Toronto Blue Jays||W||10-3||Bob Stanley||3-1|
|05/10/1981||12-13||5th||-3 1/2||at Toronto Blue Jays||W||9-5||Tom Burgmeier||2-0|
|05/11/1981||13-13||5th||-3 1/2||at Toronto Blue Jays||W||7-6||Mark Clear||2-0|
|05/12/1981||13-14||5th||-3 1/2||at Minnesota Twins||L||4-3||Tom Burgmeier||2-1|
|05/13/1981||14-14||4th||-3 1/2||at Minnesota Twins||W||5-2||Mike Torrez||3-2|
|05/14/1981||15-14||4th||-3||at Minnesota Twins||W||9-7||Bill Campbell||1-0|
|05/15/1981||16-14||4th||-3||Kansas City Royals||W||4-3||Mark Clear||3-0|
|05/16/1981||16-15||4th||-3||Kansas City Royals||L||7-6||Dennis Eckersley||3-3|
|05/17/1981||16-16||5th||-4 1/2||Kansas City Royals||L||5-4||Tom Burgmeier||2-2|
|05/18/1981||17-16||5th||-4||Seattle Mariners||W||8-5||Mark Clear||4-0|
|05/19/1981||18-16||5th||-4||Seattle Mariners||W||4-0||Frank Tanana||1-4|
|05/20/1981||19-16||5th||-4||Oakland Athletics||W||5-3||Bob Stanley||4-1|
|05/21/1981||20-16||5th||-3||Oakland Athletics||W||3-0||Dennis Eckersley||4-3|
|05/22/1981||21-16||4th||-3||at Milwaukee Brewers||W||7-3||John Tudor||2-1|
|05/23/1981||22-16||4th||-3||at Milwaukee Brewers||W||8-1||Mike Torrez||4-2|
|05/24/1981||22-17||5th||-3||at Milwaukee Brewers||L||2-1||Bob Stanley||4-2|
|05/25/1981||23-18||4th||-3||Cleveland Indians||W||8-7||Mark Clear||5-0|
|05/26/1981||23-19||5th||-4||Cleveland Indians||L||5-2||Dennis Eckersley||4-4|
|05/27/1981||24-19||4th||-4||Cleveland Indians||W||10-5||Mark Clear||6-0|
|05/29/1981||24-20||5th||-5||Milwaukee Brewers||L||5-4||Tom Burgmeier||2-3|
|05/30/1981||25-20||4th||-4||Milwaukee Brewers||W||7-6||Mark Clear||7-0|
|05/31/1981||25-21||5th||-4||Milwaukee Brewers||L||5-2||Steve Crawford||0-4|
|06/02/1981||26-21||4th||-3||at Cleveland Indians||W||4-0||Dennis Eckersley||5-4|
|06/03/1981||26-22||5th||-3||at Cleveland Indians||L||4-1||John Tudor||2-2|
|06/04/1981||27-22||4th||-2||at Cleveland Indians||W||6-5||Mike Torrez||5-2|
|06/05/1981||28-22||4th||-2||at Oakland Athletics||W||4-1||Frank Tanana||2-4|
|06/06/1981||28-23||5th||-3||at Oakland Athletics||L||6-2||Steve Crawford||0-5|
|06/07/1981||28-24||5th||-4||at Oakland Athletics||L||4-3||Mark Clear||7-1|
|06/08/1981||28-25||5th||-5||at Seattle Mariners||L||2-0||John Tudor||2-3|
|06/09/1981||29-25||4th||-5||at Seattle Mariners||W||10-1||Mike Torrez||6-2|
|06/10/1981||30-25||3rd||-4||at Seattle Mariners||W||4-2||Frank Tanana||3-4|
|06/11/1981||30-26||5th||-4||at California Angels||L||7-2||Chuck Rainey||0-1|
|MLB Players' Strike|
|08/10/1981||30-27||5th||-5||Chicago White Sox||L||7-1||Dennis Eckersley||5-5|
|08/11/1981||30-28||5th||-5||Chicago White Sox||L||4-2||Bob Stanley||4-4|
|08/12/1981||31-28||5th||-5||Chicago White Sox||W||8-1||Bobby Ojeda||1-0|
|08/13/1981||32-28||4th||-5||Chicago White Sox||W||9-6||Mark Clear||8-1|
|08/14/1981||32-29||5th||-5||at Texas Rangers||L||3-2||Tom Burgmeier||2-4|
|08/15/1981||33-29||5th||-4||at Texas Rangers||W||5-3||Bob Stanley||5-4|
|08/16/1981||33-30||5th||-4||at Texas Rangers||L||3-0||Bobby Ojeda||1-1|
|08/18/1981||33-31||5th||-4 1/2||at Oakland Athletics||L||3-2||Bill Campbell||1-1|
|08/19/1981||33-32||5th||-4 1/2||at Oakland Athletics||L||4-2||Frank Tanana||3-5|
|08/20/1981||34-32||5th||-4||at Oakland Athletics||W||6-4||Dennis Eckersley||6-5|
|08/21/1981||35-32||5th||-3 1/2||at Seattle Mariners||W||7-4||Bob Stanley||6-4|
|08/22/1981||36-32||5th||-3 1/2||at Seattle Mariners||W||5-3||Bobby Ojeda||2-1|
|08/23/1981||37-32||5th||-3 1/2||at Seattle Mariners||W||7-5||Tom Burgmeier||3-4|
|08/24/1981||37-33||5th||-3 1/2||at California Angels||L||8-6||Frank Tanana||3-6|
|08/25/1981||37-34||5th||-4 1/2||at California Angels||L||8-7||Tom Burgmeier||3-5|
|08/27/1981||38-34||5th||-4||Oakland Athletics||W||6-5||Bob Stanley||7-4|
|08/28/1981||39-34||5th||-3||Oakland Athletics||W||12-5||Bobby Ojeda||3-1|
|08/29/1981||40-34||5th||-3||Oakland Athletics||W||7-6||Mike Torrez||7-2|
|08/30/1981||40-35||5th||-3 1/2||Oakland Athletics||L||5-3||Frank Tanana||3-7|
|08/31/1981||41-35||5th||-3 1/2||California Angels||W||4-1||Dennis Eckersley||7-5|
|09/01/1981||41-36||5th||-4 1/2||California Angels||L||3-2||Bob Stanley||7-5|
|09/02/1981||42-36||5th||-3 1/2||California Angels||W||3-1||Bobby Ojeda||4-1|
|09/03/1981||42-37||5th||-4||Seattle Mariners||L||8-7||Bob Stanley||7-6|
|09/04/1981||42-38||5th||-4 1/2||Seattle Mariners||L||5-2||Frank Tanana||3-8|
|09/05/1981||43-38||5th||-4 1/2||Seattle Mariners||W||12-5||John Tudor||3-3|
|09/06/1981||44-38||5th||-4 1/2||Seattle Mariners||W||6-1||Bruce Hurst||1-0|
|09/07/1981||44-39||5th||-5 1/2||at Detroit Tigers||L||3-1||Bobby Ojeda||4-2|
|09/08/1981||45-39||5th||-5||at Detroit Tigers||W||5-3||Mike Torrez||8-2|
|09/09/1981||46-39||5th||-4 1/2||at Detroit Tigers||W||6-5||Bob Stanley||8-6|
|09/11/1981||46-40||5th||-5 1/2||at New York Yankees||L||4-1||Dennis Eckersley||7-6|
|09/12/1981||47-40||5th||-4 1/2||at New York Yankees||W||2-1||Bobby Ojeda||5-2|
|09/13/1981||47-41||5th||-5 1/2||at New York Yankees||L||10-6||Frank Tanana||3-9|
|09/14/1981||48-41||5th||-5 1/2||Detroit Tigers||W||5-2||Bob Stanley||9-6|
|09/16/1981||49-41||5th||-4||Detroit Tigers||W||2-1||Dennis Eckersley||8-6|
|50-41||5th||-3 1/2||W||5-4||Tom Burgmeier||4-5|
|09/17/1981||51-41||5th||-3||Detroit Tigers||W||6-1||Bobby Ojeda||6-2|
|09/18/1981||51-42||5th||-4||New York Yankees||L||6-4||Bob Stanley||9-7|
|09/19/1981||52-42||5th||-3||New York Yankees||W||8-5||John Tudor||4-3|
|09/20/1981||53-42||5th||-2||New York Yankees||W||4-1||Bruce Hurst||2-0|
|09/21/1981||54-42||3rd||-1||Milwaukee Brewers||W||9-3||Dennis Eckersley||9-6|
|09/22/1981||54-43||4th||-2||Milwaukee Brewers||L||10-8||Mark Clear||8-2|
|09/23/1981||55-43||3rd||-1||Milwaukee Brewers||W||11-5||Luis Aponte||1-0|
|09/24/1981||55-44||5th||-1 1/2||Cleveland Indians||L||5-2||Mike Torrez||8-3|
|09/25/1981||56-44||4th||1/2||Cleveland Indians||W||5-4||Bob Stanley||10-7|
|09/26/1981||56-45||5th||-1 1/2||Cleveland Indians||L||7-5||Dennis Eckersley||9-7|
|09/27/1981||56-46||5th||-2||Cleveland Indians||L||8-7||Mark Clear||8-3|
|09/28/1981||56-47||5th||-2 1/2||at Milwaukee Brewers||L||1-0||Frank Tanana||3-10|
|09/29/1981||57-47||5th||-1 1/2||at Milwaukee Brewers||W||7-2||Mike Torrez||9-3|
|09/30/1981||57-48||5th||-2 1/2||at Milwaukee Brewers||L||10-5||Bob Stanley||10-8|
|10/02/1981||57-49||5th||-3 1/2||at Cleveland Indians||L||11-4||Dennis Eckersley||9-8|
|10/03/1981||58-49||5th||-3 1/2||at Cleveland Indians||W||4-0||Frank Tanana||4-10|
|10/04/1981||59-49||5th||-2 1/2||at Cleveland Indians||W||6-2||Mike Torrez||10-3|
|1981 RED SOX BATTING & PITCHING|