ON THIS DATE (June 4, 1995)
The game was long over. Fans were scattered throughout the park, most
of them shaking their heads in disbelief. Many probably had been
thinking about exiting the park in the bottom of the 10th, when the
very tough Bobby Ayala came on to pitch for Seattle. Boston trailed,
1-0. There was one out and one on when Troy O'Leary came up. What
chance did the Sox have?
But then, with the count 1 and 1, the lefthanded O'Leary got a fastball and
smacked it into the net in left-center, sending the crowd of 28,512 into another
Fenway frenzy as the Sox took a 2-1 win. It was their sixth straight victory and
gave them their best start since 1971 (23-11) as they looked to add on to their
lead in the American League East.
How O'Leary, who was released by the Milwaukee Brewers, could win a game was
just as unbelievable as how Tim Wakefield, who was released by the Pittsburgh
Pirates, could pitch 10 innings and allow only one run in improving his record
to 3-0, with an ERA of 0.37.
It was 0-0 for nine innings, as Wakefield's knuckleball was dancing. Ninety
percent of the 134 pitches he threw were flutterers. He was remarkably
consistent: he never threw more than 21 pitches in an inning (the fourth) and
threw only eight in the ninth. He threw 88 strikes. And he almost threw the game
away in the 10th.
In that inning, the Mariners started a rally with a Mike Blowers single up the
middle that shortstop Steve Rodriguez should have made the play on. Blowers' was
a hard-hit ball that Rodriguez couldn't stop. After a sacrifice bunt by Darren
Bragg, Dan Wilson was hit by a pitch. With runners at first and second,
Wakefield fielded a tapper by Felix Fermin, turned and threw the ball sidearm
way left of second base, where Rodriguez and Luis Alicea had converged. Blowers
scored on the play.
The bottom of the 10th started ominously when right fielder Wes Chamberlain
struck out on three pitches against Ayala. Kennedy pulled Alicea for Bill
Haselman, who is familiar with Ayala, having caught him in Seattle. Haselman
laced a hard single to center, setting the stage for O'Leary.
After the fans finally stood up and made their way to the exits, they too seemed
to believe. They believed the unbelievable.