The Red Sox, like the Astros, overcame preseason predictions of mediocrity with excellent pitching. Clemens, Hurst and Boyd are 53-21, and they won 11 straight decisions before Boyd lost on Sept. 23. They were 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA against the Angels. Clemens's superiority is clear. Hurst was only 13-7 because of a six-week layoff due to a groin injury. But he was 8-2 with a 2.12 ERA in Fenway, with four shutouts, including a 2-0 beauty over the Blue Jays Saturday that clinched a tie for the division crown. Boyd finished the Jays off the next afternoon in a 12-3 victory. Clemens, Hurst and Boyd have now won 13 of their last 14 decisions. Boyd could be very tough for the Angels, because their big hitters look for particular pitches and Boyd throws 57 varieties. Seaver is a question mark because of a knee injury that caused him to miss his last two starts. The Sox would certainly like to call on him for Game 4.
Several scouts feel the pitching difference will be Boston's bullpen, with Calvin Schiraldi closing, Bob Stanley (13-3 lifetime against the Angels) in the middle and Joe Sambito for lefthanders. The Angels have three lefthanders in the bullpen and Doug Corbett in the middle, but forkball specialist Donnie Moore is an uncertainty, especially because of his uncertain shoulder.
Clemens is the main man, as he has been all season. He's scheduled for Games 1 and 5, but if the Red Sox fall behind 2-1, he'll start Games 1, 4 and 7. He'll have five days' rest before the opener; with five days between starts, Clemens was 8-0 with 67 strikeouts in 64 innings, including the 20-strikeout game on April 29. "Clemens in Fenway in the opener might be unbeatable," says one scout. There is an awful lot of Larry Bird in this 24-year-old who likes to shoulder the pressure for his team, who won 14 games following a Red Sox loss.
Clemens and the Red Sox have faced a succession of challenges over the season from the Yankees, the Orioles, the Tigers and the Blue Jays, and they turned back each one—Clemens was 8-1 against that foursome. While California has a balanced attack, the Red Sox are simply more dangerous. McNamara believes that as Boggs goes, so goes the offense, and the batting race with Don Mattingly will keep Boggs primed right up to Game 1 of the LCS. Barrett and Buckner are two very tough outs in the clutch, and then comes the power of Rice, Baylor, Evans, and Rich Gedman. That prodigious lineup beats lefthanders and righthanders alike, and what's more, they all seem to be swinging the bat very well lately. This just might be the team to give Boston its first world championship since the year 1918.
So, with Gooden, Strawberry and Carter on the one hand and Clemens, Boggs and Rice on the other, baseball may get its dream World Series. The romance of the Green Monster versus the reality of Queens. A team trying to live down ghosts versus a team trying to live up to expectations.
This just might be a Series every bit as good as that one 75 years ago. That World Series came down to the 10th inning of the eighth and final game (Game 2 had ended in a tie). For those of you who don't remember, Smokey Joe Wood of the Red Sox gave up a run in the top of the inning, but Boston rallied for two runs off Mathewson in the bottom of the 10th to beat New York 3-2. Some people might see an omen in that.
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