- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
For those New Englanders who believe all Red Sox fans were put on earth to suffer, the ninth was the ultimate heartbreaker. Roger Clemens with a three-run lead and three outs to go? Well, he was coming off that 143-pitch performance on three days' rest. McNamara asked him how he felt. "I'm fine," he told the manager. Doug DeCinces led off the bottom of the ninth with a homer. McNamara had his best relief pitcher, Calvin Schiraldi, primed, but he stayed with Clemens. Only after Schofield and Boone poked one-out singles, did McNamara finally call for Schiraldi. Pettis then drove a line drive to deep leftfield. With Jim Rice playing three steps from the warning track, the liner didn't appear to be a problem, but Rice broke in on the ball, and it sailed over his head.
Even then, though, Boston was still up 3-2, and after an intentional walk to load the bases, Schiraldi struck out Bobby Grich on a hellacious fastball. He then blew two straight fastballs past Downing. For some reason he and catcher Rich Gedman decided to try a backdoor slider they hoped would slice across the inside corner. "It was," Schiraldi would say, "the stupidest pitch of my life. I tried to throw the perfect pitch and choked it." The ball plunked Downing in the thigh and the tying run crossed the plate. New England was given a new meaning for the word Calvinism. Two innings later Grich singled in Jerry Narron for the 4-3 vietory, and the young Schiraldi, distraught, moved to the dugout and covered his face. Don Baylor deployed six teammates to shield and console him.
Even Baylor admitted that when he arrived at the park at 8:15 a.m. Sunday, he thought about the likelihood of Game 5 being his last of the season—but it turned out to be one of the happy chapters in the long story of a team born to break hearts.
A two-run homer by Gedman had given Hurst, also working on three days' rest, an early lead, but Witt, the Angels' starter, settled down. Then with two outs in the sixth and a 2-1 lead, DeCinces hit what appeared to be a routine out. However, because of the sun, the wind and confusion, centerfielder David (Hindu) Henderson and rightfielder Dwight Evans watched the ball drop for a double. Grich then hit a towering fly ball to left center. Henderson got to the warning track, leaped and appeared to make a brilliant catch. "It hit in the heel of my glove," he said. His wrist, though, hit the top of the wall, and the ball carried over. Home run. Angels 3, Red Sox 2.
At the end of the inning, Baylor told his teammates, "We may have only nine outs left in this season, so let's make them quality at bats and, if we go out, go out with our heads high."
Six Red Sox outs later, the Angels had a 5-2 lead, and champagne was brought into the home clubhouse. Buckner began the ninth with what seemed like an innocuous single, but he had put in motion an ending that would leave Baylor hoarse and McNamara in tears. After an out, Baylor found himself with two strikes against Witt. "I told myself that if this were my last swing, it would be one helluva swing," and when Witt came in with his best curveball. Baylor pulled it over the leftfield fence. 5-4. In the visitors' bullpen, pitcher Joe Sambito yelled "Wait" to the security guards who had taken their equipment and were preparing to drive it around to the clubhouse. But Witt got Evans for out No. 2.
The potential final Boston batter was its proudest figure, Gedman. This day he had homered, doubled, singled and thrown out his third and fourth runners of the series. Mauch took no chances. He brought on lefthander Gary Lucas, who had struck Gedman out Saturday night. As Lucas toed the rubber, Gedman called time and pointed to the centerfield bleachers. A banner was bothering his vision, and he wanted it removed. The banner read ANOTHER BOSTON CHOKE.
Lucas hit Gedman with his first pitch, though, so Mauch brought on Donnie Moore to get—appropriately enough—Henderson for the final out. With two strikes on him, Henderson weakly fouled off a fastball. But he recalled Baylor's advice to "keep your head down the way [batting coach] Walter Hriniak taught you," and he went down to meet an off-speed split-finger. He drilled it over the leftfield fence. Red Sox 6, Angels 5.
But still it wasn't over. The Angels tied it back up in the bottom of the ninth and they had the bases loaded with one out. Steve Crawford retired DeCinces and Grich. In the 10th, the Red Sox got two men on, only to have Rice ground into a double play. But in the bottom of the inning it was Rice who raced back to the fence to stab a shot by Pettis.
Baylor led off the top of the 11th. Moore hit him with a fastball. Evans singled through the middle, and Gedman surprised third baseman DeCinces with a bunt for his fourth hit, to load the bases with none out. Henderson, suddenly ubiquitous, was back at the plate. He lofted a majestic fly ball to Pettis to score Baylor, and it was 7-6 Sox.