SI Vault
Ron Fimrite
October 20, 1975
Soggy though the Hub was, Boston and Cincinnati set it asizzle as Luis Tiant mauled the Reds and then the visitors came snarling back to take a 3-2 thriller
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October 20, 1975

Reaching Out For The Series

Soggy though the Hub was, Boston and Cincinnati set it asizzle as Luis Tiant mauled the Reds and then the visitors came snarling back to take a 3-2 thriller

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Then, suddenly, Morgan was running. He did not bargain on two other formidable opponents, however—the heavy base paths and the hard-throwing Fisk, who fired perfectly to Doyle on the first-base side of second to catch the Red. The bases were now empty, but Bench, who can round them with one swing, was up. The Red Sox had kept Bench off their green wall by pitching him outside, away from his awesome power. He had adjusted, however, by going with the pitch and hitting to center and right. This time he dropped a dying little liner into center, a certain base hit. But no—Lynn, the game's newest superstar, was chugging through the mud after it with a look of fierce determination. At the last second he launched himself through the air, caught the ball inches from the soggy grass and slid forward with it firmly in his possession. Fenway was a madhouse. Seldom has a single inning produced three such splendid plays.

There were others, too. Bench, the big cat of a catcher, made a magnificent pickup and throw on Lee's near-perfect bunt in the fifth; Burleson ranged far for a Perez hopper up the middle in the ninth; Lynn made another running catch of a Concepcion drive in the fourth. Oddly enough, the game began with a notably bad play. Cooper, leading off for the Red Sox, sliced a liner toward the wall in left that George Foster overran and could only wave at as it sailed past him for a double. Cooper was eventually run down in a freakish pitcher-to-second-to-home-to-third-to-home double play, but Yastrzemski, whose grounder to Reds starter Jack Billingham had begun the complicated sequence, reached second when it was completed. Yaz quickly scored on Fisk's line single to right.

The first 10 Reds went down in order, just as they had in the Series opener, but in the fourth Cincinnati tied the score when Morgan walked, reached third on Bench's single to center and scored on Perez' forceout. With the rain falling on them and the mud boiling beneath them, the two teams settled into a defensive struggle. The Red Sox broke the deadlock in the sixth. With one out, Yastrzemski singled to right and reached second when Concepcion bobbled Fisk's brisk ground ball to short. Lynn flied out, but Petrocelli, like Yaz a star two days in a row, singled in the tie breaker.

By now the rain was falling in wintry torrents and, after the Reds were retired meekly in the top of the seventh, the umpiring crew called for a recess. The rain delay lasted 27 minutes, long enough, apparently, for the Reds to gird themselves for a socko finish. Will McEnaney was their pitcher when play resumed, having replaced Pedro Borbon, who replaced Billingham. McEnaney proved to be a much more valuable reliever this day than he had been on Saturday, pitching flawlessly in the seventh.

Lee, meanwhile, was covering himself with unexpected glory. He had not won since Aug. 24 and had not started since Sept. 19. His 17-9 won-lost record was flawed by a 3.95 earned run average. Furthermore, he had outraged the fans with his comments on the town's school-busing crisis, suggesting that Bostonians were both bigoted and "gutless." He was the only Boston player booed when the team was introduced on Saturday. In Sunday's gloom, however, he emerged a titan. Entering the ninth, he had allowed only four hits and the single run and had struck out five. His bloopers had made buffoons of the mighty Reds sluggers and he had been all business on the mound. At the start of the final inning, the crowd rose to applaud him. He had been accepted.

Unfortunately, the inning began badly for him. Bench, leading off, crashed a line double down the right-field stripe. Manager Darrell Johnson called for the intrepid reliever, Dick Drago. The selection of Drago seemed at first a wise one. He induced Perez to ground out, Bench moving on to third. Foster hit a fly to left that was too short for Bench to score on. The crowd was now cheering every Drago strike, moaning over every Drago ball. But there was silence as Concepcion hit a hopper up the middle that Doyle could only field, not throw. Bench scored the tying run.

There was worse to come. Concepcion stole second, the Reds' first theft of the Series, despite Burleson's angry complaint that he had tagged him. And Ken Griffey sent a rocket to left center that not even Lynn could haul down, Concepcion scoring the winning run. Red Sox fans have come to expect miracles from their young men, but there was to be none today as Rawly Eastwick, who entered the game in the eighth, retired Burleson, pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo and Cooper on three fly balls in the ninth.

The fans plunged moodily into the darkening day, fearing the worst in Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, where the Reds rarely lose. A single win there would, however, return the Series to friendly Fenway. This was a prospect the Reds did not relish for sundry reasons, not the least of which was Rose's: "I just don't want to come back here because of the hotel. We don't have hot water there."

There was none of it in Fenway, either, save what the Reds got their opponents into.

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