BOSTON—A short Amtrak journey up here, and me and Fred get two days of relaxing slugfests at Fenway between the Indians and Bosox, two teams going nowhere. Yesterday’s 11-10 Tribe win had me cracking up all day, and today we get Looie Tiant, ringmaster of Boston’s daily nine-inning circus.
The stats for this guy are beyond bizarre. 195 innings pitched, 275 hits given up, 36 of those homers, yet with only 60 walks for the year and a winning record at 12-11. He draws Rick Waits, another hot and cold specialist, but it’s Looie who kicks off the extra base buffet, dishing out taters to Thornton and Carty to begin the 2nd. After a Grubb triple and Duffy double it’s 3-0 Tribe, and we all lean back for another long afternoon.
The teams trade runs a few innings later, before Montgomery nets a solo shot to make it 4-2 them. Tiant escapes big jams his next four innings, and we all know what that means. Yup, Scott walks to start the Boston 6th. Hobson singles with one out. Dewey Evans hits for Helms and pounds a 3-run homer. Miller doubles and here comes Al Fitzmorris with Kern unavailable. Burleson and Fisk single, four runs are across and it’s 6-4.
Anyone who think this lead will last clearly hasn’t been paying attention. Carty and Fred Kendall single to start the 7th. Campbell enters, terminating Tiant for the day (6 IP, 15 H, standard for him), and Grubb greets Soup with a single. Two walks later it’s 7-6 Cleveland. An Evans sac fly ties it 7-7 after seven. Fisk singles with one out in the 8th and Laxton is in just for Yaz. Yaz smashes a double. Pat Dobson tries his luck with Rice and whiffs him. But Bernie Carbo, who pinch-hit a double to start the last Boston rally, cracks one over the bullpens this time, his second 3-run shot in two days, 31st of the year, Boston’s 200th, and they’re up for good 10-7, actually picking up a game for a change!
Meanwhile, Fred can’t even look at me on the way out because the Orioles have beaten his Yanks for a second straight day. As we exit Fenway I side up to him.
“Cheer up, man, the Sox need a miracle, too.”
“Don’t butter me up with that jive-ass sugar, bro. I’m in pain here!”
“I know you’re in pain. I’m saying that I’m here for you. Actually I think it’s cool that a Red Sox fan and a Yankee fan can—”
WHAM! He body slams me, knocks me to the Kenmore Square sidewalk and drops on my chest. His eyes are crazed.
“You ain’t no soul-friend, fool. You want my team to die just like I want yours to, so don’t you go talkin’ no Amos & Andy Starsky & Hutch Kirk & Spock Brokeback bullshit all of a sudden, hear me?”
It’s hard to answer somebody when they’re on your chest, but I don’t have to, because at that moment the pavement shakes, the wall next to us opens like a brick flower and an escalator appears, leading down into a hidden subway station.
“Express Funkyland Zipline now boarding” says a voice over a speaker that sounds awful familiar.
“Damn!” says Fred, “and my tab hasn’t even kicked in yet!” I push him off me, start down the escalator. Turn and wave him through the opening, which the people on the sidewalk obviously can’t see.
See you soon…from wherever.
CLE 030 100 300 – 7 17 2
BOS 001 104 13x -10 15 0
W-Campbell L-Fitzmorris HRS: Thornton, Carty, Montgomery, Carbo GWRBI-Carbo
The Lester Line
at ORIOLES 5-12-1, YANKEES 4-10-1
Not sure if Fred has really given up on them, but I’m damn close. Another textbook disgrace, as Catfish pitches great (for Catfish), his team can’t score for him off Grimsley, Dent triggers a 3-run Yank rally in the 7th with a homer, only to have Lyle piss away the lead in no time, Singleton winning it with a single in the 9th. Good old clutch Sparky is now 3-10 for the year.
at WHITE SOX 7-10-1, ROYALS 6-18-1
Chicago almost throws this one away, but K.C. just can’t get the timely hit they need to pull off a comeback from being down 7-3 early. The ever-aggravating Splittorff puts the Royals under after allowing 12 of his 19 base runners to reach.
RANGERS 12-17-0, at TWINS 1-2-2
RANGERS 7-13-1 at TWINS 4-8-1
The Rangers finally score some runs for Blyleven, Adrian Devine adds a second complete game win, and the tough Texans close to within half a game of first and even up their loss column with the Royals. Whoa freaking nellie.
PIRATES 9-11-1, at PHILLIES 6-12-3
It’s hard to express how much I admire these Pirates. Without Stargell and Bill Robinson in the lineup, with one of their worst starters in Reuss going, having to face Steve Carlton in Philly to keep their nemesis from tying them in the loss column, they turn in their most clutch performance of the year. Granted, Philly is missing Boone and Sizemore, but that’s just not the same, and they still end up stranding 15 runners. The Bucs fall behind 2-0 but take the lead 3-2 in the 2nd on a Jerry Martin error, Oliver homer (again) and two-out error by Davey Johnson, filling in for Sizemore. The Phils tie it in the 3rd but an Oliver double and Ken Macha(!) single put the Bucs back up 4-3. Philly jumps ahead 5-4 on a Johnstone homer and Luzinski sac fly but Parker ties it with a homer in the 5th. Philly goes back ahead on a Johnstone double and Carlton single and it stays 6-5 for them until the 8th, when Lefty loses it. A Garner double, Gonzalez single, Oliver walk and Dyer single send him packing, and a Macha sac fly off McGraw makes it 8-6 Pittsburgh. Stennett singles and Cobra triples in the 9th just for the hell of it, and Philly loses the season series 13-9, failing to hold three different leads. Wow.
at EXPOS 3-5-1, REDS 2-6-1
The loss that may have killed off Cincy, or at the very least, demoralized them. Norman takes a 2-hit shutout to the bottom of the 9th, but a Carter single scares the manager into bringing in Sarmiento to face lefty-murderer Valentine. It works, because Ellis grounds an easy DP ball out to Concepcion, who…kicks…it. One out later, Dave Cash triples in the tying runs, Cromartie slaps a single to left, and the shellshocking is complete. Since a month-long surge in the middle of the season, the Reds really haven’t hit much (Morgan 0-for-5 in this one), and George Foster has been a basic non-entity after carrying the club. And when this team isn’t hitting, they really don’t have the pitching to make up for it.
at ASTROS 6-9-0, CARDS 3-11-3
Valiantly, Houston’s pennant hopes end today despite another gutty win over St. Louis. With Wilbur Howard filling in for injured Cedeno, Niekro squirrels out of a ton of pickles and Art Howe adds a couple of clutch hits. Strapped with a powerless club outside of Watson, the Astros played hard, close games all season and finally got their road act together in the last month.
DODGERS 5-7-0, at CUBS 1-7-0
What? A normal Dodger win, with Cey and Lacy homers, a Hooton CG and no late-inning nightmare? What’s going on? How about L.A. still just being three back of Pittsburgh in the loss column?
American League through Sunday, September 7
National League through Sunday, September 7