That Bucky Dent homer and beating Boston this week
That 1978 Boston Red Sox club was loaded. Jim Rice had an incredible year leading the AL in homers (46), RBI’s (139), hits (213), triples (13) and also at-bats and games. Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans and Carlton Fisk all hit 20 or more homers. And that was the season that needed an extra game to figure out the AL East. Our Orioles had a solid year (90 wins) but were not in the pennant chase.
With the Bosox and Yankees both having 99 wins, it was time for a one-game playoff in Fenway Park on Oct. 2, 24-game winner Ron Guidry would go for the visitors. Former Orioles right-hander, Mike Torrez would pitch for the Sox.
And the Red Sox nursed a 2-0 lead to the seventh inning. And Torrez was in some seventh inning trouble but had two outs when he faced light-hitting Bucky Dent. Yes, Dent homered and the Red Sox fell 5-4.
However, if the Sox had just handled the Orioles down the stretch, they wouldn’t have found themselves in such a mess.
Like in early September when Scott McGregor out-pitched Dennis Eckersley 5-3. That was despite McGregor surrendering a 3-run homer to Rice. The next night, Jim Palmer stopped the Sox 4-1. Lee May drilled his 22nd homer in this win.
A week later, the Sox and Orioles met for the last time in 1978. And the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead to the sixth inning in Fenway. And both Eddie Murray and May drove in runs in that frame. And winner Dennis Martinez made that lead stand up.
This season, the first-place Orioles are playing well and the last-place Red Sox are not playing well. Well, the rains came on July 4th and washed away the first game of the series. It was odd to see a game canceled early in the day but I guess they knew what they were talking about.
So a doubleheader was on tap for Saturday. In the opener, we got a solid effort from Miguel Gonzalez. He and Jon Lester battled each other for 8 innings as the game was knotted at 2-2. And then we lost in the bottom of the ninth.
The second game of the twin bill was more satisfying. Nick Hundley homered to give us a 2-0 lead. The Sox put a four-spot on the board in the fourth inning and chased Ubaldo Jimenez. Nellie Cruz, on his way to a 5-hit night, homered to put the Birds within a run. We had 16 hits in the 7-4 win. Cruz had help from two hits each from Steve Pearce, Adam Jones and Jon Schoop. Brad Brach picked up his third win of the season.
We needed to take two of three in this series. And all was well on Sunday as the Birds took a 6-1 lead to the home half of the seventh and blew the lead. It was 6-6. This game went to 12 innings. That’s when David Lough tripled and scored on JJ Hardy’s hit. Lough was the hero again in the bottom of the 12th. He tossed out David Ortiz trying to stretch a single into a double. Zach Britton earned another save in this 7-6 win.