It had to happen sometime this year. The Red Sox simply had to get a well pitched game from one a starter, along with some timely hitting, which they did in yesterday’s 5-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals before a crowd of 24,685. A two-game losing streak was halted with what seemed like relative ease.
Boston got only five hits off Royals starter Rich Gale. But one was a clutch run-scoring single by Rick Burleson, another was a two-run homer by Fred Lynn, and two others were a triple and homer by Jim Rice, who scored two runs. Chuck Rainey went the distance, throwing an eight-hitter, to record his second victory in as many starts against Kansas City. Some days, it all seems so simple . . .
“Let’s face it,” said Lynn. “The game is pitching. We score five runs and eight runs (on Friday and Saturday, respectively) and lose. We get five today and win. I wasn’t even trying for a home run when I hit mine. Mostly, I was just trying to make contact.
“The pitching is just like the hitting in a way. We know sooner or later these guys are going to pitch well. We’ve got some guys who know how to pitch. It’s just like Jimmy and myself. We’re swinging just the same, and sooner or later we’re going to get our hits. It’s just a matter of time. My home runs usually come in bunches. I hope I can get a few more.”
All of the symptoms of the spell that has been plaguing the Red Sox for weeks haven’t disappeared, however. Butch Hobson made an error on a bunt by Frank White in the second, the team’s 16th in the last seven games. But for a change it was harmless, as Rainey dazzled the Royals, whom he beat a week ago Saturday, 7-0.
Boston fell behind (1-0) in the first inning for the 15th time in 27 games this year. But just before Lynn’s homer in the third, Burleson got the game- winning hit, driving in Dwight Evans, who had walked and moved to second on a groundout. Rice provided the remaining offense with his first home run off a righthander this year in the eighth inning.
“Actually, Rainey pitched tougher today than he did in Kansas City,” said Red Sox manager Don Zimmer of the righthander, who had been a forgotten man, confined mostly to bullpen duty.
“He was in trouble a lot, but got out of it with three big double plays,” said Zimmer. “He didn’t have his good fastball early. But he kept the ball low and was getting them out with his breaking stuff. I went out to see him in the seventh when he walked his first two batters. I wasn’t going to take him out. I simply said, You’re doing a good job, and don’t walk the ballpark.’ “
“They were starting to look for my breaking balls,” said Rainey. “So I went back to throwing my fastball and challenging people. I was pleased with my results today. Eight punchouts (a career strikeout high). That’s astounding for me. I’m not really that kind of pitcher, and I’m not surprised that we got three double plays, because I usually have to have them when I pitch.”