The unlikely combination of Jim Beattie and Frank Wills put a halt to Wade Boggs’ 28-game hitting streak, striking out the hitting machine twice, walking him once and getting him on a fly to the left-field warning track.
But as The Streak came to an end, the Red Sox kept a streak of their own alive, winning their sixth straight game, 6-2, over the Seattle Mariners before 20,512 rain-soaked fans at Fenway.
While all eyes at the Yawkey Way estate were on Boggs, Al Nipper, Marty Barrett and Mike Easler neatly sent the Mariners to their sixth straight loss.
“I’ve said it all along: The primary thing here is to win ball games; the streak is secondary,” said a noticeably relieved Boggs.
Boston opened the scoring in the second inning when Mike Easler got hold of a Beattie pitch and sent it into the bleachers just above the corner of the Red Sox bullpen and the 420 mark in center field. It was Easler’s 11th homer of the year and second in two years off Beattie, who blanked the Sox, 7-0, with a four-hitter May 1 in the Kingdome. Beattie, who is second in career Mariner wins with 41 (behind Glenn Abbott’s 44), was activated prior to the game after being on the disabled list with biceptal tendinitis since June 12.
The Sox sent Beattie (3-5) from the outside showers to the inside showers with two more runs in the fourth.
Bill Buckner led off with a liner off the Green Monster but was forced to settle for a single because of the muscle pull in his leg. Easler followed with a walk, and Rich Gedman brought in the second run with a sharp single to right field. Buckner hobbled slowly around third, expecting to be held, but Rene Lachemann waved the half-speed Buckner in. His head-first slide barely avoided the tag of catcher Bob Kearney.
The Gedman hit quietly extended the catcher’s own hitting streak to nine games.
Marty Barrett loaded the bases when his popped-up bunt skidded off the glove of a diving Jim Presley. Steve Lyons then lined a single to center, scoring Easler to make it 3-0 and bringing on reliever Frank Wills.
Wills struck out Jackie Gutierrez, got Dwight Evans to fly softly to right and struck out Boggs. The Sox had left the bases loaded. It was the first time since May 15, when Boggs struck out three times against Seattle’s Mark Langston (today’s starter), that he had struck out more than once in a game. On July 14, the last time he faced Wills, Boggs went 2 for 2.
“I don’t know what I did, if I pulled my head or what,” Boggs said. “I just missed those pitches. That’s all there is to it.”
Nipper (7-6), meanwhile, breezed through the first six innings, allowing only two hits with no runner advancing as far as third base. He wasn’t unhittable, but he kept the ball down, forcing ground ball after ground ball. His only strikeout was a 13-pitch labor against Kearney, the human rain delay who fouled off pitches as if he were waiting for the paint to dry on his spot on the bench.
“I hope they’re all resurrected,” McNamara said of his pitchers. ‘’Hopefully, we’ll be injury-free for the rest of the season.”
The Sox added to their lead in the fifth on a wind-blown three-run homer by Barrett, his third of the year and first at Fenway since Aug. 20 of last year.
With one out, Buckner lined a double off the wall in center. After Easler flied to Phil Bradley in left, Gedman was intentionally walked by Wills. Barrett then hit a 3-and-2 pitch high into the air. It appeared to be at least 20 feet foul, but the winds produced by former Hurricane Bob blew the ball right, curling it around the foul pole and into the net. That put the Sox up, 6-0.
“I hit it pretty good,” Barrett explained. “I looked up and it was going foul. As it got above the stadium the wind caught it. I thought, ‘That’s going to hit the foul pole.’ Then I saw that it was way fair.”
Seattle scored its only runs in the eighth.
Al Cowens singled up the middle off Nipper’s glove, scoring Domingo Ramos and Phil Bradley (both singles) to make it 6-2. McNamara relieved Nipper with Bob Stanley, who struck out Presley on a palm ball to get out of the jam.
In the Sox eighth, Barrett struck out, Lyons grounded to second and Gutierrez bounced to short. Boggs never got another shot at bat.
“I felt worse making that out in the eighth than I did in a long time,” said Barrett. “But he’s one of the greats; I’m sure he’ll get a shot at 30 or 40 somewhere down the line.”
Stanley put Seattle down in order in the ninth for his 10th save. Boggs acknowledged a standing ovation, marking the end of The Streak, with a tip of the hat prior to the start of the final inning.
“He made a hell of a run at it,” praised McNamara. “It was a hell of a streak.”
“It’s not the end of the world, thank God,” Boggs said.