When it happens once, you call the Red Sox lucky. But when it happens for a second straight night, you have to acknowledge that never-say-die spirit may be starting to pervade the defending American League champions.
In a flashback to the glory days of 1986, the Red Sox pulled out a 7-6, 10- inning victory last night over the Minnesota Twins, who left town wondering if they’d awakened a sleeping giant.
Boston once trailed in this contest, 6-2. But last-gasp revivals are becoming the norm for this club. Last night’s business as usual included Mike Greenwell’s game-tying two-run homer in the ninth and Wade Boggs’ game-winning single in the 10th that brought a happy ending to the 3-hour 37-minute marathon for 20,638 Fenway Park fans.
Boggs’ single scored Ed Romero from second base and made a loser of Joseph (Colonel) Klink, the fifth Minnesota pitcher. Romero had drawn a walk (the 11th of the game and 23d in two nights issued by the Twins) with one out in the 10th, and moved to second with two out on a single by Marty Barrett. Boggs followed with a bouncing single up the middle that was just out of the reach of second baseman Al Newman.
“These last couple games have been like the magic we had in 1986,” said Boggs. I didn’t know what he (Klink) even threw. I guess Schultz must be in the National League.
“All I know is that he threw me a fastball that I was able to get ahold of. The only question in my mind was whether Newman would be able to dive and get it.”
As big as Boggs’ hit in the 10th was, it paled in comparison to the line- drive blast by Greenwell in the ninth off Twins relief ace Jeff Reardon. His sixth homer of the year, which struck the right-field foul pole, came with two out, and Jim Rice, who had walked, on base. So instead of losing a game in which they stranded 12 runners, the Sox tied it, 6-6. It was the second time in 24 hours they had victimized Reardon in the ninth. On Tuesday, Bill Buckner stroked a two-run, two-out single that gave Boston a 6-5 triumph.
“You have to be lucky,” said Greenwell. “But there was a feeling all along that we would pull this one out. I had gotten a double off Jeff Reardon in the win the other night on a changeup. I just had a hunch that he’d try to come back with another changeup or a fastball, and I was ready.
“The first pitch was a changeup in the dirt. The second one was a fastball, and I got a good swing at it. I knew that I’d hit it good, but I could see that it was starting to curve. That’s when I started jumping up and down, trying to make it stay fair. Luckily, it hit the pole.”
In winning the AL flag last year, the Red Sox had a habit of making their own luck. No deficit was too great, and last night they proved they still are capable of reaching such heights. It was Boston’s first extra-inning victory of the year, and the third straight win on its last at-bat. Reliever Calvin Schiraldi has won all three of those games.
‘’I don’t know how it looks from the stands,” said Sox manager John McNamara. “But every player on this team is busting his tail. We’ve had a lot of opportunities, and we failed on many tonight. But we’re starting to get some key hits, like we have the last two nights.
“I tried to work the pitching to keep us close, and it paid off. I didn’t care how long this game took -- as long as we got a win.”