Now what was that?
Well, before you reach for your pocket calculator (you’ll need it), and before you make that morning call to area code 313 (just to reach out and touch someone in Michigan), let’s get rid of the basic math.
The Red Sox, who this morning will petition City Hall to change Fenway Park’s name to the Back Bay Burial Ground, chewed up, spit out and otherwise humiliated the Detroit Tigers yesterday, 16-4, on national TV with no fewer than 19 hits. They now trail the American League East frontrunners by 2 1/2 games.
OK, reach. For the calculator, that is.
The victory, Boston’s 24th in a row on Yawkey Way, was backed by seven RBIs by Dwight Evans -- a career high for the Gold Glove right fielder. And now, only one team, the 1916 New York Giants, has ever rattled off more consecutive home victories than the 1988 Old Towne Team.
“Twenty-four in a row,” said Mike Greenwell, who chipped in four hits, including a homer and two RBIs, “it’s great for us and it’s great for the fans. Hey, they haven’t seen us lose in, what, a month-and-a-half? It’s exciting.”
Indeed, but as Red Sox manager Joe Morgan said, the streak “seems kind of secondary right now, doesn’t it?”
It may be, but it also is the primary reason the Sox have the Tigers thinking twice about which woolies to get ready for the October playoffs. And to think, today the Michiganders have the unenviable task of facing two-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens at 1:05 p.m.
As for yesterday, the Tigers may take some solace (or two aspirin) in remembering they actually took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth. Alan Trammell’s three-run homer off Mike Boddicker (9-13, 3-1 with Boston) temporarily had the Sox backpedaling after breaking out to a 2-0 lead in the first.
What happened after the 4-3 lead? Well, the Red Sox scored three in the sixth, three in the seventh and seven in the eighth. In those three frames, they hit 12 for 22 (.545), with eight extra-base hits, two homers and 13 RBIs. Don’t you need Gates Brown somewhere in your lineup to do that? In one stretch of the eighth inning, the Sox sent eight men to the plate and piled up seven hits and a walk.
The 16 runs, tying Boston’s highest output for the year, gave the Red Sox their most runs against the Tigers since a 17-6 win in Tigertown May 6, 1959.
OK, hit the clear button on that calculator. We’ve got more, beginning with individual performances:
- Evans -- Among his seven RBIs, he had two homers -- a two-run shot in the first and another two-run blast in the sixth. The latter rocketed over the screen atop the Wall and put the Sox ahead for good, 5-4. He added a bases- loaded triple in the eighth for RBIs 5, 6 and 7, lifting his bases-loaded production this year to 5 for 9 (.556) and 11 RBIs.
Remember, it was Evans who came into this series suffering from a bellyfull of bad chicken and an 0-for-22 stretch at the plate.
“When a guy’s going good,” said Morgan, “you can tell it just by the way he swings and fouls a ball off.” The seven RBIs gave Evans 82 for the season. He also had a career-high 12 total bases, tying him with the AL one-game high this year with George Bell and Jose Canseco.
- Mike Greenwell -- After knocking in two Friday night, ending a 10-game skid without an RBI, he went 4 for 6, including a double and a homer (for a 6-4 lead) and two RBIs.
- Rich Gedman -- A pair of doubles in the seventh and eighth gave him three RBIs.
In all, every Red Sox starter except Todd Benzinger had a hit. All but Wade Boggs, Jim Rice and Ellis Burks had at least one RBI. And after Boddicker exited following the sixth inning, lefthander Tom Bolton faced only nine batters in three pristine innings of relief, giving up one hit -- erased in the ninth on a double play.
Until the sixth, though afterward it was hard to believe, there was a fair amount of suspense. Trammell’s homer off Boddicker momentarily turned what looked like an impressive Sox victory into the disappointment of losing for the first time in the Fens since June 24.
“I figured, ‘Hell, it’s only the sixth inning, we’ll come back, I know we will,’ “ said Morgan. “We started hitting the alleys like you couldn’t believe.”
But not until Evans hit the stuffing out of his second home run. With one out, Boggs drew a walk off Detroit starter Jeff Robinson (13-6, 0-2 vs. Boston in a week). And with two out, Evans put Robinson’s 3-2 offering over the screen and onto the Massachusetts Turnpike. Greenwell, faced with reliever Guillermo Hernandez, then parked one just over The Wall to make it 6-4.
In the seventh, Gedman drove in a run with his first double and Spike Owen knocked in a pair with a double -- his first extra-base hit in a month. And in the eighth, Rice doubled, Burks singled, Reed singled, Gedman doubled and Boggs singled -- all before Owen drew a walk. Then Evans tripled and Greenwell singled before Benzinger finally made an out -- on a force play started by the center fielder going 8-4-6. Yeow.
“This park is conducive to hitting,” said chairman Morgan, his AM (After McNamara) dynasty still 1.000 at Fenway. “Maybe the mind looks at it that way.”
OK, hit the ‘Off’ button and make that call.