July 13, 2017

The Sensational 70s - Lynn's Late Liner Propels Sawx to Fall Classic

Fred Lynn's opposite field double in the first inning of bonus baseball brought Denny Doyle all the way around from first for the winning run in a 3-2 Game 6 victory. Boston took the ALCS 4-2 and will now move on the face the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

Doyle beats relay for game-winning run
For the second consecutive game, Fred Lynn put the Red Sox on his back coming off a 4-5 performance in Game 5 The 1975 ROY now leads Boston in batting in the postseason with a .400 mark. Lynn picked up the slack left by a slumping Jim Rice, who is second in playoff batting for Boston at .390 but went 0-13 in the last three games of the series. Just as Boston used in back to back homers to get the offense rolling in Game 5, they also used back to back jacks once again in the seventh inning to get back into this one after trailing 2-0. 

Kansas City starter Paul Splittorff redeemed himself from a poor outing in Game 2, holding the Red Sox offense to five hits while keeping the scoresheet clean for 6 complete innings. Carlton Fisk would be the last batter Splittorff faced as he back-footed a blast to right field to start the seventh. It was the fourth round tripper of the playoffs for Fisk, tying him for the team lead with Rice. "Pudge" also is batting .353 which places him third overall on the Sawx.

Royals' manager Whitey Herzog elected to go to the pen and get Steve Mingori, but he was victimized by a prodigious shot to left by Dwight Evans to tie the game at two apiece. Splittorff had danced out of danger on three other occasions as Boston put runners on third base three times previously but could not capitalize.

Even though he would not factor into the decision, Rick Wise gave Boston another solid outing. Wise allowed only 2 runs on 7 hits with 6 of those being singles. His post season resume to date reads (2-0) with a 2.95 ERA in 3 quality starts. Boston leaned on closer Dick Drago for the final 2.1 innings as he earned his first win of the playoffs to go along with 5 saves and a 1.80 ERA. The Boston bullpen has been terrific in these playoffs authoring a dazzling 1.80 ERA in 24.2 innings.

After Herzog called on Larry Gura to get the final out in the seventh, he set down the next 7 Red Sox batters in order. Doyle broke Gura's string in the tenth lashing a single to left. Cecil Cooper then flew out to center, and Gura was one out away from getting out of the inning. However, Lynn belted his team-leading 7th double over the head of Royals' left fielder Tom Poquette, and Doyle narrowly beat the relay to bounce Kansas City from the postseason picture.

Below the scorecard and Game 6 highlights are the pitching matchups for the first two games of the Fall Classic. The  '77 Dodgers have home-field advantage for the series after eliminating the 1976 New York Mets 3-1 in the NLDS and taking care of the 1979 Montreal Expos in five games in the NLCS.

In my Sensational 70s dream season, the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers won 101 games tying them for the second most wins overall with the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. The 1978 New York Yankees were first in wins with 102, but they were sent packing by Boston in a three-game sweep in the ALDS. The Dodgers also led the majors in run scored with a total of 898. Their prolific offense has continued to flourish in the postseason as 5 starters are currently batting over .300. Reggie Smith leads the team batting an astounding .487 and was the regular season leader in OPS  in the NL with a 1.077 mark.  Dusty Baker leads the Dodgers in postseason homers (3) and RBI (10). Baker led the National League in dingers in my regular season with 48 and runs scored (123). He was tied for second in RBI with 128.

Sensational 70s World Series - Probable Pitchers

Game 1 - Dodger Stadium

Regular Season
Luis Tiant (15-9), 3.47   vs   Burt Hooten (15-5), 3.44 

Game 2 - Dodger Stadium

Regular Season
Bill Lee (17-8), 2.73   vs   Tommy John (18-6), 2.65

July 05, 2017

The Sensational 70s - Lynn, Lee Push Royals to Playoff Precipice

Fred Lynn combined with Cecil Cooper on back-to-back homers in the fourth inning to give Bill Lee all the run support he would need in a 7-3 Game 5 win over the '77 Kansas City Royals. The '75 Red Sox now lead the ALCS 3-2 and can eliminate the Royals back at Kauffman Stadium in Game 6.

Lynn also had a RBI double to open the scoring in the first which was the first of four hits he collected. He hit a second double in the third inning and scored twice. Lynn is second on the Sawx in hitting in the postseason with a .389 mark and leads the team with 6 doubles.

Boston finally got what they needed out of Bill Lee who had struggled mightily in the postseason. Lee went 7 solid innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits to register his first win of the playoffs. "The Spaceman" won 17 games in the regular season to lead the Sawx staff, but had yet to make a positive impression in the playoffs with a (0-1) record in two starts and a chunky 4.50 ERA.

The Royals were banking on 22 game winner Dennis Leonard, who had yet to lose in these playoffs, but he only last 4 innings before handing the ball over to spot starter Marty Pattin for the fifth. Leonard was spanked for 9 hits and 5 earned runs to put Kansas City behind the eight ball early. Pattin held the Red Sox down for two innings, but they would get to him in his third inning of work to put the game out of reach.

Before Boston roughed up Pattin though, Kansas City made things interesting in the seventh. After Lee waltzed through the first 6 innings surrendering only 3 hits and 1 earned run,  a Rico Petrocelli error on an Al Cowens grounder opened the door for the Royals. John Mayberry slammed a double to put runners on second and third, and both men would score on a RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly to narrow the score to 5-3.

Boston answered in the bottom half as Lynn stroked Pattin for a single to start things off and moved to third on a Carl Yastrzemski single and a passed ball. Lynn then came in to count on a Dwight Evans sacrifice fly. With Yastrzemski standing on second, the Royals intentionally walked Carlton Fisk to set up a double play possibility. However, pinch hitter Bernie Carbo spoiled these plans doubling off Pattin into the left field corner to score Yaz to push the lead to 7-3. Fisk was thrown out at the plate attempting to score from first.

Boston will hand the ball to Rick Wise  (2-0) 3.29, who has been their most reliable starter in the postseason for a possible series clinching outing in Game 6. Kansas City will counter with Paul Splitorff (1-1)  7.30, who was lit up by the Red Sox lasting only five innings in Game 2. Splitorff also had his troubles in the regular season going (10-16) with a  5.80 ERA

The 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers now await the American League pennant winners. After spotting the 1979 Montreal Expos a 1-0 NLCS lead, Los Angeles reeled off four consecutive victories to put them in the Fall Classic. Much like they did in the NLDS against the '76 Mets, the Dodgers broke the Expos' back scoring late to pull the carpet out from under Montreal. In Game 3, Los Angeles scored twice in the ninth for a 3-2 win and put up 4 runs in the eighth and ninth to take Game 4 by the score of  4-2. The Dodgers closed out the series in Montreal with a 9-8 win in a 14 inning thriller.

June 29, 2017

All Time Greats - Lynn's Liner Lifts Sawx

Fred Lynn's sinking liner to center with the bases loaded brought home the winning run in the bottom of the eighth, and Boston would tack on one more run to take Game 2 by a 4-2 count. The all-time Red Sox now lead their best of five ALDS with the Tigers 2-0 and could get the brooms out in Motown.

This contest featured a pitching duel between two franchise power arms in Pedro Martinez and Justin Verlander. However, the matchup fell short of the hype. Verlander only allowed 5 hits in his 6 innings of work, but he didn't register one strikeout and walked two batters. He also surrendered a 1-0 lead in the sixth as Carl Yastrzemski atoned for an error in the second inning, driving a mammoth two-run homer to deep center.

Pedro Martinez deserved a better fate as he was not charged with an earned run. A dropped fly ball by Yastrzemski led to the game's first run, and then Detroit tied it on a three-base error by Jim Rice as a liner off the bat of Tigers' DH Harry Heilmann skipped by him and rolled to the fence. Martinez struck out 4 Tigers and was touched up for 6 hits in 6.2 innings of work.

With the game tied 2-2 in the eighth, the Tigers opted for lefty Hank Aguirre to face Ted Williams and David Ortiz. Aguirre spent 10 years with Detroit and was 64-64 with a 3.29 ERA. He was used primarily as a reliever in his earlier years in but enjoyed his only all - star season in 1962 as a starter going 16-8 with a league-leading 2.21 ERA. He would be in the starting rotation for the next 3 seasons and logged a 33-35 record during that time.

Willams drew his third free pass of the game to lead off the eighth. The "Splendid Splinter" has been an on-base machine in this series going 4-5 with 3 walks, 2 doubles and 2 runs scored. David Ortiz then followed Williams with a single. After Aguirre struck out Dwight Evans, who came on to pinch hit for Yastrzemski, Detroit intentionally walked Jim Rice. This loaded the bases and set up another lefty on lefty matchup between Fred Lynn and Aguirre in hopes of initiating an inning-ending double play. Lynn made the Tigers pay with his knock to center making Aguirre 0-3 facing lefthanded Sawx batters and ending his night as the losing pitcher.

Boston has also been getting terrific relief pitching from Dick Radatz. "The Monster" tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball to pick up the win. He now has 3.1 innings of work to his credit as he set down 6  batters in order in Game 1, three on strikeouts. 

Koji Uehara, who authored a magical 2013 campaign in Boston's World Series win, picked up the save. Uehara had a 1.09 ERA in 73 appearances in 2013 and struck out 101 batters in only 74.1 innings pitched picking up 21 saves in the process. In the 2013 playoffs, he had 7 saves and only allowed 6 hits in 13.2 IP. Ironically, he was the 2013 ALCS MVP against Detroit as the Sawx ousted the Tigers in 6 games.

Boston will try to close this series out sending Luis Tiant to the mound at Comerica Park to face the Tigers' Denny McLain. To check out the other Sawx series I'm blogging on featuring the 1975 Red Sox, click on Sensational 70s.

June 21, 2017

The Sensational 70s - Royals Double Down On Red Sox

The 1977 Kansas City Royals used 4 doubles to produce 4 runs which broke a 1-1 tie and enabled them to cruise to a 6-1 victory in Game 4 of their ALCS with the 1975 Boston Red Sox. The series is now deadlocked at 2-2 with a pivotal Game 5 on the horizon at Fenway Park.

Kansas City has brutalized Boston pitching with 34 hits in the last two games as they rattled off 19 hits in their Game 3 slugfest loss.

Boston's early 1-0 lead quickly evaporated in the second as John Mayberry continued to wield a sizzling bat, clubbing an opposite field solo shot to draw the Royals even. Mayberry is batting .438 in the ALCS with 3 homers. He also drove in 2 runs to push his RBI total to 10 in the series. 

Kansas City's starter Andy Hassler put the Red Sox in lock down mode after surrendering a first inning run going eight strong innings. Hassler allowed 7 hits and struck out 3 to give the Royals their second quality start of the series.It was thought that Boston had the advantage in the starting pitching department coming into this series, but they have only mustered one quality outing in four games. Rick Wise barely met that criteria in Boston's Game 2 win going 6 innings while allowing 3 earned runs.  Throughout the series, both starting rotations have been badly ravaged. Kansas City starters have a 2-0 record with a 5.76 ERA while Boston's starting corps stand at 1-2 with a 7.85 ERA.

Hal McRae's RBI double in the third inning to drive in George Brett ended up to be the deciding factor. McRae then came in to count on a dropped pop fly in short left field by Rico Petrocelli. After collecting 3 hits in this one, McRae is now 10-18 in the series scoring 5 times and drilling 2 doubles. 

In the following inning, Freddie Patek doubled to drive home Tom Poquette, and George Brett then hit his second double in as many innings to score Patek and chase Boston starter Roger Moret from the game trailing 5-1.

Moret was pummelled for 9 hits in 3.1 innings for 4 earned runs. Used as a spot starter throughout the season, the Red Sox hoped the left-handed Moret could quiet the Royals' left -handed bats of Mayberry, Porter and Brett, but was unable to deliver.

Game 5 will see a repeat of the battle of the aces. Boston now will look for Bill Lee to reverse an ugly postseason as he'll look for revenge against the Royals' Dennis Leonard who bested Lee in Game 1.

June 07, 2017

The Sensational 70s - Cowens' Clunker Costs Crowns

A harmless fly ball off the bat of Rico Petrocelli clanked off the glove of Royals' Al Cowens in the seventh inning to cap the fourth and final lead change and the Red Sox hung on for a wild 10-9 barnburner win. Boston now leads the ALCS 2-1 over the '77 Royals.

It was a game of duck n' chuck as both clubs' starters were battered early and often. In 9.1 combined innings pitched between Boston's Luis Tiant and Kansas City's Jim Colburn, they allowed 14 hits, 11 earned runs and 7 free passes. Unlike Tiant, Colburn was unable to survive the fifth as he issued 6 of those 7 walks which led to his undoing as three of those baserunners scored. To make matters worse, Colburn has only pitched 9.1 innings in two starts this post-season and has issued 9 walks to go along with a miserable 9.64 ERA.

The scoreboard read 7-6 after only five innings with Tiant on the winning side of things as Carlton Fisk made up for his second-inning miscue with a RBI single to put Boston in front for the second time. Tiant would not see the sixth as Boston manager Darrell Johnson had enough after he surrendered a 6-4 lead in the top of the fifth on a RBI ground rule double by Al Cowens and a two-out RBI single by Tom Poquette. 

Both starters were under siege immediately. Kansas City had pounced on Tiant in the first on back to back two-out doubles by John Mayberry and Darrell Porter for a 3-0 lead. Mayberry remained red hot as his two-run double, along with a RBI single in the eighth gives him 8 RBI so far in this ALCS to compliment his blistering .500 batting average.Boston roared back on a two-run homer by Fred Lynn in the home half of the first to narrow the Royals' lead to 3-2, Kansas City added an unearned run in the second as Frank White advanced to second on a two-base throwing error by Carlton Fisk. Hal McRae brought him in with a RBI single.With his three hits in this game, McRae raised his playoff batting average to .433 tying Darrell Porter for second on the Royals.

The Red Sox came within a run of the Royals once again in the third on a Dwight Evans solo homer making the score 4-3. Then Boston then pulled in front for the first time in a   three-run third on the strength of a looping jam shot two-run single from Carl Yastrzemski to give Boston that 6-4 lead that Tiant was unable to hold.

After a scoreless sixth, the Royals came up with two more clutch two-out RBI in the top of the seventh to erase the Red Sox 7-6 lead. Kansas City totaled six two-out RBI in the contest as Boston pitchers were unable to put Royals' hitters away. The Red Sox sent lefty Tim Burton came on to nullify John Mayberry and he also got Darrell Porter to fly out. Tom Poquette kept the Royals afloat with a double off Burton, so Boston countered with Jim Willoughby who has been their top reliever out of the pen in these playoffs. Uncharacteristically, Willoughby walked Freddie Patek and was nicked with back to back RBI singles by Frank White and George Brett giving the Royals an 8-7 advantage.

This see-saw affair continued as Boston came right back in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead for good. On three consecutive hits, they loaded the bases off Royals' reliever Larry Gura. Doug Bird was summoned by Kansas City manager Whitey Herzog, and he struck out Dwight Evans. Carlton Fisk then drove an outside fastball from Bird over the head of Royals' right fielder Al Cowens and it one-hopped the fence for a ground-rule double scoring two runs. Fisk is now second on the Red Sox in these playoffs in RBI (8) and batting average (.333). 

Cowens' misplay of Petrocelli's routine fly ball for Boston's tenth run proved to be very costly. Kansas City picked up a run on Mayberry's RBI single in the top of the eighth off Boston closer Dick Drago to close the gap to 10-9, but they couldn't come all the way back this time going down in order in the ninth.

Despite Willoughby's struggles in this one, both he and Drago have tossed 12 innings combining for 3 wins, 5 saves and a 2.25 ERA. Boston's Dick Pole has also helped solidify the pen pitching 5.2 innings and posting a 1.59 ERA  with 6 strikeouts.

Game 4 will see Boston send Roger Moret up against former Red Sox Andy Hassler as Kansas City will try to even up the series ensuring a return trip to Kauffman Stadium. The highlights below the scorecard focus on the big hits produced by Lynn, Yastrzemski and Fisk