According to Boston manager Don Zimmer, the time is now for his struggling squad to make a move on the front-running Yankees, and in a team meeting held before today’s game with the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, he made it quite clear to his fifth-place contingent that if they didn’t shed their mediocrity immediately and start winning ball games, they’d spend October watching the 1978 post-season on television with 21 other clubs. He then called out his veteran players, citing their leadership as ‘an embarrassment’, and threatened to bench each and every one of them if they didn’t start playing to their potential.
“He gave it to us good,” stated Dwight Evans, his expression grim, “and not only did we agree with him, we believed he’d follow through on his threats.”
So what did the chastised Red Sox do? They went out and battered four Minnesota pitchers for eight runs on 18 hits in a convincing 8-5 victory over the Twins in their home park, an impressive display of power by the normally dormant Bosox bats that snapped a 4-game losing streak and made a winner of Dick Drago, who evened his won-lost record at 3-3.
Boston opened the scoring in the top of the first when lead-off batter Jerry Remy drilled a two-bagger to the gap in left-center off rookie southpaw Darrell Jackson; after a steal of third, his 46th steal of the season, Remy then scored on Fred Lynn’s seeing-eye single between first and second for a 1-0 lead.
A collection of RBI doubles by both teams over the course of two innings kept the scoreboard operators busy: Frank Duffy and Evans hit two to expand the Boston advantage to 3-0, Twins outfielder fielder Hosken Powell looped one down the right-field line with the bases jammed to score two, and Roy Smalley tied the game at 3-3 with a 360-foot shot off the left-field wall, scoring Bob Randall from first base.
The teams then traded a pair of runs in the sixth. In the top half of the frame, Evans struck again for the Sox with a two-run base hit, temporarily breaking the deadlock, but Minnesota bounced back to knot it again when Willie Norwood drilled his 8th home run off starter Bill Lee, and Mike Cubbage squibbed a bases-loaded single over second base, allowing Butch Wynegar—who’d reached first after Lee administered the first of two HBP’s against the Sox—to jog home and even the score at 5-5.
The Red Sox finally put the game out of reach in the eighth with two runs off loser John Sutton (1-2); after singles by Duffy and Rick Burleson, Evans smacked his second double of the contest, scoring both runners and completing a 5-RBI night. Carl Yastrzemski tallied the final run for the Sox with an RBI single in the ninth, scoring Lynn from second. Reliever Bob Stanley worked the final two frames to secure the win for Drago and earn his eighth save of the year.
“This was a good start,” said manager Zimmer following the game. “We’ll keep our eyes on the Yankee situation…if they implode with Lemon, we’ll take advantage of it and work our way up the ladder.”