RED SOX 8, TWINS 5
Tuesday, July 25, 1978 at Metropolitan Stadium
Game 1303 – 6/16/13
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. 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.”
• The game was played in the afternoon at site AZ8 in Peoria, Arizona, on the living room table while I listened to Little Robbers by The Motels.
• Each team suffered from a third-strike error, allowing a batter to safely reach first: Darrell Jackson’s wild 0-2 offering sent Fred Lynn racing to first in the third inning, while Carlton Fisk let a full-count curve from Bob Stanley get away from him with Mike Cubbage at the plate, putting the Twins third baseman on base as the ball bounded to the screen behind home.
• Boston slugger Jim Rice is still in a slump, managing just one single in five at-bats tonight; he’s hitting .251 on the year, with just 13 home runs…unbelievably low totals when compared to the numbers on his Statis Pro card. During the actual 1978 season, he hit .315 over 163 games, leading the league with 213 hits, 15 triples, 46 HRs, and 139 RBI.
• This wasn’t the first time Boston manager Don Zimmer discussed benching his regulars: in 1993, during a May 31st SP78 game against Toronto, Zimmer not only made the threat, but followed through on it. With the listless Sox down 2-0 in the eighth against the Blue Jays, Zimmer replaced seven starters with utility players, and went as far as to put pitcher Bill Lee in as designated hitter. The two regulars who remained in the game—and were spared Zimmer’s wrath—were left fielder Carl Yastrzemski and third baseman Butch Hobson. And yes, the Sox still lost the game, and were swept by the Jays in the 3-game series.