Alright, let’s do one more from the weird walk-offs file in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
The Yankees-Red Sox game on September 28, 1987 was a doozy. A meaningless doozy, but a doozy nonetheless. Neither team was in the race for the division lead. Based on my reading of the next day’s newspapers, it’s safe to say both squads were playing out the string.
The Red Sox scored five runs in the top of the first inning, and neither team would have probably minded if the game had stopped right there. Attendance was sparse, at least per the Boston Globe which likened it to a crowd from the Horace Clarke 1960s days. Mike Greenwell doubled in two runs. Jody Reed tripled in three. After Sam Horn homered in the fourth inning, the score was 7-0 Red Sox.
The Yankees chipped away gradually. Rickey Henderson homered in the sixth inning. Willie Randolph and Don Mattingly each drove in a run in the seventh. The score was now 7-3. The Red Sox didn’t help themselves, failing to score with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh and after putting the first two men on base in the eighth inning.
It was still a four-run lead for Boston entering the bottom of the ninth. But not for long. A double and walk started things for the Yankees and chased Jeff Sellers in favor of Wes Gardner. That didn’t help.
Gardner walked Willie Randolph to load the bases. Don Mattingly followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-4. Dave Winfield then doubled and suddenly it was 7-5. Out went Gardner, in came Joe Sambito to pitch to Mike Pagliarulo try to close the deal (Sambito’s an agent now). Yankees manager Lou Piniella countered with veteran infielder Jerry Royster as a pinch-hitter. Royster came through, doubling home two runs to tie the game.
How many pitchers can combine to cough up a baseball game? In this case, the answer was four. Calvin Schiraldi replaced Sambito. Piniella sent up another pinch-hitter, lefty-swinging Mike Easler to bat for Gary Ward.
Easler, known as Hit Man, had three at-bats left in his 15-year major league career. He went out in memorable fashion in this game, hitting a game-winning two-run home run into the upper deck.
The one other person who deserves recognition for this game is Bill Fulton. Fulton pitched the eighth and ninth innings, did not allow a run, and recorded his first MLB win in his third career appearance.
It was also his last. He never pitched in the major leagues again.
Thanks to Jason Southard for tipping me off to this game.