Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Big Showdown In Motown: Monday & Tuesday, September 18-19, 1967

Scores September 18

BAL 1, NY 0 W-Richert 10-11 L-Talbot 5-8 Richert and Talbot both throw 2-hitters.

CHI 4, CAL 1 W-Howard 11-12 L-Clark 8-14 S-Locker(19) HR-Causey(3) Hall(7)

BOS 7, DET 3 W-Bell 14-9 L-Lolich 21-6 S-Osinski(11) HR-Foy(18) Horton(21) Foy 5 rbi.

MIN 3, KC 1 W-Merritt 16-10 L-Dobson 4-17 S-Worthington(23) HR-Killebrew(37) Allison(18)

Scores September 19

BAL 5, NY 3 W-Dillman 3-2 L-Barber 4-3 S-Watt(9) HR-Tresh(25) Bowens(5)

CHI 4, CAL 2 W-Peters 13-10 L-Wright 7-10 HR-Fregosi(5) Hall(8) Peters 2-hitter.

CLE 4, WAS 2 W-Siebert 16-13 L-Coleman 3-18 S-Allen(9) HR-Maye(11)

DET 4, BOS 3 W-Gladding 6-3 L-Lonborg 18-11 HR-Yaz(44) Scott(24) Kaline(20) Cash(38)

KC 11, MIN 0 W-Krausse 4-15 L-Perry 9-8 HR-Monday(19) Suarez(4) Monday 4 rbi.

Let's get right to it! The Red Sox came into Tiger Stadium on Monday trailing the Tigers by 4 games with 12 left for each team. A sweep of the two games by Boston would make a real race of it; anything less would probably hand the flag to Detroit. 

Monday's hitting hero, Joe Foy.
In Monday's game, it was Gary Bell, acquired from Cleveland earlier in the season, going for Boston against the Tigers' nearly untouchable ace, Mickey Lolich. The Tigers put two on with nobody out in the 2nd, but slumping Norm Cash banged into a double play. It stayed scoreless into the top of the 4th, when Dalton Jones walked, George Scott singled, and Joe Foy doubled them both in for a 2-0 Boston advantage.  But in the bottom of the frame, Don Wert and Al Kaline singled. After ice cold Bill Freehan struck out, up stepped Motor City muscleman Willie Horton, who sent a Bell pitch far into the left field stands for a 3-2 Tiger lead. Norm Cash followed with a double but was stranded. On to the top of the 5th. Elston Howard, lending a veteran hand to the young Red Sox lineup in this crucial series, touched Lolich for a lead-off double. Bell laid down a bunt; the Tigers tried for the plodding Howard at third, but umpire Jim Odom spread his hands in the "safe"signal.  Jerry Adair, hot in August but frosty in September, popped up to Cash, passing the buck to Dalton Jones. Jones, always tough on Tigers' pitching,  ripped a double, scoring both Howard and Bell and giving Boston back the lead 4-3! The next batter, Carl Yastrzemski, lined a bullet off Lolich's hand. The Tigers' ace had to leave the game and will be out until the final day of the season. However, as Tiger fans groaned to see Lolich depart, Mike Marshall came in to deliver 2.2 innings of shutout relief. The Tigers went down in order in the 5th, 6th and 7th. In the top of the 8th, against bullpen ace Fred Gladding, who entered play with an incredible 0.83 e.r.a., Yaz worked a walk, Scott singled, and Joe Foy stepped up and rocked Gladding's world with a three-run bomb! The Tigers never got another hit, as Dan Osinski worked 3 innings of excellent relief, and the Red Sox found themselves within 3 of the Tigers at day's end.

Anticipation ran high for Tuesday's crucial contest. (Do you like that alliteration? Am I the daughter of a newspaperman, or what?!?) The Boston club decided to bypass Gary Waslewski for this important game, and send big Jim Lonborg to the mound. The Tigers countered with Joe Sparma, who has struggled all year, but did better in his last outing. The bullpen phones were checked and double-checked before game time. Once play began, Lonborg and Sparma hooked up in a classic pitching duel; the game remained scoreless through 5 innings. Then in the top of the 6th, Yaz led off with a long home run into the right field stands that Al Kaline could only turn and watch. Yaz has been on fire, doing everything he can to lift the Bosox to the pennant. George Scott followed with a single, and after yesterday's hero Joe Foy grounded out, Rico "The Disappointment" Petrocelli singled in Scott for a 2-0 Red Sox lead and Petrocelli's first rbi of the entire month. Reggie Smith walked, and it looked like more runs might be on the way, but Elston Howard grounded into a double play to end the rally. (A couple of innings later, a foul tip would end Howard's season.) In the bottom of the 6th, the (lately) toothless Tigers were looking for somebody to give the offense a spark. After Wert flied out, veteran star Al Kaline launched a home run off of Lonborg to cut the margin to 2-1, one of three hits he would have in this big game. But Bill Freehan, clearly fighting it, popped up to Mike Andrews, and when Horton bounced a ball to shortstop, the inning looked over. Not so fast! The ball clanked off of Petrocelli's glove and into short left field for an error, giving Horton, and the Tigers, continued life. Norm Cash stepped up, having fanned both trips previously. This time he lofted a mile high fly ball to right. Joe Foy (playing out of position with Conigliaro injured, so that his and Dalton Jones's bats can both be in the line-up) drifted back, and then back some more, as the ball arced through the night sky. Finally, as more than 40,000 Tiger fans held their breath, Foy reached out his bare hand to feel for the wall, right behind him. He kept a bead on the baseball, lifted his glove hand up to make the play, and then watched in disbelief as it plunked into the right field upper deck overhang for a 2-run home run and 3-2 Tigers lead. Bosox shortstop Rico Petrocelli found a particularly interesting spot on his shoe to stare down at as Cash trotted around the bases. Passing in front of Petrocelli, the always-wisecracking Cash quipped, "Thanks, chump!" 

Rico "The Disappointment" Petrocelli
Shades of future heartbreak?
But it wasn't over yet. In the top of the 8th, with Gladding once again on the hill for Detroit, Carl Yastzemski came to bat for the Red Sox, leading off. Could he do it one more time? Nervous silence prevailed in Tiger Stadium as Carl did his best, only to strike out on a mighty swing for the first out. But scarcely had the Tigers fans breathed a sigh of relief, when George "Boomer" Scott, with two hits already to his credit, socked a mammoth home run into the upper deck to tie the game! Fair enough! The Red Sox were retired without further damage, and so the game moved on to the last of the 8th, with a gutty Jim Lonborg still on the mound. He got Don Wert on a fly to right, but then old pro Kaline ripped a single. Struggling Bill Freehan hit into a force play for the second out. Horton kept it alive with a base hit, leaving runners on the corners and Cash due up in a tie game. The Red Sox skipper (nominally Dick Williams, but really me!) made the signal to the bullpen for lefty fireman Sparky Lyle to pitch to Cash. Cash hit a dribbler just out of the reach of a diving George Scott, scoring Freehan with the tie-breaking run. Willie Horton, who had not been pinch run for, chugged around second, then third, and rumbled toward the plate, testing the arm of the misplaced Mr. Foy in right field. Foy had had to come a long way to collect the baseball, but when he did, he let it fly, and Russ Gibson applied the tag to Horton at the plate, ending the inning and sending the game to the ninth with the Bengals on top 4-3. 

Jitters among the Tigers faithful got doubly bad as the suddenly vulnerable Mr. Gladding immediately gave up a bloop single to lead-off man Reggie Smith. Spare part Jose Tartabull emerged from the first base dugout to hit for catcher Russ Gibson. Everybody on the field knew he was up there bunting, and he did, but poorly! The out was made at second, and the Tigers very nearly doubled off Tartabull, but his speed allowed him to beat the throw by a hair, with umpire Haller spreading his arms as the crowd groaned. That brought up late-season acquisition Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, to bat for Lyle. Harrelson had come to the team in late August, and had started out red hot, but then been injured, and when he returned, Foy and Jones were doing too well to take out of the line-up. So Hawk found himself riding the lonesome pine when he was summoned to hit with everything riding on the result. He stepped in, as Gladding took a deep breath and prepared to deliver the next pitch. In it came, and Harrelson swung hard but got on top of the ball, sending a grounder to slick-fielding shortstop Ray Oyler, who flipped to second sacker McAuliffe for one, and on to Cash for the inning-, game-, and probably season-ending double play for the Red Sox. I'll say this: it was a hell of a two game series, the kind of games an APBA fan plays the entire season in hopes for. Thank you, gentlemen. Your Goddess salutes you.

No comments: