Boston loses a chance to win a World Series, a Sox hurler is cut loose, and a trio of useful Boston pitchers share a birthday.
Games of Note: It's the kind of World Series game that, prior to the events of 2004, caused Red Sox fans who saw it happen to instinctively wince when mentioned. Game Six of the 1986 World Series was played on this date. You know the one: Mookie Wilson's slow grounder, through the legs of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner. Despite what history says, there was more to this than just Buckner letting the ball go by -- it's simpler to condense blame into the one video clip than it is to cast the wide net this moment deserves, though.
Calvin Schiraldi was working his third inning. Buckner normally wouldn't even play late in games, as Dave Stapleton normally came in for defensive purposes late. It all worked out at first, with Schiraldi retiring Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez to move Boston one out away from their first World Series championship since 1918. That's when things fell apart, though. Gary Carter singled. Pinch-hitter Kevin Mitchell singled as well. Ray Knight then hit yet another single, driving in Carter and pushing Mitchell to third. Bob Stanley relieved Schiraldi at this point, with Boston's lead cut to just 5-4.
So, Schiraldi had done his part to mess things up, but it was partially because manager Joe McNamara had sent him out for more than he normally pitched. Stanley now faced Mookie Wilson, who fouled off multiple pitches until Stanley threw a wild one that allowed Mitchell to score, and Knight to move into scoring position. The game was now all tied up, with Wilson still at the plate in the bottom of the 10th at Shea Stadium.
Wilson worked Stanley for 10 pitches, and on the final one, hit the slow roller up the first base side that went through Buckner's legs, and let the Mets live another day. Buckner received the blame because of the iconic nature of the moment, but he's not the reason things got to the point they did.
Boston seemingly had this one in the bag, too -- that's what was truly traumatic. This was the bottom of the 10th, but in the top of the inning, the Sox had scored twice to give them the 5-3 lead to begin with. If you were ever curious why some Red Sox fans couldn't relax, even with Boston up three games to none on the Cardinals 18 years later, the 1986 World Series is a significant reason why.
That series had a game off on this date, but the 2007 World Series had Game Two. Curt Schilling took the mound against Ubaldo Jimenez, in what turned out to be a pitcher's duel. Sort of. Jimenez pitched poorly, giving up two runs on five walks in 4-2/3 innings. He was removed before the free passes could cause too much damage, though, and the Rockies' bullpen kept Boston scoreless the rest of the way. Two runs was enough, though, as the Red Sox received 5-1/3 innings of one-run ball from Schilling, then the combination of Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon quieted the Rox the rest of the way, giving Boston a 2-0 lead in the series. It was a masterful pitching performance from Boston's staff, with 10 strikeouts against and just the one run over nine innings, and not a single walk allowed by the bullpen. In fact, just one baserunner total, a single to Matt Holliday that was rectified with a pickoff.
Transactions: The Red Sox released Ray Culp on this day in 1973. Culp had pitched for the Red Sox since 1968, and while he averaged 234 innings per year and a 111 ERA+ over the first four seasons, he had thrown all of 155 combined frames between 1972 and 1973. Culp spent much of 1973 in Pawtucket, and his major-league career was over once Boston cut him loose.
Birthdays: Three former Red Sox hurlers share a birthday today: Pedro Martinez, Smoky Joe Wood, and Danny Darwin. Pedro, who turns 41, needs no introduction (but here's one anyway), and neither does Wood, who is one of the best arms in Boston history. The now 57-year-old Darwin spent four years with the Sox and was a useful starter -- when he was healthy. He threw just 68 innings in 1991, posting a 5.16 ERA after leading the NL in that category one year prior while with the Astros. He tossed 390 frames between 1992 and 1993, though, with a more Darwin-esque 126 ERA+.