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MLB – 1986 ALCS – Red Sox VS Angels – Game 7 – Featuring P Roger Clemens

DOG COMMENTARY:

The 1986 American League Championship Series was a back-and-forth battle between the Boston Red Sox and the California Angels for the right to advance to the 1986 World Series to face the winner of the 1986 National League Championship Series. The Red Sox came in with a 95–66 record and the AL East division titl….while the Angels went 92–70 during the regular season to win the AL West….as Boston won the series 4 – 3  

In Game 1, Angels left fielder Brian Downing went 2-for-5 with four RBI as Mike Witt pitched a five-hit complete game….as California cruised to an 8–1 win.  The next day, the tables were turned….as Red Sox Bill Buckner scored the winning run in the fifth inning on a Dwight Evans double….and the Red Sox tacked on insurance runs in the seventh and eighth to claim a 9–2 victory and tie the series at one game apiece.  In the seventh inning of Game 3, Dick Schofield homered for California to give the team a 2–1 lead….then Gary Pettis followed shortly thereafter with a two-run home run of his own….as the Halos won by a score of 5–3 and took a 2–1 series lead.  

Roger Clemens, the Game 1 loser for the Red Sox, started Game 4….and was solid for most of the game…as Boston put up a run in the sixth….with two more in the eighth on two hits, a wild pitch, a passed ball, and two errors….but left the bases loaded. In the bottom of the ninth, Angels 3B Doug DeCinces led off with a home run….and after the next batter grounded out….Schofield and Bob Boone singled….so after coming within two outs of a complete game, Clemens was removed….and Boone was replaced with a pinch runner….then Angels OF Gary Pettis doubled to score Schofield….so  Ruppert Jones was intentionally walked to load the bases, a fatal mistake….as two batters later, Downing was hit by a pitch which brought in the tying run.  Angels relief pitcher Doug Corbett pitched a perfect tenth and eleventh innings….as California broke through in the bottom of the eleventh….when Jerry Narron scored on Bobby Grich’s one-out single….giving California a 4–3 win and a 3–1 series lead.

Heading into Game 5, California looked set to earn their first-ever trip to a World Series….as Grich, the previous night’s hero, homered to give the Halos a 3–2 lead in the sixth inning….when Red Sox center fielder Dave Henderson had tried to leap at the wall to catch Grich’s long fly ball….but ended up deflecting it over the fence. Rob Wilfong appeared to put the final nail in Boston’s coffin with an RBI double in the sevent….as the Angels led 5–2 after eight innings.

In the ninth, Witt allowed a leadoff single to Bill Buckner….then struck out Jim Rice and putting him two outs away from his second complete game victory of the series….but then the next batter, Don Baylor, hit a two-strike, two-run home run to pull the Red Sox within one run….and after retiring the next batter….Witt was replaced as Gary Lucas was brought in to face catcher Rich Gedman….who had gone 3 for 3 in the game against Witt, including a double and a home run….while Lucas, on the other hand, had a history of striking Gedman out. But with his very first pitch, Lucas hit batter Gedma…. and was replaced by Donnie Moore….as the Angels closer brought his team within one strike of its first-ever AL pennant….but Red Sox OF Dave Henderson caught hold of a Moore forkball and launched a home run into the left field stands….stunning the hometown crowd and greatly redeeming himself for his earlier miscue. Boston had taken a 6–5 lead….but the lead would not last….as in the bottom of the ninth, Boone singled, and Jones pinch-ran for him….then Pettis sacrificed Jones to second and Wilfong singled him home, tying the game. Schofield then singled, sending Wilfong to third, and Downing was intentionally walked to load the bases with only one out.  All of Boston’s top-half heroics would have been washed away with a mere sacrifice fly at this point. But instead, DeCinces only managed to hit a short fly ball to right field. Grich’s subsequent line-out to pitcher Steve Crawford ended the inning.

The teams settled down and the tenth inning was again scoreless, but the Red Sox loaded the bases in the top of the eleventh for Henderson. He hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Baylor with the go-ahead run. Calvin Schiraldi then retired the Halos in order in the bottom of the eleventh, completing a shocking comeback and breaking the hearts of Angels fans.

Still reeling from their Game 5 loss, the Angels took an early 2–0 lead in Game 6, but the Sox tied the score without a hit in the bottom of the first. Any remaining heart that California had appeared to have been crushed by a six-hit, five-run rally in the third inning. Boston went on to win 10–4 to tie the series.

The Red Sox clinched the American League championship with three unearned runs in the second inning and a three-run home run from Jim Rice in the fourth. The Angels never mounted a comeback, and Boston won 8–1 to win the series four games to three, providing another bitter defeat for the Angels.

By virtue of winning the ALCS, the Red Sox advanced to the 1986 World Series….where they faced the New York Mets, with memorable results. Like the Angels in the ALCS, the Red Sox found themselves one strike away from winning the World Series, yet could not hold the lead. Taking a 5–3 lead into the bottom of the tenth inning of Game 6, the Red Sox gave up three runs, culminating in an infamous ground ball through the legs of Bill Buckner to hand the Mets a 6–5 victory. The Mets would go on to win Game 7 and the Series.

As for the Angels, Donnie Moore was regarded the goat of the series for giving up Henderson’s home run in Game 5, and then his game-winning sacrifice fly two innings later. Moore was blasted by the sports media, as well as the fans. He sank into depression and alcoholism over the next two years, and committed suicide on July 18, 1989.

In retrospect, most people consider the 1986 postseason to be one of the best (if not the best) postseasons of all time, as it not only was exciting but also made up for a lackluster regular season, in which the Red Sox, Angels, Mets, and Houston Astros all won their divisions handily.

From Game 4 of the 1986 ALCS until Game 3 of the 2008 ALDS….the Angels lost 11 straight playoff games against the Red Sox….who won all four playoff meetings against them in that span. The Red Sox would win the ALDS three games to one despite losing eight of nine regular season games against the Angels.  In 2009, the Angels finally broke through and defeated the Red Sox in a sweep of the ALDS….but any way you cut the pie….this ’86 ALCS is worth a watch almost anytime…cuz it was great baseball.

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