Boston Red Sox: Most memorable games in franchise history
By Drew Athans
Red Sox win 1986 ALCS
This is where the big wins start to get personal for me as I was a kid during the 1986 season and that year looms large in my memory as a baseball and Red Sox fan. As I wrote in my article about the greatest Red Sox players of the 1980s, the 1986 team was the first one that I fell in love with and that season thrilled me before the Red Sox broke my heart for the first time.
After winning the AL East with a 95-66 record, the Red Sox faced the California Angels in the ALCS. After splitting the first two games at Fenway Park, the Red Sox dropped the next two games in Anaheim and entered game five down 3-1 in the series and on the brink of elimination. Things looked grim heading into the ninth inning with the Angels leading 5-2.
Red Sox DH Don Baylor hit a two-run home run with one out to pull the Red Sox to within a run at 5-4, but the Angels retired the next batter. After Sox catcher RIch Gedman was hit by the first pitch he saw with two outs, the Angels put their closer Donnie Moore in to finish the game off.
With Gedman on base, two outs, and down to his last strike after fouling off a few pitches, Red Sox center fielder Dave Henderson swung at Moore’s splitter which didn’t dive as much as he would’ve liked. Henderson got a hold of it and launched it over the left field wall for a two-run homer and a 6-5 Red Sox lead.
Henderson’s leaps and twists down the first base line as the ball sailed out have become as iconic as Carlton Fisk’s waving during his home run in the 1975 World Series. The Angels tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Henderson drove in the winning run in the top of the eleventh with a sacrifice fly off of Moore. The Sox survived to play another day while the Angels were shell-shocked and never recovered.
The Red Sox went on to win the final two games of the series 10-4 and 8-1 to complete their comeback and win the pennant. It remains to this day one of the greatest series in baseball postseason history and probably second only to the 2004 ALCS in Red Sox history. We all know how the Red Sox lost the ensuing World Series in excruciating fashion, but the ALCS remains one of their finest (and biggest) wins.