After the Red Sox dominated in Game Six, the final game of the series featured two teams heading in opposite directions. Even though Gene Mauch spoke with confidence in the pregame interview, his Angels team looked like dead men walking when the game started. They’d also been playing without rookie sensation Wally Joyner since Game Three which couldn’t have made them feel better.
Joyner had been in the hospital with a staph infection in his leg since the end of Game Three and missed the final four games of the series. That certainly helped the Red Sox (and hurt the Angels), but even so they’d come within a strike of winning the pennant and now found themselves facing Clemens at Fenway Park in front of a raucous crowd. (Interesting note: Massachusetts native and longtime Yankees radio broadcaster Suzyn Waldman sang the National Anthem before the game).
Clemens looked like the pitcher who cruised in Game Four and not the one who was overexcited and overthrew in Game One. He handled the Angels with ease (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 1 BB) whereas the Red Sox hitters could smell blood when it came to Angels starter John Candelaria. They loaded the bases in the second, helped by another Angels error (you could definitely see the pressure getting to them).
Gedman drove the first run in with a groundout and then, after loading the bases again, Boggs hit a line drive that hit the second base bag and caromed into right field to bring in two more. It just seemed like everything was going right for the Red Sox and horrifically wrong for the Angels.
The Sox picked up four more runs in the fourth, started by Henderson hitting a deep fly ball to center field that Pettis mistimed and just barely missed catching. It was ruled an error but looked like a legitimate triple to me; Henderson got to third easily and was driven in by Owen’s single. Then, after a walk which put another man on, Rice crushed a ball over the Green Monster to make it 7-0. Candelaria was knocked out after 3.2 innings and while he gave up seven runs, all of them were unearned.
Candelaria was really let down by his defense who choked when the Angels needed it most. Evans hit a solo homer in the seventh to make it 8-0 and other than a lone run the Angels scraped together in the eighth, the Red Sox won this going away 8-1.
Even all these years later, it’s one of the most shocking comebacks in baseball history. The Red Sox suffered a crushing loss in Game Four and were down to their very last strike in Game Five and yet somehow they came back to win the series.
Meanwhile, this has to still be one of the worst defeats in Angels history. The shell-shocked looks of disbelief in the dugout as the Red Sox were celebrating after Calvin Schiraldi struck out the side in the ninth said it all, even thirty-four years later.
It’s still surprising to me how timid and flat and jittery the Angels were in both of the final two games. That was in perfect contrast to how the Red Sox picked themselves back up after Game Four and kept fighting. To me, even watching in 2020, that said everything to me about the mental toughness of both teams.