Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
It's easy to beat the Boston Red Sox. The New York Yankees showed how simple last night with a 6-4 victory in 14 innings was child's play.
All you have to do to clobber Boston is:
Start the best pitcher in baseball, Ron Guildry, then after he gets blasted out of the box in a hail of line drives replace him with Goose Gossage and Sparky Lyle, who pitch eight shutout innings of relief.
Play flawless, errorless baseball for four hours and 15 minutes before 55,132 cheering fans.
Score the tying run to send the game into extra innings in the bottom of the eighth when the first base umpire trips the Red Sox' George Scott, knocking him flat and allowing the tying run to reach base.
Get a 420-foot home run by Graig Nettles with Roy White aboard with one out in the 14th to end the game.
Never loose heart. Not when Guildry has a 3-0 lead but gets Dwight Evans guns out Reggie Jackson at the plate by 15 feet in the bottom of the 11th to keep the game alive. Not when the Sox load the bases in the 10th and bring Scott to the plate.
Beating Boston is a breeze. They have lost three of their last 18 games. Their lead over New York is down to 8 1/2 games. The Bosox pitching staff, well rested even after 14 innings, has Wednesday off.
The Yankees don't have any problems. They only have to fly to Milwaukee for a doubleheader today. Their starting pitchers are Larry McCall in his big league debut and a fellow named Undetermined.
Seldom have the winners of a crucial game seemed so drained and reverential toward the losers; the vanquished sipped beers contentedly.
"I've never seen Evans make anything but a perfect throw," said Jackson. "He threw me out by so much, maybe I should have gotten in a rundown."
"This game doesn't prove anything, except that we're not going to roll over and quit," said Nettles, who stood at the plate in exhausted relief after he crashed a Dick Drago fastball for all he was worth to end this marathon.
The Sox, with the split of this two-game series they had set as their goal, were semi-pleased.
"We can't feel too bad," said Boston manager Don Zimmer. "A guy who's won 22 of his last 23 games (Guidry) has a 3-0 lead and before you can turn around, we're ahead 4-3 and we've knocked him out of the game. It shows you what a helluva hitting club this is."
Guidry retired the first nine Sox, fanning the bottom third of the order swinging in the third. But by the middle innings, Boston had him timed. At one state seven straight Boston liners headed into the night.
Some were caught, but enough fell in for Guidry to head for the showers with none out in the seventh, the bases loaded, and New York ahead, 3-2 Rick Burleson greeted Gossage's first pitch with a two-run single to left.
This game might have ended 4-3 except for three gentle Yankee hits in the eighth and the foot of one clumsy umpire, Mike Reilly.
So now the truth is out. All it takes to spank the Red Sox is the smoke of Guidry, followed by the fire of Gossage and the savvy of Lyle. All it takes is the aid of an umpire and a clutch homer after midnight.
The world champion New York Yankees had a glimpse of the task that lies ahead last night.