Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The Boston Red Sox chopped off two more of the New York Yankees hydra heads Thursday night.
How many more can the defending world champions have left?
This evening of double Bosox victory - 7-5 in 17 innings and 8-1 in 6 1/2 innings, will probably be looked back on as the pivotal night's work of this season's American League East race - at least the Boston-vs-New York portion of it.
First, the Red Sox scored two runs in the 17th inning to beat the Yanks, 7-5, in the continuation of the previous night's game suspended at 1:18 a.m. by curfew after 14 innings.
That two-night contest, producing a total reversal of momentum between these two ancient enemies, took 25 hours to complete and was seen (in part, at least) by 106,080 fans.
"I've never had a scorecard in my hip pocket so long in my life," said Boston Manager Don Zimmer, throwing the rumpled paper in a trash can. "And I've never been so relieved to get rid of one."
That first game was a colossal weight off the shoulders of the injured, collapsing Sox who entered town with 11 losses in 14 games and a lead over the Yanks that had dwindled from 14 games to 6 1/2 in two weeks.
Ignited by their survival in the 17-inning bullpen war, the Sox blitzed the Yanks, 8-1, in the regularly scheduled second game called by rain after 6 1/2 innings.
Boston flew to Milwaukee to play three games with the second-place Brewers (now six games back), with the acknowledge that the Yankees spirit was deeply shaken.
No two games ever deserved a box-score capsulization more. Sitting through them was torture for the two near sellout crowds of 52,701 and 53,379.
Wednesday's games had two rain delays. Last night's second game was not called until 12:51 a.m. Each night less than a third of the crowd stayed until the end.
The Bill Kunkel-led umpiring crew dawdled for 90 minutes before canceling the game. When the umps finally wandered through the submerged outfield on their showboat inspection tour, they were ankle deep in water. Dwight Evans, Butch Hobson, Rick Burleson and Jim Rice hit opposite-field singles to right to score the two 17th-inning runs.
Evans' one-out bloop to right was the igniting spark. On that play Reggie Jackson had not finished trotting back to his position after chasing a foul fly, but hurler Ken Clay pitched anyway. Jackson still came within 10 minutes feet of the fly.
Bob Stanley retired nine Yankees in a row for the opening game victory, completing 14 2/3 innings of shutout Boston relief pitching.
In the second game Yankee Mike Torrez had a swollen middle finger but worked all six innings, despite constantly shaking his hand in an attempt to rid the pain.
Boston, with only two homers in its previous 14 games, produced three in the nightcap - Bob Bailey (solo), Jim Rice (one of the second homer in 34 games) and Fred Lynn (two on).
"This was worth a lot to us," said Zimmer.
The Red Sox won. Nearly, everyone else, from Yankees, to disorderly fans, to police, to umps, to those who merely watched lost.