BOSTON, JUNE 23 -- Beginning Monday night, the Boston Red Sox will have four more chances to end one of their most ignominious streaks: a 15-game losing streak against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. It is the most consecutive home losses the Red Sox have had to any opponent in club history. They have not defeated the Blue Jays at Fenway since Aug. 10, 1987.
"That's all past stuff," Red Sox outfielder Mike Greenwell said Friday. "It's a new year, different pitchers on the mound, different batters at the plate. They've definitely played good baseball here, but we know we're capable of beating them."
Said Manager Joe Morgan: "They can't win here forever."
Last June 4, the Red Sox were winning, 10-0, after six innings. Morgan removed a number of his starters, pitcher Mike Smithson had to leave because of a blister on his foot, and Boston ended up losing, 13-11, in 12 innings. It is the largest lead the Red Sox ever have lost. That game is notable for another reason. It was the only time last season Boston scored more than three runs in a game here against the Blue Jays.
And just to make things interesting this time, Morgan had home plate umpire Larry Barnett examine Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb's cap and glove Wednesday night during an 11-0 loss in Toronto. Barnett found nothing irregular, and the Red Sox' record in Toronto since the beginning of last season fell to a measly 6-3.
"I guess he thought my stuff was too good," said Stieb, who allowed seven hits in 7 2/3 innings and lowered his ERA to 2.26.
Morgan was thinking something else. Red Sox catcher Tony Pena "had a little pine tar on his glove and they made him change it," Morgan said, "but we've suspected Stieb of something before."
Stieb should pitch Monday night. Hitting in a Pinch
Indians rookie infielder Carlos Baerga is eight for 19 (.421) with five RBI as a pinch hitter this season. He already has the most pinch hits in a season by a Cleveland player since Gomer Hodge had 16 in 1971. In a non-pinch-hitting capacity, Baerga is batting .198 (21 for 106) with 12 RBI. As further evidence of his calling, he has made 10 errors -- five more than any other Indian and 25 percent of the club's total. Cleveland's hitting instructor, not coincidentally, is Jose Morales. He holds the major league record for pinch hits in a season (25) and is third on the all-time list (123), behind Manny Mota (150) and Smoky Burgess (144). The Indians also now have first baseman Ken Phelps, who led the AL last season with 11 pinch hits. . . .
On Tuesday night Giants pitcher Don Robinson, batting for pitcher Ed Vosberg, lined the first pitch from the Padres' Bruce Hurst over the left field fence for his 12th career home run. The Elias Sports Bureau is researching how long it had been since a pitcher had hit a pinch-hit homer. . . . Pirates outfielder Barry Bonds went into Friday night's game batting .500 (24 for 48) with runners in scoring position. . . . With 21 saves in 25 opportunities and three victories, Doug Jones has had a hand in 77 percent of the Indians' 31 victories.Is It the Shoes?
No, it's the socks. Entering the weekend, Giants third baseman Matt Williams was batting .438 (28 for 64) with 22 RBI in 15 games since deciding to hike up his pantlegs so his black stirrup socks become visible just a few inches below his knees. . . .
The Brewers' Paul Molitor's latest trip to the disabled list (this time for a broken knuckle on his left hand) is his 10th since the Orioles' Cal Ripken began his consecutive games streak. And do you recall that Molitor, the Orioles' Phil Bradley (wrist surgery) and the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser (shoulder surgery) were among the players involved with the labor negotiations during the lockout? . . . On June 13, Mets outfielder Daryl Boston was hit by a pitch for the first time in his 1,593 career plate appearances. The Cubs' Mike Harkey got him. On June 14, Boston was hit by the Pirates' Walt Terrell. . . .
Padres reliever Craig Lefferts, known for charging in from the bullpen whenever called upon, lived up to his nickname Tuesday night at Candlestick Park -- after Williams had shown off his socks and Robinson had hit his homer.
With two out in the seventh and the Padres leading, 4-2, the Giants loaded the bases for Will Clark. San Diego Manager Jack McKeon summoned Lefferts, who is in his first season with the Padres after three with San Francisco. Lefferts was so excited that after retiring Clark he started toward the Giants dugout. "It was just a situation of being too keyed up," Lefferts said. "I walked the wrong way. That's why they call me Goofy." . . .
The Twins have cut designated hitter and one-time Oriole Jim Dwyer to make room for Paul Sorrento, who was hitting .280 with 12 homers and 51 RBI -- team highs in all three categories -- in Portland, Ore. Worms in the Apple
Negative New York Notes of the Week: Sure the Mets are on a roll, but they still can't stop Cardinals outfielder Vince Coleman. He has succeeded in all 56 of his career stolen base attempts against them, three in two games this past week. And not to leave out the Yankees: Outfielder Deion Sanders's .128 batting average in 36 games, including three hits in his last 43 at-bats, has earned him a new nickname: Freon.