In late May and early June of 1986, Red Sox fans were starting to take notice-this team had a chance to be very good.
On May 26, Roger Clemens breezed to a 7-1 complete game victory in Texas, holding the Rangers hitless for 7 2/3 innings. He eventually settle for a two-hitter to run his record to 8-0, best in the majors. Interestingly, he threw 117 pitches-today he would probably have been taken out after the first hit. Sox pitchers completed 36 games that year; by 2007 the number was down to 5. Wade Boggs, flirting with .400, had 2 hits and 4 rbi’s.
The next night, the Sox went out to a 4-0 lead in Cleveland before escaping with a 5-3 decision. Bruce Hurst pitched 6 innings for the win but the bullpen-Tim Lollar, Sammy Stewart, Joe Sambito, and Bob Stanley did not allow a run. Don Baylor went 2 for 3 with 2 rbi’s.
Good luck shone on the team again the next evening as a thick fog moved in from Lake Erie halfway through the game and-after two long delays-the contest was called in the seventh, a 2-0 Boston victory. Starter Mike Brown pitched 6 scoreless innings, allowing 6 hits. The idle Yankees fell 2 games behind.
The Bosox continued to feast on the fourth-place Indians, competing the sweep the next night. The team exploded for all their runs in three innings in a 13-7 win. A five-run seventh erased a 2-0 Cleveland lead, and they were on their way. Jim Rice led with 3 for 5 and 5 rbi’s, while Oil Can Boyd picked up his sixth win. Led by Clements and Hurst, the staff was averaging nearly 7 strikeouts per game, on a pace for a Sox record.
Moving to Minneapolis, the team saw their streak end abruptly as the Twins coasted, 13-5, only Boston’s second loss in 12 games. Starter Rob Woodward went only 2 innings, and the onslaught would continue against three relievers. The Sox had 15 hits, including 4 by Rice and 3 by Tony Armas, but left 12 runners stranded. They would rebound on Saturday the 31st with a 7-2 victory, marred only by a pulled groin muscle suffered by Hurst. Bruce was removed after 5 innings with a 7-0 lead. Boggs was a perfect 5-for 5, raising his mark to .402. The Globe’s Larry Whiteside speculated that if Hurst had to miss a turn, Lollar would be the logical replacement.
The week concluded with Clemens running his record to 9-0 and fanning 9 in a 6-3 win. It was the best Sox start since long-forgotten hurler Roger Moret went 10-0 in 1973. Roger now led the league with 90 strikeouts, one more than teammate Hurst.
As of June 2, the Sox stood at 33-15 and led the Yanks by 2 1/2 games. Boggs was leading the majors in hitting at .399, Baylor was fourth in the AL in homers with 11, and Rice and Baylor were among the rbi leaders, at 37 and 36.
The Mets, at 31-13, still had the best record in the majors.