Sox 88

 

Behind strong pitching and timely hitting, the Sox were flying high in late April, though a couple of blips were appearing. Roger Clemens, starting almost as strongly as in 86, took care of the Tigers in the opener of a series in Detroit by a 7-3 margin. Sox bats reached Bengals ace Jack Morris early, opening up a 5-2 lead with three in the fourth, the big hit a two-run single by Marty Barrett. That was all Clemens needed on this chilly night. Rocket gave way to Wes Gardner in the ninth after throwing 120 pitches. He thus ran his record to 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA. He had 44 strikeouts in 34 innings.
 
After a rainout, Sox bats continued hot, pounding the Tigers 12-3. The hitters backed up starter Steve Ellsworth with 16 hits, including 4 by hot-hitting Ellis Burks and 3 from Mike Greenwell. Burks, leading the AL at .447, also drove in 4. The Bosox went out 7-2 after three and breezed in. Ellsworth went 7 innings before giving way to Mike Smithson and Dennis Lamp. Unfortunately, it would be the only victory of Ellsworth's major league career.
 
Two rainouts in Milwaukee enabled Clemens to go again on the 24th, and the Rocket contuinued his mastery with a 4-0 shutout. Two in the second and two more in the ninth were more than enough for Roger, who allowed 3 hits and no walks while fanning 5. The Brewers' Teddy Higuera also went the distance, giving up 5 safeties. Barrett stayed hot with two hits including a run-scoring single. Bruce Hurst was sharp the next night with another complete game win, 5-1 over the Brewers, who had gone into the series with 5 wins in a row. The lefty allowed 5 hits to run his mark to 3-0. Barrett and rookie Brady Anderson  had two hits each, with Marty's two-run single the key hit off "old friend" Mark Clear.
 
The Sox now had a six-game win streak and were leading the AL in ERA at 2.34. Moving into Chicago for another abbreviated series, however, the White Sox showed that Oil Can Boyd might not be all the way back after all. The Can was victimized by 3 in the second and fell 6-0 to the Chisox' Dave LaPoint,who threw a 4-hit shutout, walking two. A  homer by light-hitting Kenny Williams made it 3-0, and LaPoint calmed Sox bats to run his mark to 3-1. Catcher Rick Cerone commented that Boyd had early trouble falling behind batters. As often in such situations, Oil Can was not around after the game.
 
Returning to the Fens to face the Twins with Clemens, the Townies saw a possible chink in the armor of star closer Lee Smith. The big righty, nearly perfect since opening day, surrendered a three-run homer by Gary Gaetti to tie the contest in the ninth, though Boston escaped with a 6-5 decison in ten. Rocket seemed on his way to a routine victory, entering the ninth with a 5-2 advantage. Following singles by Tom Herr and Kent Hrbek with one out, however, John McNamara called on Smith, who had not pitched in 11 days. Gaetti quickly deposited one off the left field foul pole to tie the contest. The reliever made things even scarier by loading the bases, but got Dan Gladden to line out. The Sox would win in the tenth off Juan Berenguer on two walks, a Greenwell hit, and Evans' high fly long enough to score Barrett for the victory. It was Smith's first blown save in a Boston uniform, though he did pick up the win.
 
As April came to a close, the Sox were an encouraging 13-6, two games behind the Indians. Burks was leading the team at .385, followed by Cerone, Greenwell, Barrett, and Wade Boggs. Clemens and Hurst were a combined 7-0 with an ERA close to 2. Surprisingly, the team was doing it without a lot of homers. "We are having fun," Hurst was quoted as saying. They were, at least for now.
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