Originally written on Fenway West  |  Last updated 11/15/14

Minnesota invaded Fenway on July 31 and quickly showed the Cardiac Kids they were mortal, crushing Boston 9-2. After a two-hour rain delay, the Twins exploded against Jim Lonborg with 7 runs in the fourth, breaking a 1-1 tie. The visitors slammed four Sox hurlers for 15 hits and got a complete-game effort from Dean Chance. Saturday the 1st saw a twi-night doubleheader, and 35, 469-biggest crowd in 11 years-saw Boston rally to win 6-3 before falling by a 10-3 count. Game 1 produced a 4-run eighth inning rally off Jim Kaat and reliever Al Worthington to overcome a 3-2 Twin lead. Dick Williams boldly used four pinch-hitters, and three came through with hits. John Wyatt, aided by another great Carl Yastrzemski throw, got the win with two scoreless frames, and Jose Santiago the "unofficial" save. The Twins, however, bombed fading Gary Waslewski and two relievers in the nightcap, piling up 15 hits again, including two homers for Bob Allison and one each for Ted Uhlaender, Tony Oliva, and Harmon Killebrew.

The next contest saw another big Boston rally fall short. The visitors piled up a 7-0 lead on Darrell Brandon and two successors with an attack that included Killebrew's 32nd home run. But one out away from a 7-1 victory, reliever Ron Kline collapsed. A Reggie Smith single and two-run double from Russ Gibson chipped away at the lead. Worthington took over and surrendered singles to Mike Andrews and Joe Foy. The count was now 7-5 and with the stands screaming, Yaz hit an infield pop. First baseman Rich Reese collided with third baseman Cesar Tovar and the ball nearly fell in before Reese altertly one-handed it. The game was over, but the fans had again gotten their money's worth.

The final game of the series on Monday afternoon saw a Sox starter finally give a good effort, as Lee Stange threw 6 2/3 perfect innings on the way to a 4-0 shutout. Yastrzemski gave Stange a 3-0 cushion with a third inning homer, and the righthander retired the first 20 batters before Killebrew singled. Only two more men reached base, as Stange ran his record to 7-6, not walking a batter. Minnesota took the series 3-2.

Sox rooters probably expected an easier time with the last-place A's, but it was not to be. Another twinighter saw the Townies fall 4-3 to Kansas City's Chuck Dobson before rebounding 8-3 in the second. Dave Morehead's first start of the year was unproductive, as the righthander surrendered 4 hits and 4 runs in just two-plus innings. The contest was never close, and Dobson went all the way, surrendering a three-run blast to Yaz in the sixth. He allowed only 5 hits and a walk.

Lonborg, shuttling between the Sox and army reserve duty, was again not sharp the next night. He fell behind 3-0 before the home squad rallied for 4 in the fifth to take the lead, with the big blow a two-run single from Dalton Jones. Another four run uprising in the eighth sealed the 8-3 win, as Sparky Lyle bailed out Lonborg with 3 2/3 hitless relief innings.

The lowly Athletics continued to hang tough, exploding for 4 runs against former teammate John Wyatt in an 8-6 comeback victory.The contest was close all the way, with Boston jumping out 5-3 after three. Future Sox hero Ken "Hawk" Harrelson narrowed the count with a homer in the sixth, and his teammates went to work on Wyatt, pitching in relief of Gary Bell. Harrelson contributed a two-run double in the seventh for a 6-5 advantage,and after the Sox tied it, Wyatt surrendered two more, with a Ted Kubiak triple the big blow. Another future Townie, Diego Segui, got the relief win.

There was now noise in the papers about the previously-dominant Boston starters failing to produce. Yaz, emerging as team leader, stated "When you're trying to come from behind, it puts tremendous pressure on the hitter.....you have to take some pitches and be more cautious at the plate than you'd like to be."

On the morning of Thursday the 3rd the Sox were 57-46, 2 1/2 games behind the White Sox but only 2 1/2 ahead of California in a five-team race. Yaz (.320), Tony Conigliaro (.305), and George Scott (..294) were among the league's top hitters, while Yaz was third in homers (27) and led in rbi's (78). Lonny's 15-4 mark was second only to Joel Horlen's 13-3. But the Sox were soon going on the road again, and many obstacles remained.

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