Sunday, September 4, 2016

The WHAT IF 1975 World Series (Game 2)

Dwight Evans smacks early three-run homer for Sox.
The Cincinnati Reds will be sending Jack Billingham to the mound to face Boston's Bill "The Spaceman" Lee. The Reds are hoping to bounce back after the bullpen blew the game against Boston, or should I say Cecil Cooper, who tied the game up with a two-run homer in the 9th, and won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th.

GAME 2 (at Fenway Park)

The Cincinnati Reds needed to get the last game behind them, and what better way of doing that than striking first with 2 runs in the top of the 1st. Pete Rose led of with a bases on balls, then Joe Morgan followed by hitting a single over first, advancing Rose to third; Morgan would steal second. With runners on 2nd & 3rd, Johnny Bench was walked, loading up the bases with no outs. Tony Perez (DH), the cleanup hitter would hit into a fielder's choice, which Boston got the force at second, but Rose would score from third. George Foster added a RBI single, before Dan Driessen (playing 1B) would hit into an inning-ending double play.

The Boston Red Sox strike back in the bottom of the second with a three-run homer by Dwight Evans, after back-to-back singles by Carlton Fisk & Jim Rice; The Boston hitters were retired for the remainder of the inning.

Top of the 4th, George Foster of the Reds, leads off with a single. Dan Driessen hits a single over first, and advances Foster to third, Driessen steals second. This next play would play a huge factor on the series; No outs with runners on 2nd & 3rd for shortstop Dave Conception, Conception hits a pop fly to shallow left, with Rick Burleson & Jim Rice chasing it down, they collide! Burleson makes the catch, but Foster tags up & scores -- game is tied, 3-3 & both players remain on the ground. The trainers come out & help them off the field.

REMEMBER -- Part of the concept of this 'WHAT IF' World Series was a healthy Jim Rice; Rice will now miss 3 games (the entire time, Boston plays in Cincinnati for Games 3 through 5) -- which begs the question was Rice always meant to miss this series?

Carbo to play bigger part with Rice injury.
Due to the injuries, Bernie Carbo, who has some pop in his bat, takes over in left, while Juan Beniquez moves from third to short, as Rico Petrocelli takes over at third. The Reds would do no more damage in the 4th Inning.

Bottom of the 5th, Denny Doyle reaches first on a rare Dave Conception error. Juan Beniquez would come up big again for Boston with a RBI triple, giving the Red Sox the lead, 4-3; Rico Petrocelli adds to lead with, RBI sac fly.

In what is turning out to be quite the see-saw battle, it was not surprising to watch the Cincinnati Reds battle back. Tony Perez leads off the 6th Inning, with a double, while George Foster draws a walk from Bill Lee. Dan Driessen would ground out, but advance the runners to 2nd & 3rd. Dave Conception would hit his 2nd sac fly of the day, as Perez scores from third. Rightfielder Ken Griffey smacks in Foster on a RBI single, and then would steal second base... tying the game at 5-5; Cesar Geronimo fails to keep the inning going for Cincy.

Bottom of the 6th, with Carlton Fisk on first, Rice's replacement Bernie Carbo hits a two-run homer off of Reds' reliever, Clay Carroll, to make the game 7-5 Red Sox; Jack Billingham came out of the game for the Reds, after 5 innings -- allowing 4 hits,  4 earned runs (5 runs) with 5 strikeouts.

Bottom of the 7th, with Clay Carroll still on the mound for the Reds, Rico Petrocelli hits lead-off single, while Cecil Cooper (batting first in the batting order) gets plunked with a pitch, runners on 1st & 2nd. Sparky Anderson ("Captain Hook") goes to the mound, and calls on Fred Norman (B-YW) to come out of the pen; Norman loads up the bases by walking Fred Lynn. Stepping up to the plate is Carl Yastrzemski, who is 0-for-6 in the series, and would continue to be hitless as he hits into a 6-4-3 double play... but it was not a complete failure, as he would score in Petrocelli from third. Carlton Fisk would fly out to right, for the final out of the 7th.

Both teams would not score in the 8th, with Boston starting to have a commanding, 8-5 lead, as both teams head into the 9th. Boston wanted to go with Jim Burton (B-X) again for the 9th, after two successful, scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, but did not want to risk not having his services for Game 3. [I have a rule that I play with that relievers go 3 innings, if they go beyond that, its one more game to miss for each inning more] Due to this rule, Dick Drago could have pitched in this game, but I also have a rule, if they pitched previous game with 3 innings, each inning in the next game would also be a game missed -- all to make it more realistic. So with all that's going on Boston decided to call on reliever Jim Willoughby (C-YZ) to pitch the top of the ninth & close the game.

Willoughby's task: Cincinnati's 8-9-1 hitters of the lineup -- Griffey, Geronimo & Rose. Willoughby would have a hard time finding the strike zone, as he walks Ken Griffey. Cesar Geronimo hits a single to right, advances the runner to second. With runners on first & second, Pete Rose hits a grounder to the shortstop Juan Beniquez, Beniquez throws the ball over Yastrzemski's glove, Griffey scores, Geronimo thinks about third, Rose thinks of second, but stays on first. Joe Morgan steps to the plate with runners on 1st & 2nd, down 8-6, with no outs... Morgan grounds out, moves the runners up to 2nd & 3rd Base. Boston manager Darrell Johnson calls on Reggie Cleveland (Grade C) to face Johnny Bench, does his job by getting Bench to pop out, for out number two; Johnson goes back to the bullpen and calls on Roger Moret (B-YW). Runners still on 2nd & 3rd with two outs, Tony Perez hits a RBI single, driving in Geronimo, Rose advances to third.

Foster delivers huge blast in 9th.
Boston's lead is cut to a single run, as Boston is barely clinging to a 8-7 lead, with the Reds having runners on the corners. George Foster comes to the plate, Moret delivers the pitch, strike! Foster steps back in, finds his pitch, this one is going, it's gone! Flying over the Green Monster, a three-run blast for Foster! Reds now lead, 10-8! Boston's weak bullpen has been exposed, and the Big Red Machine has scored 5 runs in the ninth to take back the game & possibly have evened the series. Dan Driessen would ground out to finish the inning, but not before the Reds inserted a dagger.

The Reds' Rawly Eastwick would do the job, by closing out Game 2 with the save, he only allowed a two-out walk to Fred Lynn, than got Carl Yastrzemski to ground out for the final out of the game.

George Foster's final stats of the game: 3-for-4, HR, 4 RBI, BB & 3 runs; He was 2-for-5 in Game 1, with an RBI & run.

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