June 30: Boston 4, Oakland 3
Oakland’s Chief Bender was absolutely rolling and took a 1-0 lead into the top of the eighth when things went south for him. The incredibly hot Carlton Fisk led the inning off with a single, Bender got the next two batters, and then Tris Speaker singled in Fisk to tie the game, Yaz walked, and Ted Williams doubled in Speaker for the go-ahead run.
In the ninth, Fisk homered—his fifth in his last four games—to add a couple of insurance runs. Those runs looked big after Oakland mounted a rally in the ninth that fell just one run short.
R H BB BOS 000 000 022 - 4 6 4 OAK 010 000 002 - 3 9 3 HR: C. Fisk (10) starters IP R ER HR BB SO S.J. Wood 8.0 3 3 0 3 5 C. Bender 7.2 2 2 0 4 1 BOS 50-29, OAK 42-37
July 1: Oakland 4, Boston 0
After seven years and approximately 900 games of Strat-O-Matic, this was my first no-hitter! It was an unlikely combination of pitcher and opponent. Oakland’s Barry Zito has scuffled all year and hadn’t thrown a nine inning start or made a start without allowing at least one run, and usually plenty more than that. His ERA stood at 6.27 as he took on Boston and their second-best team batting average in the league.
I noticed Boston didn’t have a hit yet after six innings, but had no expectations Oakland could get nine more outs without giving one up. But Zito kept flying and using his defense through the final out. Zito struck out only four all day. Jose Canseco corralled a lazy fly ball to right field off the bat of Wade Boggs to finish the no-hitter.
Dwight Evans reached on a Home Run Baker error in the third but never advanced past first. Then Fisk led the sixth off with Boston’s lone walk of the game. Boston, by now seeing how locked in Zito was, decided to risk sending Fisk on a steal attempt against catcher Mickey Cochrane’s weak arm, but Cochrane nailed Fisk. Zito only needed to face 28 to complete the gem (and without Baker’s error, it could have been 27).
July 2: Oakland 1, Boston 0
The Boston hitters were still on their heels the next day against a rock solid Rube Waddell. Not even Pedro Martinez’s brilliance could save the day in this one. Pedro and Rube traded zeroes for six and a half innings before Mickey Cochrane started the bottom of the seventh with a double and Eddie Joost singled him home. It was the only run of the game as Waddell followed up Zito’s masterpiece with a shutout of his own. Waddell issued two walks and four singles, but nothing else.
It was the third shutout of Boston’s offense in their last four games. Boston tripped and fell flat on their face on their way into the All-Star break, but an otherwise brilliant first half has them on a 100 win pace.
R H BB BOS 000 000 000 - 0 4 2 OAK 000 000 10x - 1 6 2 HR: none starters IP R ER HR BB SO P. Martinez 7.0 1 1 0 1 5 R. Waddell 9.0 0 0 0 2 5 BOS 50-31, OAK 44-37