Boston's real Achilles was fatigue, not the Yankees. Manager Don Zimmer followed the practice that Leo Durocher followed 9 seasons earlier with his Cubs. He overplayed his regulars to the point of no return. 7 Boston regulars had over 550 at bats. Only the Boomer, George Scott had less than 450 and he had injury issues. When your bench consists of Jack Brohamer and Frank Duffy your in big trouble, because a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Tough to poke holes in a team that won 99 regular season games. In most years that's more than enough to make the post season. 25 year old Jim Rice was at the height of his MVP powers smashing 46 homers with 139 RBI's and a .315 average. Centerfielder Freddy Lynn chipped in 22 homers with a .298 average and Dewey Evans had 24 long balls himself. Boston had the most potent outfield in the AL. All 3 were in their mid 20's. Other than Jerry Remy, 30 stolen bases, the team had little base stealing speed. Carlton Fisk caught 157 games and still managed 20 homers and a .284 batting average. The wild card was the old man, Yaz, who hit .277 with 17 homers and 81 RBI's. 1978 would be his last good shot at that illusive ring.
Typical Red Sox teams hit a ton, but lacked pitching. The '78 Sahx were not typical in that respect. Newly acquired 23 year old ace, Dennis Eckersley, won 20 and lost only 8 with a 2.99 ERA. 37 year old El Tiante' was brilliant (13-8, 3.31). Mike Torrez and Bill "the Spaceman" Lee each rounded out the staff by winning in double figures. Boston lacked a solid 5th starter, but how many teams had one ? The bullpen by committee was led by 2nd year man Bob Stanley (15-2, 2.60, 10sv). Dick Drago had 7 saves and Tom Burgmeier and Bill Campbell each chipped in with 4. This staff was 4th in the AL in ERA, which says a lot considering they pitched in a hitters paradise like Fenway.
Due to the consistency of the franchise and the fact that Zim didn't really go to his bench that often I only had to create 12 new cards for this project. Full disclosure: I created them a year ago for a KOD season, where we played "Tragic Teams".
His second start was against the New York Yankees. Zimmer passed over veterans Bill "Spaceman" Lee and Luis Tiant, who had dominated the Yankees during their careers. Sprowl allowed 4 walks, one hit and one run in the first inning before being pulled.
Sprowl went 0-2 with a 6.39 earned run average. The following season, he was traded to the Astros. He pitched in 19 games over the next three years, mostly in middle relief. He was sent back to the minors in 1982, and never pitched again in the majors. I found this photo while searching SI archives.
Native New Englander Remy played three seasons for the Angels as their starting second baseman before being traded to the Boston Red Sox after the 1977 season.
Remy continued as the Red Sox starter at second in 1978, being selected to play in the All-Star Game, in which he did not appear. He continued as their starting second baseman for the next six seasons, although he was often hampered by injuries. A knee injury in May 1985 led to Remy's release by the Red Sox in December 1985 and to his retiring during spring training a few months later in 1986. Bill James, in his Historical Abstract rated him as the 100th greatest second baseman of all time as of 2001. Known to all Red Sahx fans as the "Rem-Dawg" as he broadcasts their games on NESN.
Wright pitched six shutout innings in his first start of 1979. However, it wound up as his only start of the year, as he was moved to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for rookie Chuck Rainey. He did not pitch at all after an injury in early June, playing his final game on June 6. He finished with a record of 1-0 and an ERA of 5.09.
Fun Fact: On August 3, 1980, while playing for the Boston Red Sox, Burgmeier moved from the pitcher's mound to left field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Skip Lockwood replaced Burgmeier on the mound and retired the final batter to save a 6-4 win over the Texas Rangers. Manager Don Zimmer elected to keep Tom in the game in case the batter got on base—in that case Burgmeier would have returned to the mound to face Mickey Rivers.