Opening Day (April 1, 2013) is 54 days away. We are counting down the 100 Walk Off Home Runs in Angels franchise history. Today we look at #54, a huge comeback over the then-reigning AL champion Boston Red Sox.
July 6, 1987 - Roger Clemens beat the Angels 29 times in the 47 games he faced them in his career, losing to them only 9 times. But this game was one of the eleven no decisions that visited him when facing the Halos.
The Red Sox scored early and often over the veteran journeyman starter for the Angels... Jerry Reuss. Wow, the Angels were so desperate for pitching by mid-season 1987 that they signed Jerry Reuss. He had started the season with the Dodgers, his ninth with the team but was released after one appearance. Cincinnati picked him up but he managed an 0-5 record in six starts. The Angels picked up the veteran on June 19. HE went 4-5 with an ERA+ of 83 (100 being the baseline of a league average player, the lower above 100, the worse a player is. 83 is lousy for a starting pitcher).
Reuss was lousy right out of the gate on this Monday night affair. A walk, a single, an RBI single and a three-run home were the first four batters he saw before finally inducing a groundout to Don Baylor. Dwight Evans followed with a home run and it was 5-0 Red Sox over the Angels before the offense had even had a chance to bat.
It was 7-0 Red Sox at the seventh inning stretch and it hurt. The 1987 Angels were still stinging from their 1986 playoff collapse against the Red Sox, these very same Red Sox pretty much, a year older and wiser but still the hated Boston nine in Anaheim. If only what was about to happen had happened in the playoffs...
With two outs and two on in the bottom of the seventh inning, Wally Joyner cleared the bases with a triple. Doug DeCinces followed with a two-run home run. Roger Clemens then walked a man and was pulled form the game.
After seven innings, it was 7-4 Boston. In the bottom of the eighth Mark Ryal hit a two-run homerun as part of a three-run rally off of relievers Calvin Schiraldi and Joe Sambito. Angels 7, Red Sox 7!
The bullpens battled into extra innings. In the top of the twelfth Greg Minton loaded the bases with Red Stockings before inducing a flyball to CF off the bat of Todd Benzinger. Red Sox reliever Wes Gardner had similar trouble in the bottom of the frame, letting two Angels on and getting two outs before facing Jack Howell, who hit a booming three-run, tie-breaking, extra inning walk off home run to win the game.
Down 7-0 in the seventh, the Angels beat the Red Sox in extra innings. It could be done. It just got done in July instead of the previous October.