After winning the pennant in 1967, over the next 12 seasons the Red Sox had winning seasons every year, averaging 89 wins with four 90 win seasons, but only one pennant. The Red Sox had 3 great opportunities:
(i) 1972 – when they finished a half-game behind the Detroit Tigers in the strike-shortened season;
(ii) 1975 – when they lost in a classic 7-game World Series; and
(iii) 1978 – when they tied for first but lost to the Yankees in a one-game playoff.
In comparison, division rivals fared much better:
- Baltimore Orioles
Average 95.3 wins
10 90 or more win seasons
5 Division Titles
1 World Series victory
- New York Yankees
Averaged 87.9 wins
4 90 or more win seasons
3 Division Titles and Pennants
2 World Series victories
- Detroit Tigers
Averaged 81.8 wins
3 90 or more win seasons
2 Division Titles
1 Pennant and World Series Victory
The 1972 season was shortened because of the first baseball strike – which for the Red Sox was only 155 games. The Red Sox took the division lead in early in September and when Marty Pattin won his 16th game on September 30th, the Red Sox had a 1 1/2 game lead over the Detroit Tigers leading up to the season’s final series in Detroit.
In the opener, Detroit jumps to an early 1-0 lead but Boston appears to have a rally started in the top half of the third inning when, with one out, left fielder Tommy Harper singles and shortstop Luis Aparicio follows with a ground ball single to left, moving Harper to third. With runners on the corners, Carl Yastrzemski, playing first base, steps to the plate and hits a deep shot to center field for what seems like a sure triple. Harper easy strolls home and the fleet-footed Aparicio races from first looking to cross the plate as well. However, as he nears the third-base bag, Aparicio stumbles suddenly, then slips on the bag and falls into foul territory; he immediately gets up to return to the base. Unfortunately, Yastrzemski, who has not seen the miscue, motors around second with his head down, thinking he had an easy triple; to his surprise, Yaz arrives at third only to find his teammate still there. Aparicio makes a final attempt to head home but slips again on the wet grass and scrambles back to third; Yastrzemski has no choice but to try and return to second, but he’s easily tagged out by Tigers third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez.
With Aparicio still standing on third, the next batter, Reggie Smith, strikes out to end the frame; from there, Boston never recovers, reaching third base only once other time as Tigers starter Mickey Lolich pitches a complete game, striking out 15 while allowing just the one run, and Detroit walks away with a 4-1 win in the opener
In the next game, the Red Sox’s season depended on starter Luis Tiant who had won 12 of his last 13 starts, but Detroit won 3-1 to clinch the division. The Red Sox won the series/season finale, finishing 85-70. The Tigers, who had the benefit of having played an extra game, won the division by a half-game with an 86-70 record.
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