DICK DRAGO – Unsung Post Season Hero of October 21

Topps

Topps

OCTOBER 21, 1975 – World Series Game 6

It may seem like a stretch to call any aspect of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series “unsung.” The praises of that game have been sung more often than Springsteen at a New Jersey karaoke bar.

Carlton Fisk and Bernie Carbo’s homers are the stuff of legend. And the unfolding of the game piece by piece has been analyzed as if it was a work of great literature. But one player in the drama came up big (with some help from the defense) and helped set up the spectacular climax and yet still fails to see his name included in the narrative. That would be Red Sox bullpen closer, Dick Drago.

The 30 year old native of Toledo had been a solid starting pitcher for the Kansas City Royals when the Red Sox picked up up in a deal for Marty Pattin before the 1974 season. By 1975, he became a fixture in the bullpen and closed out the three time defending champion Oakland A’s to clinch the ALCS.

But Drago’s first World Series appearance was not effective as he blew Bill Lee’s lead and lost Game 2. He did not appear in any of the three games in Cincinnati and after Game 6 was delayed for rainy weather, he was well rested and ready to go.

Luis Tiant, who threw complete game victories in Games 1 and 4 pitched for Boston but fell behind 6-3 in the 8th inning. Roger Moret came in to finish the 8th and with the Reds up by 3, the Cincinnati titles seemed all but certain.

But in the 8th with 2 on and 2 outs, Bernie Carbo batted for Moret and blasted his celebrated game tying homer. Now a pitcher needed to come in and keep the Reds from taking the lead back and set up a title clinching in the 9th.

Dick Drago got the call. His job with the World Series on the line was to retire Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez. No problem! He retired them 1-2-3.

Now all the Red Sox had to do was score a run in the bottom of the 9th and Drago would get the win and there would be a Game 7. Despite the fact that the Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the 9th, they couldn’t score.

Onto the 10th. The task for Drago did not get much easier as he got George Foster out to start the inning. Dave Concepcion singled and stole second but was left stranded when Drago struck out Cesar Geronimo and got Dan Driessen to pop up.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Red Sox went down in order. Drago got the ball again for the 11th.

A questionable hit by pitch of Pete Rose led off the inning. Replay showed the ball probably never hit him. Rose was erased on a Ken Griffey bunt play that went wrong. Then up stepped Joe Morgan.

The future Hall of Famer and broadcaster hit a deep drive to right and Dwight Evans made his famous leaping catch that turned into an inning ending double play when Griffey was doubled off.

Drago was lifted for a pinch hitter in the 11th and in the 12th, Fisk hit his homer, making a winner out of Rick Wise.

Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson did not use Drago in the Game 7 finale, instead turning to rookie Jim Burton in the 9th inning of the last game. The Red Sox lost the World Series and their bullpen closer never got into the finale.

Drago’s legacy in Game 6 seems to be the guy who got lucky  when Evans made that catch. But his final line was impressive: 3 innings, 1 hit, no walks and no runs.

The list of heroes for Game 6 of the 1975 World Series may be long but it should include one more. At least I am honoring Dick Drago as the Unsung Post Season Hero of October 21,

Red Sox pitchers who clinched a post season Series: From Dinneen to Uehara

Getty Images

Getty Images

In my opinion, no sight in baseball is cooler than the pitcher getting the final out of a post season series. Whether the final play is a strikeout or a deep flyball, the focus of the celebration is inevitably the ultimate group hug on the mound and a fabulous celebration.

In many ways, I find it to be a more beautiful piece of sports pageantry than a walk off hit or home run to end a series. As a kid I always fantasized about being the final pitcher. And every pitcher who gets the last out gives the fan base an unforgettable image.

Of the 19 post season series won by the Red Sox, three ended on an offensive walk off play by the Red Sox.

Larry Gardner hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning of Game 8 to end the 1912 World Series.
David Ortiz hit a walk off 2 run homer in the 10th of Game 3 to clinch the 2004 Division Series.
And Jed Lowrie slapped a series ending single in Game 4 of the 2008 Division Series.

The other 16 series were ended by a pitcher getting the last out.

Some were names forgotten by all but the most studious baseball historian.
One is one of the biggest names in Red Sox history.

Three of the great clutch relievers in Boston history are on the list.
And two relievers usually associated with blowing games had a moment of glory on the mound.

Here are the pitchers, the game they pitched, and how was the last out recorded.

BILL DINNEEN
1903 World Series – Game 8
Red Sox 3, Pirates 0

October 13, 1903
At Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston.

Complete Game 4 hit shutout.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of Honus Wagner.

RUBE FOSTER
1915 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 5, Phillies 4

October 13, 1915
At Baker Bowl, Philadelphia.

Complete Game victory.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Bill Killefer grounds out to shortstop Everett Scott who throws to first baseman Del Gainer for the out.

ERINIE SHORE
1916 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 4, Robins (Dodgers) 1

October 12, 1916
At Braves Field, Boston.

Complete Game victory with no earned runs.
LAST OUT: Brooklyn third baseman Mike Mowrey popped up to shortstop Everett Scott.

CARL MAYS
1918 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 2, Cubs 1

September 11, 1918
At Fenway Park, Boston.

Complete Game victory.
LAST OUT: Cubs left fielder Les Mann hit a grounder to second baseman Dave Shean who threw to first baseman Stuffy McInnes for the out.

DICK DRAGO
1975 American League Championship Series – Game 3
Red Sox 5, A’s 3

October 7, 1975
At Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

1 2/3 innings to save the game for winner Rick Wise.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Jim Holt grounded to second baseman Denny Doyle who threw to first baseman Cecil Cooper for the out.

CALVIN SCHIRALDI
1985 American League Championship Series – Game 7
Red Sox 8, Angels 1

October 15, 1986
At Fenway Park, Boston

2 innings to save the game for winner Roger Clemens.
LAST OUT: Three pitch strike out of pinch hitter Jerry Narron.

PEDRO MARTINEZ
1999 American League Division Series – Game 5
Red Sox 12, Indians 8

October 11, 1999
At Jacobs Field, Cleveland.

Out of the bullpen for 6 no hit innings in relief of starter Bret Saberhagen and reliever Derek Lowe.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of Omar Vizquel.

DEREK LOWE
2003 American League Division Series – Game 5
Red Sox 4, A’s 3

October 6, 2003
At Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland.

1 inning of relief to save the game for winner Pedro Martinez.
LAST OUT: Called third strike of pinch hitter Terrence Long.

ALAN EMBREE
2004 American League Championship Series – Game 7

Red Sox 10, Yankees 3

October 20, 2004
At Yankee Stadium, New York.

1/3 of an inning of relief for winner Derek Lowe and relievers Pedro Martinez and Mike Timlin.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Ruben Sierra grounded to second baseman Pokey Reese who threw to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the out.

KEITH FOULKE
2004 World Series – Game 4.
Red Sox 3, Cardinals 0

October 27, 2004
At Busch Stadium, St. Louis

1 inning of relief to save the game for winner Derek Lowe.
LAST OUT: St. Louis shortstop Edgar Renteria grounded back to Foulke who threw to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the out.

ERIC GAGNE
2007 American League Division Series – Game 3
Red Sox 9, Angels 1

October 7, 2007
Angel Stadium, Anaheim

1 inning of relief for winner Curt Schilling
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Robb Quinlan flies out to right fielder J. D. Drew.

JONATHAN PAPELBON
2007 American League Championship Series – Game 7
Red Sox 11, Indians 2

October 21, 2007
Fenway Park, Boston
2 innings of relief to save the game for starter Daisuke Matsuzaka
LAST OUT: Casey Blake hits a long drive to centerfield where Coco Crisp crashes into the wall for the catch

2007 World Series – Game 4
Red Sox 4, Rockies 3

October 28, 2007
Coors Field, Denver
1 2/3 innings relief to save the game for starter Jon Lester.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of pinch hitter Seth Smith.

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KOJI UEHARA

2013 American League Division Series – Game 4

Red Sox 3, Rays 1

October 8, 2013

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

1 1/3 innings relief to save game for starter Jake Peavy and relievers Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa.

LAST OUT: Strikeout of third baseman Evan Longoria.

2013 American League Championship Series – Game 6

Red Sox 5, Tigers 2

October 19, 2013

Fenway Park

1 inning relief to save game for starter Clay Buchholz and relievers Franklin Morales, Brandon Workman, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow.

LAST OUT: Strikeout of shortstop Jose Iglesias.

2013 World Series – Game 6

Red Sox 6, Cardinals 1

October 30, 2013

1 inning relief for starter John Lackey and relievers Junichi Tazawa and Brandon Workman.

LAST OUT: Strikeout of Matt Carpenter

So there you have it.

Uehara is the only one to do it 3 times.
Papelbon is the only other one to have done it twice. And I am sure Calvin Schiraldi and Eric Gagne are honored to be on a list with Pedro Martinez.

I love that Pedro relieved Lowe in 1999…
Lowe saved Pedro’s clincher in 2003…
And Pedro came out of the bullpen to relieve Lowe in 2004.

There is a nice circle of life there.

And I’m glad to see solid veterans like Dick Drago and Alan Embree here.

All of them deserve Red Sox fan’s respect (yes even Calvin and Gagne.)

So savor it Red Sox fans. I don’t get to update this list every year. And savor this wonderful off season.

Red Sox pitchers who clinched a post season Series: From Dinneen to Papelbon

When doing my salute to Jed Lowrie, I made a note that of the 16 post season series won by the Red Sox, three ended on an offensive walk off play by the Red Sox.

Larry Gardner hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning of Game 8 to end the 1912 World Series.
David Ortiz hit a walk off 2 run homer in the 10th of Game 3 to clinch the 2004 Division Series.
And Jed Lowrie slapped a series ending single in Game 4 of the 2008 Division Series.

But in double checking that fact, I reviewed the end of each series the Sox won and saw the names of each pitcher who threw the last pitch to clinch a post season series for Boston.

Some were names forgotten by all but the most studious baseball historian.
One is one of the biggest names in Red Sox history.

Two of the great clutch relievers in Boston history are on the list.
And two relievers usually associated with blowing games had a moment of glory on the mound.

Those of you who know me know I am mildly obsessed with the pitchers who are on the mound when a series ends.

And in case any other Red Sox fan is out there wondering “Who are all the pitchers to clinch a post season series for my team?” consider your question answered.

Here are the pitchers, the game they pitched, and how was the last out recorded.

BILL DINNEEN
1903 World Series – Game 8
Red Sox 3, Pirates 0

October 13, 1903
At Huntington Avenue Grounds, Boston.

Complete Game 4 hit shutout.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of Honus Wagner.

RUBE FOSTER
1915 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 5, Phillies 4

October 13, 1915
At Baker Bowl, Philadelphia.

Complete Game victory.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Bill Killefer grounds out to shortstop Everett Scott who throws to first baseman Del Gainer for the out.

ERINIE SHORE
1916 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 4, Robins (Dodgers) 1

October 12, 1916
At Braves Field, Boston.

Complete Game victory with no earned runs.
LAST OUT: Brooklyn third baseman Mike Mowrey popped up to shortstop Everett Scott.

CARL MAYS
1918 World Series – Game 5
Red Sox 2, Cubs 1

September 11, 1918
At Fenway Park, Boston.

Complete Game victory.
LAST OUT: Cubs left fielder Les Mann hit a grounder to second baseman Dave Shean who threw to first baseman Stuffy McInnes for the out.

DICK DRAGO
1975 American League Championship Series – Game 3
Red Sox 5, A’s 3

October 7, 1975
At Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

1 2/3 innings to save the game for winner Rick Wise.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Jim Holt grounded to second baseman Denny Doyle who threw to first baseman Cecil Cooper for the out.

CALVIN SCHIRALDI
1985 American League Championship Series – Game 7
Red Sox 8, Angels 1

October 15, 1986
At Fenway Park, Boston

2 innings to save the game for winner Roger Clemens.
LAST OUT: Three pitch strike out of pinch hitter Jerry Narron.

PEDRO MARTINEZ
1999 American League Division Series – Game 5
Red Sox 12, Indians 8

October 11, 1999
At Jacobs Field, Cleveland.

Out of the bullpen for 6 no hit innings in relief of starter Bret Saberhagen and reliever Derek Lowe.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of Omar Vizquel.

DEREK LOWE
2003 American League Division Series – Game 5
Red Sox 4, A’s 3

October 6, 2003
At Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland.

1 inning of relief to save the game for winner Pedro Martinez.
LAST OUT: Called third strike of pinch hitter Terrence Long.

ALAN EMBREE
2004 American League Championship Series – Game 7

Red Sox 10, Yankees 3

October 20, 2004
At Yankee Stadium, New York.

1/3 of an inning of relief for winner Derek Lowe and relievers Pedro Martinez and Mike Timlin.
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Ruben Sierra grounded to second baseman Pokey Reese who threw to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the out.

KEITH FOULKE
2004 World Series – Game 4.
Red Sox 3, Cardinals 0

October 27, 2004
At Busch Stadium, St. Louis

1 inning of relief to save the game for winner Derek Lowe.
LAST OUT: St. Louis shortstop Edgar Renteria grounded back to Foulke who threw to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz for the out.

ERIC GAGNE
2007 American League Division Series – Game 3
Red Sox 9, Angels 1

October 7, 2007
Angel Stadium, Anaheim

1 inning of relief for winner Curt Schilling
LAST OUT: Pinch hitter Robb Quinlan flies out to right fielder J. D. Drew.

JONATHAN PAPELBON
2007 American League Championship Series – Game 7
Red Sox 11, Indians 2

October 21, 2007
Fenway Park, Boston
2 innings of relief to save the game for starter Daisuke Matsuzaka
LAST OUT: Casey Blake hits a long drive to centerfield where Coco Crisp crashes into the wall for the catch

2007 World Series – Game 4
Red Sox 4, Rockies 3

October 28, 2007
Coors Field, Denver
1 2/3 innings relief to save the game for starter Jon Lester.
LAST OUT: Strikeout of pinch hitter Seth Smith.

So there you have it.
Papelbon is the only one to have done it twice. And I am sure Calvin Schiraldi and Eric Gagne are honored to be on a list with Pedro Martinez.

I love that Pedro relieved Lowe in 1999…
Lowe saved Pedro’s clincher in 2003…
And Pedro came out of the bullpen to relieve Lowe in 2004.

There is a nice circle of life there.

And I’m glad to see solid veterans like Dick Drago and Alan Embree here.

All of them deserve Red Sox fan’s respect (yes even Calvin and Gagne.)

Hopefully I can add to this list soon.

Until then, enjoy 2007 again.

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