There have been Presidential administrations that have not been written about and analyzed with the scrutiny that writers have given the 1986 World Series.
There Series could have a much different legacy had it not been for Sid Fernandez. He did not start Game 7, he did not get a decision nor a save. But he may have set up the clinching of the World Series for the Mets.
I will safely assume that of you read this blog or listen to my podcast, you have an idea what happened in 1986. Let me recap. The Red Sox almost won. The Mets won. Everything else is just details.
Here is a detail almost everyone forgets: The Red Sox collapsed in Game 6, but that wasn’t the end of the World Series. There was a Game 7. If Boston won Game 7, the Game 6 collapse would be remembered as a great game but mainly an annoying delay of the greatest Boston sports celebration ever.
Rain washed away the scheduled Game 7 start, which worked in the Red Sox favor. Bruce Hurst, who looked like he could be the World Series MVP after wins in Game 1 and 5, was able to take the hill over Oil Can Boyd. The Mets countered, as expected, with Ron Darling.
With a day to lick their wounds and their best post season starter on the bump, Game 7 looked like it could be a Red Sox win.
Ron Darling did not have his best stuff. Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman led off the second with back to back homers. Wade Boggs would single in Dave Henderson to make it 3-0 after 2.
In the 4th, the Red Sox were threatening again with a runner on second, 2 outs and Wade Boggs up. Mets manager Davey Johnson had seen enough and summoned Sid Fernandez from the bullpen.
The 24 year old native of Hawaii had a strange year. On the surface, he looked like a legit ace. He was an All Star and finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young voting, recording 16 wins along the way. But his splits showed he was dominant at pitcher friendly Shea Stadium (2.17 ERA) but on the road was more than vulnerable (5.03).
Johnson did not want to start Fernandez on the road in Fenway Park, a venue that normally eats up lefties. But he was effective with 4 shutout innings of relief in Boston in the Game 5 Mets loss.
For the second time in three games, Fernandez was called upon to put out an early fire. After a walk to Boggs, Barrett got the red hot Marty Barrett to fly to left to end the threat.
Hurst continued to shut down the Mets with a 1-2-3 fourth and fifth. But now Fernandez matched Hurst inning for inning. He did not allow a baserunner after the Boggs walk. He struck out 4 in 2 1/3 shutout innings. The Red Sox offense was firing on all cylinders and could have expanded their lead. Instead it was still 3-0 as the game went to the 6th.
Lee Mazzilli pinch hit for Sid Fernandez and started a rally with a one out single. Eventually Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter tied the game, taking Darling off the hook. Ray Knight’s homer in the 7th off of beleaguered reliever Calvin Schraldi made Roger McDowell the pitcher of record.
The Mets won 8-5 and took the series. Everyone in the world thinks the Mets won on the Buckner error (forgetting Buckner got 2 hits and a run scored in Game 7.)
Fernandez was the pitcher who held the Red Sox bats still for long enough for a Mets comeback. That earns him the title of Unsung Postseason hero of October 27.