This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
Today the Red Sox return home after a rough trip out west to face the Baltimore Orioles, a familiar foe that may serve as a reminder that these 2009 Red Sox are much better than they showed in the past week. The O’s and Sox have been going in different directions in the standings for years, but there was a point in time when both of their successful runs involved the same player.
Mike Boddicker was a 20 game winner with the Baltimore Orioles and helped their push towards a World Series victory over the Phillies in 1983. When the Red Sox traded Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling for Boddicker at the trade deadline in 1988, it was thought that Boddicker was a missing piece the Red Sox needed for the stretch run. The switch from a team headed towards a 100 loss season rejuvenated the veteran righty, as his ERA dropped more than a full run as he rolled with the Sox. He managed to shut down his former team and had his first shutout in over a year during the stretch run.
Boddicker helped get the Red Sox to the playoffs in 1988, and was handed a 3 run lead before he threw a pitch in his game three start in the ALCS versus Bob Welch and the Athletics. Unfortunately he didn’t duplicate his heroics from the 1983 postseason. By the end of the third inning both Welch and Boddicker were headed for the showers, Boddicker was responsible for six runs to Welch’s five. The Oakland bullpen held on to win game three 10-6, and the Sox were swept in four straight games by the team that went on to lose to the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Though history shows the Boddicker for Anderson/Schilling trade wasn’t the best in the long run, it’s hard to argue the Red Sox would have made their successful playoff runs in 1988 and 1990. Boddicker won 32 games during his 2 full seasons in Boston, and was the solid number two pitcher behind Roger Clemens. During 1990, the Red Sox went 9-3 in Boddicker starts from August on, none more important than the final game of the season. Needing a victory to get into the postseason, Mike Boddicker threw seven innings of one run ball, and Jeff Reardon came on to wrapped things up in the eighth. He closed things out with a tightrope ninth inning. After two quick outs, Reardon allowed a single to Sammy Sosa and plunked Scott Fletcher, at which point the White Sox put pinch runner Rodney McCray to give them two speedsters in a 3-1 ballgame. In what is recognized as one of the great catches in Sox history, Tom Brunansky made a diving catch in deep right field of a hit off the bat of Ozzie Guillen to end the game and send the Sox to the playoffs.
The 1990 season was Boddicker’s final in Boston, as he became a free agent and signed a three year deal with the Kansas City Royals. Boddicker did not duplicate his dominance with the Royals, and was shipped to the Milwaukee Brewers at the start of the 1993 season. Like his previous teams, Boddicker found himself in a land of mediocrity after years of playing among the best. As the Red Sox take on the Orioles, the hope is the Red Sox have put a stop to the slide that threatened to put them in the same land of mediocrity the O’s have been living in for the last several years.