WINTERHAVEN, FLA.-When it rains, it pours, the little salt-shaking girl used to say and yesterday the Red Sox brought a torrential thunderstorm to the Royals. Salting K.C. thoroughly were five Bosox sluggers who bombed the bleachers for eight big ones while Jim Lonborg, mysterious as Boston weather, regained his '67 pitching form.
"If we play like this during the season we'll win a lot of ball games," manager Eddie Kasko said of the 11-4 victory. "If Lonborg keeps pitching this well he'll be in our starting rotation. But if we don't hit this well and Lonborg doesn't pitch as well, then the team as a whole isn't going to do as well."
Kasko had reason to be optimistic because the Red Sox looked like a Big Red Machine that could mow down the American League this spring and even get the Oriole dynasty chirping for mercy. George Scott, in particular looked like the Babe Ruth of the '70's as he pasted the ball twice into the parking lot. Scottie had the wheelerdealers who talk of a "Frank Howard trade" tongue-tied.
But Kasko had reason to be pessimistic too. "You can do something like this one day, come out looking like a Chase Manhatten certified check for a grand, and come back the next game like a plug nickel," Kasko commented. Red Sox fans just have to hope that the fair wind that blew yesterday turns into a constant breeze that could wave a pennant flag over Fenway Park in October.
Before the Royals had gotten the spheroid luke-warm, Carl Yastrzemski put the ball in the pocket of a lucky fan in Section 12. Yaz put a second ball into retirement in the eighth.
"That early lead gave me the will to win," Lonnie said. "When you're ahead you feel good. You've got something to hang on to and you can rip and roar. When you're behind, you gotta keep thinking, "Watch out, another run would be icing the cake.""
K.C. started to bake a victory with three runs in the first two innings, but then the Bosox, gettin'tough when the goin is rough, made the scorekeeper work for his buck with five explosive scores in the third that turned the tide of battle.
Scottie started the boom-boom barrage with a White Owl wallop that made the cameraman bring out the telescopic lens. K.C.'s Dan Drago had barely got an "Aw Shucks" off his lips when Billy C. put the wood to the leather and left Drago praying for Divine Intervention. But, lo and behold, "Scratch-hit" Montgomery sent Drago looking for a bar of Dia soup and some Head and Shoulders as he showed that big blasts can come from little packages.
From then on, betting on the Royals was like picking Perry Mason to plead guilty.
Red Sox-Royals Boston
ab r h rbi
Griffin, 2b 4 0 1 0
Aparicio, ss 3 2 1 1
Yatzstremski, If 3 2 2 0
Smith, rf 4 1 1 3
Petrocelli, 3b 4 1 1 1