For Red Sox, it's curses, losers again

October 07, 1995|By KEN ROSENTHAL

BOSTON -- Thirteen straight postseason losses. The record will never be topped, unless the Boston Red Sox win a playoff game one of these years, then start over.

Thirteen straight losses. Meet the Curse of Bill Buckner, son of Curse of the Bambino. Ten seasons for junior, 77 years for senior, and Red Sox Nation is back in its perpetual state of mourning.

Thirteen straight losses. And you thought the 0-21 Orioles were bad. That team couldn't help but lose. This one wins until the leaves start falling, then chokes on the cool autumn air.

We wrote it in July.

We wrote it in August.

We should have just waited until October.

The Red Sox are cooked.

Finished.

Swept.

Last night was the clincher, in more ways than one. The Red Sox had at least two runners in four of the first five innings. And they managed only one run.

Tim Wakefield was 7-0 with a 1.32 ERA after Boston losses, but this wasn't Wake, it was a funeral. The Indians took an early, 3-0 lead, then pummeled Wakefield during a five-run sixth. So long, knucklehead.

The winning pitcher? A New Englander, of course -- Charles Nagy of Fairfield, Conn. The only thing that would have stung more is if a former Red Sox player was the hero. Actually, that happened, too -- see Tony Pena, Game 1.

Thirteen straight losses. It started with Buckner in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Red Sox went on to lose Game 7, then four straight to Oakland in '88, then four more to Oakland in '90.

Now this.

The Red Sox won six of 13 from Cleveland in the regular season, ran away in the AL East, finished with the second-best record in the league. But, surprise, surprise, New Englanders left Fenway last night muttering about Calvinist fate.

The managers change -- John McNamara, Joe Morgan, Kevin Kennedy -- but history keeps repeating. The Indians held the Red Sox to six runs in three games. Mo-fer Vaughn finished the series 0-for-14.

And Kennedy thought Albert Belle's bat was the problem.

Vaughn and Jose Canseco -- the Crash Brothers -- were a combined 0-for-27.

"I'll answer every question," the noble Vaughn said as reporters jostled for position near his locker afterward.

OK, Mo, here's one:

Will the Red Sox ever win?

"We're going to win here," Vaughn replied firmly. "We're at the tip of the iceberg."

Canseco used the same phrase -- "tip of the iceberg."

Kind of like the Titanic.

Oh, the Red Sox had a glorious summer, with all their Wakefields and Lee Tinsleys and Troy O'Learys. But their astonishing run of luck ended in this series, and last night was fittingly damp and dreary.

Wakefield couldn't save them. Tinsley was benched by Kennedy. And O'Leary was injured the entire series. Vaughn? He looked sick at the plate. He and Canseco received sympathetic standing ovations after their last at-bats.

Kennedy was so desperate last night, he put Canseco in the outfield for only the second time this season, the better to use Reggie Jefferson as the DH.

You might recall the last time Canseco donned a glove at Fenway. It was the night he pitched for Texas and blew out his arm, another stroke of genius by Kennedy.

Naturally, the first ball of the game was hit to right. Canseco drifted back, on Kenny Lofton's fly, then reached over his head for a backhand grab, a regular Dwight Evans.

"The first thing that went through my mind was, 'Oh boy,' " Canseco said. "I hoped what would happen wasn't what happened before -- the ball hitting off my glove or off my head for a home run. I thought it was a good omen."

Wrong. With the Red Sox, there is never a good omen. Kennedy left Wakefield in two batters too long, but what did it matter? Reliever Rheal Cormier fared no better. Maybe Kennedy should have tried Canseco.

Thirteen straight losses. The amazing part is, the Red Sox led in eight -- eight! -- of those games. Clemens started five of them. And Mike Greenwell has played in every one.

"Mike, you've been in three playoffs," a reporter said.

"Four," Greenwell corrected. "And five is going to be my lucky number."

Granted, the Red Sox succumbed to four powerful teams -- the '86 Mets, the '88 and '90 A's and the '95 Indians. But one victory shouldn't be so much to ask.

The Philadelphia Phillies held the previous record for consecutive postseason losses -- 11. The difference is, the Red Sox compressed their misery into a single decade, and the Phillies' streak ran from 1915 to '76.

Thirteen straight losses. The Red Sox keep dreaming up new forms of postseason torture. Thirteen straight losses. The Curse of the Bambino, the Curse of Buckner, the Curse of Boston.

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