The Great Carlton Fisk Experiment is over, at least for the time being. One of the first moves by Ken Harrelson when he became general manager of the Chicago White Sox was to move Fisk, who hit a record 37 home runs as a catcher last season, to left field for the 1986 season.
The reasoning was that it would prolong the career of Fisk, 38. Instead, it accomplished two things. It upset Fisk and it took away some of the maneuvering of Manager Tony LaRussa.
When the White Sox put an end to much speculation and decided Friday to retain LaRussa as manager they told him he could return Fisk to catching.
Fisk celebrated the return to his favorite position Saturday at Cleveland by throwing out two baserunners and hitting a two-run single in the 11th inning as the White Sox beat the Indians, 4-0.
Neil Allen and two relievers held the heavy-hitting Indians to three hits, and the White Sox broke it open after Julio Franco fumbled Ozzie Guillen's grounder to open the 11th. With the bases loaded, an error by second baseman Tony Bernazard let in the first run of the game, and a wild pitch let in another before Fisk singled.
The White Sox have won two in a row since LaRussa's reprieve, while the Indians, who had won 10 straight, have lost two.
Until he went behind the plate in the ninth inning Friday night, Fisk had not picked up a catcher's mitt since last fall. "My feet felt a little slow," he said, "but they seemed to work out all right. I never was in favor of moving to the outfield. I didn't need to 'rest'."
LaRussa was elated. "Did you see him running off the field after he threw out the second guy?" he asked. "I think I heard him say, 'So much for spring training.' "
Allen, in his second impressive start in a row, gave up the three hits in seven innings. Gene Nelson threw three hitless innings for the win, and Bob James retired the Indians in order in the 11th.
The White Sox obviously are enjoying the elimination of the pressure of the last two weeks. Almost daily, they heard that Billy Martin or someone else would replace LaRussa.
The Indians' starting pitching was good once again. Ken Schrom went 10 innings, giving up 6 hits and fanning 7. For the second game in a row, rookie Scott Bailes was the loser, but the three runs off him were unearned.
Boston 4, Oakland 2--Don Baylor hit a two-run home run in the 10th inning at Oakland, and Bruce Hurst pitched another strong game for the Red Sox.
Hurst gave up 10 hits but struck out 11, while pitching a complete game, and improved his record to 3-2.
With better defense, Hurst could have won, 2-1, in regulation. Second baseman Marty Barrett missed Mike Davis' pop fly into short center, and it went for a double in the eighth. Two outs later, Tony Phillips rolled a single through the middle to tie the game.
Minnesota 12, Detroit 2--Frank Tanana had a four-game winning streak, but he had nothing that fooled the Twins at Minneapolis.
Steve Lombardozzi hit a three-run home run to climax a five-run first inning, and the Twins scored eight runs off the veteran left-hander before he departed in the fourth.
Kirby Puckett had four of the Twins' 17 hits, and Kent Hrbek had three hits and drove in four runs. Frank Viola improved his record to 4-2. He pitched only five innings, leaving with a 12-1 lead.
It was the fourth loss in a row for the Tigers.
New York 4, Texas 3--For a while at Arlington, Tex., it appeared that Roger Clemens' record of 20 strikeouts in a game would not last long.
The first nine outs recorded by the Yankees' Ron Guidry were strikeouts. Ten of the first 13 were strikeouts, and then the veteran left-hander (4-1) began to lose a little of his zip. He pitched seven innings and finished with 11 strikeouts.
Brian Fisher added three strikeouts, but after Larry Parrish hit his second homer of the game to open the ninth and cut the lead to a run, Dave Righetti came in to get his eighth save.
Baltimore 5, Kansas City 2--Obviously, Mike Boddicker's finger has healed. In his first start since tearing a ligament in his rright middle finger, Boddicker held the Royals to three hits in eight innings to improve his record to 3-0.
Don Aase picked up his seventh save, although there was a scare when Hal McRae's bid for a game-tying three-run home run was caught in front of the fence by Lee Lacy.
The loser was Dennis Leonard, who entered the game with an 0.73 ERA. He gave up five runs, but three of them scored because shortstop Angel Salazar fumbled a double-play grounder in the third and could get only one out.
Seattle 8, Toronto 7--Bob Kearney's two-out single to center field in the bottom of the 11th inning capped a two-run rally by the Mariners.
Kearney's hit made a winner of reliever Pete Ladd (3-1), who worked the final three innings. Tom Henke (3-2) took the loss.
Ken Phelps opened the 11th with a walk off Henke. Domingo Ramos ran for Phelps. After Ivan Calderon and Danny Tartabull struck out, Jim Presley doubled high off the right-field wall to score Ramos with the tying run. Dave Henderson was intentionally walked before Dennis Lamp relieved Henke and yielded Kearney's single.
Lloyd Moseby's two-out homer in the top of the 11th off Ladd had given Toronto a 7-6 lead.