Every year, the Red Sox seemed to add one major free agent, and this year it was right-handed starting pitcher Tom Gordon, recently of the Kansas City Royals, who had an earned run average of 4.02 over eight years and 1,110 innings. The Sox suffered a major setback in their player development in Latin American when highly-respected scout Danny Monzon was killed in a January car crash outside Santo Domingo. Boston started the season in Texas and KC and lost every one of their first five games. They suffered a further indignity when the home opener was postponed due to snow. On April 9, Gordon threw a complete-game win against the Twins, 9-1, but with a 2-12 record by April 17, the team was 9 ½ games out of first place and the closest they ever got was on August 28 when, for one day, they were only six games out. There was a weird stretch in May from the 10th to the 18th when they played four extra-inning games in a row, won one 17-6, and then played two more extra-inning games. The best thing that could be said about it was that they won three and lost three. John Valentin is the last Red Sox player to hit for the cycle. He did it on June 6 at Fenway; he also hit into a triple play in the same game. Mike Greenwell had a 4-for-5 game on September 2, and set a record by driving in every single run in a 9-8 victory over Seattle, which he won with a two-out single in the top of the 10th inning. Roger Clemens was not impressing the Red Sox. He hadn’t had a really good season since 1992. In a reprise showing how he could dominate, he struck out 20 Tigers on September 17, without walking even one batter. The 4-0 win was his 38th shutout for the Red Sox, leaving him tied with Cy Young in that department. He beat the Yankees on the 23rd, and that was his 192nd win for Boston, tying him with Cy Young in that respect, too. He led the league with 257 strikeouts, and his 3.63 ERA was better than the 4.99 league average. But he wasn’t winning ballgames. He finished the season 10-13, in a contract year. From 1993 through 1996, he’d put up a record of 40-39, not exactly setting the world afire. Ten wins a season isn’t ace material. When paired with almost the same number of losses, it wasn’t At the end of the year, Clemens filed for free agency, and GM Duquette saw him sign a lucrative deal with Toronto. In a widely misinterpreted quote, Duquette said, "The Red Sox and our fans were fortunate to see Roger Clemens play in his prime and we had hoped to keep him in Boston during the twilight of his career," said Duquette. In his two years in Toronto, Clemens won back-to-back Cy Young Awards, with a combined 41-13 record. Kevin Kennedy was gone, too. The day after the season ended (it was an 85-77 third-place finish), the Red Sox fired Kennedy and hired a new man, Jimy Williams.

By Bill Nowlin

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