Advertisement

Series Start Just Another Game for Stewart : Former Dodger Takes Boos, Warning From Umpire, Defeat in Stride

Times Staff Writer

He was booed before he picked up the rosin bag.

He was warned by the plate umpire before he made his second pitch.

He was taken deep in the first inning by Mickey Hatcher, who will never be confused with Mantle or Cochrane or even Rivers.

And he was deprived of victory in the bottom the ninth when his team’s ace relief pitcher, bidding for his 50th save of 1988, served up a full-count, 2-run home run to a gimpy-legged pinch-hitter who somehow made his way around the bases without the assistance of a walker.

Advertisement

Welcome to the World Series, Dave Stewart. Welcome back to Dodger Stadium.

Stewart, the former Dodger pitcher who started Game One of the World Series Saturday night for the Oakland Athletics, thought he had run the gamut by the time he was removed from the game with a 4-3 lead after 8 innings. Warned by umpire Doug Harvey for hitting Steve Sax with his very first pitch, booed by Dodger fans for basically being an ex-Dodger, and hammered by Hatcher, a man with 1 previous home run this season--it had been quite a night.

But until Dennis Eckersley made his final pitch to Limpin’ Kirk Gibson in the bottom of the ninth, it looked for all the world as if it would be a winning night.

Stewart sat in front of his locker stall and studied the television monitor in the Oakland clubhouse. Pitch...swing...bleachers.

Advertisement

Instant defeat.

One of the most dramatic turnarounds, one of the most crushing climaxes in World Series history had just flashed before Stewart’s eyes, and what did he do?

“I took my shoes off, went over and got a piece of whatever it is in the (postgame) spread tonight, came back to my locker and said, ‘Heck, we’ll get ‘em tomorrow,” Stewart said.

Really?

“Hey, it’s one of those things,” he said. “It happens to the best of them . . .

“You wouldn’t think any game’s gonna end that way, but Kirk Gibson is a competitive-type hitter and worked Dennis Eckersley to the point where he got his pitch. Dennis worked him well, but (Gibson) got good wood on it.”

Stewart shrugged.

“Dennis has carried us all year,” he said. “Tomorrow, we’ll get on his back again.”

Advertisement

Stewart was taking this all awfully well. A hurricane had just hit the Athletics, but there Stewart calmly stood, his high-pitched squeak of a voice plainly recounting the events of the evening.

This kind of cool, Stewart suggested, was simply part of being an Oakland A.

“Our record speaks for itself,” Stewart said. “We know we’re good. I’ve got no reason to think we’re not going to come back and make a run at this thing.

“One game is not going to be the destruction of the Oakland A’s.”

Stewart maintained that he had done his job; Gibson simply did his a little better.

“The thing I wanted to do is just what I did--I kept us close and gave us a chance to win,” said Stewart, who allowed 6 hits and 3 runs in 8 innings. “I can’t ask for too much more than that.”

How about pitching the ninth inning, perhaps?

“I thought in the eighth inning that I was strong enough to go out for the ninth, but the way Tony (La Russa) has managed all year, I knew I wouldn’t be going out there again,” Stewart said. “We’ve been doing that all season long, and the way the bullpen has pitched, there was no discussion.”

Advertisement

La Russa said: “I thought about (keeping Stewart in the game), yes, but you saw who I sent out there. That was my decision.”

La Russa also said Stewart pitched “a quality game” but “didn’t have his best stuff.”

That was evident from Stewart’s first pitch, which sailed up and in on Sax, striking him on the elbow. Coming a half-inning after Dodger starter Tim Belcher hit Oakland’s Jose Canseco with a pitch, this drew a warning from Harvey, the plate umpire.

“I think that was well done,” Stewart said of Harvey’s decision. “It was just a warning. Basically, what you want to do is set the tempo early, which he did.

“I wasn’t intentionally throwing at anybody. I pitch inside. I’m a pitcher who has to establish that I’m going to work the inside portion of the plate. That pitch just got away from me.”

So did the pitch to Hatcher, which immediately established the Dodger utilityman as the first official hero of this World Series.

“A fastball right down the middle of the plate,” Stewart said with a touch of disgust. “If he didn’t hit that one out, I would’ve been surprised.”

Stewart would settle down, though, just as soon as Canseco’s second-inning grand slam settled beyond the center-field fence, turning Stewart’s 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 advantage.

Stewart got a good view of the blast, standing on second base after prolonging the inning by drawing a walk in his first at-bat since 1983.

“I saw it all the way,” he said. “That’s commonplace for Jose. I’ve come to expect it from him. He mashed it.”

The walk against Belcher, now that was an upset.

“Looking at some of the other hacks I had up there, I’m real proud of that,” he said. “That kept the inning going. We scored 4 runs because of that.”

And those 4 runs looked as if they’d hold up--at least longer than Gibson’s legs.

“You’re gonna win some, you’re gonna lose some,” Stewart said. “This is no big deal. It’s not like our backs are against the wall. We just lost the first game. I don’t think this will affect us at all. We’re still going to give these guys a battle.”


Advertisement