Now the Oakland A’s really want the Mets.
They want out of this bad dream, badly. They want to climb out of this rabbit hole, back out of the looking glass, and back to reality.
Down 2-0 in the World Series, the A’s want no part of the Dodgers, especially the Orel Hershiser part.
Sunday the A’s had their bats stuffed back in their rack by Hershiser, a shrunken-chested guy who used a computer and a cheat-sheet, barely broke a sweat, pushed Art Nehf asided in the record book, and in the postgame interview sessions not only used the word “repertoire,” but pronounced it correctly.
I was waiting for Hershiser to ask for a Perrier and a croissant with Brie.
Hershiser, a pretty good pitching hitter, allowed 3 hits and collected 3 hits himself. That’s the ideal yin and yang, a well-balanced night.
Two of Hershiser’s hits were doubles. He now has as many extra-base hits as the Oakland Bashers have in the entire Series.
Want an even more complete night? OK, Hershiser’s parents threw out the ceremonial first pitch, in this case pitches. They were strikes. Sinkers, low and away.
Bulldog Hershiser, up-pedigreed Sunday night to Pit Bull, is playing baseball about as well right now as it has ever been played.
He has pitched 19 consecutive scoreless innings, going back to the National League playoffs, and his 2 doubles and a single in 3 at-bats were the first 3-hit game by a Series pitcher since Nehf in 1924.
“This is the best stuff I’ve taken into a pressure game,” Hershiser said, not specifying whether he meant his pitching stuff or his hitting stuff. “This was the best stuff in my last three big starts.”
Not only does Orel throw a 3-hitter, but he doesn’t even use his “A” material.
“I really didn’t want to expose everything,” Hershiser said. “You gotta have some repertoire left against this outstanding team.”
“I went with my best stuff early, but after we got ahead I threw a few more change-ups, other things. Oakland won’t know what to look for in Game 5.”
I think Orel meant that more modestly than it sounded, but you can almost hear the moaning over that announcement up in the City by the City by the Bay. Don Baylor, the A’s speaker of the house, who struck out as a pinch hitter Sunday, might want to take a cut at that Orel pitch.
Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia, told that Hershiser said he started saving his best stuff once the Dodgers got a lead, said: “Bull. He didn’t go away from his best stuff. Orel can do a lot of things.”
Like run the bases. He sprinted from first to third on a single in the third inning, and ran out his 2 doubles. Isn’t that a lot of running for a pitcher?
“He’s in tremendous shape,” Scioscia said. “If I was doing that much on the bases, it might be a problem.”
Don’t worry about Orel. He has all the answers. Has ‘em written on a cheat sheet, in fact.
On his way to the mound at the start of the game he stopped by home plate, pulled a piece of paper out of his back pocket and showed it to home plate umpire Durwood Merrill.
It was a scouting report, written by Orel and sealed in plastic. It’s bad enough the man preps for the game by referencing his personal computer, but how can you expect to get more than 3 singles off a pitcher who has the answers before the exam?
“It was my little cheat sheet,” Hershiser said. “I showed it to the umpires because I didn’t want ‘em to think I’m cheating out there when I pull something out of my pocket.”
There was no pine tar on the cheat sheet, so the umpires gave Orel the OK.
Hershiser, as it turns out, was in such command that he only used the cheat sheet two or three times. For all the trouble he had with the A’s, he could’ve taken a Masked Marvel comic book out to the mound.
And Orel didn’t once feel the need to get on his cellular dugout phone and call his astrologist or guru.
By the fourth inning, when Hershiser struck out the side, finishing the job by fanning Jose Canseco, it was becoming clear that the A’s, like the entire National League before them, were falling victim to an Orel Hex.
Twice Dave Parker led off an inning with a single and twice he became the front man on a double play. The other Dodgers, as if sensing the greatness emanating from the mound, responded with their best defensive effort of the post season, especially from Steve Sax on double-play pivot, and helped the Dodgers score 5 runs in the third inning.
The only question now is how many more times Hershiser can pitch in this series. There’s no game today and he’ll probably take Game 3 and 4 off, then go Thursday in Oakland.
How about a Game 7, if necessary?
“Yeah, I think he could do that,” Scioscia said. “He’s pitched on 2 days rest before.”
Was Orel tiring at all, even a teenie bit, at the end of Sunday’s game?
“No,” Scioscia said, shaking his head vigorously.
In fact, Hershiser indicated that his biggest problem might come if he gets too much rest between starts.
“Your mechanics can get out of whack of you’re too strong,” he said, “you can take that power in a bad direction.”
He makes the game look and sound easy, but Hershiser insisted he was nervous at the beginning.
“That’s definitely the most pressure I’ve felt in a long, long time,” he said. “You’ve got the hopes and dreams of all the fans, and your teammates. I just realized how to deal with the energy level, it was a whole lotta fun tonight.”
Hershiser worked harder after the game than during. He met with groups of reporters in several clubhouse locations, then went back on the field to work his way down a line of TV crews waiting for one-on-ones.
He probably stopped on his way home from the Stadium at a Jack-in-the-Box and explained to Jack how he worked Canseco.
It was the kind of performance worth talking about.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Mike Marshall said. “He’s gone into the realm of Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan. He’s like that.”
He’s like Sandy Koufax, who once pitched a routine 15-strikeout shutout for the Dodgers, then disappeared from the clubhouse.
“Where’s Koufax?” the reporters inquired.
“He’s been called up to a higher league,” a teammate said.
Orel’s not going anywhere yet. He’s still got some repertoire left to show.
HERSHISER’S 59-INNING SCORELESS-INNING STREAK
DATE OPPONENT/SITE INN. H R ER BB SO SCORE Sept. 5 Atlanta (Road) 9 4 0 0 1 8 3-0 Sept. 10 Cincinnati (Home) 9 7 0 0 3 8 5-0 Sept. 14 Atlanta (Home) 9 6 0 0 2 8 1-0 Sept. 19 Houston (Road) 9 4 0 0 0 5 1-0 Sept. 23 San Francisco (Road) 9 5 0 0 2 2 3-0 Sept. 28 San Diego (Road) 10 4 0 0 1 3 1-2** TOTALS 59* 30 0 0 9 34
* Streak began with 4 scoreless innings in a 4-2 win over Montreal Aug. 30. Hershiser pitched 9 innings to get the win, giving up 6 hits and 2 runs (both earned) with 2 walks and 9 strikeouts.
** Dodgers lost game in 16 innings.
HERSHISER IN POSTSEASON PLAY
DATE OPPONENT/SITE INN. H R ER BB SO SCORE Oct. 5 New York Mets (Home) 8 7 2 2 1 6 2-3* Oct. 8 New York Mets (Road) 7 6 3 1 4 4 4-8* Oct. 9 New York Mets (Road) 0 0 0 0 0 5-4** Oct. 12 New York Mets (Home) 9 5 0 0 2 3 6-0 Oct. 16 Oakland (Home) 9 3 0 0 2 8 3-0 TOTALS 33 21 5 3 9 21
* Dodgers lost, with Hershiser not involved in decision.
** Hershiser gets save in relief appearance.
Hershiser has not allowed an earned run in his last 19 innings in postseason play and is the first pitcher to throw a shutout in both the League Championship Series and World Series in same year.
HERSHISER IN LAST 12 APPEARANCES
W L ND SV INN. H R ER BB SO ERA TOTALS 8 0 3 1 97 57 7 5 20 64 0.47*
* ERA is 0.29 since the 6th inning of game against Montreal Aug. 30.