All the Oakland Athletics ask of right-hander Bob Welch is a solid seven or eight innings. Their bullpen will take care of the rest.
In 35 starts last season, the former Dodger pitched only four complete games. In his first start this season, Welch, 33, had an 11-1 lead after eight innings and took a shower.
While improving to 5-2 Saturday, Welch went into the ninth inning at Oakland with a four-hitter and a 4-0 lead. He wound up winning, 4-3.
Welch, 18-5 in his career at the Oakland Coliseum, had a string of 23 shutout innings against the Brewers. But Paul Molitor doubled, Rob Deer hit a two-run home run and Welch was gone.
But with Dennis Eckersley heading the bullpen, the Athletics usually don’t have to worry.
Eckersley took the mound with one out and gave up two singles and a sacrifice fly before getting Terry Francona to end it. Eckersley has 11 saves and has given up only two runs in 14 1/3 innings.
The Athletics, rolling along without baseball’s top slugger, Jose Canseco, used home runs by Glenn Hubbard and Dave Parker to improve to 24-11, the best record in the majors.
“There’s no secret to the success of pitching--getting ahead of hitters,” said Welch, who has a 1.19 earned-run average. “I don’t take the Brewers for granted at all. They’ve got a fine unit over there. You take a good look at their ballclub and they’ve got some good hitters.”
Manager Tom Trebelhorn of the Brewers doesn’t believe that Welch has a hex on them despite a 3-0 career record against Milwaukee.
“I don’t think we have this mental image of Welch being that tough on us,” Trebelhorn said.
“He’s a fine pitcher, because he gets ahead of the the hitters and makes you earn everything you get off him. But beyond that I don’t give much credit to him.”
The A’s have won six of Welch’s eight starts. Only once--in one of his victories--has he failed to make it through at least six innings.
It was the fourth loss in a row for the Brewers.
Minnesota 10, Toronto 8--Unlike most of the Twins’ hitters, Kirby Puckett has not been off to a slow start this season. And now, with his teammates starting to come around, Puckett isn’t about to let up.
Puckett, headed toward a fourth consecutive season of batting better than .300, tied a major league record when he hit four doubles at Minneapolis to lead the Twins to their fourth consecutive victory.
Puckett became the 35th player to get four doubles in a game. The last to do it was Damaso Garcia of Toronto in 1986.
“I usually hit the ball hard, and I try to hit every ball hard. Today it worked quite well,” Puckett said. “When there’s a guy out there (Dave Stieb) throwing 90 m.p.h., you can’t be thinking about records. He might come in and break your bat.”
Puckett went 4 for 5, and three of his doubles drove in runs. His first was a blooper to center, the next two were pulled down the left-field line and the last was lined to right.
Cleveland 3, Detroit 1--Greg Swindell didn’t like the early activity in the Indians’ bullpen, so he straightened himself out and improved to 4-0.
After giving up singles to Alan Trammell and Keith Moreland to start the fourth, he retired 18 of the last 19 batters at Cleveland.
Indian Manager Doc Edwards said: “I don’t know if it made Greg mad or not when I warmed up the (potential relief) pitcher, but he sure turned it up a notch.”
The Tigers lost for the eighth time in their last 11 games. Doyle Alexander (3-4) was the loser.
Shortly after getting his hit, Trammell joined the Tigers’ injured list when he left the game because of muscle cramps in his back.
Kansas City 4, Texas 1--Kevin Seitzer hit an inside-the-park home run in the first inning at Kansas City, and the Royals went on to beat the Rangers. Left fielder Pete Incaviglia misplayed the drive, enabling Seitzer to get his second homer. Luis Aquino, making his first start of the season, improved his record to 3-0 with the help of two relievers.
Chicago 8, Baltimore 2--Not even a long rain delay could stop hot-hitting Harold Baines from improving his league-leading average at Baltimore.
Playing on a wet field, Baines went 2 for 3 and scored three runs to increased his average to .375.
Mickey Tettleton hit his seventh home run of the season for the Orioles.
Seattle 14, Boston 6--Dave Valle had four hits and scored four runs, and Alvin Davis drove in five runs at Seattle as the Mariners posted their highest run total since beating the Red Sox, 14-1, last May 24.
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the third, but the Mariners came back with six runs in the bottom of the inning. Mickey Brantley drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single, and Davis followed with a three-run homer off Boston starter John Dopson. Jeffrey Leonard then singled and came around to score on a throwing error by right fielder Dwight Evans.
Reliever Jerry Reed (3-2) earned the win after replacing starter Bill Swift in the fifth inning. Reed pitched 4 1/3 hitless innings and struck out two.
Seattle’s Harold Reynolds walked twice but had his 16-game hitting streak stopped. It was the longest in the majors this season.