THE WORLD SERIES : OAKLAND ATHLETICS vs. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS : Bay’s Ball Turns to Broomball : Game 4: Oakland builds an 8-0 lead, then holds off rally to sweep past San Francisco with 9-6 victory.
After spending a year fighting the memory of the 1988 Dodgers, and a week sparring with notions that an earthquake-delayed World Series is a tainted one, the angry and weary Oakland Athletics finally dealt with their demons Saturday. And it was not pretty.
Before a crowd of 62,032 at Candlestick Park, they crushed all doubts then dragged them into the history books with a 9-6 victory over the San Francisco Giants, completing one of the most impressive sweeps in World Series history.
Their first World Series championship since 1974 came in appropriately unorthodox fashion, with a celebration not on the mound, but behind first base. That’s where Tony Phillips grabbed Brett Butler’s grounder and flipped the ball to pitcher Dennis Eckersley for the final out. Phillips jumped straight into the air, Eckersley punched the air, and a year of frustration was screamed away in a giant, bouncing green and gold hug.
“There is no better feeling than to know that you’ve finally won something nobody can take away from you,” A’s third baseman Carney Lansford said. “We are world champions and nothing can change that. Nothing can take away from that. Nothing.”
Later, in a clubhouse devoid of champagne in memory of the Oct. 17 earthquake victims, they celebrated as you would imagine Mike Tyson celebrates. With quiet emotion, they stalked the room and flexed their muscles.
“We’re like tigers,” outfielder Dave Parker said. “We drew blood and then went crazy trying to get to our wounded prey. And we got them.
“Finally, finally, we can all say . . . this is a great team.”
Nobody who witnessed the last 14 days--the longest Series in history--would argue. The Giants rebounded from an 8-0 deficit with sixth- and seventh-inning rallies that made it close, but this series was not close. The A’s didn’t just win this 86th Series, they made it blush.
In completing baseball’s first Series sweep since 1976, they outscored the Giants, 32-14, to equal the largest differential for a sweep in Series history. It was the first time in 23 years that a losing team went through an entire Series without ever having the lead.
“They were the best team on paper and then they came in hungry,” Giant pitcher Kelly Downs said. “And that was it.”
And it wasn’t done with just Rickey Henderson, who homered on the game’s third pitch Saturday and led all Series regulars with a .474 average. Or Dave Henderson, who added another double Saturday to give him two homers and two doubles.
And it wasn’t only Saturday’s winning pitcher, Mike Moore, who gave up only five hits in six innings and set the game’s tone by collecting the first World Series hit by an American League pitcher this decade. His second-inning, two-run double over center fielder Brett Butler’s head broke a 0-for-70 streak by American League pitchers that began after Baltimore’s Tim Stoddard singled in the 1979 World Series.
As an example of the balance of the A’s, the Series Most Valuable Player didn’t even play Saturday. It was pitcher Dave Stewart who, like Moore, was 2-0, but with a 1.69 earned-run average and 14 strikeouts with two walks.
“If I could split that trophy up into 24 pieces . . . I would gladly do it,” said Stewart, who said this made up for his recent great seasons that have not resulted in a Cy Young Award. “If I never win a Cy Young but I can pitch in four or five World Series and win it, that will be better than never winning it at all.”
Considering that in 34 Series innings the A’s hitters were retired in order only eight times, maybe they can become the dynasty that many predict. The Giants would support that view.
The Giants finished the Series batting .209, with an 8.21 ERA, and generally looking lost. Even Commissioner Fay Vincent acted sorry for them by helping out during a late A’s rally Saturday.
With bases loaded and two out in the eighth inning, Will Clark caught a Terry Steinbach foul pop in the first-base box seats after diving over the railing and into Vincent’s lap.
“If he hadn’t caught the ball,” Vincent said, “I was going to catch it.”
It would have taken more than baseball’s ranking authority to stop the A’s. They acknowledged that what happened actually started last October, when they were beaten in the Series by the underdog Dodgers, four games to one.
“We didn’t talk about it much this year, only when the media would ask us,” shortstop Walt Weiss said. “Even then, we would just give a quick answer and go on to something else.
“But in the back of our minds, that loss was there. It was always there. Against the Giants, we brought it out.”
Said Parker: “It was like we were playing two World Series.”
So when they finally had a chance to finish off the Giants beginning Friday, they acted quickly. They beat the Giants, 13-7, in Game 3, and then Saturday made sure Giant starter Don Robinson didn’t last past sundown.
Rickey Henderson became the 15th player to lead off a World Series game with a homer. By the time he crossed the plate, the A’s had tied the four-game Series record for homers with nine, and set a record by having eight different players hit them.
An inning later Moore followed Dave Henderson’s double and an intentional walk to Weiss by doing the unthinkable.
“I guess the ball just happened to run into my bat,” said Moore, who entered the game with one major league at-bat.
Moore scored on Rickey Henderson’s single to make the score 4-0, and Robinson was gone, leaving the Giants with one of the darker statistics in Series’ history. Their starting pitchers (Scott Garrelts, Rick Reuschel and Robinson) lasted 13 innings in the four games, an average of 3 1/3. During that time they gave up 17 earned runs, for an 11.77 ERA.
“I don’t think you can start throwing the blame around like that,” Downs said. “All of us, everyone, got beat.”
The A’s made the score 8-0 in the sixth on a two-run triple by Terry Steinbach, an RBI double by Tony Phillips and an RBI single by Lansford. Then, against the A’s weak middle relievers, the Giants made their last stand.
They scored twice in the sixth on Kevin Mitchell’s two-run homer off Moore, who left after six innings.
They scored four more times in the seventh on Greg Litton’s two-run homer, an RBI double by Butler and an RBI single by Robby Thompson.
Were the A’s scared?
“We were just fired up,” Weiss said. “We came back in the dugout and we said, ‘All right, we’ve got a game on our hands.’ To go through all we have gone through to get here, we wanted to have to work for it.”
Todd Burns retired the Giants in order in the eighth, and Eckersley did it in the ninth.
And finally, the A’s can shout.
“This doesn’t make up for what happened last year, nothing can make up for that,” Dave Henderson said. “But now we are the world champions talking. And now, everything looks different.”
WORLD SERIES LEADOFF HOMERS Players who have led off a World Series game with a home run:
PLAYER TEAM DATE R. Henderson Oakland Oct. 28, 1989 Lenny Dykstra NY Mets Oct. 21, 1986 Davey Lopes LA Dodgers Oct. 17, 1978 Wayne Garrett NY Mets Oct. 16, 1973 Pete Rose Cincinnati Oct. 20, 1972 Tommie Agee NY Mets Oct. 14, 1969 Don Buford Baltimore Oct. 11, 1969 Lou Brock St. Louis Oct. 6, 1968 Billy Bruton Milwaukee Oct. 2, 1958 Al Smith Cleveland Sept30,1954 G. Woodling NY Yankees Oct. 4, 1953 Dale Mitchell Cleveland Oct. 10, 1948 Phil Rizzuto NY Yankees Oct. 5, 1942 David Jones Detroit Oct. 13, 1909 Pat Doherty Boston Oct. 2, 1903
WORLD SERIES SWEEPS Teams that have swept their opponents in the World Series.
YEAR WINNER LOSER 1907* Chicago Cubs Detroit Tigers 1914 Boston Braves Philadelphia A’s 1922* NY Giants NY Yankees 1927 NY Yankees Pittsburgh Pirates 1928 NY Yankees St. Louis Cardinals 1932 NY Yankees Chicago Cubs 1938 NY Yankees Chicago Cubs 1939 NY Yankees Cincinnati Reds 1950 NY Yankees Philadelphia Phillies 1954 NY Giants Cleveland Indians 1963 LA Dodgers NY Yankees 1966 Balt. Orioles LA Dodgers 1976 Cincinnati Reds NY Yankees 1989 Oakland A’s SF Giants
*SWEEP INCLUDES TIE