Similarly crestfallen were the writers who had the task of pulling Baines's teeth after the game. Harold is a nice fellow, but the word laconic does not do him justice. Nor does stoic. Baines, totally deadpan, said only this of his home run: "It was a very special moment for me." Smile when you say that, podnah.
Lonesome Jay. What, you might ask, were the two guys wearing rubber coneheads doing in the Blue Jays' bullpen before Game 2? They were relievers Mike Timlin and David Wells, and they donned the headgear to inspire Toronto's starter, Cone. Not that Cone needed much inspiration: The rent-a-pitcher made fools out of the A's most of the night. But he did get a boost from Kelly Gruber.
Once voted Toronto's most popular athlete, the Jay third baseman had hit only .229 with 43 RBIs this season and was booed mercilessly by the fans and ostracized by his teammates, who tired of his series of seemingly minor injuries. In the bottom of the fifth Gruber came up against Mike Moore with a man on first and nobody out. As he left the on-deck circle, a fan yelled, "You better bunt, you bum." Gruber hit Moore's first pitch over the fence in left, and all was forgiven. After Tom Henke nailed down the 3-1 victory for Cone and the Jays retired to their clubhouse, Gruber was asked if he felt redeemed by the homer? "Ask the fans," he said. He smiled when he said that.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Toronto fans may have had Michael J. Fox and John Candy, but Oakland had Nina Hartley. She, too, is a film star (My Bare Lady, Debbie Duz Dishes I, II and III), and she caused quite a stir as she paraded through the stands of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum before Game 3 in her gold lamé bikini top. Unfortunately for A's fans, that was about as good as it got on Saturday.
With the score tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth, the bases loaded and none out against a struggling Juan Guzman, the Athletics' Mike Bordick lofted a fly to short rightfield that Carter did a little dance under—two steps back, three steps forward, two steps back. Confused by the dance, third base coach Rene Lachemann decided to send Oakland (for now) slugger Mark McGwire, who had tagged up at third. "Lach said, 'Get going,' and I went," said McGwire. "I don't have the greatest speed in the world. I don't have any speed, in fact."
McGwire was out by the proverbial mile, and opportunity was lost. Lachemann later took full responsibility. "When you're the third base coach, you have to walk the fine line between being aggressive and being stupid." he said. "I crossed that line. It was a stupid mistake."
It was one of many by the A's, who left 11 men on base, had three errors, threw three wild pitches and gave up three unearned runs in a 7-5 defeat. Ms. Hartley, perhaps best known for her performance in Saddletramp, expressed concern. "We need to tighten up on our errors," she told the San Francisco Examiner.
The Unforgiven. How do you explain how the A's became the Jays in Game 4? How can you figure Oakland turning a 6-1 lead ' after seven innings into a 7-6 defeat in 11 innings? How can you figure Eckersley—51 for 54 in save opportunities this season—blowing the 6-2 lead he was entrusted with in the eighth? "I'd trade the 51 saves for one out," said the Eck. "I just couldn't stop the bleeding."
A's starter Bob Welch had gone further than anyone had expected, one batter into the eighth. That batter was Alomar, who doubled. Jeff Parrett replaced Welch and gave up singles to Carter and Winfield. Not to worry, thought the Oakland fans, here comes the Eck.
But the Eck threw dreck. John Olerud singled in a run and Maldonado another. When Eckersley finally struck out Ed Sprague to end the inning, he pumped his fist emphatically. "I thought the worst was over," Eckersley said. "It was make-believe time."