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This was a game the A's were supposedly ordained to win, what with big-game hunter Stewart on the mound and all, yet Cincinnati came out on top 7-0. Having knocked the Athletics' blocks off, the Reds revealed a few chips on their own shoulders. "Everybody's gonna say that this is the only game we're gonna win," said Dibble. "Everybody's gonna say the A's will come back."
Said third baseman Chris Sabo, who had a two-run single in the fifth, "People who make predictions are people who never played." When Davis was asked if the Reds had shown the nation how good they were, he replied, "The nation doesn't concern me. The nation ain't in this clubhouse." A quick look around revealed that he might have been wrong about that.
The one Red who seemed to be having a good time was Rijo. He had gotten into some hot water in the playoffs when he declared, after Cincinnati had taken a three-games-to-one lead over the Pirates, that "it's over." Asked after Game 1, "Is it over?" Rijo answered, "No, no, no, no, no, no. Jogi's right: It's not over till it's over." Then, in explaining why there's less pressure in the Series than in the playoffs, Rijo uttered his own Jogi-ism: "When you get here, you're there."
The victory gave Rijo a leg up on his father-in-law, Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, whose only World Series appearance had been four shutout innings in Game 4 of the San Francisco Giants' 1962 Series with the New York Yankees—he had to leave that game when Whitey Ford hit him on the hand with a pitch. Marichal was in Cincinnati as the analyst for Major League Baseball's Spanish-language broadcast, but he is also director of Oakland's Latin-American scouting. "I wanted Jose to pitch well, but I wanted the A's to win," said Marichal. "My daughter Rosie [Rijo's wife] doesn't understand that I have to root for the A's."
Game 2 had a family angle as well. George Bush had been the probable first-ball pitcher but had to cancel—budget crisis, you know. So Barbara Bush was named to replace him, which immediately got Schott to thinking, Why not bring Millie to play with Schottzie? Millie, the White House springer spaniel, couldn't make it, however—budget crisis, you know. So the First Lady took the field solo to throw out the first ball. Said her catcher, Cincinnati's Joe Oliver, "She had a pretty good fastball, good movement. I'm glad I had a sponge in my mitt."
After the throw, the First Lady gave Oliver a peck on the cheek, and the next thing anyone knew, she was bussing Piniella and La Russa, Schott was kissing La Russa and Piniella, and La Russa was down on his knees talking to Schottzie, who was wearing a Reds cap. One could only imagine what La Russa, an ardent animal-rights activist, was saying to the Saint Bernard. ("You don't have to let yourself be humiliated like this, you know. Let me take off your collar. Now run, girl, run....") La Russa later described Schottzie this way: "She was gorgeous. The highlight was definitely getting to Schottzie. She's a great lady."
Oh yeah, the game. Cincinnati won 5-4 in the 10th inning of one of the most exciting games in World Series history. The A's finally scored a run, in the first on a Rickey rally: Henderson singled, stole second, went to third on a sacrifice and scored on a groundout. But the Reds came right back with two runs in the bottom of the first off 27-game winner Bob Welch: Hatcher doubled in a run and scored after a fly-out and ground-out. The A's recaptured the lead in the third, chasing starter Danny Jackson with three runs, the first of which came on a solo homer by Canseco. Cincinnati closed the score to 4-3 in the fourth on a pinch single by Ron Oester that Piniella later called "the turning point of the Series."
The real turning point came in the bottom of the eighth. Even though the A's had a one-run lead and closer Dennis Eckersley was warmed up, La Russa let Welch start the inning. Hatcher—the name comes up a lot in stories about underdog teams beating the A's in the World Series (viz., Mickey Hatcher of the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers)—led off the inning with a fly ball to right that Canseco misplayed. The resulting triple broke the Series record of six consecutive hits, held by Goose Goslin (1924) and Thurman Munson ('76). Hatcher could have scored when Davis flied to right, but for some reason he froze at third. Fortunately for him, he did tie the score when pinch-hitter Glenn Braggs grounded to short.
In the bottom of the 10th, La Russa finally called on Eckersley. He got Davis out on a grounder, and Piniella, running out of players, turned to little-used, little-sized infielder Billy Bates. Bates, who had been added to the postseason roster only because Bill Doran was injured, had a grand total of three hits in the majors. He was so expendable that the Reds offered him up in a race against a cheetah during a late-season promotion for the Cincinnati Zoo. Bates won, but the cheetah had stopped to pick up the cap that had flown off Bates's head.
Eckersley, perhaps the greatest relief pitcher of all time, got two quick strikes on Bates. He fouled off another strike. Then he swung, barely catching the top half of the ball. It took a crazy bounce to the left of the mound. Third baseman Carney Lansford couldn't handle the ball, and Bates was on first. No problem. Righthanded hitters batted .152 against the Eck this year, and the next two batters, Sabo and Oliver, hit .235 and .179, respectively, against righties.