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THE BIG SWEEP
Steve Wulf
October 29, 1990
The dauntless Reds socked it to the vaunted A's in one of the most dazzling upsets in World Series history
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October 29, 1990

The Big Sweep

The dauntless Reds socked it to the vaunted A's in one of the most dazzling upsets in World Series history

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When Scott Sanderson took over for Moore, the game was over. Just to make sure, Sanderson gave up a double to Oliver, a single to Mariano Duncan and a triple to Barry Larkin. All in all, 11 Reds came to the plate in the third, and seven of them scored. A solo homer by Rickey Henderson in the third ended the scoring at 8-3. Canseco had a chance to get the A's back into the game in the fifth when he came up with two men on and two out, but he flied out to right.

Oakland fans who left early to beat the traffic were excused. The stadium speakers played B.B. King's The Thrill Is Gone. And for a minute, fans thought Oakland catcher Terry Steinbach was wandering around the upper deck in full armor. It turned out to be an imposter, but such was the state of things that had it really been Steinbach, the crowd would have understood.

Browning was not overwhelming, but he did give Cincinnati six innings before giving way to Dibble and Myers. Hey, he was still a little foggy from lack of sleep. "I can't tell if the last 48 hours were heaven or hell," said Browning.

He is so down-to-earth that he took "that railroad, the BART" to the Coliseum with Reds equipment manager Bernie Stowe and Stowe's son Rick. "I don't know how he's even standing on his feet," said the younger Stowe. "The phone started ringing at seven this morning."

Besides hitting what Rickey Henderson called "key home runs," Sabo also set two Series records: errorless chances in a game at third base (10) and lifeless responses to postgame questions (75). Sabo, who's known as Spuds for his resemblance to a certain beer hound, didn't seem to be enjoying himself. Said Sabo after Game 3, "I don't have much to say. I like to do my job. I get no satisfaction getting publicity. I'd rather have my teammates appreciate me."

And they do. Said rightfielder Paul O'Neill, "A storybook game. He hit two home runs, he got on base, he made great defensive plays on a field he has never played on. He kind of took us on his shoulders and played the game for us."

Sabo also cautioned his teammates not to get overconfident. "Anybody here who thinks it's over, I oughta slap 'em around a bit," he said. Little wonder that Rijo was walking around with his mouth taped shut. Taking the tape off for a moment, Rijo said, "It's not over. But it's close."

Of the 17 teams that had trailed three games to none in the World Series, only three had won the fourth game, and none had won the fifth. So the odds were against the A's coming back. Still, they did have Stewart on the mound for Game 4. And what's this? La Russa surprises everybody by starting Willie McGee, who hadn't started in Games 2 or 3, in right instead of Canseco and Jamie Quirk behind the plate instead of Steinbach.

In spite of the last-minute lineup changes, or maybe because of them, the mood was hardly festive in the Coliseum last Saturday evening. One banner, its creator trying hard to get on CBS, referring to the size of a certain contract, read: CANSECO BAGS SERIES—$23 MILLION? Overhead, a plane carried a streamer for Amnesty International that included a phone number and the message STOP TORTURE. One of the few hopeful signs read: IT'S NOT OVER 'TIL MARGE SINGS.

Stewart sent a message—albeit inadvertently—to the Reds in the first inning, when he hit Hatcher on the left hand with a pitch. Hatcher had to leave the game an inning later and go to the hospital for X-rays, which were negative. The A's scored their only run in their half of the first. McGee hit a sinking liner to left center, and Davis dived for it. He caught the ball, but upon rolling over, he dropped it and bruised his ribs and a kidney. Davis, too, left the game after the first inning to go to the hospital, where he was to stay for five to seven days. With two out, Piniella had Rijo walk Baines with first base open. That curiously conservative ploy backfired when Lansford singled in McGee.

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