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THE WORLD SERIES : OAKLAND ATHLETICS vs. LOS ANGELES DODGERS : It's a Title Out of the Blue : Hershiser's 4-Hitter Lifts Never-Say-Die Dodgers to Clincher Over A's, 5-2

October 21, 1988|SAM McMANIS | Times Staff Writer

Oakland, which hit a dismal .177 for the Series and totaled only 2 home runs, threatened in the eighth inning with the Dodgers nursing a 5-1 lead. Stan Javier's single scored Phillips from second base to cut the Dodger lead to 3 runs, and Dave Henderson then walked on 4 pitches.

Up came powerful Jose Canseco, representing the tying run. Lasorda said later that he had thought Hershiser had lost his effectiveness but that there was no way he was going to take out the pitcher who had brought the Dodgers so far.

All it took was 5 pitches for Hershiser to force Canseco to harmlessly pop to Franklin Stubbs at first base for the second out. Off slunk Canseco, a dismal 1 for 19 in the Series.

Dave Parker, who had Oakland's only 3 hits off Hershiser in Game 2, was the A's final chance in the eighth. But Hershiser struck him out with a curveball in the dirt. It was the 7th strikeout for Hershiser, and by the time he got Phillips to end it, he would have 9.

"I think I surprised Jose by pitching him inside with a fastball," Hershiser said. "I think it was the first time I pitched him inside during the World Series. He's so strong, you have to surprise him to get away with it.

"I threw (Parker) a 55-foot curveball and he went for it, so I came back with another one and got him again."

Hershiser recalled those intense at-bats with such equanimity that it was as if he knew all along the A's would not capitalize.

Maybe all the answers Hershiser needed were on the laminated index card, his cheat sheet, in his back pocket. Scrawled on the paper were the Dodger scouting reports on each A's hitter.

The Cliff Notes version of that would be a big seller around the American League, bcause Hershiser and his pitching cohorts stifled a team that featured the Bash Brothers (Canseco and Mark McGwire) and a diverse offensive attack.

A's hitters totaled just 11 RBIs in 5 games, and 23 of their 28 hits were singles.

The so-called experts, as Lasorda kept repeating in the chaos of the clubhouse, figured that would be the output of the Dodger offense.

But Hatcher alone had 7 hits, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs and 14 total bases.

Although Hershiser deserved the series MVP award for his sustained brilliance on the mound, Hatcher was the most visual and vibrant player.

His home run in Game 1 stripped the A's of any pretense of invincibility. And his 2-run home run off Storm Davis Thursday night began the A's swift descent into the off-season.

As Hatcher's shot cleared the left-field fence, he once again broke into a home run sprint that had even his teammates guffawing. By the time he rounded third base, he had almost passed a strolling Stubbs ahead of him. Once he reached the dugout, Hatcher greeted his teammates with a parody of the A's forearm bash celebration.

"I almost broke my arm doing that," Hatcher said. "I won't do that again."

No one expected Hatcher to do what he did in the series. In 2,557 career at-bats, he had hit only 35 home runs. But there he was in the World Series, hitting home runs in 2 Dodger victories.

"I still haven't learned how to do a home run trot," Hatcher said. "I think, of the few home runs I hit, I knew that that one was going out. I really thought it was important that we score first, so that Orel could relax and not pitch with pressure on him."

Indeed, Hershiser, who has been given a lead in every game since Aug. 30, would not have had such an easy time of it if not for the early contributions of Hatcher and other Stuntmen.

Hatcher, the ultimate Stuntman, was joined by charter member Dempsey, who doubled in the Dodgers' 5th run in the 6th inning in his role as Scioscia's replacement.

And Mike Davis, a midseason addition to the Stuntman troupe, pulled off perhaps the most unexpected feat of all. He knocked a 2-run home run off Storm Davis in the top of the 4th inning after the A's had scored a run off Hershiser in the bottom of the 3rd to cut the Dodger lead to 2-1.

On the Dodger bench, leading men such as Scioscia and Gibson marveled about the exploits of these Stuntmen.

"I think Mickey Hatcher exemplifies what this team is all about," Gibson said. "This team has always believed in itself. I got hurt, and the team accepted that I would be out. And Mickey steps in and fills my role and I filled his. We had a team approach that kept us together."

Scioscia, who played on the Dodgers' 1981 championship team, said this championship was more satisfying because this club, quite frankly, did not have the talent of the previous one.

"Hatcher, Dempsey, Mike Davis--all those guys, they were incredible," Scioscia said. "It's been a total team win. That's what it all comes down to. It's been that way the whole year. Guys have contributed when we needed it.

"In 1981, we had a much better ballclub. But in 1988, we have much more of a team. So this is much more gratifying to win it when everyone contributes."

No one has contributed more to the Dodgers than Hershiser. All he did was:

--Win 23 games this season.

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