OAKLAND — The arctic climes of Candlestick Park have yet to be weathered in this World Series, but already, after two games in Oakland, one team has been left out in the cold.
For the second time in as many nights Sunday, the Will Clark-Kevin Mitchell-Brett Butler San Francisco Giants were chilled by the Oakland Athletics, losing Game 2 by a 5-1 score before 49,388 at the Oakland Coliseum.
In Game 1, the score was 5-0.
If you sense that this World Series is on the verge of turning into the Blowout by the Bay, you're getting warm.
In two games, the Giants have managed a total of nine hits. They scored their only run of the weekend when Oakland's Sunday starter, Mike Moore, bobbled a ball long enough to take him out of a double-play opportunity. And the bottom five of the Giants' starting lineup--Matt Williams, Ernest Riles, Candy Maldonado, Terry Kennedy and Jose Uribe--are a combined one for 33.
"You score one run in two games, you're not going to win too many games like that," San Francisco Manager Roger Craig said, applying some basic math. "The bottom line has been their pitching. It's been outstanding."
Saturday night, it was Dave Stewart and a five-hit complete-game performance. Sunday it was Moore, who allowed four hits in seven innings, and Rick Honeycutt (1 1/3 hitless innings) and Dennis Eckersley (the final two outs).
Catcher Terry Steinbach contributed a three-run home run for Oakland, but this evening again belonged to the A's aces. If Oakland learned anything from its defeat to the Dodgers in last year's World Series, it's that offense may sell tickets, but pitching is what wins championships.
Which is one reason why Moore was on the mound for Game 2. Overwhelmed by Orel Hershiser, the A's did enough introspection during the winter of 1988 to figure out that adding another starting pitcher to the rotation might be worth their while.
So last Dec. 6, the A's signed Moore as a free agent by way of Seattle and have parlayed those millions into 21 victories in 1989--19 during the regular season, one against Toronto in the American League playoffs and, one in the World Series.
"I'm proud of him," Oakland Manager Tony La Russa said. "This was his second appearance in the postseason and he's done equally well against two outstanding hitting clubs. He had to use it all today--fastball, slider, forkball, changeup--but you need all those things against a good-hitting ballclub."
That, of course, is assuming one buys La Russa's description of the Giants as a good-hitting team. Any takers out there? Williams, San Francisco's No. 5 hitter, is zero for eight with four strikeouts. Robby Thompson, who bats second, and Riles, who bats sixth, are both hitless in seven at-bats. Below Riles, you don't want to know about.
Take Clark and Mitchell out of this lineup and, basically, you have the Atlanta Braves.
Sunday's third inning provided a World Series golden moment: The scoring of a San Francisco run. This event transpired after Kennedy singled and Uribe hit a sharp hopper back to Moore.
Easy double play, but Moore double-pumped before throwing to second base. Kennedy was forced but Walt Weiss' relay to first base was too late to retire Uribe.
Subsequently, Uribe was advanced third on a single by Butler through a hole in the left side of a shifted infield, from where he scored on a fly ball to center field by Thompson.
Butler also made it to third base--he stole second and took third on a wild pitch--but was stranded there when Clark struck out to end the inning.
For a few heady moments, the Giants were tied with the A's at one run apiece. But then they played the fourth inning.
Four Oakland runs . . . and a 2-0 Oakland advantage in the World Series was instantly in the works.
Jose Canseco, the slumping giant, began the outburst by ceasing his wild flailing at the plate long enough to draw a walk from Giant starter Rick Reuschel. Big Daddy should've known better. Before that encounter, Canseco was hitless in his previous 22 World Series at-bats--dating to his first-inning grand slam against Tim Belcher in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
Canseco scored on a double by Dave Parker that struck the right-field fence so hard, feathers flew. Or at least they did within moments thereafter, when play had to interrupted so umpires could hunt a pheasant-- a pheasant? --that somehow wandered onto the field in the right-field corner.
Yes, the umpires finally tracked it down . . . in fowl territory.
When order was restored, Reuschel walked Dave Henderson and struck out Mark McGwire, laying the groundwork for Steinbach's game-breaker.
On a 2-and-0 pitch, Steinbach delivered, sending the ball into the left-field seats and the Giants reeling.
Steinbach doesn't do this frequently--during the regular season, he homered seven times--but he sure knows how to pick his spots. It was Steinbach's home run off Dwight Gooden in the 1988 All-Star game that earned the American League a 2-1 victory and Steinbach the game's MVP award.