Thirty years ago the Cincinnati Reds 91-71 made their last World Series appearance. After the previous few years tumult over then manager Pete Rose’s gambling affairs, owner Marge Schott had installed Lou Piniella as manager and in a key move had traded long time Redreliever and Rose crony John Franco to the Mets for Randy Myers.
Myers would go on to form with setup man Rob Dibble and relievers Norm Charlton and Tim Layana, the Nasty Boys, and they went after opposing hitter’swith aggressively good stuff.
With Dibble as the setup man for Myers the Reds shortened the game to seven innings as in seventy of the Reds wins the opposing team did not score in the eighth or ninth innings.
The team was built on speed, defense, pitching and a long ball when needed as they took their division lead on opening day and kept itthroughout the entire season.
They had six players with over 10 stolen bases and four with over 20, led by future Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin .306BA/30SB, Eric Davis 24HR/86RBI/21SB, Mariano Duncan .306BA/13SB, Chris Sabo 25HR/25SB/95RS, and Billy Hatcher 30SB.
Their starters were Tom Browning 15-9, Jose Rijo 14-8/2.20ERA, and Jack Armstrong 12-9 while Myers 31SV/2.08ERA, Dibble 11SV/1.74ERA and Norm Charlton 12-9 were in the bullpen.
They faced the heavily favored reigning world champion Oakland A’s 103-59 who with Tony LaRussa still at the helm had won their third consecutive pennant.
They were led by Mark McGwire 39HR/108RBI, Ricky Henderson 28HR/.325 BA/65SB/119RS, Dave Henderson 20HR and Jose Canseco 37HR/101RBI/19SB.
The pitching staff was led by American League Cy Young Award winner Bob Welch 27-6/2.95ERA who had the most wins in the AL since Denny McLain’s 31 in 1968. They also had Dave Stewart 22-11/2.56ERA and Scott Sanderson 17-11 as starters with Dennis Eckersley still holding down the bullpen with 48 saves and a 0.61ERA.
To get to the series the Athletics had swept the Red Sox 4-0 and the Reds in a more tightly contested series had bested Pittsburgh 4-2 in the Championship Series.
Opening game was in Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati and Eric Davis promptly greeted A’s starter Dave Stewart with a two run home run in the first inning which would be all the runs Reds’ starter Jose Rijo would need as he pitched seven scoreless innings with Dibble on to pitch a scoreless eighth and Myers a scoreless ninth and the Reds go up 1-0 with a 7-0 victory.
Game two was much closer with Welch and Danny Jackson as the starters. Lou Piniella used a series of pitchers in the game, giving him an inning or two each, including Scott Scudder, Jack Armstrong and Charlton who put together five scoreless innings in relief.
Welch went into the eighth inning leading 4-3 but gave up a leadoff triple to Billy Hatcher who eventually came around to score to tie the game. It went into extra innings with Rob Dibble on for Cincinnati and Eckersley on for Oakland to pitch the tenth inning.
Eckersley however wasn’t sharp and after getting the first out gave up three successive singles to Billy Bates, Chris Sabo and Joe Oliver, the later scoring Bates and the Reds win 5-4 and go up on the surprised heavily favored A’s two games to none.
Game three was across the bay in Oakland-Alemeda County Stadium and featured Tom Browning against Mike Moore. Chris Sabo homered with none on and Harold Baines homered for Oakland with one on in the second making the score 2-1 Oakland going into the third inning.
Moore got the first out but then gave up a single and on the next play a grounder to first base was misplayed giving the Reds another chance which they took advantage of it, scoring seven runs before being retired, highlighted by Chris Sabo’s second home run of the game with two runners aboard.
Oakland got a run on a Rickey Henderson solo home run but couldn’t muster anything else and the Reds win the game 8-3 and go up on Oakland 3-0.
Game four still in Oakland was a pitching duel between Stewart and Jose Rijo with the Athletics scoring a run on a Carney Lansford single in the first inning for a 1-0 lead which held up until the top of the eighth inning.
The Reds opened the inning with singles by Barry Larkin and Herb Winningham. Paul O’Neill loaded the bases as he reached on an error and with the bases loaded a groundout by Glen Braggs scored one run and the winning run was scored on a Hal Morris sacrifice fly.
Myers was on for the save in the ninth and Reds win 2-1 sweeping the A’s. Jose Rijo got series MVP Award. Neither Cincinnati nor Oakland has been back to the World Series since 1990.
In an update on Joe Burrow he set another rookie record with his third consecutive 300 yard passing game as he got his first NFL win against Jacksonville. He is seventh in the NFL in passing yards with 1121, including six touchdowns and two interceptions.
In an exciting race a filly, Swiss Skydiver, won the Preakness, posting the fastest time in that race, 1:53:28, in several years.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate