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Random Game Callback, April 20, 1988
2006-04-20 03:59
by Bob Timmermann
A franchise on the way up and one on the way down got together on a Wednesday afternoon in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and the rising Athletics finished off a three-game sweep of their neighbors to the south, the California Angels, with a seesaw 9-8 win before a crowd of 14,299.

The Angels had come agonizingly close to the World Series in 1986, but slumped to a last place 75-87 record in 1987 and manager Gene Mauch retired for good and Cookie Rojas took over. Meanwhile, Oakland, trying to recover from the dark days of Charlie Finley, had managed an 81-81 record in 1987 and featured a powerful lineup with the "Bash Brothers": Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, who had combined for 80 homers in 1987.

In the early going, Oakland was 8-6 and California was 6-7. Oakland had taken the first two games of the series with rallies in the eighth inning against a beleaguered Angels bullpen. Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley had picked up saves in both games and was unavailable for this game.

Both teams sent good pitchers to the mound this afternoon. The Angels started Mike Witt and Bob Welch got the call for Oakland. But neither pitcher would figure in the decision.

Oakland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. Third baseman Carney Lansford led off with a triple to left. After Canseco walked, designated hitter Dave Parker singled home Lansford. McGwire followed with a single to score Canseco and make it 2-0.

Both teams tallied in the third. Butch Wynegar doubled for the Angels and moved to third on a Gus Polidor sacrifice and scored on a sacrifice fly from Johnny Ray. But Oakland answered in the bottom half with another RBI single from McGwire to score Canseco to make it 3-1 Oakland. Lansford had an RBI single in the fourth to make it 4-1.

The Angels tried to get back in to the game in the fifth. Devon White led off with a double and scored when McGwire couldn't handle Wynegar's grounder. After Welch balked Wynegar over, a ground out by Polidor and another sacrifice fly by Ray made it 4- 3 Oakland. But Oakland got the run back in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single from Lansford.

In the sixth, the Angels put their offense into high gear. With one out, designated hitter Bill Buckner singled. Jack Howell grounded into a force play. But the third out would take a while. White singled Howell to second and Wynegar walked to load the bases. Mark McLemore batted for Polidor and drew a walk to make it 5-4. Ray singled to score White and it appeared that Doug Jennings' throw caught Wynegar at the plate, but Ron Hassey couldn't hold on to it and the Angels lead 6-5. Dick Schofield singled home McLemore to make it 7-5 and Oakland manager Tony La Russa brought in Greg Cadaret to relieve Welch. But Chili Davis singled in Ray and it was 8-5 before Wally Joyner made the last out.

Stewart Cliburn, who had missed the 1986 and 1987 seasons, came in to relieve Witt in the sixth and was able to use double plays to get out of minor jams in the sixth and seventh.

In the eighth, Lansford led off with his fourth hit of the game, this one a single to center. Cliburn walked Jennings and then gave up an RBI single to Canseco to make it 8-6 Angels. Rojas came to the mound and called for his nominal closer, Donnie Moore.

The first batter up was Parker and Moore was able to strike him out. McGwire followed and he struck out too. As Wynegar would say after the game, "Moore was throwing the [bleep] out of the ball." Up came Hassey, batting .120 at the time. Moore threw a 1-0 pitch right over the heart of the plate and Hassey crushed it over the right-field fence to put Oakland ahead 9-8. Gene Nelson, who entered the game in the eighth, set the Angels down 1-2-3 in the ninth to get the win.

Rojas was upset, to put it mildly, after the game. He and Angels GM Mike Port started looking for bullpen help after seeing it blow three straight late inning leads to Oakland. The Angels would turn to rookie Bryan Harvey, who would finish with 17 saves to lead the team and turn in several more good seasons in Anaheim. But the season was a disaster otherwise for the Angels. They would finish 75-87, losing their last 12 games of the season, nine of them with interim manager Moose Stubing in charge after Rojas was fired late in the year.

As for Oakland, it was a happier ending than the Angels. The Athletics went 104-58 and won the division by 13 games. Canseco was named the MVP of the American League with the first ever 40-40 season. Dave Stewart would win 21 games and Eckersley would save 45 games. It would have been a perfect year for Oakland if not for the pesky World Series.

Sources: Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, Retrosheet

2006-04-20 08:57:55
1.   Ken Arneson
"Welch balked Wynegar over"...that was the year they decided to enforce balks, wasn't it? I remember Dave Stewart got so many balks called against him it was ridiculous.

I'd like to say that I remember this game, but given that it was a Wednesday afternoon, I was probably in class at UC Berkeley at the time.

2006-04-20 09:08:22
2.   Bob Timmermann
If you were on campus that day, how come you didn't stop and say hello to me when I passed you by in Sproul Plaza?

I was the skinny guy in the blue shirt.

I weighed 170 lbs in 1988. And I'm 6'5".

2006-04-20 14:32:53
3.   das411
Wasn't this the year that the A's put together a ridiculously old-school lineup with Dave Henderson, Don Baylor, AND Dave Parker?

And has anyone ever seen Bryan Harvey and Sal Fasano in the same place at the same time...?

2006-04-20 21:35:25
4.   Steve
Moose Stubing, scourge of BYU fans everywhere.
2006-04-20 21:46:27
5.   Bob Timmermann
Dave Henderson wasn't all that "old school" in 1988. He was just 29 then.
2006-04-20 22:29:45
6.   das411
Bob, I will turn 29 in 2013. Maybe not "old school" but certainly OLD!
2006-04-20 23:13:04
7.   Bob Timmermann
There were four other regular starters older than Hendu: Ron Hassey, Dave Parker, Glenn Hubbard, and Carney Lansford.

Dave Stewart and Bob Welch were older than Henderson. So were Dennis Eckersley and Rick Honeycutt.

When the A's signed Henderson, not a lot was made of it. He was a nice extra part and he really came into his own that year.

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