I thought this would be a good time for another segment, considering Thursday's opponent. Game thread to follow.
Scrapbook Memories celebrates the 20th anniversary of Oakland's last World Series triumph. We last left the A's in Arizona, where the defending American League champions have kicked off their spring schedule.
Oakland opened the Cactus League campaign with three consecutive losses before turning the ball over to ace Dave Stewart to get the Green and Gold into the win column. Stew delivered, going one inning past the three he was slated to pitch, and Gene Nelson followed with three scoreless frames, as the A's beat the Brewers, 7-1. Said the man whose Death Stare and cool mound demeanor made him a fan favorite:
"I hope this is a good sign. I was past impatient (to pitch). I was ready to go."
Manager Tony La Russa didn't mince words when speaking of his star starter:
"As long as they keep score, Stew gets himself ready to pitch. He's amazing."
Bay Area fans would be treated to a record nine exhibition games between the A's and San Francisco Giants, and Oakland drew first blood with a 6-2 victory, thanks in part to a pair of Mark McGwire bombs, and an RBI-single by Billy Beane, which came after Dave Parker was intentionally walked with a man on third and one out in the eighth inning.
Trailing 7-6 entering the ninth inning of the second game of a weekend series, the A's pushed 14 runs across the plate to stun San Francisco, 20-7. Catcher Ron Hassey:
"Just don't jump on the bandwagon. Because it can always happen to you."
Having taken three of four from their cross-town rivals in Arizona, including another comeback in which they scored six runs in the ninth to win 9-7, Oakland continued its success with two more victories in New Orleans. The first was by a 4-3 count, after they scored three runs in the ninth off closer Mike LaCoss, who was also the victim in the six-run explosion in the desert. LaCoss was in no mood to give the A's their just due:
"They're lucky right now. Everything they do is right."
The A's second triumph in the Big Easy had a 1988 feel to it: Stewart got the victory, McGwire homered, and Dennis Eckersley closed out the 4-2 win. When asked the importance of whipping the Giants for the fifth time in six tries, La Russa connected his forefinger and thumb to make a zero:
"It's good competition, but don't take it any further than that. They had the lead in the ninth in three of those games so that tells you how close the two teams are. The idea is to get the club ready to play Monday (in the season opener)."
The A's would have to get ready for Monday minus the reigning Most Valuable Player. Jose Canseco re-injured his left wrist in Oakland's very next game, yet another win over the beleaguered Giants. But the feel-good mood of spring had turned to concern over having to begin their title defense without Canseco for 3-5 weeks (it would turn out to be more time than that). Suddenly the A's weren't so "lucky", eh, LaCoss?
Regardless, Oakland kept right on beating the boys on the other side of the tracks, completing a three-game Bay Bridge Series sweep with a 6-4 victory at Candlestick Park, the club's eighth in nine games against San Francisco, which no doubt left Roger Craig numb, baby. Clearly getting a taste of Giant-domination in March would prepare the A's for October, when the stakes would be slightly raised.