The 1989 Oakland A’s Master Game replay has found its way to September, but wouldn’t mind if it remained August. The Athletics went 25-3 in August, including a nice 14-game winning streak to begin the month. Oakland also went 13-1 in games decided by two runs or less as the pitching staff continues to steadily have the upper hand. The big four in the rotation are vying to get the A’s to the playoffs atop the AL West. Dave Stewart (BYZ, MG 15) is 18-10 with a 2.31 ERA with 11 CG, 6 shutouts and a WHIP of 0.973 in 30 starts. Mike Moore (AY, MG 15) is right behind Stewart with a 16-7 mark, 6 shutouts, and a sparkling 2.21 ERA along with a WHIP of 1.003. Bob Welch just came off an epic two-hit shutout in Oakland’s most recent game at County Stadium where he and Chris Bosio dueled all game, with Welch and the A’s winning 1-0 in Milwaukee. Welch (BY, MG 13) improved to 16-5 and a sub-3 ERA at 2.95. Storm Davis (BY, MG 13) has been in the zone as he’s 13-1 in his last 14 decisions. Overall, Davis is 15-5 and an ERA of 3.34. Having four starters with grades of 13 and higher have helped take away many singles on 8’s with bases empty. The bullpen of Corsi, Honeycutt, Nelson, Burns, and Eckersley is fully healthy, led by Eck and Honeycutt. Eckersley saved 11 games hurling 13 innings without allowing a run. Honeycutt didn’t allow a run in his 8+ innings of work, either. The underused bullpen will be used a bit more this month to better gauge who will be ultimately called upon before Eck. The staff as a whole doesn’t concern me in the least.
Over the last month, the offense has been jump started by the mostly quiet Carney Lansford and star Rickey Henderson. Lansford hit .377 and drove in 21 runs in the month. Rickey batted .358 with three HRs and 22 RBI. Both players combined to steal 22 bases as the 1-2 punch atop the lineup. Jose Canseco led the squad with 8 HRs and 26 RBI, 7 2Bs, and 25 SOs. Those three players will need to finish strong to maintain authority in the West. Mike Gallego (.337), Tony Phillips (.307), and Walt Weiss (.311) did their part at the bottom of the lineup all month, but those numbers I know won’t last forever. Dave Henderson (.292, 5 HR, 19 RBI) improved his otherwise pedestrian numbers of .260, 13HR, 61 RBI.
The offensive MVP again thru five months is the venerable Dave Parker. Cobra continues to strike when it’s needed. He had the game winning poke-job single to right to plate Lansford to beat Bosio and the Brewers in my last game. Parker leads the team with 90 RBI, 29 doubles, and an average of .315 while launching 21 home runs. It’s so fun playing with Parker, knowing that his time is “running out.” Mark McGwire has been the other power mainstay all season, hitting 33 HRs while driving in 87 runs. His 80 walks has ballooned his on base average to .372, compared to his marginal .254 batting average. PEDs aside, McGwire was my favorite player to watch as a child, and I’m always a little giddy when his card comes up. As long as the offense can scratch across 3-4 runs in any given game, I feel these A’s will be winners.
With a month to go, Oakland is currently 89-46, a whopping 9.5 games ahead of the KC Royals, and eight games better than their real-life counterparts. The A’s will finish their 13-game road trip with two more games at County Stadium before heading home for an eight-game homestand against Boston, New York, and Milwaukee. To finish the season, Oakland will also see the likes of the Indians, Twins, Rangers, and will end the season at home versus KC. I’m feeling really good about these A’s, and I’m impressed with the balance this team has. Every game is tense, and it gets me excited to see who will surprise me, or who or what will I learn more about.
With September callups official, my goal is to make sure I give Larry Arndt and Dick Scott chances to earn their first MLB hits. In real life, Arndt managed one hit in seven plate appearances in 89….and in his career….but in the replay, Arndt had zero hits in 15 PA before he was sent to AAA.
Scott played in exactly three games in his entire career, all in 89 going 0-2 for his career. In the replay, Scott also has gone 0-2, so it’s my goal to allow these two to get their moment in the sun. If and when the A’s clinch, these two will be at the forefront. I love these replays, learning about guys like this. It’s a tough road to the bigs…..it’s even tougher to stay. First thing is first, though, and that’s to focus on the next game….Dave Stewart tries for win #19 against Tom Filer at Milwaukee County Stadium amidst the smell of brats and the chorus of Milwaukee fans chanting, “Go Brewers Go” as the organist rallies the Brew Crew.