Dodger Stadium was still buzzing from the afterglow of Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, and 25 years ago Wednesday the Dodgers sent eventual Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser to the mound against the Athletics in Game 2.
Hershiser was coming off a shutout of the Mets four days earlier in Game 7 of the NLCS, which came three days after his save in Game 4 and four days after his start in Game 3.
After the euphoria of Gibson's home run in Game 1, Hershiser forgot his notes on the A's hitters. So he took a laminated card with him to the mound. Sam McManis of the Los Angeles Times has more:
In his back pocket was a laminated sheet of paper, about the size of a credit card, with all his information about A's hitters. Before the start of the game, Hershiser took Doug Harvey, the umpire crew chief, and plate umpire Durwood Merrill aside and told him what he had in his possession and not to panic if he referred to it occasionally.
"It was my cheat sheet, but I won't say what was on it," Hershiser said. "I referred to it 2 or 3 times."
Whatever information Hershiser gleaned from scouting reports must have helped, because the only A's hitter who could figure him out was Dave Parker, who accounted for all 3 hits.
Hershiser would shutout the A's on just three hits, extending his great pitching run. From Aug. 19 through this Game 2 start, Hershiser lasted at least nine innings in 11 of his 13 starts. In a span of 59 days he threw 115⅔ innings and was 9-1 with a save and a miniscule 0.54 ERA.
But that wasn't all, as Hershiser matched his hits allowed with three hits of his own, including two doubles and an RBI. His one single came in the third inning, one of five consecutive hits off Storm Davis, culminating in a three-run home run by Storm Davis.
Hershiser drove in another run himself in the fourth, his second straight game with an early 6-0 lead.
He cruised from there, completing the shutout, his 10th of the year, with eight strikeouts.
In spring training of 1989, catcher Mike Scioscia went over Hershiser's Game 2 start pitch by pitch with Peter Gammons in Sports Illustrated. It is a fantastic article, which concludes with the following:
Orel really wanted the shutout once he got this close, and decided to go to the windup. Parker had all three of the A's hits, and all had come on Orel's sinking pitches. We'd shown him the big breaking ball only twice before, so we started him off with a curve outside. Then a good breaking ball for a called strike and another curveball inside that Parker missed for strike two. Then Orel simply finished him off with an unhittable curve down and in. Swing and a miss. Strike three. Game over.
The underdog Dodgers headed to Oakland with a 2-0 lead.
Game 2 particulars
Home runs: Mike Marshall (1)
WP - Orel Hershiser (1-0): 9 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
LP - Storm Davis (0-1): 3⅓ IP, 8 hits, 6 runs, 2 strikeouts