Pitching generally tends to dominate any short stretch of baseball games, and this year's World Series has certainly been no exception. As the teams split the first six contests, the respective mound corps were in command most of the time. And the way the rotations worked out, each club had its ace -- Bret Saberhagen for Kansas City and John Tudor for St. Louis -- poised to work Sunday night's seventh and deciding contest. It was Tudor who turned in the most impressive individual pitching performance over the first six games, beating the Royals 3-1 in the opener and coming back to shut them out 3-0 on a brilliant five-hitter in Game 4. The crafty left-hander's earned run average to that point was a glittering 0.57, and he was the only hurler on either side to be credited with two victories.
Kansas City's 23-year-old southpaw Danny Jackson wasn't far behind, though, in terms of overall effectiveness. He was only a hair less impressive than Tudor, if that, in Game 1, losing a tough duel in which he actually gave up fewer hits and was in less trouble, but in which his teammates just couldn't capitalize on their opporrunities. Then he, too, pitched a five-hit shutout in his next appearance, defeating the Redbirds 6-1. Making this effort even more impressive, of course, was the ``must'' situati on in which it came -- with the Royals trailing 3-1 in games and facing elimination in St. Louis.
Because of the order in which the pitchers appeared, Saberhagen had only one chance in the first six games -- but he certainly made the most of that. Even younger than Jackson (in fact the youngest World Series starter since Jim Palmer for Baltimore back in 1966), and facing a similar presssure situation (the Royals were down 2-0 and playing in St. Louis), the slender 21-year-old right-hander showed the poise of a veteran as he mowed the Cardinals down on six hits to lift his team back into the thick of
things. He also captured the hearts of the fans with his obvious excitement about his impending fatherhood, which occurred this past weekend as his wife, Janeane, gave birth to a baby boy.
And these were just the three who got most of the headlines, while at least a couple of others hurled nearly as effectively without quite as much notice.
Danny Cox of St. Louis and Charlie Liebrandt of Kansas City, who hooked up in a pair of sterling duels in Games 2 and 6, are the prime examples. Each pitched superbly in both games, but their combined won-lost records came out to 0-1.
Liebrandt had the upper hand for most of Game 2, taking a 2-0 lead and a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning. Cox also had pitched well, but had left for a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Thus when Liebrandt weakened and the Cardinals rallied for a 4-2 win, he got charged with the loss despite his masterful game-long effort, while Cox missed the win, which went to reliever Ken Dayley.
In Game 6, the same starters hooked up again -- this time in a scoreless battle for seven innings. Again Cox left for a pinch-hitter in the eighth, but this time it resulted in a run for St. Louis and a 1-0 lead. Liebrandt was relieved in the midst of that uprising. So when the Royals staged a ninth-inning rally of their own to pull out the game 2-1 on Dane Iorg's two-run single, neither starter was involved in the decision -- the win going to K.C. relief ace Dan Quisenberry while the loss was charged to Redbird fireman Todd Worrell.
The other starters -- Bud Black of the Royals and Joaquin Andjuar and Bob Forsch of the Cardinals -- were less effective. But the overall performance for the two rotations still rates an A-plus.
As for the bullpens, with Tudor, Jackson, and Saberhagen pitching complete games, and with Cox and Liebrandt coming close, relievers didn't get as much work as in most other recent Series. Their records were spotty too. The Cardinal relievers got credit for one win (Dayley) and two saves (Todd Worrell and Jeff Lahti) in the first six games, but Worrell also was charged with the Game 6 loss, and the bullpen overall had its rocky moments as well as its good ones. Quisenberry was Kansas City's main man as usual, appearing in four of the first six contests, pitching fairly effectively overall, and getting credit for the Game 6 win.