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On This Date in Sports: October 20, 1990: Reds October

The Cincinnati Reds complete a stunning four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics in the World Series with a 2-1 win at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. Jose Rijo wins his second game of the Fall Classic to earn the World Series MVP. Rijo played with Oakland from 1985 to 1987 before he was traded for Dave Parker. Eric Davis could not enjoy the celebration after he suffered a lacerated kidney making an attempt at a diving catch in the first inning. 

The Cincinnati Reds emerged from the dark clouds of the Pete Rose banishment with Lou Piniella as their new manager in 1990. The Reds got off to a strong start, winning eight of their first nine games, and led the National League West every day of the season, becoming the first National League team to go wire-to-wire.  Helping the Reds hold on to their lead were three hard-throwing relievers (Rob Dibble, Randy Myers, and Norm Charlton) nicknamed the “Nasty Boys.” The Reds finished with a record of 91-71, finishing five games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds faced an old foe in the NLCS as they took on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The rivals of the Ohio River played in the NLCS four times in the 1970s. The Reds won three of the four previous NLCS showdowns in six games as Myers and Dibble shared MVP honors.

The Oakland Athletics were in the World Series for the third consecutive season for manager Tony LaRussa. The Athletics posted the best record in baseball at 103-59 as they sought to win a second straight World Championship. Bob Welch had a historic season for Oakland, winning the Cy Young Award, as he posted a record of 27-6. No pitcher has won 25 games in a season since. Rickey Henderson led the American League in hitting and won the MVP. The Athletics made quick work of the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, winning four straight games as Roger Clemens was ejected for arguing in Game 4. Dave Stewart was named ALCS MVP. 

Dave Stewart, named World Series MVP in 1989 and ALCS MVP in 1990, was the choice to start Game 1 at Riverfront Stadium, while Jose Rijo made the start for Cincinnati. At one time, Rijo was a top prospect for the Athletics. Rijo made his debut with the New York Yankees in 1984 at the age of 18. He was called up as a response to the headlines that Dwight Gooden was getting with the Mets. The Yankees would trade Rijo to the A’s after the 1984 trade in a blockbuster deal to acquire Rickey Henderson. Rijo had growing pains in Oakland and was traded to the Reds for Dave Parker. Parker played two seasons with the Athletics and had several critical hits in the 1989 World Series. The Reds got to Stewart early as Eric Davis had a two-run home run in the first inning. The Reds added two more runs in the third, as Billy Hatcher doubled home Barry Larkin and scored on a slow ground ball off Paul O’Neill. Todd Burns came into pitch for Oakland in the fifth, as the Reds added three more runs to stretch the lead to 7-0. Davis had an RBI single, while Chris Sabo knocked in a pair. Jose Rijo spread seven hits over seven innings as Rob Dibble and Randy Myers pitched the final two innings. 

After losing 7-0 in Game 1, the Athletics had Bob Welch on the mound in Game 2 as Danny Jackson made the start for Cincinnati. After being shut out, the Athletics got a run in the first inning, courtesy of Rickey Henderson’s speed as he stole second base after a single and scored on a grounder by Jose Canseco. The Reds answered with two runs in the second, as Billy Hatcher doubled in Barry Larkin and scored on a grounder by Eric Davis. In the third inning, Oakland regained the lead with three runs as Canseco hit a home run. Following the homer, the A’s would load the bases against Jackson, taking the lead on a sac fly by Ron Hassey. They added a third run on a single by Mike Gallego to take a 4-1 lead and send Danny Jackson to the showers. The Reds bullpen pitched masterfully the rest of the way as Scott Scudder, Jack Armstrong, Norm Charlton, and Rob Dibble combined allowed four hits the rest of the way. The Reds got one run back on a single by Norm Charlton in the fourth. In the eighth inning, Hatcher led off with a triple after Welch was relieved by Rick Honeycutt. The Reds tied the game on an RBI grounder by Glenn Braggs. The game remained tied 4-4 into extra innings. In the tenth inning, Dennis Eckersley gave up three straight singles to Billy Bates, Chris Sabo, and Joe Oliver; the final one won the game 5-4.

In Game 3, the series shifted to Oakland, with Mike Moore starting for the Athletics while Tom Browning made the start for Cincinnati. Chris Sabo hit a home run in the second to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. The A’s answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-run home run by Harold Baines. Oakland’s lead would not last long as an error by Mark McGwire helped open the floodgates, with the Reds scoring seven runs in the third inning. Sabo had a two-run home run. Scott Sanderson came in with one out and gave up three more runs, as Joe Oliver had a run-scoring double and Barry Larkin a triple. Down 8-2, Rickey Henderson hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the third but would get no closer as the Reds’ bullpen shut the door again. 

After an 8-3 win in Game 3, the Reds had a 3-0 lead in the series. The Athletics entered the World Series as a heavy favorite and were one game away from being swept as Dave Stewart faced Jose Rijo again. The A’s got a break in the first inning as Eric Davis could not come up with the ball on a diving attempt on a double by Willie McGee. Davis was injured on the play and had to go to the hospital with a lacerated kidney. McGee later scored on a single by Carney Lansford. The Reds also lost Billy Hatcher after he was hit in the hand by a pitch in the first inning. Hatcher had tormented Oakland pitching, going 9-for-12 in the Fall Classic. Down 1-0, with two-thirds of his outfield injured, Jose Rijo buckled down and did not allow another hit. Dave Stewart kept the Reds at bay until the eighth inning when Barry Larking and Herm Winningham led off with singles. Paul O’Neill laid down a perfect bunt and was safe on a poor throw by Stewart to load the bases with no outs. Glenn Braggs tied the game on an RBI grounder, while Hal Morris hit a sac fly to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead. Rijo had not allowed a base runner after the second inning. After retiring 21 straight batters with nine strikeouts, Jose Rijo was taken out of the game with one out in the ninth. Randy Myers entered the game and got the final two outs as  Carney Lansford fouled out to Todd Benzinger at first base.