This is a bit of a departure from this blog’s strict focus on the 1989 season, but I happened to come across a game account for Tony La Russa’s first game with the A’s on July 7 of 1986, in which Dave Stewart, making his first A’s start, picked up his first win since September of 1984 by beating Roger Clemens in Boston. It seemed relevant since Stewart and La Russa are so integral to the 1989 A’s, so here’s some lines from the account, by Bruce Jenkins of the S.F. Chronicle: “Canseco and Kingman put on a batting-practice display that bordered on the surreal. Kingman hit one monstrous drive after another, way over the left-field wall. Canseco preferred the distant bleachers in center field, routinely rocketing 450-foot shots toward a wildly appreciative group of fans.”
Also before the game, La Russa said: “If I’m boring, I apologize. It’s just that I can’t get my mind off this game. I’ll be the same way later – thinking about tomorrow.”
And, in the sixth inning, with the A’s and Stewart already up 3-1, and Lansford on first: “Clemens tried a slider on the first pitch, and Canseco drilled it into the left-field screen for his 20th homer of the year. Then came Kingman, hacking a head-high fastball into the night – just like batting practice – and the A’s had a 6-1 lead.”
Second baseman Tony Phillips also “made two sensational plays, diving to his left to rob Boggs (fifth inning) and racing far into center field to snare a blooper by Don Baylor (sixth).”
Phillips gave this quote: “Hey, I’ve got to show that man I can play. If I don’t produce, he won’t stay with me too long. I’ve got to prove I should stay in the lineup.”
Stewart pitched six innings plus and gave up three runs for the win before leaving, then a guy named Dave Von Ohlen, in his first appearance for the A’s, came in with runners on first and second, no one out, in the seventh. He gave up an inherited run, then Bill Buckner bunted, and Jerry Willard sprang out to pick up the ball and threw to third to start a double play. Ohlen left and a guy named Doug Bair came on to get the save with seven straight outs.
Afterward, Canseco, who was boasting even as a rookie, said about Fenway: “I think I’d hit 50 homers a year if I played here. That’s how much I like it.”
Lansford said: “It just felt like we finally had the right guy (manager) on the bench. A guy with experience and a proven record. Tony La Russa just exudes confidence – and you play like your manager acts.”