OAKLAND — OAKLAND, Calif. -- Well, Mike Boddicker certainly pitched better than he did in his playoff start against Oakland in 1988. Problem was, the game ultimately recalled his struggles with the Orioles that same year.
Baltimore fans remember Boddicker's hard-luck trifecta: Minimarun support, shaky defense, bizarre hits. Each resurfaced yesterday in Boston's 4-1 loss to Oakland, even though Boddicker pitched a complete game.
Does this sound familiar?
"It's frustrating because we lost," Boddicker said. "But I wasn'frustrated with myself at all. I did what I had to do. I thought I pitched a pretty good ballgame. I'm not going to hang my head over that one."
Two of the runs he allowed were unearned, following errors bshortstop Luis Rivera and catcher Tony Pena. Willie Randolph hit two RBI singles, one off the end of his bat, the other a bouncer up the middle.
It was Boddicker's first loss in 10 starts -- he was 17-8 with a 3.36 ERA this season -- and possibly his final appearance in a Boston uniform. He is eligible for free agency, and is expected to seek a contract with a Midwest team, closer to his home in Norway, Iowa.
Boddicker, 33, has won 39 games in 2 1/2 seasons since thOrioles sent him to Boston for outfielder Brady Anderson and pitcher Curt Schilling on July 29, 1988. Yesterday he was just unlucky. In the '88 playoffs, he allowed six runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I stunk," he said.
The Boston starters now have a 1.37 ERA and three losses ithis series. After going 0-for-3 against Boddicker with two strikeouts and a walk yesterday, Oakland rightfielder Jose Canseco said, "To me he pitched the best out of all of them, even [Roger] Clemens."
"That's the way the guy pitches almost every time he takes thball," Boston manager Joe Morgan said. "That's Boddicker. He's a gamer. And he doesn't get the credit he deserves."
* DENNIS AND DEWEY REVISITED: It was perfect that DwighEvans got another crack at Dennis Eckersley yesterday. And it was perfect that Evans struck out, prompting another fiery encounter between the two old friends.
Eckersley pointed toward home plate in glee, Evans respondewith an expletive. After Game 2, Evans said, "I look forward to our next confrontation. I really do." Yesterday, he muttered, "I don't want to get into 'Eck.' "
For his part, Eckersley said he wasn't trying to antagonizEvans. "I didn't want to make him mad," Eckersley said. "I didn't want to walk him either [on a 3-2 count]. He swung at a ball out of the strike zone. I just pointed to the check swing. No offense to him, believe me."
Eckersley broke Rollie Fingers' major-league record by earninhis 10th postseason save. He has appeared in all 11 Oakland victories in the last three AL Championship Series. His career ERA in the playoffs is 0.60 (one earned run in 15 innings).
* HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Harold Baines had his first sacrificbunt since 1984 in Game 1, and yesterday he stole his first base since 1986. Heaven knows why Boston catcher Tony Pena tried to throw out Canseco at third rather than Baines at second on an attempted double steal.
Pena fooled even Wade Boggs, who was late covering thirdCanseco had slowed down, but Pena's throw bounced off the bag, and he was safe. Both runners eventually scored, giving Oakland a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning.
Any way you look at it, Pena probably should not have thrown tthird. Mark McGwire struck out on the play, and Baines represented the second out. Dave Henderson's fly to right should have ended the inning. Instead, it scored Canseco.
* ORIENT EXPRESS: Cecil Fielder hit 51 homers upon returninfrom Japan, so now everyone wants to go. Boston's little-used Mike Marshall openly discussed the possibility this week. Larry Sheets, a potential free agent in Detroit, also is considering the path chosen by former Orioles teammate Jim Traber.
"I've got to play. I've got to get my confidence and skills backand I'd still be young enough to come back and make an impact," Marshall, 30, told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm like Fielder in that I'm the perfect player for Japan [a power hitter]."
The Orioles nearly acquired Marshall for catcher Bob Melvin thisummer, but a proposed trade with the New York Mets fell through, and Marshall went to Boston for three minor-leaguers instead. He is 1-for-3 in the series.
* BACK IN BALTIMORE: All is quiet on the Orioles' frontLefthander Joe Price will undergo an MRI on his back this week, after which the club will have until Oct. 20 to pick up his option year. Designated hitter Ron Kittle also has a club option, but no decision on him is imminent.
General manager Roland Hemond said the deadline for acting oKittle's contract is not until Dec. 15, which means the Orioles can wait until after the winter meetings before deciding whether they'll bring him back next year.
"It will probably be a while before we get into that," Hemonsaid.
* AROUND THE HORN: Boddicker on his chances of stabbinRandolph's RBI single in the sixth. "I'm too old. My legs are shot. I can't jump any more." One more Boddicker note: The last pitcher to throw a complete game and lose in the ALCS was Boston's Bruce Hurst, against Oakland in 1988.
The A's (29 singles, three doubles) still haven't hit a home run ithis series -- although Mark McGwire was robbed by leftfielder Mike Greenwell yesterday. One reason for their lack of power is that Canseco is plagued by hand and back injuries. He has opened his stance, and is using a lighter bat.
The Red Sox's three runs in this series have come on a solhomer by Boggs and two sacrifice flies. Boggs has five of the club's 19 hits. Evans and Ellis Burks have three each. Tom Brunansky is 1-for-9 with a sacrifice fly, Jody Reed 1-for-11, Greenwell 0-for-10.