With two games in hand, the Cincinnati Reds could get an unexpected break when the World Series resumes with Game 3 here tonight (8:32, Ch. 11).
The next three games, because they are being played in thAmerican League park, will feature the use of designated hitters. The absence of the DH was definitely a factor when the Oakland A's lost the first two games in Cincinnati.
"Not having the DH hurt us," said A's outfielder RickeHenderson. "It gives us another bat in the middle of the lineup. Instead we had pitchers who hadn't swung a bat all year up there."
But the irony of the situation is that, for tonight's game at leastthe Reds may benefit from the DH more than the A's. That's because Cincinnati has a lefthander, Tom Browning, scheduled to pitch. That could negate the effectiveness of the lefthanded-hitting Harold Baines, or possibly even keep him out of the starting lineup.
A's manager Tony La Russa has refused to use the absence oBaines, who has been the A's DH since being acquired from Texas on Aug. 29, as an excuse for Oakland's poor showing thus far. "Even without the DH, we have enough in the lineup to do more than we have been doing," said La Russa. "But with the DH, it gives us three or four more quality at-bats."
If La Russa decides to play the percentages and keep Baineout of the lineup, Dave Henderson is a likely candidate with the switch-hitting Willie McGee moving back into centerfield.
Cincinnati manager Lou Piniella, whose roots are in the AmericaLeague, is not worried about the impact a DH could have on the Series. "I think it will give us a chance to do a few more things with our lineup," said Piniella.
One advantage for the Reds is the fact the DH will make room ithe lineup for switch-hitter Todd Benzinger, who will move to first with Hal Morris moving to DH. That could protect Piniella's bench later in the game, since La Russa usually tries to alternate lefthanded and righthanded relievers in order to set up Dennis Eckersley. With Benzinger in the lineup, he doesn't have to worry about right-against-right or left-against-left situations.
The A's are in a peculiar position for tonight's must-win contestRighthander Mike Moore (13-15), who had the poorest record among the A's starters this year, will get the call against Browning. He will have little margin for error as La Russa cannot take the chance of falling behind early.
The A's will come back with their ace, Dave Stewart, in Game and either Bob Welch or Scott Sanderson will pitch the fifth game, if necessary. Piniella's rotation will probably be determined by tonight's outcome. Jose Rijo, who started Game 1, would likely get the call if the Reds lose tonight, making him available to face Stewart if the Series goes to a seventh game.
However, Rijo developed a blister in the 7-0 win in Game 1. Evethough he has said it wouldn't keep him from coming back with three days rest, it could be a factor if he has to make a fourth postseason start (counting one in the playoffs) with only three days of rest.