The lost art of bunting won the World Series for the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night. Two bunts set up a two-run eighth inning that gave the Reds a 2-1 victory over Oakland and a shocking sweep of the Athletics.
The Reds had 88 sacrifices this season, second in baseball behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. And when the key moment came in the eighth inning, Herm Winningham and Paul O'Neill executed their bunts to perfection.
Oakland led 1-0 and although the Reds were getting hits, Dave Stewart was shutting them down with runners in scoring position. Barry Larkin's leadoff single in the eighth was Cincinnati's sixth hit of the game, yet there were no runs.
Winningham, who had two sacrifices in 177 plate appearances this year, fell behind 0-2. He then put down a perfect bunt that rolled midway between the mound and the plate, and beat catcher Jamie Quirk's throw to first.
On the very next pitch, O'Neill bunted back to Stewart. O'Neill had sacrificed only once in 564 times up during the season, but on Saturday night it looked as if he did it all the time.
The ball rolled back to Stewart, who fired to first in plenty of time. But the throw was wild to the foul side, pulling Willie Randolph just a tiny bit off the bag, in the opinion of umpire Randy Marsh.
WORLD SERIES SWEEPS
1907-Chicago Cubs 4, Detroit Tigers 0, 1 tie
1914-Boston Braves 4, Philadelphia Athletics 0
1922-New York Giants 4, New York Yankees 0, 1 tie
1927-New York Yankees 4, Pittsburgh Pirates 0
1928-New York Yankees 4, St. Louis Cardinals 0
1932-New York Yankees 4, Chicago Cubs 0
1938-New York Yankees 4, Chicago Cubs 0
1939-New York Yankees 4, Cincinnati Reds 0
1950-New York Yankees 4, Philadelphia Phillies 0
1954-New York Giants 4, Cleveland Indians 0
1963-Los Angeles Dodgers 4, New York Yankees 0
1966-Baltimore Orioles 4, Los Angeles Dodgers 0
1976-Cincinnati Reds 4, New York Yankees 0
1989-Oakland Athletics 4, San Francisco Giants 0
1990-Cincinnati Reds 4, Oakland Athletics 0
WORLD SERIES RESULTS
Game 1: Cincinnati 7, Oakland 0
Game 2: Cincinnati 5, Oakland 4 (10 innings)
Game 3: Cincinnati 8, Oakland 3
Game 4: Cincinnati 2, Oakland 1
Reds win series 4-0