For A's, only first names change as dreaded Hatcher curse returns zTC

CINCINNATI — CINCINNATI -- If they're smart, the Oakland A's will start drafting every prospect named Hatcher. That way, maybe they can prevent another player with that surname from ruining their next World Series.

Two years ago, Mickey Hatcher went 7-for-19 in Los Angeles' shocking upset of the A's, hitting two-run homers in the first innings of Games 1 and 5 and finishing with five runs and five RBIs.


That, however, is nothing compared to the damage being inflicted in this World Series by Cincinnati's Billy, the only other Hatcher listed in the Baseball Encyclopedia.

Hatcher set a Series record with seven straight hits as the Reds won the first two games at Riverfront Stadium. He sparked last night's 5-4 victory in 10 innings by going 4-for-4 with two doubles and a triple.


The previous mark of six straight hits was shared by Leon "Goose" Goslin, who did it for the Washington Senators in 1924, and Thurman Munson, who did it for the New York Yankees against the Reds in 1976.

"Where's Hatch at?" Cincinnati's Eric Davis shouted, searching for his centerfielder in a joyous clubhouse. "I want to buy some of that stuff he's selling."

Can you blame him? Hatcher's two-game totals include 13 total bases, five runs, five extra-base hits and two walks. Great Rotisserie League numbers -- except this is the postseason.

Naturally, the first question to Hatcher in the post-game interview room was, "Is it that easy?" He replied, "It's not easy at all. Right now, things are just happening for me."

The amazing thing is, Hatcher was nearly the goat last night. He got picked off first after leading off the fifth with a bunt single. And he failed to score from third on a fly to right by Davis with none out in the eighth.

Jose Canseco's throw sailed up the third-base line, and CBS showed Reds manager Lou Piniella cursing in the home dugout. Needless to say, Hatcher was relieved when Glenn Braggs scored him on a fielder's choice.

"Canseco has a good arm, but I made a mistake," Hatcher said. "He had to turn and throw. I gave him too much credit. Thank God we scored the run anyway."

Of course they did.


His name is Hatcher, isn't it?

* UNSUNG HERO AWARD: It goes to Cincinnati righthander Jack Armstrong, who pitched three scoreless innings after entering the game at the start of the fifth.

Armstrong (12-9, 3.42), who started for the NL in the All-Star Game, has been used sparingly the last two months because of a tender forearm. His last victory was Aug. 14, and he did not pitch in the playoffs.

Some observers believe he should have started over lefthander Danny Jackson last night. Armstrong is a hard thrower like Game 1 winner Jose Rijo, and virtually all of the A's power is on the right side.

"He had a shot to pitch well against Oakland," Piniella said. "He's got a fastball that rides and a sharp slider. I figured he would play a role for us, not as a starter, but out of the bullpen."

* LOOKING AHEAD: Oakland's Mike Moore will face Cincinnati's Tom Browning in Game 3 tomorrow, and then comes the rematch of Rijo and Dave Stewart in Game 4.


Rijo developed a blood blister on the middle finger of his right hand in the third inning Tuesday night. The blister could prove bothersome when he throws his slider, but he does not seem too worried.

Asked if he could pitch, Rijo said, "Hell, yeah. No problem. Piece of cake. When I'm out there throwing I try to forget about pain. I just think about what I have to do."

* RICKEY, RICKEY: The defensive play of the night was Rickey Henderson's leaping snow-cone catch on pinch hitter Todd Benzinger's drive to left in the ninth. Henderson got so excited, he showed the ball to the wall and pumped his fist.

But Rickey, what if the umpires checked your glove to make sure it wasn't oversized? "It wouldn't have made any difference," Henderson replied. "They challenged it the first day I got in the league."

Henderson also cut off a single by Chris Sabo in the sixth and threw him out at second. After going 3-for-5 in Game 1, he finished 1-for-4 with a walk, extending his postseason hitting streak to 14 games.

* AROUND THE HORN: A's manager Tony La Russa indicated he will use Harold Baines as his DH against Browning in Game 3. That could mean Willie McGee will sit until Game 5. His replacement in center, Dave Henderson, went 2-for-4 with a walk.


Banner headline in yesterday's Cincinnati Post: "Davis Stuns Goliath" . . . Game 1 was the first Series game played outside of California since Oct. 25, 1987, at Minnesota. Elapsed time: 1,088 days.