The Oakland Athletics have geography and maybe a little psychology on their side as they renew their World Series battle against the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight.
The A's, trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven Series, take on Dodgers left-hander John Tudor, who has pitched just once in the past 27 days and admits to being somewhat demoralized by the long layoff."It is a little disheartening having to go out and throw on 15 days' rest and then nine days and have myself and everyone else expecting me to do the job," Tudor said. "I'm not in any kind of rhythm now. I hope I get in one real quick."
At the same time, Dodgers slugger Kirk Gibson, unable to start either of the first two games because of leg injuries, was getting worse instead of better.
"I'm sorer today than I was yesterday - much sorer," Gibson said at Monday's workout.
With Bob Welch, a former Dodger, going for the A's, Game 3 features a matchup of two pitchers who have struggled in postseason games.
Tudor, 10-8 during the season, was traded from St. Louis to Los Angeles last Aug. 17 for Pedro Guerrero. He was 4-3 with the Dodgers but did not start in the regular season after Sept. 18. He didn't pitch again until Oct. 9, when he gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings against New York in the playoffs.
That gave Tudor a career playoff ERA of 3.00. His World Series ERA is 4.03.
The Dodgers said Tudor was rested at the end of the regular season because of a hip injury. Tudor said it wasn't so.
"I'm not hurt. I haven't been hurt," Tudor said. "That played no part in it."
Lasorda said he understood Tudor's consternation, but he said he had a choice to make.
"When I was putting together the pitching assignments, I felt it would be easier for Tudor to pitch on too much rest than (rookie) Tim Belcher," Lasorda said. "I felt with Tudor's experience in big games, he would be better able to handle it than Belcher."
Welch, meanwhile, has a lifetime playoff ERA of 4.50, and his World Series history has slid precipitously since his spotlight strikeout of Reggie Jackson in 1978. He made only one start in the 1981 World Series against New York and gave up two runs on three hits and walk, leaving without getting a single batter out.
Welch's career ERA in the World Series is 10.39.
"In 1981, it was just one of those days when he didn't have his good stuff," Dodgers Manager Tom Lasorda said, at the same time dismissing notions that Welch is too hyper to pitch well in big games.
"That's just not true," Lasorda said.
Welch went to the A's along with Matt Young for Alfredo Griffin and Jay Howell last Dec. 11 in a three-way deal that also sent Jesse Orosco to the Dodgers from the New York Mets in return for minor leaguers from both clubs.
He made one start in the playoffs against Boston, giving up five runs on six hits in 1 2-3 innings.