OTD in 1988, Bash Brothers Were at Their Bashiest With 4 Homers in 16-inning Athletics Win

John Hickey

The high point of Oakland’s Bash Brothers era was, of course, the 1989 earthquake-interrupted World Series sweep of the San Francisco Giants.

If there was one game that best exemplified the power generated by Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, it took place on this date 32 years ago. On July 3, 1988, Canseco and McGwire combined to whack four homers, including a 16th-inning blast from McGwire that gave Oakland a 9-8 win in Toronto.

In fact, both men hit extra-inning bombs, Canseco hitting a two-run shot in the 12th that would have given the A’s the win had the A’s bullpen been able to hold the lead.

It was a Sunday series-ender in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium, a day game being played ahead of a flight to Cleveland, the next stop on the road. McGwire wasn’t in the lineup, getting a day off ahead of eight games in the next eight days on the road against the Indians and Tigers.

Canseco, who would finish with six RBI, ripped a two-run homer in the first, added an RBI grounder in the third and delivered a solo shot in the sixth. To that point, the right fielder had all four of the Oakland RBI, but later in the sixth Walt Weiss and Mike Gallego added run-scoring singles for a 6-2 lead.

But homers by George Bell in the bottom of the sixth off Jim Corsi and by Jesse Barfield off Rick Honeycutt in the seventh got the Blue Jays back within a run. Toronto then tied it in the ninth when Dennis Eckersley, who got two quick outs only to see third baseman Carney Lansford’s bad throw skip by first baseman McGwire, who’d come into the in the ninth as a defensive change. The runner, Manny Lee, made it to second base and would score on Tony Fernandez’s double as Eckersley, who would finish with 45 saves in 53 tries, blew this save.

No problem. Canseco, in his first extra-inning at-bat, hit a two-run shot in the 12th, good for an 8-6 lead. Greg Cadaret couldn’t hold the lead, though, as Tony Fernandez hit a two-run homer of his own to extend play.

A’s reliever Todd Burns, pitching in just his fourth career game, walked the bases loaded in the 15th but pitched out of the jam. Burns would then get his first big-league win when McGwire, playing in the seventh inning of what was supposed to be an off day, homered off lefty John Cerruti in the 16th for a 9-8 win.

Two items of note: Before Canseco homered in the 12th, Don Baylor walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Gene Nelson. The veteran reliever, getting a rare chance to run the bases, stole second, making him the first A’s reliever since Blue Moon Odom in 1973 with a steal. And no A’s pitcher has stolen a base since.

The A’s eventually would make it to Cleveland much later than expected, and after a short night they would play 16 more innings on the Fourth of July. And McGwire would for the second consecutive day homer in the 16 inning.

This time around, Corsi, Cadaret and Eckersley would combine for seven consecutive scoreless innings after starter Bob Welch gave up two runs in nine innings. Corsi got the win and Eckersley collected save No. 25.

For Canseco, it was the first of three 6-RBI games for him with the A’s. Two of them would be in Toronto, although the second one, on Sept. 15, 1991 came in SkyDome. That one, at least, was played in nine innings.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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