Dennis Eckersley is no stranger to the drama of postseason baseball.
In 1988, Eckersley gave up one of the most iconic home runs in World Series history when hobbled pinch-hitter Kirk Gibson homered to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a victory over the Oakland Athletics.
One year later, Eckersley recorded the final out as the A’s swept the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series.
“I’ve played on teams with Oakland that I thought were the best in baseball,” says the 64-year-old Eckersley, who is in the TBS broadcast booth for the Indians-Astros ALDS. “And two of them lost. Everything is so urgent in the playoffs — a big hit here, a big hit there. Who’s gonna out-pitch the other?”
Eckersley, the Cy Young Award winner and Hall of Famer who pitched for the Indians from 1975 to 1979, talked with us about the Tribe’s chances against the defending world champions.
Q: What do the Indians have to do to beat the Astros?
A: These are arguably the two best starting rotations in baseball going up against each other. The Indians are going to have to lean on their starters. I don’t know what they’re going to get out of [Trevor] Bauer. But this is not their first rodeo. … The Indians have experience. I like [Francisco] Lindor a lot. I like his personality and the way he handles himself. He’s the face of baseball right now. [Edwin] Encarnacion is a major talent and I love [Michael] Brantley. He’s a beautiful hitter.
A: That doesn’t take anything away from the fact they can beat anybody in a five-game series. They beat the shit out of the people they were supposed to beat. Houston is the team to beat, they’ve got the trophy. But I don’t think anybody will be shocked if the Indians beat them.
Q: What was it like winning the 1989 World Series, when an earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area?
A: Winning it all was my best memory, because they could have cancelled that series. I was in the bathroom when [the earthquake] happened. California is where I grew up, so I knew what it was. It was so loud it sounded like there was a train coming through. I got the hell out of that clubhouse.
Q: You were American League Rookie of the Year in 1975 with the Indians. What are your memories of your time with the Tribe?
A: Well, having Frank Robinson hit that home run on Opening Day was a hell of a way to break in. In 1977, I threw a no-hitter against Frank Tanana and the Angels. That was memorable. A lot of people didn’t like playing in that old stadium but I didn’t mind it.
Q: Ok, who are you picking in this series?
A: Let’s put it this way, I hope Cleveland wins.