1981 October

1stNeeding a win to go into first place in the NL West, the Reds lose to Nolan Ryan and the Astros, 8–1. Houston wins two out of 3 with the Reds to finish first by 1.5 games.

3rd  In Cincinnati, Bob Horner homers twice and scores the winning run on Ron Oester’s 8th-inning throwing error to give the Braves a 4–3 win over the Reds and give the Astros the 2nd-half title in the NL West. Cincinnati, which lost the first-half title to the Dodgers by one-half game, will finish with the best overall record (66-42) in the major leagues, but will not make the playoffs.

      The Mets lose 5–4 to the Expos, though New York’s Mike Cubbage hits an 8th inning home run, off Jeff Reardon.  It is Cubbage’s last ML at bat.

Bob Johnson of Texas hits a game-ending homer in the 9th off the Angel’s Angel Moreno to give Texas a 1-0 win.

      The Brewers (since 1970) and Expos (1969) clinch their first-ever post-season appearances. Milwaukee beats Detroit, 2–1, to wrap up the 2nd-half title in the AL East, while Montreal edges New York, 5–4, to win the NL East’s 2nd playoff spot.

4th  With one game remaining in the season, the Mets fire manager Joe Torre and his entire coaching staff. The team finishes 41-62.

      The Reds Mario Soto fires a one-hitter, beating the Braves, 3–0. The only Atlanta hit is a 2nd inning single by Chris Chambliss.

      Lonnie Smith singles to lead off the game for the Phils to extend his hitting streak to 23 straight games. He’s lifted and the Phils go on to edge the Cubs, 2-1.

      Jerry Hairston hits a grand slam in the 8th inning, then drives in the winning run in Chicago’s 4-run 9th inning to cap a wild 13-12 White Sox victory over the Twins. Hairston ends with 6 RBIs.  Dewey Robinson (1-0) is the winning pitcher in his final ML game.

5th  Kansas City shuts out Cleveland 9–0 in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader to clinch the 2nd-half title in the AL West. The 2nd game is canceled as irrelevant.

6th  In the National League Western Division playoff opener, Nolan Ryan pitches the Astros to a 3–1 win over LA.

      Oakland coasts past KC to a 4–0 victory behind the 4-hit complete-game shutout of Mike Norris in the opening game of the American League Western Division playoff.

7th  The Expos down Philley 3–1 in game one of the National League Eastern Division playoff.

      Ron Davis and Goose Gossage provide a 1-2 relief punch that Milwaukee cannot survive, losing to the Yankees 5–3 in the opening game of the American League Eastern Division playoff.

      Houston pitching continues to sparkle as 3 pitchers combine to shut out the Dodgers for 11 innings, resulting in a 1–0 Astro victory, and putting Houston up 2 games to none in the-best-of-5 series.

Another series of excellent pitching: the A’s Steve McCatty goes the distance in a 2–1            win over the Royals.

      Atlanta fires manager Bobby Cox. Eight days later, Cox will sign a one-year contract to manage the Toronto Blue Jays.

8th  Philley loses to the Expos by an identical 3–1 score, putting them in the hole 2 games to none.

      Dave Righetti and Davis and Gossage in relief are too much for the Brewers as they are shut out 3–0. All the Yankee scoring comes on HRs by Reggie Jackson and Lou Piniella.

9th  The Phillies bats wake up, collecting 13 hits in a 6–2 win over Montreal. Montreal chips in with 4 errors.

      Facing elimination, the Dodgers get the pitching this time and down Houston 6–1.

       Brewers, also facing elimination, beat the Yanks in the 8th inning 5–3 on Paul Molitor’s solo home run. Ted Simmons clubs a 2-run homer and Randy Lerch pitches 6 solid innings for the win.

      The A’s sweep Kansas City by winning 4–1. In the 3 games, last year’s pennant winners score only 2 runs.

10th  A pinch homer by George Vukovich in the bottom of the 10th inning gives Tug McGraw and the Phillies a 6–5 win over Montreal and ties up the series 2-2.

      Another series is tied up at 2-2 as Fernando Valenzuela wins over the Astros, 2–1.

      On a cold day in New York, Milwaukee stays alive by winning 2–1. This is the 3rd series knotted at 2-all.

11th  Steve Rogers wins the playoff for Montreal over Philadelphia by twirling a 6-hit shutout and knocking in 2 of his team’s runs in a 3–0 victory.

      After being down 2 games to none, LA shuts out Houston 4–0 behind Jerry Reuss to take the playoff.

      Yankee bats are too much for the Brewers. Three HRs, including the 2nd of the series by Jackson, and 13 hits provide a 7–3 win and a trip to the ALCS.

13th  Los Angeles takes game one of the NLCS 5–1 over Montreal.

      In the ALCS opener against Oakland, Yankee pitching once again asserts itself, as Tommy John, Ron Davis, and Goose Gossage combine to hold up Graig Nettles’s first-inning 3-run double 3–1.

      The Padres fire manager Frank Howard and his entire coaching staff. San Diego finished last in the NL West in each half of the season.

14th  In game 2 of the ALCS, Yankee Graig Nettles singles twice in a 7-run 4th inning to become the first player ever to collect 2 hits in one inning in LCS play. New York sets LCS records for runs and hits (19) in a 13–3 rout of Oakland.

      Montreal downs LA, 3–0, behind Ray Burris’s 5-hitter. Tim Raines has 3 hits.

15th  The Yankees wrap up their 33rd AL pennant with a 4–0 win over the A’s, completing a 3-game sweep of the ALCS.

      Less than a year after leading the club to its only World Championship, Phillies manager Dallas Green jumps to the Cubs to become their general manager.

16th  Montreal wins 4–1 over Los Angeles behind Steve Rogers. White’s 3-run HR is the big blow in the 4-run 5th inning.

17th  Tied 1–1 going into the 8th, Steve Garvey’s 2-run homer puts LA ahead in what will be a 7–1 victory over the Expos. The series is now tied 2–2.

19th  In game 5 of the NLCS, Rick Monday hits a solo home run with 2 out in the top of the 9th against Montreal’s Steve Rogers to give Los Angeles a 2–1 victory and a trip to the World Series. The loss, played in bitterly cold conditions in Montreal, will be known as Blue Monday.

20th  In a WS rematch of the 1978 teams, the Yankees take game one over the Dodgers 5–3.  Bob Watson’s 3-run homer in the first is the big blow as Guidry goes 7 innings for the win.  Gossage closes down a Dodger rally in the 8th.

21st  Goose Gossage gets his 2nd save in as many days as he preserves Tommy John’s win 3–0 in game 2. Bob Watson has two hits and an RBI.

      In a little-noted trade, the Cardinals and Yankees swap minor leaguers; New York receives lefty Bob Sykes, while the Cardinals get 22-year-old outfielder Willie McGee. Sykes’s arm troubles will reoccur, and he’ll last one more season in the minors, while McGee will turn into an All-star.

22nd  Dallas Green hires one of his Phillie coaches, Lee Elia, to manage the Cubs.

23rd  Despite an uncharacteristic poor performance (9 hits, 7 walks) Fernando Valenzuela goes the distance in the Dodgers’ 5–4 come-from-behind win. The deciding run scores on a double play.  Starter Dave Righetti lasts just two innings, walking 2 and allowing 5 hits, but reliever George Frazier takes the loss.  Ron Cey has a 3-run homer for LA.  Starters Valenzuela and Righetti are the first two Rookies of the Year to oppose each other in the WS since Willie Mays and Gil McDougald in 1951.

      Joe Torre signs a 3-year contract to manage the Braves.

24th  Another come-from-behind victory for LA 8–7, helped by poor Yankee fielding in the outfield, ties the Series at 2 games apiece.

25th  Back-to-back HRs by Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager off Yankee ace Ron Guidry give the Dodgers their 3rd consecutive win 2–1.

      After his club loses game 5 of the World Series, Yankee owner George Steinbrenner scuffles with 2 (he says) fans in a hotel elevator and emerges with a fat lip and a broken hand.

28th  Pedro Guerrero drives in 5 runs and the Bert Hooton and the Dodgers beat the Yankees 9–2 to win the World Series in 6 games. In a remarkable post season, the Dodgers came from behind to win 3 series (down 2–0 to Houston and 2–1 to Montreal in the best-of-5 series). Guerrero, Ron Cey, and Steve Yeager (2 home runs) are named co-MVPs, while OF Dave Winfield and relief pitcher George Frazier are the goats for New York. Winfield was just 1-for-21, while Frazier tied a WS record by losing 3 games: he lost just one in the regular season. The record was set by the White Sox Lefty Williams in 1919, but Williams, one of the 8 “Black Sox,” probably was losing on purpose.

29th  Bill Giles, the Phillies vice president for the past 11 years, heads a group of investors which purchases the club for just over $30 million, the highest price paid to date for a ML club. Giles is the son of longtime NL president Warren C. Giles.