Don Baylor will not get his wish.
Baylor's Oakland Athletics are not headed for New York to play the Mets, the team Baylor said was the best in the National League with their marquee names and 100 victories.Instead, the A's will open the World Series in Dodger Stadium Saturday against the underdog Los Angeles Dodgers, who beat the Mets, 6-0, Wednesday night in the Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.
Orel Hershiser, the man who refused to rest in this series, stopped the Mets with a five-hitter after only two days' off behind his relief appearance in Game 4 Sunday night.
For the save in that game, three starts and the clinching triumph, Hershiser was named the Most Valuable Player of the series.
"They kept believing in themselves," Manager Tom Lasorda said of his team. "Everybody said coming out of spring training that the Dodgers were through.
"To restore the tradition of this organization is the greatest thing for me."
"We were picked fourth or fifth by a lot of people coming out of spring training," said Steve Sax. "It's a great testimony to this club."
It marked the first time the Mets have lost a league championship series in four appearances.
The Dodgers packed away the decision early against Ron Darling, who entered the game with a 3-8 road record this year.
They reversed the trend of the previous game, jumping on Darling for a quick run to score first for the sixth time in the series. Darling was fortunate to escape the first inning with a 1-0 deficit.
Then, the walls came tumbling down on Darling in a nightmarish second inning that included two key errors by a team that had the fewest in the league (115) this season.
Darling was gone in favor of Dwight Gooden before he had retired a batter in the second. One run already had scored when Gregg Jefferies booted Hershiser's one-hopper with the bases loaded, and two more came home on Sax's single.
Gooden pitched well enough, but second baseman Wally Backman, who had only four errors all year, botched a potential inning-ending double play with a poor flip to shortstop Kevin Elster on Mike Marshall's grounder.
One run scored on that play. John Shelby followed with a sacrifice fly for a fifth run and, suddenly, Hershiser had a six-run cushion.
That was enough for several starts the way Hershiser settled into his groove about the third inning.
Hershiser, who pitched a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings during the regular season, said the turning point for him came when Kevin McReynolds lined out to Jeff Hamilton to end a two-on Mets threat.
"I was absolutely terrible mechanically the first inning," he said. "I didn't know where I was throwing the ball. That line drive getting caught did it. The whole spirit of the club picked up."
So did the spirit of the crowd, which seemed unsure after the Mets seized the momentum in the series Tuesday night with a front-running, 5-1 victory in Game 6.
Hershiser averted a 1-0 deficit by wriggling out of his first jam, then his teammates regained command by scoring themselves on a single by Sax, Mickey Hatcher's hit-and-run double and Kirk Gibson's sacrifice fly.
"We wanted to take them out of their element," said Sax. "We had to get on the offensive. If those guys get control of a game, they're going to blow you away."
Hershiser was labeled "Bulldog" early in his career by Lasorda, who wanted him to get tougher on the mound.
Wednesday night's effort could not have been any more tenacious by Hershiser, who had thrown hard four times in the previous eight days, twice in starts, once in relief and once in the bullpen.
Lasorda said he had no thoughts of removing him, although the Mets had runners in scoring position in each of the last three innings, twice with only one out.
"Bulldog was going to go as long as he could maintain his good stuff, as long as he was getting them out," said Lasorda. "This was quite a performance."
Gibson left with the Dodgers ahead by six runs after suffering a reaggravated left hamstring injury while running on the bases in the second inning.
The Dodgers didn't need him on offense after the early explosion.
"I took him out," said Lasorda. "He never wants to come out. I didn't want him to hurt himself."
The Dodgers have won 18 National League titles, nine in Los Angeles and five since the start of the playoff format.
The victory gave them 19 league championship series victories, moving them one ahead of the Baltimore Orioles for the most in the majors.
It was the first National League title by a West Division team since 1984, when San Diego beat the Chicago Cubs in five games.