1990 National League Championship Series

The 1990 National League Championship Series was played between the Cincinnati Reds (91–71) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (95–67). It was the first playoff appearance for both teams since 1979 and the fifth NLCS meeting overall with Cincinnati winning the Pennant in 1970, 1972, and 1975 while Pittsburgh won in 1979.

The Reds won the series, 4–2, and eventually went on to sweep the defending World Champion Oakland Athletics in the World Series. This was the only NLCS during the 1990s that did not feature the Atlanta Braves and was the first of four straight to feature either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Between Game 2 (in Cincinnati) and Game 3 (in Pittsburgh), the teams took two days off instead of the usual one. That Sunday, October 7, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to use Three Rivers Stadium for their scheduled game against the San Diego Chargers, so Game 3 (and by extension, the rest of the series) was pushed back a day.

1990 National League Championship Series
Team (Wins) Manager Season
Cincinnati Reds (4) Lou Piniella 91–71, .562, GA: 5
Pittsburgh Pirates (2) Jim Leyland 95–67, .586, GA: 4
DatesOctober 4–12
MVPRob Dibble and Randy Myers (Cincinnati)
UmpiresHarry Wendelstedt, John McSherry, Paul Runge, Dutch Rennert, Jerry Crawford, Gerry Davis
TV announcersJack Buck and Tim McCarver
Radio announcersJohn Rooney and Jerry Coleman


Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati won the series, 4–2.

Game Date Score Location Time Attendance 
1 October 4 Pittsburgh Pirates – 4, Cincinnati Reds – 3 Riverfront Stadium 2:51 52,911[1] 
2 October 5 Pittsburgh Pirates – 1, Cincinnati Reds – 2 Riverfront Stadium 2:38 54,456[2] 
3 October 8 Cincinnati Reds – 6, Pittsburgh Pirates – 3 Three Rivers Stadium 2:51 45,611[3] 
4 October 9 Cincinnati Reds – 5, Pittsburgh Pirates – 3 Three Rivers Stadium 3:00 50,461[4] 
5 October 10 Cincinnati Reds – 2, Pittsburgh Pirates – 3 Three Rivers Stadium 2:48 48,221[5] 
6 October 12 Pittsburgh Pirates – 1, Cincinnati Reds – 2 Riverfront Stadium 2:57 56,079[6]

Game summaries

Game 1

Thursday, October 4, 1990 (8:30PM EDT) at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 4 7 1
Cincinnati 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 0
WP: Bob Walk (1–0)   LP: Norm Charlton (0–1)   Sv: Ted Power (1)
Home runs:
PIT: Sid Bream (1)
CIN: None

The Pirates took the first game of the LCS with a 4-3 victory. The game-winning run scored in the 7th when Andy Van Slyke hit a routine inning-ending flyout that was misjudged by Eric Davis in left-field, scoring Gary Redus.

Bob Walk was the starting pitcher for Pittsburgh and José Rijo was on the mound for the Reds. The Reds had two doubles in the bottom half of the first inning and scored three runs. These would prove to be the only runs they could bring across the plate for the entire game. For Pittsburgh, Sid Bream would hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning to tie the game. The key Pirate play to seal the game was throwing out pinch-runner Billy Bates, the trailing runner at the back end of a double steal in the ninth inning, to get the second out. Pittsburgh took the series lead, one game to none.

Game 2

Friday, October 5, 1990 (3:15PM EDT) at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 6 0
Cincinnati 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 X 2 5 0
WP: Tom Browning (1–0)   LP: Doug Drabek (0–1)   Sv: Randy Myers (1)
Home runs:
PIT: José Lind (1)
CIN: None

Doug Drabek, the National League Cy Young Award winner for 1990 took the mound against Tom Browning for a weekday afternoon Game 2. Cincinnati again scored in the first inning when Barry Larkin walked, stole second, went to third on a hard single by Herm Winningham and scored on a single by Paul O'Neill. The Pirates tied it in the fifth when José Lind, better known for defense, hit a homer.

The Pirates appeared ready to take the lead in the sixth when Andy Van Slyke singled and went to second on a single by Bobby Bonilla. With two on and nobody out, Pirates slugger Barry Bonds came up with a chance for a big inning. Bonds popped out to deep right, and Van Slyke attempted to advance. But Paul O'Neill threw a perfect strike to Chris Sabo who tagged Van Slyke for a 9–5 double play.

The Reds regained the lead in the sixth when Winningham reached on a fielder's choice, stole second, and scored on O'Neill's drive to left center that hit the wall after barely avoiding Bonds' glove. Drabek went the distance but got the loss. Browning got the win and Randy Myers the save. Barry Larkin's stop and throw on a sharp grounder by Bonds up the middle squelched a potential rally with none out in the ninth.

Game 3

Monday, October 8, 1990 (3:20PM EDT) at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 0 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 6 13 1
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 3 8 0
WP: Danny Jackson (1–0)   LP: Zane Smith (0–1)   Sv: Randy Myers (2)
Home runs:
CIN: Billy Hatcher (1), Mariano Duncan (1)
PIT: None

This was a weekday afternoon game, and for the first time in history, there were two scheduled off days between games. This set-up seemed to help Pittsburgh as it would allow them to have Drabek for game seven if necessary. Danny Jackson squared off against Zane Smith. But it was Mariano Duncan who stole the show.

In the second, Joe Oliver singled and Billy Hatcher homered to give the Reds a 2–0 lead. The Pirates tied it in the fourth when Jay Bell doubled, Andy Van Slyke singled to score Bell, and Van Slyke scored on Carmelo Martínez's double. In the fifth, Billy Hatcher doubled, Larkin singled, and Duncan hit a three-run homer to give the Reds a 5–2 lead. In the bottom of eighth, the Pirates got a run back when Barry Bonds singled, went to second on a walk, and scored on Mariano Duncan's throwing error to make it 5–3. In the ninth, the Reds got the run back when Oliver singled and Billy Bates ran for him. Bates eventually scored on a Duncan single (his fourth RBI of the game). The game ended with a Reds victory, 6–3, allowing them to reclaim home field advantage and to take a two games to one lead in the NLCS.

Game 4

Tuesday, October 9, 1990 (8:30PM EDT) at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 1 5 10 1
Pittsburgh 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 8 0
WP: José Rijo (1–0)   LP: Bob Walk (1–1)   Sv: Rob Dibble (1)
Home runs:
CIN: Paul O'Neill (1), Chris Sabo (1)
PIT: Jay Bell (1)

Game 4 would be a rematch of Game 1 starters Jose Rijo and Bob Walk. The Pirates would grab the first lead of the game (for the only time in the series) in the opening frame when Wally Backman doubled to left and scored on a Van Slyke ground out. The Reds took the lead in the fourth when O'Neill belted a shot and Sabo followed up singles by Eric Davis and Hal Morris with a sac fly. Bream would hurt Rijo again (as he had in Game 1) in the bottom half of the inning when he drilled a double to left center that scored Van Slyke.

Chris Sabo untied the game in the seventh when he golfed a hanging curveball by Walk into the left field stands for a two-run homer. With no outs in the eighth, Jay Bell hit a home run that knocked Rijo out of the game and cut the lead to 4–3. Piniella called on Myers and two batters later Bonilla hammered another ball that hit high off the center-field fence and out of the reach of the leaping Billy Hatcher. As Bonilla rounded second and motored on to third, left fielder Eric Davis ran out toward center, fielded the carom and threw a one hop strike to Sabo at third; gunning down the aggressive Bobby Bonilla. The play seemed to deflate Pittsburgh.

The Nasty Boys continued their dominance through the last innings while the Reds offense tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth, making it 5–3. Dibble got the save and up until that point had pitched in all four games, tossed five innings with no hits allowed and ten strikeouts.

Game 5

Wednesday, October 10, 1990 (8:25PM EDT) at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 7 0
Pittsburgh 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 X 3 6 1
WP: Doug Drabek (1–1)   LP: Tom Browning (1–1)   Sv: Bob Patterson (1)

Game 5 saw the Pirates bring back their ace Doug Drabek to keep the season alive. Barry Larkin got the Reds started in the first when he doubled down the left-field line and scored on Winningham's sac fly to right. In the bottom of the first, Reds starter Tom Browning hit Jay Bell and then surrendered a gapper to right-center by Van Slyke that hopped over Paul O'Neill's glove for an RBI triple. Bonilla walked and Bonds hit into a 3–6 force play scoring Van Slyke to make it 2–1 Bucs. In the fourth, Pittsburgh added another run when Bonds walked, went to third on an R. J. Reynolds hit, and scored on a sac fly by Don Slaught. Drabek's gutsy outing continued into the eighth until Duncan singled and Larkin smashed a double that one-hopped the left field fence. Up 3–2 going to the ninth, the Pirates were desperately clinging to the slim lead and the season. O'Neill opened the frame with a single to center. Eric Davis then hit a ground ball to deep third that ricocheted off the third base bag for a hit. Morris bunted the runners over to second and third which made Leyland decide on intentionally walking Sabo to load the bases. Bob Patterson relieved Drabek and got Jeff Reed to hit into a 5–4–3 double play started by Bobby Bonilla to end the game.

Game 6

Friday, October 12, 1990 (8:20PM EDT) at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 3
Cincinnati 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 X 2 9 0
WP: Norm Charlton (1–1)   LP: Zane Smith (0–2)   Sv: Randy Myers (3)

This game was famous for Pittsburgh manager Jim Leyland starting a set-up man, Ted Power, in order to keep the Reds from employing their successful platoon. Power pitched ​2 13 innings prior to giving way to lefty Zane Smith in the third inning. The strategy worked in that it held the Reds to only two runs. The game-winning RBI was hit by Luis Quinones of the Reds in the seventh. The close, defensive game ended with a 2–1 score, accentuated by an over-the-fence catch by right fielder Glenn Braggs, robbing Carmelo Martínez of a two-run homer, to preserve the win in the ninth. The Reds won the series, 4–2 and their first pennant since 1976. To date, this is the Reds most recent pennant.

Composite box

1990 NLCS (4–2): Cincinnati Reds over Pittsburgh Pirates

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cincinnati Reds 6 2 0 2 4 0 3 1 2 20 49 2
Pittsburgh Pirates 3 0 1 6 2 0 1 2 0 15 36 5
Total attendance: 307,739   Average attendance: 51,290


  1. ^ "1990 NLCS Game 1 - Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "1990 NLCS Game 2 - Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  3. ^ "1990 NLCS Game 3 - Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  4. ^ "1990 NLCS Game 4 - Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  5. ^ "1990 NLCS Game 5 - Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.
  6. ^ "1990 NLCS Game 6 - Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cincinnati Reds". Retrosheet. Retrieved September 13, 2009.

External links

1990 Pittsburgh Pirates season

The 1990 Pittsburgh Pirates season was their 109th season; the 104th in the National League. This was their 21st season at Three Rivers Stadium. The Pirates finished first in the National League East with a record of 95–67. They were defeated four games to two by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990 National League Championship Series.

Billy Bates (baseball)

William Derrick Bates (born December 7, 1963) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) second baseman and pinch runner who played for the Milwaukee Brewers and the 1990 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds. In 29 career games, Bates had a batting average of .125 with six hits, two runs batted in (RBI), 11 runs, ten strikeouts, and eight stolen bases. Though defensively he played as a second baseman, the Reds primarily used Bates as a pinch runner. After he scored the winning run in Game 2 of the 1990 World Series, Bates never played in MLB again.

Born in Houston, Bates attended the University of Texas and, in his freshman season, won the 1983 College World Series as a part of the Texas Longhorns baseball team. For the next two seasons, Bates was named to the College Baseball All-America Team, a team composed of the best collegiate baseball athletes in America. Drafted by Milwaukee in the 4th round of the 1985 MLB draft, he rose through the Brewers' farm system and teams that he played for won multiple minor league titles. He subsequently made his MLB debut in 1989, after Milwaukee's starting second baseman became injured. A trade sent Bates to Cincinnati in 1990, where the Reds used him as a pinch runner at the end of the regular season and into the postseason. Facing the Oakland Athletics in the World Series, Bates reached base on a pinch hit single against Dennis Eckersley and later scored the winning run in Game 2, as the Reds ultimately swept the Athletics, four games to none. Following the World Series championship, Bates spent two years in minor league baseball, one for the Reds and one for the Chicago Cubs, and last played exhibition baseball in 1995. After retirement, he worked as an equipment supplier in the oil and gas industry in Houston and coached his daughter's softball team.

Herm Winningham

Herman Son Winningham (born December 1, 1961) is an American former professional baseball player. He played all or part of nine seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), primarily as a center fielder, for the New York Mets, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox.

Jack Buck

John Francis "Jack" Buck (August 21, 1924 – June 18, 2002) was an American sportscaster, best known for his work announcing Major League Baseball games of the St. Louis Cardinals. His play-by-play work earned him recognition from numerous Halls of Fame, such as the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the National Radio Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum.

James Brown (sportscaster)

James Talmadge Brown (born February 25, 1951), commonly called "J.B.", is an American sportscaster known for being the studio host of The James Brown Show, The NFL Today on CBS Sports, and Thursday Night Football on CBS Sports and NFL Network. He is also a Special Correspondent for CBS News. He is also known for serving as the former host of Fox Sports' NFL pregame show Fox NFL Sunday for eleven years.

Major League Baseball on CBS

Major League Baseball on CBS is the branding used for broadcasts of Major League Baseball (MLB) games produced by CBS Sports, the sports division of the CBS television network in the United States.

Nasty Boys (Cincinnati Reds)

The Nasty Boys were a trio of relief pitchers from the Cincinnati Reds: Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble and Randy Myers. In 1990, the "Nasty Boys" were key figures in the Reds' charge to the World Series Championship. According to Rob Dibble, the "Nasty Boys" really was a fivesome including Tim Layana and Tim Birtsas. However, they have gone down in history as a trio.During the 1990 Cincinnati Reds season, Charlton, Dibble, and Myers combined for 44 saves (Myers with 31, Dibble with 11, and Charlton with 2) and 351 strikeouts, although some of Charlton's 117 strikeouts came as a starter, as he was moved to the rotation late in the season.The nickname was derived from the lyrics of the Janet Jackson song "Nasty." It was also a derivative of the Detroit Piston's "Bad Boys" name that was used during their 1989 NBA Championship season.

Opener (baseball)

In baseball, an opening pitcher, more frequently referred to as an opener, is a pitcher who specializes in getting the first outs in a game, before being replaced by a long reliever or a pitcher who would typically be a starting pitcher. Pitchers employed in the role of opener have usually been relief pitchers by trade. The strategy was frequently employed in Major League Baseball by the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2018 season, when it was adopted by other teams as well.

Phillies–Pirates rivalry

The Phillies–Pirates rivalry is a Major League Baseball (MLB) rivalry between the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates. Both clubs are members of MLB's National League (NL); the Phillies are members of the NL East division, while the Pirates are members of the NL Central division. The rivalry was considered by some to be one of the best in the NL. The rivalry started when the Pittsburgh Pirates entered NL play in their fifth season of 1887, four years after the Phillies.The Phillies and Pirates had remained together after the NL split into two divisions in 1969. During the period of two-division play (1969–1993), the two NL East division rivals won the two highest numbers of division championships, reigning almost exclusively as NL East champions in the 1970s and again in the early 1990s, the Pirates 9, the Phillies 6; together, the two teams' 15 championships accounted for more than half of the 25 NL East championships during that span.After the Pirates moved to the NL Central in 1994, the teams face each other only in two series each year and the rivalry has diminished. However, many fans, especially older ones, retain their dislike for the other team and regional differences between Eastern and Western Pennsylvania still fuel the rivalry. The rivalry is mirrored in the National Hockey League's so-called "Battle of Pennsylvania".

Relief pitcher

In baseball and softball, a relief pitcher or reliever is a pitcher who enters the game after the starting pitcher is removed due to injury, ineffectiveness, fatigue, ejection, or for other strategic reasons, such as inclement weather delays or pinch hitter substitutions. Relief pitchers are further divided informally into various roles, such as closers, setup men, middle relief pitchers, left/right-handed specialists, and long relievers. Whereas starting pitchers usually rest several days before pitching in a game again due to the number of pitches thrown, relief pitchers are expected to be more flexible and typically pitch more games but with fewer innings pitched. A team's staff of relievers is normally referred to metonymically as a team's bullpen, which refers to the area where the relievers sit during games, and where they warm-up prior to entering the game.

Ted Power

Ted Henry Power (born January 31, 1955) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher and a minor league baseball coach. During a 13-year career in the major leagues, he pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers (1981–1982), Cincinnati Reds (1983–1987, 1991), Kansas City Royals (1988), Detroit Tigers (1988), St. Louis Cardinals (1989), Pittsburgh Pirates (1990), Cleveland Indians (1992–93), and the Seattle Mariners (1993).

Power spent most of his career as a relief pitcher, and he held the closer role for the Reds for a couple of seasons in the mid-1980s. From 1986 to 1989, he spent significant time in his teams' starting rotations before moving back to the bullpen for the last few years of his career. He earned 70 career saves. He suffered a career-ending shoulder injury before the 1994 season and later entered coaching. He has been the pitching coach for the Louisville Bats since 2006.

Tim Birtsas

Timothy Dean Birtsas (born September 5, 1960), is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. Though history remembers the "Nasty Boys" as a trio, according to Rob Dibble, Birtsas' name should be included when talking about the famed 1990 World Series winning Cincinnati Reds' bullpen.

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