They must have felt spooked.
It was the top of the first. The count on Davey Lopes was 0-2. The fans in Yankee Stadium began to stamp their feet and applaud for Ron Guidry, just as they had in 1978, every time he got ahead 0-2.
Lopes lined the next pitch down the third base line. Once again, Graig Nettles got in his way.
Nettles went to his right, and his mind went back to the 1978 World Series.
The Yankees had returned home, down two games to the Dodgers; Guidry was pitching, and Nettles turned the series around with three miraculous stabs in the Dodgers' heart. "After I robbed him (Lopes) three times in 1978, he came up to the plate and motioned me out of the way -- 'Let me get a hit,' " Nettles said. "From one player to another, that's the ultimate sign of respect."
Respect, like playing third base, is reflexive.
And the Dodgers found out tonight that they had lost none of their respect for the Yankees.
As Lopes ran for first base tonight, Nettles dived toward the line, fumbled the ball for an instant, scrambled to his feet and threw Lopes out.
"It's been three years since we've seen 'em," said Guidry, the winning pitcher. "The first thing they see, they see something that is still there. He hasn't lost anything. It's got to affect 'em."
In the top of the eighth, Nettles did it again. By this time, Rich Gossage was pitching, and he was behind 3-1 on Steve Garvey. "The pretty boy," as the New York fans call him, lined the ball down the third base line. "You'd think they'd learn not to hit it at him," Manager Bob Lemon said later.
Nettles flung himself at the ball. A routine out, but only for Nettles.
"It brought back memories," Garvey said.
"It's kind of eerie," Nettles said. "Maybe we can repeat it. Maybe we can repeat what we did."
With one out in the top of the first, the Dodgers must have felt that they were facing an apparition at third.
With two out in the top of the sixth, they must have felt that they were facing an apparition on the mound.
Guidry had given up only three hits -- one a home run to Steve Yeager. The Yankee pitcher said that run was the type of hit to which "you tip your cap and say goodbye."
The count in the sixth was 0-2 on Garvey. The applause once again began to rumble through the stands. Garvey fouled one back, and the rumbling grew louder. Guidry reached back, all the way back to 1978 when he was 25-3, and threw a high, very hard one. Garvey struck out swinging at a ghost.
"With guys like Nettles and myself doing the same things over and over again," Guidry said, "it's like a feeling -- here it goes again. It puts a little thought in their minds. Like maybe, 'There's nothing we can do to prevent it.' "
No one has been able to do very much about Guidry lately. In August, he was 4-0, with a .37 earned run average, and finished the season 11-5. For the first time in months, perhaps years, people stopped asking where he had been since 1978.
All spring (while he struggled, with a 5-3 record and a 3.74 ERA), Guidry told anyone who would listen that he had chosen, deliberately, not to imitate the Guidry of '78. Few believed him.
He had become "a control pitcher, hitting the spots," he said, with "a winning but not a glittering record. By the time we got back (after the strike), I took a look at the calendar and said, 'I can pitch as hard as I can without fizzing out.' I went back to pitching the way I used to, pitching harder. Guys just weren't prepared for it. They were used to a fast ball down in the low 90s and high 80s. They had to readjust. I just wanted to show it was still there."
Guidry will become a free agent at the end of this Series. Sure, it occurred to him that it might be his last game as a Yankee. But he swore he wasn't out there pitching for a new contract. He said he doesn't offer contracts, he just signs them. Guidry once said, "Me and pedestals, we just don't get along too good."
"Tonight, our relationship hasn't changed much," he said after the game. "We still pretty much go our own ways."