ATLANTA -- It looked like it was going to happen again. The Atlanta Braves had waited a year to get another shot at Jack Morris, and there he was, turning in another one of his patented clutch performances in Game 1 of the World Series.
It looked like it was going to happen again until Damon Berryhill hit a three-run home run over the right-field fence in the sixth inning and carried the Braves to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the first game of the 89th Fall Classic.
Morris had a one-hitter going into the sixth, but he came out of it with his first World Series defeat. He's the pitcher the Blue Jays acquired to carry them through October, but he is winless in his first three postseason starts of 1992.
The victory went to Braves left-hander Tom Glavine, whose postseason reputation was as tarnished as Morris's was golden. He went all the way and gave up just four hits to rebound from a terrible performance in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
Chalk another one up for the Braves and their depth behind the plate. Third-string catcher Francisco Cabrera delivered the most dramatic hit in club history Wednesday night. Berryhill, who would not be in the starting lineup if starter Greg Olson hadn't broken his leg in September, kept the Braves moving in the same direction with his first career postseason home run.
The Braves can solidify their home-field advantage in the best-of-seven series tonight if Game 2 starter John Smoltz can pick up where Glavine left off.
The sellout crowd of 51,763 had little to wave their tomahawks about up to that point. Both teams were in an offensive rut, thanks to the two pitching performances. The only run on the board had come on a bases-empty homer by Blue Jays first baseman Joe Carter in the fourth inning.
If the stands were quiet when the sixth inning began, perhaps it was because the fans were trying to figure out what it would take for the Braves to score off Morris. He had shut them out for 18 straight innings, dating to the fourth inning of the fourth game of last year's World Series. The memory of his 10-inning, 1-0 shutout in Game 7 was still painfully fresh.
Glavine carried the burden of proof to the mound. He was
coming off a horrible performance in the sixth game of the National League playoffs, when he surrendered eight runs in the second inning.
He won 20 games in each of the past two seasons. He won the Young Award in 1991 and is a candidate to repeat. But he has had trouble proving he can pitch effectively in big games.
Glavine came into last night's game with a 1-5 record and a 4.93 ERA in postseason play and one ugly inning in this year's All-Star Game. The eight-run inning Tuesday night didn't help.
This time, the second inning passed without incident and Glavine had little trouble making his first pass through the Blue Jays' lineup. He gave up a couple of hits through the first three innings, but the Blue Jays' hitters weren't making good contact. Eight of the first nine outs were groundouts or strikeouts.
Carter rectified that with his third postseason home run, a leadoff shot in the fourth inning that landed deep in the first deck of bleachers in left field. But it wasn't enough to derail Glavine, who bounced right back retired the next 12 batters in order.
His stated goal going into the game was to show that he is a better pitcher than the one who self-destructed four days earlier.
Morris also had some playoff moments he would like to forget. He was the hero of the postseason for the Minnesota Twins a year ago, but he struggled in his two playoff starts against the Oakland Athletics this year. The veteran right-hander gave up three home runs in a Game 1 defeat and allowed five runs in the third inning of a Game 4 that the Blue Jays rallied to win. Hardly the kind of performance everyone had come to expect of a pitcher who entered the postseason with combined 7-1 in previous playoffs and World Series.
The Braves had to wonder which Morris they were going to get - the one who pitched 10 shutout innings in Game 7 of last year's World Series, or the one who looked hittable against the A's earlier in the week? They found out quickly that Morris was in World Series form.
He gave up a leadoff single to Otis Nixon in the first inning, but did not allow another hit until Sid Bream singled with one out in the sixth. The Braves appeared to have trouble figuring out his forkball, which carried Morris to six strikeouts in the first four innings. He didn't allow a ball out of the outfield on the fly until Berryhill hit a medium-deep fly ball to center field in the fifth.
There were signs, however, that the rigors of the long seaso have taken a toll on Morris' arm. His control wavered in the middle innings. He walked back-to-back hitters with two out in the fourth and did it again in the fifth, but escaped both times by striking out the next hitter.
SG He finally gave it up in the sixth, handing a one-out walk to David
Justice and giving up the single to Bream before Berryhill pulled the ball over the right-field fence and brought the surprisingly subdued crowd back into the game.
Braves-Blue Jays scoring Blue Jays fourth: Carter homered deep to left field on an 0-1 pitch. Winfield bounced out up the middle to Lemke. Maldonado grounded out to Blauser on a hard-hit ball that bounced off the pitcher's mound. Gruber struck out on a changeup away. 1 run, 1 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on base. Toronto 1, Atlanta 0.
Braves sixth: Pendleton bounced out to second baseman Alomar. Justice walked. Bream snapped an 0-for-11 streak against Morris in World Series play with a sharp single between ** short and third, sending Justice to second. Gant grounded into fielder's choice to Lee, who tossed to Alomar to force Bream at second as Justice took third. Gant stole second as Borders did not attempt a throw. Berryhill hit a three-run homer to right field on a 1-2 pitch, ending Morris' 18-inning scoreless streak in World Series play. Lemke singled to center on the next pitch. Glavine flied out to White. 3 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on base. Atlanta 3, Toronto 1.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Atlanta Braves (Braves lead, 1-0) Last night: Braves 3, Blue Jays 1
Tonight: at Atlanta, 8:29
Tuesday: at Toronto, 8:29
Wednesday: at Toronto, 8:26
Thursday: at Toronto, 8:26*
Oct. 24: at Atlanta, 8:26*
Oct. 25: at Atlanta, 8:29*
(*-if necessary) TV: Channels 11, 9
Radio: WBAL (1090 AM)