Morris, 0-2 after two starts, has one job left: turn boos into cheers World Series notebook


ATLANTA -- Jack Morris is not the type to make excuses, so he offers no alibis for his ineffectiveness against the Atlanta Braves, a team he dominated in last year's World Series.

But he isn't beyond offering a feasible explanation.

"Maybe it's just a case of going up against the same team two World Series in a row," Morris said. "They've seen me make five starts." He was 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA last year and is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA this year.

"I think they may have gotten comfortable seeing me," said the MVP of the Twins victory over the Braves in 1991. It's not easy to accept, but I've seen a lot of players in this position, and I feel for them, because now I'm here."

Morris was booed loudly when he left Game 5 after giving up Lonnie Smith's bases-loaded home run Thursday night. But, the surprising reaction by the generally appreciative Toronto fans didn't shake his confidence.

"I've been booed before," Morris said. "The fans were just letting out their frustrations -- they wanted to win it [in Toronto], just like we all did. It's a shame, but we'll win it in Atlanta, and when we do, I'll be just as happy.

"My contribution wasn't as good as it was last year, but I have no reason to hang my head. I've contributed as much as anybody in this [locker] room. Now, I'll just go out there and do what I can do -- cheerleading."

Complaint department

Manager Bobby Cox reacted angrily after outfielder David Justice, on his own radio show, said after Game 3 that the Braves were playing without enthusiasm.

"Our bench was dead. It looked like guys just showed up for a game, a spring training game," Justice said on an Atlanta radio station. "The mood from the beginning of the game seemed like the guys were not totally into it.

"The way it appeared before the game was the enthusiasm was not there. We just need one victory to get pumped. We look at their team [the Blue Jays], they look like they want to win."

First baseman Sid Bream seemed to lend credence to Justice's remarks. "I know that each one of our players is giving 110 percent right now," he said. "I truly believe there are two different ways of going out on the field. You can get excited about playing, but you also have to have the right mind set, the right kind of focus. I think that's where we're lacking."

Cox didn't appreciate the players' appraisals. "It's a crock," he said. "We never were more fired up. In my estimation these guys do these things and they don't know what they are saying."

There were no complaints about the Braves' intensity after their 7-2 win in Game 5, proving again that the team with the most

runs is the team with the most enthusiasm.

Catch this streak

Pat Borders, the leading hitter among every-day players in the World Series with a .438 average, will try to extend his postseason hitting streak to 14 games tonight. The steak, dating to last year's ALCS, is the longest ever by a catcher and the longest since Rickey Henderson hit in 15 straight in 1989-90.

The longest hitting streak in postseason play predates the League Championship Series. Ex-Orioles manager Hank Bauer holds the record, having hit in 17 straight World Series games for the Yankees in 1956-57-58.

Why Gant he play?

With David Cone pitching for the Blue Jays tonight, there will be no place in the Braves' lineup for either Game 5 hero or forgotten man Ron Gant.

Deion Sanders, who has strong career numbers against Cone and has been a force during the World Series after being mostly a spectator during the NLCS, will play left field. With the games returning to the National League park, the designated hitter will not be used, reducing Smith and Gant to roles as pinch hitters.

If there is a Game 7, Juan Guzman will pitch for Toronto and the Braves lineup is expected to remain the same. The Braves don't have to worry about Sanders (6-for-12, .500) pulling a football-baseball doubleheader this week -- the Falcons have a bye.

Yer-yer-yer-yer-yer-yer-yer safe

Marty Springstead, the American League's supervisor of umpires, is not in favor of using video technology in making decisions. But he says instant replay is responsible for the close scrutiny of umpires during postseason play.

"Every time you have a call now, when it's controversial, it gets replayed 18 times," Springstead said. "And the umpire is the only one who doesn't see any of them."

E-quipped for the play

Credit Roger Ashby of Toronto's CHUM-FM with the most biting quip of the World Series.

He said on the air that umpires had canceled ticket reservations for "Phantom of the Opera" (which is playing in Toronto) because under new rules, if it's an important play, they have to miss it." Ouch.


Otis Nixon (five) and Sanders (three) have stolen eight bases in as many attempts. . . . Overall, the Braves are 13-for-15 in steals, and the Blue Jays are 3-for-3. . . . Borders has the most hits (seven) and Justice the most runs (four) in the first five games . . . Joe Carter (two) is the only player with more than one home run.

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