Smoltz is miffed by new order National League notebook


ATLANTA -- When the Atlanta Braves take the field today for Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, they'll be playing behind a slightly miffed starter, John Smoltz.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox pushed Smoltz, whose regular turn was last Wednesday's playoff opener, back to the fourth slot in the rotation, behind Steve Avery, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and Smoltz is an angry young man.

"I said from the first time that it was posed to me that I wasn't too happy with it," said Smoltz. "When you look at my postseason numbers the last two years, I just had an assumption in my mind and I was caught off-guard initially with the announcement. I'm ready now to do whatever I have to do to get this team back in the World Series."

If that's the case, the Philadelphia Phillies are in trouble, because Smoltz, who was 15-11 this season, is 5-0 in the postseason over the past two years with a 2.13 ERA.

"I do relish it [the postseason]. I enjoy pitching in these situations. I don't see it as too pressure-filled," said Smoltz, who gave up six runs in four innings in his last start, a 10-8 loss to Houston Sept. 30. "And for me, it's just fulfilling a dream. I've probably pitched in 1,000 of these games as a kid, imagining I'm in the playoffs."

Smoltz, who was available for long relief for Games 1 and 2, said the rest has not been very beneficial, but he has coped with the time off.

"I've thrown on the side a few times these last [11] days, either getting ready to pitch in relief, which didn't happen, or preparing for the start," said Smoltz. "I just want to be able to say that I had my best stuff and was able to use it."

Triple your pleasure

Mariano Duncan's triples in the fourth and eighth innings yesterday made him the first player in American or National league playoff history to have two three-base hits in one game.

John Kruk's triple behind Duncan in the fourth also marked the first time that a team has had consecutive triples and the first time a National League team has had two triples in an inning.

The Phillies became the first playoff team with three triples in a game.

Same time next year

Phillies pitcher Danny Jackson, who faced the Braves in last year's NL Championship Series as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, says the differences between his once and current team are subtle.

"This club is just a little bit looser as far as showing emotions and things like that," said Jackson. "Inside the clubhouse, we play the loud music and get on each other real hard. In the Pirates' clubhouse, it was a little bit quieter. There was some razzing, but not as much as there is here."

Jackson and the Phillies hope things go better for him in his NLCS start than they did last year, when he lasted 1 2/3 innings in Game 2, giving up four runs in Atlanta's romp.

Interesting, but not significant

The Phillies are making their sixth NLCS appearance. In the two previous series in which they've won the first game (1980 and 1983), they've won the pennant. In 1976, 1977 and 1978, they lost the first game and the series.

The NLCS has been tied at one game in 14 of the 25 series, including this year's. Nine of the previous 13 teams to break the 1-1 tie by winning Game 3 have gone on to the World Series.

Atlanta's Terry Pendleton, who broke Pete Rose's NLCS record by appearing in his 29th playoff game, needs two at-bats to top Rose's mark of 117 playoff at-bats.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad