Pitching assignments for Game 5 are far from settled Hargrove and Piniella pondering their options


SEATTLE -- Cleveland Indians manager Mike Hargrove indicated yesterday that he was leaning toward starting right-hander Ken Hill in Game 5 rather than bringing veteran Dennis Martinez back on three days' rest.

"I'd say I'm leaning in that direction, but I stress that it's a lean," Hargrove said. "If I do that, it won't be because there is anything wrong with Dennis, but because Ken is a very good pitcher who has outstanding stuff."

Even so, Hargrove's comments left room to wonder whether Martinez came out of Game 1 all right.

"Is there anything wrong with Dennis?" Hargrove said. "No, not that I'm aware of at this point. Kenny has pitched well for us the last couple of times out. If there would have been a Game 4 in the last series, Kenny would have pitched it. I don't see any reason not to do it here right now."

Mariners manager Lou Piniella also remains noncommittal for Game 5. He figured to go with veteran Chris Bosio, until rookie Bob Wolcott pitched well enough in his emergency Game 1 start to warrant consideration.

"I've got lots of options," Piniella said. "I could go with Wolcott, or I could go with Bosio or Tim Belcher. I can honestly tell you that I don't know who's going to pitch in Game 5."

Johnson unconcerned

Indians pitcher Orel Hershiser expressed concern Tuesday that Mariners ace Randy Johnson may be putting his golden arm at risk by pitching so many innings on so little rest during the past two weeks, but Johnson insists that he feels great and that he is not overworked.

He jokingly arrived at the pre-game news conference with his left shoulder hanging down, but said that he has thrown more innings in previous seasons.

"I threw 214 innings in the regular season and I've made two TC playoff appearances," said Johnson, who will start Game 3 tomorrow night in Cleveland. "Two years ago, I pitched 250 innings and I felt fine the next season."

Piniella is more circumspect. He knows that pitching on three days' rest and making a relief appearance two days later is a stretch and conceded that he is concerned about the effect it might have on his best pitcher.

"It's a concern," Piniella said. "That's why we added a 10th pitcher for this playoff. That's why we're going with him on the fifth day instead of going with him today [Wednesday]. He's been a workhorse all year and he's done a marvelous job, but that's always on a manager's mind. It's not the end of the world if you lose a ballgame, but it would be if you got a pitcher hurt."

The other guy

Everyone is focused on Johnson's start in Game 3, but the Indians are sending a pretty good pitcher to the mound tomorrow night, too. Right-hander Charles Nagy used to be the ace of the staff until the club went out and signed Martinez and Hershiser. This year, he tied for the club lead with 16 victories and hardly anybody knows who he is.

"I don't mind being in that position," he said. "They went out and got Dennis and Orel and if people want to focus on them, that's fine. That doesn't bother me."

Turning point

It was popular to blame the impatience of the Indians hitters for their inability to put away rookie pitcher Wolcott in Game 1, but Cleveland third baseman Jim Thome chose to credit the Mariners for playing clutch defense and good fundamental baseball.

In particular, he applauded second baseman Joey Cora, who made a diving play to rob him of a run-scoring hit after Wolcott walked the bases loaded in the first inning.

"I think the play Cora made on me was the key play," Thome said. "If that ball gets through, it's headed for the gap and it definitely scores two runs and maybe three. That play is the difference between a young pitcher going into the dugout tied 0-0 or down 3-0."

Bad memories

The last time Thome faced Johnson was in spring training three years ago and he'll never forget it. He tried to check his swing on a third strike and tore a ligament in his hand, which forced him to start the season on the disabled list. Thome said he would be ready to play against the big left-hander if called upon, but he was not in the lineup the only time the Indians faced him during the regular season. Look for Hargrove to go with as many right-handed batters as possible.

Bad start

Former Oriole Eddie Murray got off to a rough start in Game 1. He went hitless in five at-bats, including a one-out pop-up with the bases loaded in the first, and he flied out with two runners on base in the first inning of Game 2.

Murray was 0-for-9 last night until singling softly to center in the eighth.

That was out of character for Murray, who performed well in his first two American League Championship Series. He went to the ALCS with the Orioles in 1979 and '83 and hit a combined .333 with two homers and eight RBIs in eight games.

AL Championship

Seattle Mariners vs. Cleveland Indians

(Series tied, 1-1)

Day .. .. .. ..Site/Result .. .. .. .. .. ..Time

Game 1 .. .. ..Mariners, 3-2

Last night .. .Indians, 5-2

Tomorrow .. ...at Cleveland .. .. .. .. .. .8:07

Saturday .. ...at Cleveland .. .. .. .. .. .7:07

Sunday .. .. ..at Cleveland .. .. .. .. .. .7:07

Tuesday* .. ...at Seattle .. .. .. .. .. ...8:07

Wednesday* .. .at Seattle .. .. .. .. .. ...8:07

* -- If necessary

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