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Saga of Baerga's sore ankle takes another turn for worse Indian reinjures it in last Game 1 at-bat


ATLANTA -- In the ninth inning of Game 1 of the World Series, the attention was focused on Greg Maddux as he completed a two-hit masterpiece. But something else happened on the game's final pitch that could have grave consequences for Cleveland.

Indians second baseman Carlos Baerga rolled his left ankle after he swung at the game's final pitch and caught his spikes in the dirt around home plate. The ankle swelled, and Baerga was wearing a small brace when he took the field last night.

Baerga injured the ankle in Minnesota during the regular season and has been playing most of the season less than 100 percent, Indians manager Mike Hargrove confirmed. "He aggravated it playing on the turf in Seattle," Hargrove said, referring to the American League Championship Series. "He did a little more than aggravate it."

Two hours before the game, Hargrove couldn't even say for sure that Baerga was going to play last night. But Baerga convinced him he would be OK. "I've played like this before," Baerga said.

Baerga played flawlessly in the field, limping all the while, but went 0-for-4 with a walk at the plate.

Cox hedges on Game 4

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox is undecided about his starting pitcher in Game 4. He could bring back Maddux, who threw only 95 pitches in Game 1, on three days' rest, which would make Maddux available for Game 7. Or he could start left-hander Steve Avery, terrific in his past four starts, against a team that is weaker against left-handers.

"Maddux's pitch count was pretty good after last night, and we'll talk to him about it," Cox said. "I have all the confidence in Avery -- he's been throwing lightning bolts out there."

Hershiser exit is surprise

When Indians Game 1 starter Orel Hershiser removed himself in the seventh inning, after walking the first two hitters, he took Hargrove and pitching coach Mark Wiley by surprise.

But Hargrove found no fault with Hershiser, renowned for his postseason fortitude. "I know Orel, and I know he wasn't backing away from a challenge," Hargrove said.

Where's the offense?

The Indians have a total of eight hits in the first two games. It is the fewest hits by one team in the first two games since Philadelphia had eight hits against the Orioles in 1983. . . . Only three players have hit safely in the first two games -- Marquis Grissom, Mark Lemke and Kenny Lofton.

Squeeze a bunt into dispute

Rafael Belliard dropped a squeeze bunt that scored the game-winning run during the Braves' seventh-inning rally in Game 1, immediately after Cox argued long and hard about a blown call at second base.

Cox was asked yesterday exactly when he decided to squeeze. "On the way out to argue the call at second base," he said.

The argument might have distracted the Indians. "There's some old-time argument that says it's a perfect time to try something like that after a long argument," Cox said. "But it's also a perfect situation to bunt. It's a flip of the coin."

Home of the Indians . . .

Cox, a third baseman with the Yankees during his brief major-league playing career, was looking forward to seeing Jacobs Field in Cleveland for the first time today.

"When I think of Cleveland, I think of that big old stadium, which I liked, but there were never any people there."

. . . home of the Braves

The Braves' future home is the Olympic Stadium under construction next to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. With its brick exterior and high arches, it looks like Camden Yards Jr.

"Senior," said Braves general manager John Schuerholz.

Better than the original?

"Wait until you see it," said Schuerholz, a native of Baltimore.

Schuerholz said the stadium will seat 85,000 for the Olympics, but about 35,000 of those seats will be removed when the Braves move in for the 1997 season.

Around the horn

The Braves' pitching has dominated since the first round, when the Colorado Rockies banged around the Atlanta staff. "You've got to take into account where we played," said Game 3 starter John Smoltz, referring to Coors Field, "and you've got to take into account who we played. That Colorado lineup is scary." . . . Smoltz grew up in Michigan and is accustomed to pitching in the cold -- which should help him when he pitches in Cleveland tomorrow night. "I think in cold weather the pitcher really has the advantage," he said. "You can really jam a guy and you know where all your pitches are going." . . . Dennis Martinez became the fourth pitcher over 40 years of age to start a World Series game last night.

World Series

Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians

............. Result/

Site ....... day, time ...... TV

Game 1 ..... Braves, 3-2

Game 2 ..... Braves, 4-3

Game 3 ..... Tomorrow

Cleveland ... 8:20 ........ 11, 4

Game 4 ..... Wednesday

Cleveland ... 8:20 .......... 2, 7

Game 5* .... Thursday

Cleveland ... 8:20 .......... 2, 7

Game 6* ..... Oct. 28

Atlanta ..... 7:20 .......... 11, 4

Game 7* ..... Oct. 29

Atlanta ..... 7:20 .......... 11, 4

* -- If necessary

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