Braves' Avery eager to end down year on an up note World Series notebook


CLEVELAND -- Atlanta Braves left-hander Steve Avery will get another chance to atone for a disappointing 1995 season tonight when he takes the mound against Cleveland Indians veteran Ken Hill in Game 4.

Not that Avery has a lot to prove. He turned in a terrific performance in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series to complete a four-game Braves sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, but he's looking forward to another opportunity to make people forget his 7-13 regular season.

"This is something I've been thinking about and pointing to all season," Avery said before last night's game. "No matter what happens, tomorrow will be a key game. Whether it gives us the championship or puts us up 3-1, it will certainly erase some memories."

No one is quite sure what happened to Avery this year. He was a combined 55-28 from 1991-94 and was recognized as one of the top power pitchers in baseball, but he slumped in '95 to his worst numbers since his rookie season in 1990.

"I think he pitched real good, except for a couple of high changeups in the middle of the season," said pitching coach Leo Mazzone. "He rectified that and is back where he wants to be."

Pitching strategy

Braves manager Bobby Cox isn't letting history repeat itself. His 1985 Toronto Blue Jays team blew a 3-1 lead in the American League Championship Series after he decided to go with three starting pitchers, but he said that did not play heavily in his decision to use Avery tonight and Greg Maddux in Game 5.

"I don't know if that was a factor," Cox said before last night's game. "Jim Clancy [the Blue Jays' fourth starter] was a little bit injured at the end of '85. . . . I think it's better to have them healthy, rested and feeling good. We have five cracks to win two games."

Belligerent Belle

Several Indians players joked on Monday that it was time for volatile outfielder Albert Belle to vent his famous temper . . . and Belle apparently took their advice to heart. He went out of his way to blast a few reporters yesterday.

Sample incident: Mild-mannered USA Today reporter Mel Antonen made the mistake of saying hello to Belle before the game.

"Hi, Albert," Antonen said.

"Why the hell are you talking to me, you [bleep]," Belle said. "You know I don't want to talk to you."

Nice guy. He went 1-for-4 with two walks last night.

Poole report

Former Orioles pitcher Jim Poole doesn't know if he's going to be back with the Indians next year, but he doesn't think he'll have to wait long to find out.

"They work quick around here," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "and that's fine with me. I didn't sign until March this season, and that wasn't fun. I would imagine they'll either sign me or release me. Their policy is not to go to arbitration."

Poole bounced back from a poor 1994 season in Baltimore to go 3-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 42 outings.

Around the horn

Indians manager Mike Hargrove will make at least one lineup change tonight. He'll start rookie Herbert Perry at first base against left-hander Avery. . . . Stupidest question of the day dept.: To Indians catcher Sandy Alomar -- "How important is it to win two out of three here in Cleveland?"

World Series

Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians

.. . .. .. .. Result/

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

Game 1 .. .. Braves, 3-2

Game 2 .. .. Braves, 4-3

Game 3 .. .. Indians, 7-6, 11 inn.

Game 4 .. .. Tonight

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

Game 5 .. .. Tomorrow

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

Game 6* . .. Saturday

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

Game 7* . .. Sunday

Atlanta . .. 7:20 .. .. .. .. .. .. 2, 7

* -- If necessary

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad