ATLANTA -- Cleveland Indians right-hander Orel Hershiser raised eyebrows after Game 5 when he said the pressure was on TTC the Atlanta Braves. Two of those eyebrows belonged to right fielder David Justice, who took exception to Hershiser's comment.
Hershiser beat the Braves, 5-4, and at the post-game news conference somebody asked him whether the Indians held the advantage in Game 6, because of momentum.
"I've been ahead in the World Series [in 1988]," Hershiser said, "and I've been the pitcher that is supposed to close it out and that's a lot of pressure, because you have something to lose. . . . The pressure is on them, because they definitely have something to lose and they have lost the last two series they've participated in. The Atlanta fans probably wonder what is going on."
A writer asked Justice yesterday whether he thought that was valid, and Justice cursed Hershiser aloud. Twice. "Tell him I said that," Justice said. "If he wants some, he can get some." Translation: If Hershiser wants to fight, he knows where Justice is.
Justice's feelings were relayed to Hershiser, who downplayed the discourse. "That's the media," Hershiser said. "Dave and I talked before Game 1. We smiled and laughed. I will go outside with him if he wants. Not to fight him, but to say hi and have dinner. . . . I'm not trying to put extra pressure on the Braves, but I would be a frustrated player if I had three chances and never won it [the Series]."
The Braves lost the World Series in 1991 and 1992, and lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL Championship Series in 1993. Justice says Atlanta fans will be angry if the Braves lose again this year.
"If we don't win, they'll try to run our [rears] out of Atlanta, point blank," Justice said. "I know how it's going to be if we don't win. I've seen how it is because of expectations since Day 1.
"That's why this [championship] is for the 25 guys and coaches in here, if we get there. You know that song, 'You and Me Against the World'? It's us against the world. We didn't have anyone at the airport; we didn't have police escorts."
(Actually, an estimated 100 Cleveland fans saw the Indians off at the airport yesterday, and 1,000 fans greeted the Braves.)
Justice said: "If we don't win, you won't see me here on Opening
Day. They'll burn my house down."
If not Martinez, then Ogea
Dennis Martinez, the Indians' Game 6 starter, said he is less than 100 percent -- and he suggested that there's a chance he won't be able to start. "I'll be ready," he said, "but I will be the first to tell [manager] Mike [Hargrove] if I have a problem.
"One day, [his right shoulder] is a little stiff, and the next day it is OK. I go out and play catch. Yesterday, I threw a little bit and felt it a little. But I think it is OK. This is really an important game for us,
and I don't want to hurt myself or the club. If I feel good, I will go."
If he doesn't feel good, then Chad Ogea likely would start Game 6. He would start with virtually no experience this postseason -- he pitched in one game, giving up one hit in two innings.
Indians pitching coach Mark Wiley says pitching with little prior notice and without consistent innings has been Ogea's forte.
"One of the reasons he's on our roster is because during the regular season he sat for great periods of time and came in to throw some tremendous ballgames for us," Wiley said.
But Wiley says Martinez will be ready.
"When Dennis puts on a uniform and goes out to warm up, he blocks everything out," Wiley said. "Whether he has aches and pains or not, he can focus and get through it."
Keeping up with the Joneses
The Braves possess tremendous young talent in third baseman Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko, catcher Javy Lopez and reliever Mark Wohlers. They don't have much talent in the top two levels of their farm system, but they're loading up again in Single-A.
"In fact," Jones said, "the best player I've ever seen in a Braves camp is still down in the minor leagues right now. Andruw Jones. The talent is coming."
Andruw Jones was named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year for his performance at Single-A Macon (Ga.).
Martinez on flip side of 3-1
Martinez was on the other end of a 3-1 Series, in 1979. That year, the Orioles led the Pittsburgh Pirates three games to one, and lost -- a painful experience he relayed to his teammates before Game 5.
"In 1979, we were going back home knowing that we only had to win one of two games," he said. "We [the Indians] just said play hard, and we beat [Greg] Maddux and got a great game from Orel."