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Surhoff is confident he'll be fit for ALCS Ailing knee, hamstring prevent him from starting

CLEVELAND — CLEVELAND -- B. J. Surhoff's inflamed right knee and sore left hamstring kept him out of the starting lineup yesterday, but Surhoff said he'll be ready to play Tuesday, when the American League Championship Series begins in New York.

Surhoff pleaded with manager Davey Johnson to play yesterday, but he was on the bench until delivering a key pinch-hit in the ninth, leading to the tying run.

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Surhoff said he felt well enough to play yesterday, but Johnson wanted to keep him from aggravating his injuries, starting Pete Incaviglia in his place.

"I'm not worried about it," said Surhoff, who injured his left hamstring by favoring his sore right knee in recent days. "I'm doing all right. I've got a couple of days to rest and hopefully everything will get better."

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The lingering injuries didn't diminish Surhoff's production. He hit .385 (5-for-13) in the Division Series and led the Orioles with three home runs. Surhoff's five RBIs tied Bobby Bonilla for the team high.

"You can look at what people said about the matchups position-by-position and you look at B. J. Surhoff playing left field, and he outplayed Albert Belle," reliever Terry Mathews said. "The guy hit three home runs and came in with the big hit [yesterday], injured and all. B. J. played a helluva series."

Mills still hopeful

Reliever Alan Mills has hit another setback in his return from a groin injury, but says he will be ready to pitch Tuesday.

Mills has thrown just one-third of an inning in the last two weeks and did not pitch in the Indians series. He warmed up three times and Johnson wanted to pitch him in Game 3, but his leg tightened up.

"I'm optimistic for Tuesday," said Mills, who aggravated the muscle strain in the last week of the regular season. "Hopefully, I'll be better by then. I want to pitch in the next round."

Despite the injury, Johnson said he is reluctant to leave Mills off the ALCS roster.

"It was sorer [yesterday] than it was the day before," Johnson said of Mills' leg. "I thought we got by it, but we didn't.

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"I'm going to check with the doctors, but I mean, he's been so close. Even [in Game 4] Millsy thought he could pitch and push off."

ALCS pitching plans

The Orioles have tentatively set their pitching rotation for the first three games of the ALCS.

Scott Erickson would start Game 1, most likely against David Cone. Mike Mussina would likely face Andy Pettitte in Game 2, and David Wells and Jimmy Key, teammates on the Toronto Blue Jays, probably will go in Game 3.

Johnson said he has not decided whether to let rookie Rocky Coppinger, who has yet to pitch in the postseason, start Game 4.

Erickson last pitched Wednesday, and would be pitching on an unusually high five days' rest. Johnson could move Wells to Game 2, on three days' rest. Wells has responded well to three days' rest in the second half, and pitches well in Yankee Stadium. Mussina was rocked in his last outing in the Bronx.

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Thome had broken bone

Cleveland third baseman Jim Thome revealed after yesterday's game that he broke the hamate bone in his right wrist while batting against Orioles closer Randy Myers in Game 1. He was in the starting lineup Friday, but only came into yesterday's game for defense.

"I just want to take precautions. If I need surgery, I'll get it," he said.

Thome said not being able to swing the bat yesterday "was tough. I had a great year, and to get back into the postseason and do that was tough."

Seitzer salutes O's fans

Cleveland's Kevin Seitzer was so impressed with the enthusiasm and noise level of the fans at Camden Yards during the first two games of the series that he wanted the same atmosphere at Jacobs Field -- even if it meant taking matters into his own hands.

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Seitzer often stood and waved a towel in the Indians dugout to incite the crowd, which fell silent when Cleveland fell behind 4-3 during Friday's game and after the Orioles tied the score in the ninth inning yesterday.

"All I kept thinking about after the second game ended was what kind of impact the crowd had in Baltimore," Seitzer said. "I guess I was a little perturbed that we were supposed to have home-field advantage, and we found ourselves with our backs against the wall, and I felt like a lot of it was due to playing the first two games in Baltimore. I was looking forward to making sure our crowd was into it the way their crowd was.

"I saw the effect that the crowd had on the home pitcher in Baltimore, and that was the biggest thing. During the season, the only time you usually see people standing on their feet is when there are two outs in the ninth inning and there's two strikes on the hitter. In Baltimore, every time a hitter got two strikes on him, the crowd was on its feet, like, 'Put him away.' It was impressive."

Praise for Belle

Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said after Friday's game that slugger Albert Belle "legitimizes" the Indians lineup. Seitzer was asked what that meant.

"I can't give you a very good definition of what legitimizes means," he said. "Albert solidifies our lineup, he's the key focal point, the nucleus, the glue that holds our lineup together, the guy who takes the pressure off everybody else.

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"He gets the big hit, comes through in the clutch. When you've got Albert Belle hitting in the middle, he can pick up for a lot of mistakes with one swing of the bat."

When asked if the Orioles had anyone like that in their lineup, Seitzer said, "There's about four over there."

Last laugh for Murray

Indians general manager John Hart traded Eddie Murray to the Orioles in July, after Murray was benched. Now it is Murray going to the ALCS.

"[Hart] shoved a few of us off the team," said Murray, referring to himself and Carlos Baerga, among others. "I really felt things weren't done correctly. It feels good in that aspect, that his dream team didn't make it. There were a lot of things that weren't done right here."

Ouch

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Wells was drilled in the left arm by a foul ball off the bat of Bobby Bonilla in extra innings, as Wells sat in the dugout. "It was an ugly-finder," said Wells, "and I'm not that ugly."

Around the horn

Surhoff finished 14 plate appearances shy of 600 in the regular season, which would have merited him a $100,000 bonus, but the Orioles gave him the bonus anyway. Wells' girlfriend Nina Fisher tried to get in a cab in Cleveland Friday, but was ordered to leave the car when the cabbie found out she was going out with Wells. Pete Incaviglia will be on the HBO sports-comedy show "Arli$$," which will air Wednesday. Yankees fans told umpires during their first-round series that they were hoping the Orioles would advance just so they could boo Roberto Alomar. Hart on Armando Benitez: "Benitez dominated us. We didn't sniff him."

Alomar in October

It should come as no surprise that Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar was the hero in yesterday's Division Series-clinching win over the Indians. Alomar had a history of performing well in postseason play with the Blue Jays:

1996: With the Orioles down to their last strike in the ninth, Alomar's RBI single tied the score at 3. He then hit the game-winning home run to lead off the 12th. Finished with a .294 average.

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1993: Batted .292 in the ALCS against the White Sox with a team-high four stolen bases. Also stole four bases and hit .480 against the Phillies in the World Series.

1992: Named Most Valuable Player after batting .423 in the ALCS vs. Oakland. Hit game-tying two-run homer in the ninth inning off Dennis Eckersley to tie Game 4 at 6, as Blue Jays erased a five-run deficit and eventually won it in the 10th. Established ALCS record for most hits (20) in two consecutive series (1991-92). Carried 11-game hitting streak into the World Series before going 0-for-4 in Game 1 vs. Atlanta.

1991: Set ALCS record against Twins for most singles (nine) in a five-game series and batted .474 with four RBIs.

Pub Date: 10/06/96


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