CATCHERSDan WilsonStats: .270, 15 HRs, 74 RBIsScouting...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

CATCHERS

Dan Wilson

Stats: .270, 15 HRs, 74 RBIs

Scouting report: Wilson doesn't get a lot of publicity outside Seattle but is a solid defensive catcher who hits for average and produces runs. Behind the plate, he threw out an impressive 41 percent of the runners attempting to steal against him. At the plate, he is particularly tough against left-handed pitching, batting .357 with nine home runs in 129 at-bats. He had four home runs in nine games against the Orioles.

Hot or cold: Wilson batted .298 in his last 70 at-bats.

EDGE

Chris Hoiles, Lenny Webster

Stats: Hoiles - .259, 12 HRs, 49 RBIs; Webster - .255, 7 HRs, 37 RBIs

Scouting report: Each has struggled with a sore Achilles' tendon, and now Webster is also bothered by a sore elbow. Opponents run without pause against Hoiles (left). Webster will catch Scott Erickson in Game 2 and a possible Game 5. Hoiles crushes Randy Johnson.

Hot or cold: Webster is hitting .338 since Aug. 1. Hoiles has hit .231 since returning from the DL July 18

FIRST BASEMEN

Paul Sorrento

Stats: .269, 31 HRs, 80 RBIs

Scouting report: Sorrento set a career high with 31 home runs this year, keeping the heat off a Mariners front office that traded away MVP candidate Tino Martinez two years ago. Strong defensively, he ranked second among American League first basemen with a .997 fielding percentage this year. Sorrento had three homers and six RBIs in 10 games against the Orioles.

L Hot or cold: Sorrento had four hits in his last six at-bats.

Rafael Palmeiro, Jerome Walton

Stats: Palmeiro - .254, 38 HRs, 110 RBIs; Walton - .294, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs

Scouting report: No longer is Palmeiro (left) bothered by lengthy unproductive stretches. He salvaged a sound offensive season with 55 RBIs in his last 68 games. Davey Johnson says he won't start Game 1 against Randy Johnson. Walton probably will start Game 1.

Hot or cold: Palmeiro hit 22 second-half home runs and batted .298 in his last 14 games.

EDGE

SECOND BASEMEN

Joey cora

Stats: .300, 11 HRs, 54 RBIs

Scouting report: Cora is a tough, little second baseman who also played a big role in the Mariners' first postseason appearance, in 1995. He hits for average and has surprising pop for his size. Cora set career highs in hits, doubles, homers and RBIs, and also had a 24-game hitting streak.

Hot or cold: Cora batted .333 with six runs in the last seven games.

Roberto Alomar, Jeff Reboulet

Stats: Alomar - .333, 14 HRs, 60 RBIs; Reboulet - .237, 4 HRs, 27 RBIs

Scouting report: Reboulet has limited range but is sure-handed and healthy. He is a career .314 hitter against Randy Johnson. Alomar (left), a switch-hitter, says he is "about 90 percent" recovered from a strained right groin but still isn't healthy enough to bat right-handed.

Hot or cold: Reboulet started just four of the last 24 games. Why? Alomar had 35 hits in his last 70 at-bats.

EDGE

SHORTSTOPS

Alex Rodriguez

Stats: .300, 23 HRs, 84 RBIs

Scouting report: Rodriguez, 22, didn't match the numbers he put up during his near-MVP year in 1996, but he again showed why he is perhaps the best young player in the game. In his two full major-league seasons, he has averaged 196 hits, 47 doubles, 29.5 home runs and 103.5 RBIs.

Hot or cold: He batted .314 with five homers and 17 RBIs in the final 32 games.

EDGE

Mike Bordick

Stats: .236, 7 HRs, 46 RBIs

Scouting report: The ultimate grinder, Bordick has been everything the Orioles expected defensively but more streaky than anticipated at the plate. His 12 sacrifice bunts are the most by an Oriole since Bill Ripken's 17 in 1990.

Hot or cold: He enters the series on a roll, going 30-for-89 (.337) in his last 27 games.

THIRD BASEMEN

Mike Blowers, Andy Sheets

Stats: Blowers - .293, 5 HRs, 20 RBIs; Sheets - .247, 4 HRs, 9 RBIs

Scouting report: Mariners manager Lou Piniella agonized whether to put injured Russ Davis on the postseason roster for the Division Series but decided against it. Instead, either Blowers (right) or the 25-year-old Sheets will show up there.

Hot or cold: Blowers probably will start Game 1 because he finished strong - batting .357 in the last 31 games.

Cal Ripken

Stats: .270, 17 HRs, 84 RBIs

Scouting report: Questions about his health won't go away, maybe because he hasn't driven the ball for nearly a month. After appearing to play third base in cement shoes for much of August and September, he has lately shown better movement. Recently, he has narrowed his strike zone.

Hot or cold: Ripken hasn't had a multi-hit game since Sept. 5.

EDGE

LEFT FIELDERS

Roberto Kelly

Stats: .291, 12 HRs, 59 RBIs

Scouting report: The Mariners also may use Rich Amaral and Rob Ducey in left, but Kelly closed the season on a tear and gives Seattle more punch at one of the traditional power positions. He had two homers in 12 at-bats against the Orioles this year.

Hot or cold: He batted .419 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in his final eight games of the regular season.

B.J.Surhoff, Jeffrey Hammonds

Stats: Surhoff - .284, 18 HRs, 88 RBIs; Hammonds ' .264, 21 HRs, 55 RBIs

Scouting report: Hammonds played in Randy Johnson's three starts against the Orioles this year but is only 2-for-13 against him lifetime. His manager says a sore Achilles' tendon keeps him from playing on consecutive days. Surhoff (left) finished with a career-high 88 RBIs.

Hot or cold: Hammonds finished the season in a 4-for-34 (.118) funk. Surhoff hit .305 in his last 16 games.

EDGE

CENTER FIELDERS

Ken Griffey

Stats: .304, 56 HRs, 147 RBIs

Scouting report: The apparent American League Most Valuable Player finished the season with the seventh-highest single-season homer total. He's a prime-time player and proved it in his only other postseason appearance, hitting five home runs in the 1995 Division Series against the Yankees.

Hot or cold: He batted .357 with six home runs and 11 RBIs in the final 11 games.

EDGE

Brady Anderson

Stats: .288, 18 HRs, 73 RBIs

Scouting report: A stretched right patella tendon has left him only a shred of his offensive potential. But now that he has reached this stage, expect Anderson to push himself to another level. He might not work a count, still preferring to swing at a lot of first-pitch strikes, but may decide to work the base paths.

Hot or cold: Anderson ended the season with an 11-game hitting streak (15-for-49).

RIGHT FIELDERS

Jay Buhner

Stats: .243, 40 HRs, 109 RBIs

Scouting report: Buhner reached 40 home runs for the third consecutive season, becoming only the 10th player in history to do so, and not because he plays in the cozy Kingdome. He hit 27 of his 40 homers on the road.

Hot or cold: Buhner had just five hits in his final 30 at-bats.

EDGE

Eric Davis, Hammonds

Stats: Davis - .304, 8 HRs, 25 RBIs; Hammonds - .264, 21 HRs, 55 RBIs

Scouting report: Davis (left) made a statement in the season's final weekend. He is again the streaky hitter who can strike out four times on Wednesday, then return for four hits on Saturday. In 1990, he helped lift the Cincinnati Reds to the world championship.

Hot or cold: Davis batted .300 (9-for-30) after returning from the disabled list. On Saturday, he hit his first home run since May 6.

DESIGNATED HITTERS

Edgar Martinez

Stats: .330, 28 HRs, 108 RBIs

Scouting report: Martinez became a Mariners folk hero with his performance in the 1995 Division Series, when he hit .571 and drove in 10 runs in five games against the Yankees. He's as dangerous as ever and has a history of hammering the Orioles (.321 career average, 12 homers, 49 RBIs) but did not do a lot of damage this year.

Hot or cold: He finished with a flourish, batting .360 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in his last 36 games.

EDGE

Geronimo Berroa

Stats: .283, 26 HRs, 90 RBIs

Scouting report: The Mariners' left-handed rotation negates Harold Baines, leaving Berroa as one of the series' central figures. A strike to him is a mistake pitch. Berroa's looping swing often becomes overaggressive. He hit .356 against left-handed pitching this season.

Hot or cold: The Chief was 13-for-57 (.228) in his last 17 games, but his confidence level can change from at-bat to at-bat.

BENCHES

Mariners

Scouting report: Manager Lou Piniella does not do a lot of subbing with a lineup that includes seven nine-inning players. The bench is a factor at third base, where two reserves will fill in for the injured Russ Davis, and in left field, where the Mariners could go with any one of Rich Amaral (right), Rob Ducey or Roberto Kelly, but Piniella probably is not going to push a lot of buttons when Davey Johnson starts flip-flopping relief pitchers.

Orioles

Scouting report: The Orioles will have plenty of answers if Mariners manager Lou Piniella dips into his right-handed bullpen. Harold Baines (left) looms as an important pinch hitter. Depending on which Mariners left-hander is starting, Roberto Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro and B. J. Surhoff also may be waiting. If Lenny Webster's elbow permits, Davey Johnson could replace Chris Hoiles as early as the seventh inning if given a lead. In huge games, Johnson gladly manipulates a lineup.

EDGE

GAME 1 STARTERS

Randy Johnson

Stats: 20-4, 2.28 ERA

Scouting report: Johnson is a combined 43-6 the past three seasons. He missed four starts this September with a finger injury but came back to pitch effectively in three games and recorded his 20th victory Saturday in a rare relief appearance. Johnson faced the Orioles three times this season and was 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA.

Hot or cold: Johnson closed the season with four straight victories and seven wins in his final nine decisions.

EDGE

Mike Mussina

Stats: 15-8, 3.20 ERA

Scouting report: Mussina's numbers say 15 wins. His performance level says 20. A recent blister on his right index finger has left him without his cut fastball. He has never won a huge game, including two starts last postseason. Now he is a different pitcher.

Hot or cold: Mussina was 2-3 in his last nine starts and hasn't won on the road since Aug. 8. During that span, he has a 3.49 ERA.

GAME 2 STARTERS

Jamie Moyer

Stats: 17-5, 3.86 ERA

Scouting report: The former Orioles left-hander averaged more than six innings a start, and the club was 22-8 in his 30 starts. Moyer faced the Orioles twice during the regular season; he worked a total of 12 innings and finished with a 1-0 record and a 2.92 ERA.

Hot or cold: Moyer finished with six victories in his final seven decisions and had a 3.03 ERA during that span.

Scott Erickson

Stats: 16-7, 3.69 ERA

Scouting report: If Erickson allows adrenalin to take over, he's in trouble. Reverting to his power-pitcher tendencies has hurt him. He must forget about the Kingdome's slick artificial surface and trust his infield.

Hot or cold: Erickson's biggest problem lately has been escaping the first inning. He gave up six first-inning runs in his last four starts and suffered a five-run second inning Sept. 12.

EDGE

TC

GAME 3 STARTERS

Jeff Fassero

Stats: 16-9, 3.61 ERA

Scouting report: The acquisition of Fassero from the Montreal Expos turned out to be the key move of the off-season. His 16 victories were a career high, and he spelled the beleaguered Mariners bullpen by working past the sixth inning in 28 of his 35 starts. The 34-year-old left-hander pitched well in his only game against the Orioles, giving up one earned run in eight innings.

Hot or cold: Fassero closed the season with seven victories in his final 10 decisions.

EDGE

Jimmy Key

Stats: 16-10, 3.43 ERA

Scouting report: Key acknowledges that his precision control has eroded. The wear of 34 starts has dulled his fastball, and he was adjusting his mechanics in September. There are suspicions of a hamstring injury, too. Still, he has pitched the clinching game for two World Series champions and is considered a nerveless pro.

Hot or cold: Key is 10-2 on the road but only 6-8 at Camden Yards, including 1-8 since May 7.

NO. 4 STARTERS

Ken Cloude

Stats: 4-2, 5.12 ERA

Scouting report: Cloude entered the rotation Aug. 9 and took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in his major-league debut. The McDonogh alumnus has struggled with his control at times but held hitters to a .203 batting average and made enough of an impression to earn a place in the postseason rotation.

Hot or cold: Cloude won his final two starts, going six innings and giving up two earned runs in each game.

Scott Kamieniecki

Stats: 10-6, 4.01 ERA

Scouting report: He pitched last Wednesday's clincher in Toronto. Now his role shrivels in a best-of-five format. Kamieniecki assumes Shawn Boskie's duties in long relief. Given Mike Mussina's distaste for pitching on three days' rest, Kamieniecki may be on early alert in Game 4.

Hot or cold: He was 4-1 in his last 11 starts.

EDGE

CLOSERS

Heathcliff Slocumb

Stats: 0-9, 5.16 ERA, 27 saves

Scouting report: Slocumb, a right-hander, was acquired July 31 to bail out the struggling bullpen and had a major impact, registering 10 saves. He still can be unpredictable, as evidenced by his five blown saves in 22 attempts with the Red Sox earlier in the season.

Hot or cold: He is successful in 10 of 11 save opportunities as a Mariner.

Randy Myers

Stats: 2-3, 1.51 ERA, 45 saves

Scouting report: A legitimate AL MVP candidate, Myers has enjoyed the most dominant season of any reliever in the modern era, blowing just one of 46 save chances. But Armando Benitez had to rescue him twice in a May series at the Kingdome.

Hot or cold: He did not wilt, as he did at the end of last season. Myers has six postseason saves and has allowed only one run in 20 postseason innings.

EDGE

SETUP MEN

Mike Timlin

Stats: 6-4, 3.22 ERA, 10 saves

Scouting report: The Mariners traded top outfield prospect Jose Cruz on July 31 for Timlin and fellow reliever Paul Spoljaric. Timlin, a former closer in Toronto, immediately moved behind Slocumb in Seattle's bullpen pecking order. He has appeared in 26 games for Seattle and pitched effectively.

Hot or cold: He allowed one earned run in his final 11 innings.

Armando Benitz

Stats: 4-5, 2.45 ERA, 9 saves

Scouting report: When Benitez pitches, he's as dominant as any closer, holding the lead in 42 of the 43 games in which he has appeared. But when Benitez chooses to throw instead of pitch, his mechanics deteriorate and his control evaporates. Base runners steal at will against him.

Hot or cold: Forty-one of his last 73 outs have been by strikeout.

EDGE

BULLPENS

Mariners

Scouting report: By most accounts, the Mariners probably would not be in the postseason without midseason additions Heathcliff Slocumb, Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric (right). Spoljaric is a solid middle reliever, and Timlin established himself in that role before becoming the closer in Toronto. Right-hander Bobby Ayala, who struggled before the midseason shake-up, has been very effective in the second half. Left-hander Norm Charlton continues to struggle and probably will not pitch much in the playoffs.

Orioles

Scouting report: The Orioles will have plenty of answers if Mariners manager Lou Piniella dips into his right-handed bullpen. Harold Baines (left) looms as an important pinch hitter. Depending on which Mariners left-hander is starting, Roberto Alomar, Rafael Palmeiro and B. J. Surhoff also may be waiting. If Lenny Webster's elbow permits, Davey Johnson could replace Chris Hoiles as early as the seventh inning if given a lead. In huge games, Johnson gladly manipulates a lineup.

EDGE

Prediction: Orioles in five

The Orioles captured the season series 7-4, including a three-game road sweep in May. Three times they won in games Randy Johnson started. It is typical of a veteran team able to rise for huge games. Yet an indifferent September has made them underdogs for this series. The Orioles' right-handed pitching is a strong counter to the Mariners' right-handed-heavy lineup. Davey Johnson is adamant that Ken Griffey not be allowed to beat him, meaning that support-crew members such as Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Joey Cora and Alex Rodriguez will be pivotal. If the Orioles can make the series a battle of bullpens, they win.

Pub Date: 10/01/97

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
46°