Orioles manager Davey Johnson began the American League Championship Series last night by again tweaking his lineup, though not as radically as he had in games 1 and 4 of last week's Division Series against Seattle.
Johnson said he agonized over his lineup for Game 1, trying to fit "three great hitters" into two spots. He settled for Geronimo Berroa in right field and Harold Baines as designated hitter against Cleveland Indians right-hander Chad Ogea, putting Eric Davis on the bench.
Johnson cited Davis' fatigue from incessant interview requests and heavier playing time while still undergoing after-care and chemotherapy for colon cancer.
Davis downplayed his health status but said he was worn out after Tuesday afternoon's workout.
"I could play," Davis said. "But that's OK."
Davis entered last night's game as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning and finished the game in right field. In his one at-bat, he was walked intentionally in the seventh.
Given his extraordinary return from June 13 surgery, Davis has become the focal point for the national media the past two weeks. On Tuesday, the Orioles received 15 interview requests for Davis. He taped a segment for ABC's "Nightline" that will air tomorrow night.
"I said [to Davis], 'What can I do? I want to use you as much as possible,' " Johnson said. "This is what I came out with: I almost have to treat him like an injured player."
Davis said, "I'd like to go out there, but I'm not a selfish player. And this isn't a team of selfish players. Harold wants to play. Chief [Berroa] wants to play. But all of us can't be out there at the same time. We understand that. I'll be ready when it's my time."
"Either way I went was going to be pretty good," said Johnson, who kept his playoff roster the same for the ALCS, with 10 pitchers and 15 position players.
"Harold's probably been the best pinch hitter I've ever had coming off the bench when we were playing the National League clubs. I've tried to get Harold in as much as possible. Geronimo Berroa likes to DH, too, so it's kind of been a little tough for me with both of them, but we've actually needed them both along the way."
Johnson expects Davis' time to come tonight with left-hander Jimmy Key pitching. Key relies more heavily on his outfielders than does Game 1 starter Scott Erickson, which allowed Johnson greater leeway in playing Berroa.
Berroa, who served as designated hitter against the Mariners' left-handed rotation, is looked upon as a dicey defensive player.
"I wasn't thinking anything," Berroa said. "I come to the park every day expecting to play."
Johnson also was playing percentages. Berroa entered as a career .556 (5-for-9) hitter against Ogea. He hit . .385 against the Indians this year and is .358 with six home runs in 123 career at-bats. Last night, he went 0-for-3.
Davis has never hurt the Indians. He was 0-for-15 with four strikeouts in five games against them this season and is a career .107 hitter (3-for-28) vs. Cleveland in parts of three AL seasons.
Berroa also flourished in the Division Series, going 5-for-13 (.385) with two home runs. Davis hit .222 (2-for-9) with five strikeouts.
Indians add lefty Anderson
Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove took a different approach from Johnson when it came to his ALCS roster, adding left-hander Brian Anderson and removing rookie infielder Enrique Wilson.
Anderson went 4-2 with a 4.69 ERA in eight starts after his call-up from Triple-A Buffalo, where he was 7-1. He didn't pitch against the Orioles.
"We felt we'd be more likely to use the 11th pitcher than the 15th player," Hargrove said. "Adding Brian Anderson gives us a guy who's a long man with Ogea going into the rotation and us going with four [starters] in this series. We felt we needed somebody to give us some length if we happened to have that need."
Anderson relieved Ogea in the seventh last night and held the Orioles hitless in two innings.
How the rotation turns
Johnson would not commit to how he will use his starting pitchers the rest of the series, but it's possible tonight will be Key's only appearance. One scheme under discussion is to bring Erickson back on three days' rest Sunday for Game 4 and again, if necessary, for Game 7.
"That would be like falling out of bed for Scotty," Johnson said of his staff workhorse, who prefers three days' rest instead of four.
Under the contingency, Johnson also would start Mike Mussina in games 3 and 6 and the seldom-seen Scott Kamieniecki in Game 5.
That scenario depends largely on whether the Orioles can at least split the first four games. Kamieniecki threw two simulated innings Monday but has not faced live hitting since pitching the Orioles' AL East clincher in Toronto on Sept. 24.
"It depends on how guys do," Johnson said. "It depends on how [Erickson] fares. It depends on how Key fares. You don't want to start penciling in guys."
Yankees, stay home
Hargrove said the Indians aren't bothered by the perception that the Orioles were hoping to knock off the New York Yankees as the last obstacle to the World Series.
"Everybody has their preferences," he said. "At this time of the season, both clubs are glad to be in the ALCS, no matter who it's against. That sort of speculation is good for the fans and media to take care of, but if you talk to the players on each team, they would all say the same thing, that it doesn't make any difference who they're playing. They're just glad to be here."
Indians are no pushovers
Orioles third base coach Sam Perlozzo is aware that Cleveland is viewed as the underdog. And he's not comfortable with it.
"I don't look at it that way at all. I think Cleveland's got an outstanding team," he said. "They ran into some injuries with their pitching and ran into a little bit of a problem with that during the season, and they lost some games. But I think if they would have had their pitching healthy, I don't think there's any question they're one of the top four teams."
Kudos for Bordick
Johnson paid Mike Bordick what might be the ultimate compliment in this organization, saying the shortstop did things "the Oriole Way."
"For him, that's coming to the ballpark at 2 o'clock, getting ready, pacing around, going out and taking a hundred ground balls, hitting off the tee. His work ethic is second to none. He's really a blue-collar worker," Johnson said.
He's also a hot hitter. Bordick combined his usual superb defense with a .400 average (4-for-10), four RBIs and four runs scored in the Division Series. If that's not enough to grab the Indians' attention, Bordick hit .387 with a home run and five RBIs against them this year.
Bordick came into the playoffs on a tear, batting .330 (30-for-91) over his final 27 games.
"He's handling pitches that he didn't handle before, and he's hitting them very hard," Johnson said of Bordick, who went 0-for-3 last night. "He feels good about it, and anytime a hitter feels good about himself, he continues to do very well."
Once again, the four teams that remain in baseball's playoffs all have high payrolls, but Indians general manager John Hart said there's more to winning consistently than just throwing money on the field.
"There have been a lot of expensive train wrecks," he said. "There have been a lot of teams that have spent a lot of money unwisely."
The Indians proved in the first couple of years of their organizational renaissance that a team can win with great young players, but Hart said that it is nearly impossible to sustain a high level of success without spending accordingly.
"You'll see there will be clubs that come up and do it for one year, like we did and Montreal did during their big year," he said. "Revenue allows you the ability to sustain success. But [to be successful] you need to remember the things you did when you were a small-market team.
"I think there are three steps to building a good team. The first step is the fun part. You go out and evaluate talent and make deals to help your club. The second step is to become a contending ballclub, and getting there the first time is a lot of fun, too.
"The third step is staying there, and that's not as much fun because you have to make some hard decisions."
Tickets for charity
The Grant-A-Wish Foundation is making tickets available to Game 2 tonight, with proceeds benefiting the foundation. For $125 per person, fans can attend the game and a party at 5: 30 p.m. in the designated hitters lounge. For $200 per person, fans can attend a V.I.P. party, benefit auction and the game. Call 410-296-0727.
Around the horn
Cal Ripken's six assists tied the ALCS record shared by four others, including former Oriole Todd Cruz in 1983. Cleveland slugger Jim Thome is 0-for-19 at Camden Yards this year. Erickson and Randy Myers combined to pitch the first ALCS shutout since Oct. 16, 1995, when the Indians won Game 6 against Seattle behind Dennis Martinez, Julian Tavarez and Jose Mesa. Former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan threw out the first pitch. Catcher Lenny Webster committed the Orioles' first error of the postseason when he threw the ball into center field on Bip Roberts' stolen base in the third inning. Roberts was the only Indian to make it past first base. Ripken's double in the fourth inning was the eighth of his postseason career, tying a club record shared by Brooks Robinson and Rick Dempsey.
Future pitching matchups for the Orioles-Indians series:
Game 3, at Cleveland, 4: 15 p.m. Saturday
O's: Mike Mussina (15-8, 3.20)
Cle.: Orel Hershiser (14-6, 4.71)
Game 4, at Cleveland, 7: 30 p.m. Sunday
O's: Scott Erickson (16-7, 3.69)
Cle.: Jaret Wright (8-3, 4.38)
Game 5, at Cleveland, 8: 11 p.m. Monday
O's: S. Kamieniecki (10-6, 4.01)
Cle.: Chad Ogea (8-9, 4.99)
Game 6, at Baltimore, 4: 15 p.m. Wed.
O's: Jimmy Key (16-10, 3.43)
Cle.: Charles Nagy (15-11, 4.28)
Game 7, at Baltimore, 8: 15 p.m. Oct. 16
O's: Mussina; Cle.: Hershiser
Pub Date: 10/09/97