CLEVELAND -- Two tough losses later, the Orioles today will hand the ball back to the man who made it look so easy in Game 1: Scott Erickson.
It only seems like it's been a month or so since Erickson shut out the Indians on 90 pitches Wednesday night in Baltimore, allowing four hits and only one runner past second base through eight innings in a 3-0 win. Now Davey Johnson needs more of the same from Erickson to avoid slipping into a 3-1 hole in the series.
Extra pressure? What extra pressure, says Erickson, who dominated the Indians in his first start against them this year opening the American League Championship Series.
"No difference, really," said Erickson, 29. "All the games are playoffs. Hopefully, we can come back to a three-game series."
He'll be opposed by right-hander Jaret Wright, who started his year in Double-A Akron. The 21-year-old rookie hasn't exactly made it look easy, but he has managed two wins in two starts against the Yankees in the Division Series, the first rookie to win two postseason games since Mike Boddicker did it for the Orioles in 1983.
Wright, whose major-league debut and first victory came against the Minnesota Twins on June 24, has never faced the Orioles. But he's been on the hot seat before, having pitched Game 5 of the Division Series, which the Indians won, 4-3.
"It's almost the same mind-set as against the Yankees," said Wright. "A go-right-at-them attitude."
Erickson's overwhelming performance in Game 1 doesn't faze him one way or another, said Wright.
"I don't worry about how the other team is going to pitch," he said. "I can only concentrate on what I can do to their hitters."
He started 16 games in the regular season, going 8-3, and pitched 90 1/3 innings. Indians manager Mike Hargrove said he's aware of the innings piling up on Wright's young arm, but he hasn't seen evidence that Wright is weakening.
"We certainly don't want to injure the young man, but this is the postseason and I don't know how careful we can be," Hargrove said before using six relievers to win yesterday's game.
Orioles manager Davey Johnson said after last night's game that he did not feel the need to give his bullpen a break tonight.
Erickson, pitching on three days' rest, said, "I think I'll feel all right." He feels no pressure to go deeper into tonight's game because the bullpen got such a workout last night.
No, Erickson said, this is not the most important game he's ever pitched. A World Series game, that would be the most important. done that before, in 1991 with the Minnesota Twins. Whether he does it again this year may depend on how he handles tonight's assignment.
Pub Date: 10/12/97