CLEVELAND -- Scott Kamieniecki and Chad Ogea will go into tonight's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series similarly oblivious to the situation that faces their respective teams.
The 33-year-old Orioles right-hander and the 26-year-old Cleveland Indians right-hander will each be wearing psychological blinders when they take the mound at Jacobs Field.
"It's a great opportunity," Kamieniecki said last night before Game 4. "It's an important game."
Said Ogea: "It's not going to change my approach. I think the bigger the game, the better I pitch because I become more focused."
It will be Kamieniecki's first start of the postseason, and only his second appearance since going seven innings in a division-clinching victory in Toronto on Sept. 24.
But it was his nearly perfect three-inning stint in relief of Jimmy Key on Thursday night in a 5-4 loss in Game 2 at Camden Yards that gave Kamieniecki the confidence going into tonight.
"It helps me because I hadn't pitched in 15 days," said Kamieniecki, who gave up no hits, striking out one and walking one.
Ogea hopes to use his experience in Game 1 -- the first postseason start of his career -- to help him approach Game 5. After a shaky start that included giving up a leadoff home run to Brady Anderson, Ogea's only other mistake resulted in a two-run home run by Roberto Alomar in the third.
Both came after Ogea hung breaking balls over the plate. Ogea also had given up a grand slam to the New York Yankees' Paul O'Neill in the Division Series.
"You're going to give up home runs, that's from being aggressive," said Ogea, who spent much of the summer on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right elbow.
Regardless of the outcome of last night's game, this will be the biggest start of Ogea's career and among the biggest of Kamieniecki's, his first postseason start since the 1995 Division Series for the Yankees against Seattle.
It came a day after his children were in a house that caught fire while they were being watched by a baby sitter. Kamieniecki gave up four earned runs and nine hits in five innings. He pitched only seven times early for the Yankees last season after his arm didn't respond to surgery to remove bone chips in 1995.
Asked yesterday whether he received a World Series ring, Kamieniecki stared blankly.
"No," he said. "To be honest, I didn't expect to get one. I didn't do anything. I wasn't a part of that ballclub."
Tonight could go a long way in determining whether Kamieniecki will have another chance of receiving one.
Pub Date: 10/13/97