Recovering Henke plays new role, with a new pitch, for Blue Jays AL playoff notes

October 10, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

MINNEAPOLIS -- In baseball's never-ending accumulation of seemingly meaningless statistics, Tom Henke got credit for a "hold" yesterday.

In other words he maintained the status quo in orderly fashion, which is much better than a "scare," when the basepaths get crowded, but home plate is not violated.

This is a different role for Henke, one that could become common if Duane Ward continues to excel out of the Toronto bullpen. After missing most of the last month of the season because of tendinitis of the shoulder, Henke is being eased back into action by Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.

He has returned, at least temporarily, in a different role -- and relying more on a different pitch. Instead of coming into a game to start the ninth inning and protect a lead, Henke found himself in the midst of a jam in the sixth inning, when he replaced Juan Guzman.

That's about two innings earlier than Henke's normal wakeup call. Instead of throwing his patented "heater," Henke used a forkball and got Shane Mack on an easy bouncer with the tying run on third and the potential go-ahead run on first in what would eventually be a 5-2 Toronto victory.

"In that situation," said catcher Pat Borders, "you don't want to throw too good a pitch." Mack, obviously looking for a fastball, went out on a very weak swing. It took Henke 12 more pitches to get through the seventh inning, then his work was done, and Ward finished the game, an obvious role reversal.

"If Henke continues to feel better, we will probably flip-flop them," said Gaston. However, it would be unwise to expect that any time before Ward has difficulties.

And that might not come any time soon, even though Ward downplayed his switch in roles. "That's something he [Gaston] has talked to us about," said Ward. "He called both of us into his office on Monday and talked about it.

"But the only thing that's important is that the bullpen does its job. We use everybody to win. There is no animosity between Tom and I. We have a friendly competition between us," said Ward.

Asked if he approached the game any different as a closer, Ward said: "There is no difference for me. Every time I go out to the mound, I have the same mentality -- to kick some butt."

* THE NO-HOMER DOME: Neither team hit a home run in the first two games of the series -- running the streak of ALCS homerless games to five. Wade Boggs homered off Dave Stewart in the first game last year.

Through the opening game last year, there had been at least one home run in 21 straight ALCS games dating back to Game 1 in 1986. The current drought is the longest in ALCS history.

* GRUBER STAYS HOT: With two hits yesterday, Toronto third baseman Kelly Gruber is 9-for-16 in his last four ALCS games.

The streak started with Game 4 in 1989.

* THE END: Minnesota leadoff hitter Dan Gladden had a nine-game postseason hitting streak stopped yesterday.

The Twins' leftfielder went 0-for-3, with a walk.

* TOP HEAVY LINEUP: The first five batters in the Toronto lineup were 7-for-18 yesterday and are 16-for-38 (.421) in the series.

At the other end, the bottom four hitters were 2-for-14 yesterday and are 2-for-29 (.069) after two games.

* ELIMINATING THE MIDDLE MEN: The heart of Minnesota's batting order has struggled in both games. Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek and Chili Davis combined for only one hit and a walk yesterday.

Overall, the heart of the Twins' attack is 3-for-20 (.150), with all three hits being singles.

* THIS 'N THAT: Guzman became the first rookie to win a league championship series game since Charles Hudson beat the Dodgers for Philadelphia in 1983, the day after Mike Boddicker beat the White Sox for the Orioles.

The three runs scored by Devon White fell one short of the LCS record, accomplished three times in each league . . . When Steve Bedrosian gave up an unearned run in the seventh inning yesterday, it was the first run allowed by a reliever in 20 2/3 innings of ALCS play, dating back to a run Jeff Reardon allowed in the ninth inning of Game 2 last year . . . Toronto's bullpen has not allowed a run in 8 2/3 innings in this series.

The Twins had won seven straight postseason games (all in the Metrodome) before yesterday's loss. The last time they lost at home in the postseason was Oct. 4, 1970, when the Orioles beat them for the sixth straight time while sweeping the first two ALCS ever played.

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