TORONTO -- Despite days of speculation to the contrary, knuckleball pitcher Tom Candiotti apparently will start for the Toronto Blue Jays tonight in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
Candiotti was hit so hard in the first game of the best-of-seven playoff that there was talk that manager Cito Gaston would bring red-hot rookie Juan Guzman back on three days' rest. But there had been no change in the Blue Jays four-man playoff rotation when the club took the field for Game 4 last night.
"I'm just planning on making my start as usual," said Candiotti, who lasted just 2 2/3 innings and gave up eight hits to take a 5-4 loss in the ALCS opener. "Cito talked to me today and said I was going to start tomorrow, so I imagine that's valid."
The Twins took advantage of Candiotti's off-speed repertoire to steal four bases in running away from the Blue Jays in Game 1, but he isn't planning to make any changes in his 36th start of the season.
"My game plan stays the same, no matter who I'm pitching against," he said. "I'm out there trying to throw as many knuckleballs as I can. Hopefully, I'll get a lot of them over the plate. If I do, I do good and if I don't, I have a short outing like the other night.
"The Twins and all teams try to exploit the knuckleball by running a lot, so that was no different. The unfortunate thing for me was they kept getting the leadoff hitter on, which enabled them to hit and run."
Candiotti ranked second in the American League with a 2.65 ERA and eighth in strikeouts (167) and innings pitched (238), but he has pitched a total of 14 1/3 innings and given up 19 earned runs in his last four starts. He has not won since he defeated the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 14.
"I'm looking forward to the chance to pitch again and redeem myself," he said.
Tapani on Tapani
Twins starter Kevin Tapani doesn't seem particularly concerned about pitching on three days' rest tonight, even though he lost to the Blue Jays in Game 2 pitching on his normal schedule.
"I think this three-days' rest thing would be more of a problem if there was an injury and you needed the extra day," he said. "I'm feeling pretty good. I only threw 84 or 85 pitches in my last start, which is less than I usually throw. I feel more like I've had six days' rest than three."
Tapani has been impressed with the Blue Jays this year, and why not? He is 0-2 in three starts against them.
"Their lineup seems to be the most balanced," he said. "They have a lot of different ways to beat you. They have a lot of guys with power who can also run. The Blue Jays have a few more dimensions that you don't have to worry about with other teams."
Chuck Knoblauch entered last night's game with a chance to become the first player to have four consecutive multi-hit performances in the ALCS since New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson had two or more hits in each of the last four games of the 1976 playoffs. Knoblauch was 6-for-11 in the first three games of the series, already setting a record for most hits by a rookie in an ALCS, but he went 0-for-5 in Game 4.
Twins stopper Rick Aguilera is the seventh reliever to have at least 2 saves in an ALCS. . . . Candy Maldonado made his first start in right field as a Blue Jay last night, his presence there required because of the injury to Joe Carter. Maldonado started 10 games in right for the Brewers before he was traded to the Jays.