ATLANTA — Comebacks commonplace for these Braves
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves weren't thrilled to come home down, two games to none, in the 88th World Series, but they have been coming from behind all year.
"It's not a good situation to be in," first baseman Sid Bream said, "but we have had our backs against the wall all season and have come out on top."
Last week when the Braves were in a must-win situation, pitchers Steve Avery and John Smoltz dominated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the final two games of the National League playoffs. Could the same thing happen to the Minnesota Twins in games 3 and 4? Bream apparently thinks so.
"It is a pretty good feeling going back to Atlanta having Avery and Smoltz going for us in the next two games," he said. "We've come from behind before, and, hopefully, we can do it again."
The Braves are building a reputation for responding to this kind of challenge, though they would rather be looking down from a two-game advantage right now.
"It's like this team doesn't know how to play when it's ahead," Bream said. "We'd get a couple of games up [in the NL West] and then we'd be behind again. It was the same in the playoffs against Pittsburgh. We just never seem to enjoy being ahead, but we've never let up when we've been behind."
The odd couple
Twins starter Scott Erickson will be matched with his designated catcher for tonight's Game 3. Junior Ortiz has caught most of his games the past two years, so Twins manager Tom Kelly has chosen to keep the team together in the postseason.
"When I came up last year, Junior was the odd man out because Brian Harper was hitting .330 or something," Erickson said. "Since I was the new guy around, Junior got stuck with me. It's turned out all right. It's not that I asked for him every time I pitched. It has just worked out that way." Kelly said Sunday night that he won't be tempted to start Chili Davis in the outfield in any of the games in Atlanta, though Davis played a lot of games there when he was a member of the San Francisco Giants.
Davis, whose defensive ability is considered suspect, said he didn't expect to play and isn't disappointed.
"I played in 153 games this year and started 149," he said. "I think the guys won about 75 percent of the games I didn't start. I guess this week I'll be an overpriced cheerleader."
Kelly doesn't fear Chop Shop
Kelly said he isn't concerned that a lack of familiarity with Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium will be a major problem for his club.
"If Scott Erickson pitches a good ballgame [tonight], it doesn't matter," he said, "and if he doesn't, we can use that as an excuse."
Nevertheless, the Twins manager got a full scouting report on the ballpark from the club's National League advance men.
"The consensus is to be careful behind home plate and that the ball carries in left-center field," he said. "It compares to the way the ball carries in the new Comiskey Park. Our scouts say there is a lot of room in foul territory except behind home plate."
The pen is mightier . . .
The Twins bullpen continues to dominate the late innings. Rick Aguilera's scoreless inning Sunday night ran the club's bullpen string of postseason innings without an earned run to 27 1/3 , dating to Game 6 of the 1987 World Series.
"Our bullpen has done a great job all year," said Aguilera, who has saved five of the Twins' six 1991 postseason victories. "It's nice to be a part of that and sense the confidence the team has in me when I go in."
A Minnesota man put $200 on the Twins in Reno, Nev., before the season began and stands to win $24,000 if the club finishes off the Braves in the World Series. Ron McBroom, an insurance salesman from New Prague, Minn., won $8,000 on the $100 bet he placed at 80-1 odds on the Twins to win the AL pennant. He put another $100 on them to win the World Series at 160-to-1. . . . Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in the World Series have gone on to win 31 of 41 times (76 percent), including each of the past 4 years. . . . The Twins will hold a Metrodome open house tonight and show Game 3 on the stadium Jumbotron.