Indians toss compliments in solid pitch

April 07, 1992|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

They complimented the new ballpark, played solid baseball and had a potential early uprising that was snuffed out by Mike Devereaux's sterling catch in center field.

For the Cleveland Indians, 2-0 losers to the Orioles in the historic opener in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, there wasn't much to do afterward but praise the work of former Indian Rick Sutcliffe and look forward to tomorrow.

Starter and finisher Charles Nagy was almost as good as Sutcliffe in a quick, well-pitched game, and except for Chris Hoiles, who doubled against the defensive grain to launch the Orioles' two-run rally, they might have played into the night.

"It was just a great day for pitching," said Nagy. "The grass was thick and slowing down the ground balls, and the wind was blowing in. It was nice and cool, so we got a quick game."

Nagy did not arrive on the team bus, instead walking to the park later from the downtown hotel. At first, he wasn't recognized by the guards.

"I just didn't know where to come in," he said. "The guard asked me for ID and all I had was a driver's license. Then, they called somebody else over and he led me down to the dugout. It all worked out."

With all the pre-game hoopla, Nagy had some butterflies, but he just "tried to stay calm, work fast and get in and out of the dugout."

"I thought he was as good as Sutcliffe," said Indians manager Mike Hargrove. "They got the key hit, and that was the difference."

That hit was Hoiles' ground-rule double, which bounced over the left-center field wall with two runners on in the fifth inning.

"We were playing Hoiles toward right field," said Indians catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. "That ball hung there a long time, and I thought Kenny [Lofton] had a chance to catch it. But he was playing him way over."

Then Bill Ripken squeezed home a second run. "Everybody had the feeling that would happen," said Nagy. "I tried to throw the ball up and in, but I didn't get it up enough and he did what he had to do."

The Indians, the youngest team in the American League and second youngest in the majors (26.4 years), couldn't solve Sutcliffe.

"Sutcliffe takes a little off, puts a little on, stays done in the zone and tries to get you to chase a ball up," said Hargrove, his former teammate. "Young hitters like ours are inclined to be more of free swingers."

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