. . . while confident Blue Jays rest assured

September 22, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

They will be well-rested, having come to Baltimore nearly 48 hours before the start of tonight's game against the Orioles at Camden Yards and more than a full day ahead of the Orioles themselves.

They will be well in front, having a 4 1/2 -game lead over the second-place Milwaukee Brewers in the American League East and a five-game lead on the Orioles in what used to be a pennant race here.

"I think the heat will be on them a lot more than it is on us," said Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jimmy Key, who will start the final game of the three-game series Thursday.

The Blue Jays, a team that has had its share of problems in the heat of pennant races past, are a intrepid bunch these days.

Despite Sunday's 7-5 loss to the Texas Rangers at home, Toronto has won three of four and four of its past six.

The Blue Jays are treating the next three nights at Camden Yards as merely part of the countdown toward their third division title in the past four years. In fact, it seems as if the media in Toronto are more excited about this series than are the Blue Jays.

"You don't want anybody uptight," manager Cito Gaston said in his SkyDome office Sunday afternoon.

"You don't get pumped up in baseball. Pumped up is in football and hockey. You can't play baseball if you're pumped up."

After a stretch in August when Jack Morris was their only reliable starter, the Blue Jays appear to have their pitching straightened out. David Cone, acquired Aug. 27 from the New York Mets, has won three straight.

Key, looking to become the second AL pitcher to win at least 12 games in each of the past eight years, also has won his past three. Todd Stottlemyre, who pitches tonight for the Blue Jays, has won three of his past four starts.

"I think when the front office went out and got David Cone, it gave the pitching staff a big psychological boost," said Morris, who tomorrow night will be looking for his sixth straight win, as well as his 20th of the season.

Though the offense has struggled of late, especially Joe Carter, it hasn't seemed to matter. In past years, there might have been some finger-pointing in the clubhouse that has reflected on how tense the Blue Jays played on the field. But not this year.

"All we have to do is worry about winning ballgames; that's the bottom line," said Devon White, Toronto's center fielder and leadoff hitter. "All year, people said it's going to come down to Toronto and Baltimore. They're struggling, and we're going in there with a lot of momentum."

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