Cone confident Guzman will finish off Athletics

October 13, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. -- David Cone couldn't get it done yesterday, but he is confident that the Toronto Blue Jays will have better luck when the American League Championship Series resumes tomorrow at SkyDome.

"Naturally, I'm disappointed because I wanted to pitch well and clinch it right here," said Cone, who posted the Blue Jays' first win in Game 2, "but [Game 6 starter] Juan Guzman is an integral part of this team. He's been doing it all year."

The Oakland Athletics face another sudden-death situation in Game 6, but they hope to do to Guzman what they did to Cone -- strike early and often and heap some more pressure on a Blue Jays team that has a history of coming up short in the playoffs.

Cone considered the first-inning home run by Ruben Sierra to be the pivotal juncture in yesterday's game, even though the final margin was more than the two runs that crossed the plate in that inning.

"That was key," he said. "They got out of the blocks quickly against me. Jerry Browne hit a slider that had good location but was a little flat. I was concerned with keeping him close [to first base], and I left a fastball out over the plate to Ruben."

The Blue Jays entered the game with a commanding, 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series, but Cone said he did feel some pressure. "The way they lost [Sunday]," he said, "I just didn't want to let them up."

Defense rests

The Blue Jays committed three errors in yesterday's game and four the day before, giving them a total of eight for the series. That ties the playoff record, which they now share with the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, the 1986 California Angels and the 1988 New York Mets. The two teams have combined for 14 errors, one shy of the ALCS record set by the Angels and Boston Red Sox in 1986.

Tenace ejected

Blue Jays coach Gene Tenace was ejected in the seventh inning when he charged out of the dugout to argue a checked-swing call with first-base umpire Drew Coble. Tenace had to be restrained by manager Cito Gaston after Coble signaled no swing on a pitch to Rickey Henderson.

La Russa blasts back

Oakland A's manager Tony La Russa was not pleased to read comments from several Blue Jays players critical of relief stopper Dennis Eckersley.

The Blue Jays were offended by Eckersley's theatrics after he struck out pinch hitter Ed Sprague to get out of an eighth-inning jam Sunday, and took the opportunity to throw it back at the A's stopper after they came from behind to win Game 4.

"There's a picture in the paper with [Roberto] Alomar with his hands up in the air," La Russa said, "but they don't like it when he [Eckersley] reacts after a strikeout. That's just something everyone does in baseball now.

"I'd prefer they didn't, but everybody does it. I see those comments coming from Jack Morris. He has been as expressive as anyone during his 15 years in baseball. That was weak stuff.

"Check around," La Russa said. "Who doesn't do something like that [show emotion] now? You have a few cigar store Indians, but with almost every closer, there is some kind of expression."

Alomar streak

Alomar has hit safely in 10 straight playoff games. His 17 hits in two consecutive ALCS constitute a record. Four players -- Fred Lynn, Doug DeCinces, Rich Gedman and Tony Fernandez -- had 15 hits over two playoff series.

Fox outfoxed self

Rookie Eric Fox was thrown out at the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth in Game 4 when he broke for the plate on a ground ball by Terry Steinbach. It was generally assumed at the time that Fox broke on a "contact play" -- meaning that he was under instructions to run on any contact.

He ran on a ground ball to second with the infield up, costing the A's a scoring opportunity that might have evened the series.

"I went on my own," Fox said afterward. "It was my mistake.

Terry didn't get good wood on it. There was a slight chance I could make it, but I should have let the ball go through. What can I say? It was no one's fault but my own."

La Russa tried to protect Fox early on, telling reporters that it was, indeed, a contact play that was called from the bench, but he later admitted it was not, and he didn't mince words about it.

"That's why he [Fox] spent so much time in the minor leagues," La Russa said, reflecting on the play. "That's what I thought."

Nevertheless, La Russa sent Fox into yesterday's game as a pinch runner in the seventh inning when Henderson left the game with tightness in his left hamstring.

More Eck

Eckersley faced 10 batters in Game 4, which left his status questionable for yesterday's game. It was the first time he had faced as many as 10 batters since Sept. 28, 1991, when he faced 10 Texas Rangers. It was the first time he had been removed in the middle of an inning since May 25 of this year against the Chicago White Sox.

Highest form of flattery

The Dave Stewart glare has become a trademark, but that hasn't prevented several young pitchers from trying to copy it.

"There are some guys," Stewart said. "Chili Davis told me that [Minnesota's] Pat Mahomes does some things like I do and [Orioles coach] Davey Lopes told me that kid [Alan] Mills does some things like me."

Does anyone do it better?

"Shoot, no," Stewart said. "I originated it."

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