Some like it hot, but not Blue Jays' tough Guzman

October 20, 1992|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Judging from comments of some of the principals involved, maybe the historic Game 3 of the 1992 World Series will end in a tie.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves, who split the first two decisions, tonight will be trying to gain an edge in the first World Series game ever played in Canada. Both teams may be overawed by the situation.

The Blue Jays will pitch Juan Guzman, the winner in both the division- and pennant-clinching victories, against Atlanta lefthander Steve Avery. And nobody seems to know which team has the edge, despite Toronto's obvious home field and country advantage.

"I think we could have a lot of problems with a guy like Guzman," said Braves' first baseman Sid Bream. "We don't know anything about him at all."

Bream's assesment could be based on the fact that Guzman has a style similar to that of David Cone, who dominated the Braves while in the National League with the Mets and was the starter, though not the winner, in the Blue Jays' 5-4 win in Game 2.

But Guzman, despite a 3-0 record and 2.41 earned run average in "big games," doesn't seem to relish his assignment -- at least on the surface.

"I can tell you I don't like to be in that situation," Guzman said about his most recent successes. "But, when you have no choice...

"It's not that I'm afraid, but it's a lot of pressure on you if you lose," said Guzman, who hasn't done that often in his two years in the big leagues.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston merely chuckled when he was asked why Guzman didn't seem to cherish his latest assignment, or his three latest starts.

"I think he might have been pulling your leg," said Gaston.

Guzman did say that he felt he had completely recovered from the late-season arm injury that most likely cost him the American League Cy Young Award. "I know I've got good stuff," he said.

"I was a little worried the first few times out after [being on] the disabled list, but I have my confidence back. Now I have all my pitches -- so I know I can win."

While the Blue Jays will be more than satisifed if Guzman continues his recent track record, the Braves are hoping that Avery recovers from a poor playoff performance as well as Tom Glavine did in his four-hit 3-1 win in Game 1.

Avery, like Glavine a lefthander who struggled against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS, is vital to the success of the Braves, who will rely heavily on their starters throughout the World Series.

With Alejandro Pena sidelined, Jeff Reardon stepped into the role of closer after being obtained late in the season from the Boston Red Sox. But the all-time career saves leader is not the power pitcher he used to be, leaving the Braves vulnerable in the bullpen.

Reardon gave up the two-run, pinch-hit homer by Ed Sprague that decided Game 2 and before this issue is decided, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox may have to decide between Reardon and Mark Wohlers, who spent much of the season in Richmond, as his closer.

"Reardon has been doing the job since he's been here," said Cox. "There was no reason not to go with him [in the ninth inning Sunday night]."

But Reardon doesn't throw the way he used to, one reason the Braves got him relatively cheap, and he's a pitcher with whom the Blue Jays are familiar. As this series progresses, it will be interesting to see if Cox stays with the veteran in game situations.

The deeper into the game his starters can go, the less the risk for Cox and the Braves. And that is a big reason why Avery's performance tonight is so important.

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