Pitching is Key as Jays close in Title a game away after 5-hit, 2-1 win

October 22, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- The World Series may not be the only thing to make its first appearance outside the United States this year. The world championship trophy could receive resident status in Canada as early as tonight.

The Toronto Blue Jays placed the Atlanta Braves on 24-hour notice last night with a 2-1 victory in Game 4, leaving it up to 1991 World Series hero Jack Morris to close it out tonight at SkyDome.

Morris has done it before. He pitched a 10-inning shutout to defeat John Smoltz in Game 7 last year, and he'll face off against Smoltz again with a chance to crack open the cheap champagne.

Game 4 belonged to left-hander Jimmy Key, who pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up five hits to record his second career postseason victory. He carried a shutout into the eighth and turned the game over to reliever Duane Ward and then stopper Tom Henke, and now the relatively young Blue Jays franchise is one victory away from baseball's ultimate prize.

It was a pitched battle. The Blue Jays' offensive attack came down to a third-inning home run by Pat Borders and a seventh-inning RBI single by Devon White, who followed up his tremendous defensive performance in Game 3 with a three-hit effort last night.

The Braves made some noise in the early innings, but their only run crossed the plate on an RBI ground out in the eighth. That just kept it interesting until Henke recorded his fifth save of this postseason.

Atlanta left-hander Tom Glavine pitched a complete-game six-hitter, but his postseason luck continues to run cold.

Glavine came back on three days' rest after a strong Game 1 performance in which he went the distance and gave up a run on four hits. It was a calculated risk, considering Glavine's shaky Game 6 performance during the National League playoffs, and there were a couple of points early in the game when he seemed to be on the brink of disaster, but he pitched well enough to win.

Borders was the first to break through, lining a ball off the foul screen in left for a leadoff home run in the third. Glavine went on to give up a double to White and a walk to Roberto Alomar before Joe Carter lined into a double play.

Glavine's luck would hold in the fourth. He opened the inning with a walk to Dave Winfield and gave up a sharp single to John Olerud, but Candy Maldonado flied out and Kelly Gruber bounced into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays put runners at first and third in the sixth, but Glavine got off easy again. He struck out Maldonado looking at a pitch that appeared to be well out of the strike zone, but for the first time since Game 1, the umpires did not play a major role in the outcome of the game.

The matchup of Glavine and Key was the first of opposing left-handers in World Series play since the St. Louis Cardinals sent Joe Magrane against Minnesota Twins left-hander Frank Viola in the seventh game in 1987. This one was only possible because Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston abandoned his three-man starting rotation after Morris and David Cone ran into trouble working on three days' rest in the playoffs.

Key was considered a liability in the playoffs for a couple of reasons. He was the only member of the Blue Jays rotation without a winning regular-season record (13-13) and he figured to be vulnerable against the predominantly right-handed Oakland Athletics lineup. There was reason to believe he might be just as vulnerable against the balanced Braves batting order, but that possibility was outweighed by the benefits of a better rested rotation.

Gaston would not be sorry for his decision. Key gave up several hard-hit balls in the first inning, but he settled down in a hurry. The Braves opened the first with back-to-back singles, but he retired the next 16 batters in order to carry a shutout into the eighth inning.

He gave way to Ward after the Braves scored a run in the eighth and put the tying run at second base, but it was an outstanding performance for a veteran pitcher who had once been the left-handed centerpiece of the Blue Jays rotation.

His timing couldn't have been better. The third-inning home run by Borders was all of the offensive support he was going to see for a while. The Blue Jays threatened on several occasions, but could not seem to put the hammer down on Glavine. They eventually added an insurance run in the seventh inning when White delivered a two-out single to score Gruber.

Borders finally got to hear something other than the criticism he has received for his inability to control the opposition's running game. He got a raucous ovation from the sellout crowd as he circled the bases in the third inning, which had to take some of the sting out of the record 26 bases stolen against him over the course of the postseason.

The home run extended his postseason hitting streak to 12 games, dating back to the fourth game of the 1991 American League Championship Series against Minnesota. He hit .318 in this year's playoffs and has a career .333 average (18-for-54) in postseason play.

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