Bunting Berryhill, do-nothing Cox caught napping in another 1-run loss Braves again have chances, but fail to capitalize on them

October 22, 1992|By Ken Rosenthal | Ken Rosenthal,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Earth to Damon Berryhill. Earth to Bobby Cox. The Atlanta Braves are about to lose their second straight World Series. Y'all might want to readjust your thinking for Game 5.

Questions, questions.

Another one-run defeat.

Another second-guesser's delight.

Why did Berryhill bunt with runners on first and third and none out in the eighth inning? Why did Cox keep Deion Sanders and Sid Bream on the bench with everything at stake in the eighth and ninth?

The Braves trail Toronto three games to one after last night's 2-1 heartbreak, and don't count on them coming back. Thirty-four teams have faced this deficit previously. Only six recovered to win the series.

It was one thing when the Atlanta bullpen blew leads in Games 2 and 3. Last night, however, the Braves looked equally inept playing from behind.

Berryhill, the hero of Game 1, proved the goat of Game 4. No one ordered him to bunt, but Brian Hunter had just reached safely in that fashion, so he thought it a wonderful idea.

Only one problem.

"We were stealing," Cox said. "I have no idea what was going through Damon's mind at the time. I was looking at runners on second and third with none out."

Berryhill, of course, saw it different.

"If I get the bunt down, I probably push the run across and get Brian into scoring position," he said. "If I get a good bunt down, I'm safe at first. I probably would have done the same thing again."

Cox will love hearing that. He considered using playoff hero Francisco Cabrera to pinch hit for Berryhill, but feared Toronto manager Cito Gaston would counter with Duane Ward.

In his mind, the better matchup was Berryhill batting right-handed against Jimmy Key -- even though Berryhill is 1-for-14 in the series, with his only hit a decisive three-run homer batting left-handed in Game 1.

The bunt surprised everyone, including Key.

"Maybe that's the way they play in the other league," he said. "We don't play that way over here."

Mark Lemke got the run home on a ground out, but Ward replaced Key and stranded runners at second and third. Jeff Blauser, 2-for-15 in the series, grounded to first for the final out.

Why not use Sanders against the right-hander?

"It never crossed my mind," Cox said, even though Sanders had three hits the night before. "Jeff's one of our best hitters. He hit a bullet. Why [John] Olerud was only two feet off the line, I don't know."

Replied Olerud, "He makes it sound like I was way out of position. If I was out of position, I think we would have seen a bunch of towels in the dugout waving."

Cox had another chance to pinch hit against right-hander Tom Henke in the ninth, but stuck with Lonnie Smith rather than seek a more advantageous matchup with the left-handed Bream.

"I've never taken Lonnie out for a pinch hitter," Cox said. That's fine, but in four games, Cox has used only two pinch hitters, making the hands-off Gaston look like a managing fool.

The Blue Jays have only outscored the Braves 11-10, only outhit them .208-.185. Clearly, the difference between these teams isn't great. But right now, the distance appears cavernous.

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