Hot-lanta scary sight in NL East


April 18, 1994|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Writer

The Atlanta Braves actually lost a game last week, which should be very comforting for the four clubs that already are doomed to spend the entire season looking up at them. Their 12-1 record is frightening enough, but they are 10-0 on the road. . . . Philadelphia Phillies first baseman John Kruk put a happy beginning on the week when he returned to the starting lineup with three hits in the club's home opener last Monday. He completed his radiation treatment on Wednesday and has every reason to hope that he will recover fully from testicular cancer. . . . Braves pitcher Kent Mercker exceeded his 90-pitch limit by about 40 in his no-hitter April 8, but he had plenty of time to recover. He returned Saturday and pitched seven strong innings against Chicago for his second victory.

NL Central

Still trying to figure out what Cincinnati Reds outfielder Reggie Sanders was thinking when he charged the mound to get at Montreal Expos pitcher Pedro Martinez on Wednesday. Martinez was working on a perfect game when he hit Sanders with a pitch. Sanders later said he was angry because Martinez had thrown high and inside to him earlier in the game. Earth to Reggie: The game used to be called hardball. . . . Former Orioles right-hander Rick Sutcliffe has landed on his feet again. He pitched a solid 6 1/3 innings in his first start for the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday and recorded his first National League victory in three years. . . . Anthony Young update: He can't blame Friday's 1 1/3 -inning, eight-run outing on bad luck, unless it was just bad luck that the Braves showed up on time for the game.

NL West

Everybody is so sensitive. Mild-mannered Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Tim Wallach reacted harshly last week when California Angels (and former Montreal Expos) manager Buck Rodgers used him as an example of how the "juiced" baseball in 1987 helped some players get rich. Wallach had a career year with 26 home runs and 123 RBIs that season. "I guess all the other guys having great years were not getting to hit corked baseballs," he said. Wallach had a good week with this year's version of the rabbit ball, hitting three home runs during a 12-for-23 run. . . . Apparently, San Francisco Giants starter Bill Swift is the real deal. He has come back from last year's breakthrough 21-8 performance to post an 0.42 ERA in his first three starts of 1994. . . . Remember when the Orioles had a chance to get Dante Bichette for Craig Worthington in 1990? Bichette, despite going 1-for-5 for Colorado yesterday, is leading the National League with a .455 average and is second to New York's Jeff Kent with six home runs and 16 RBIs.

AL East

The Blue Jays didn't miss closer Duane Ward for the first nine games of the season, but his absence may have cost them a couple of wins last week. Substitute closer Todd Stottlemyre pitched admirably through his first three late-inning appearances, but gave up leads in the ninth inning on Wednesday and Friday. . . . Dreams don't always come true dept.: Comeback pitcher Bob Ojeda made his first start for New York on Saturday night and lasted just two outs. He gave up four runs and will enter his next game with a 54.00 ERA. . . . In yesterday's American League hitting statistics, Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro are back-to-back -- Clark 41st at .310 and Palmeiro 42nd at .306 -- and their overall statistics through two weeks of play are very similar.

AL Central

More than $80,000 worth of pictures autographed by Michael Jordan were reported missing from his Birmingham, Ala., hotel on Wednesday. The photos probably can be replaced, unless they show Jordan hitting a major-league curveball. . . . Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly notched his 600th career victory as a major-league manager last week. He should reach 650 in September. . . . Bob Hamelin hasn't given the Royals a chance to miss George Brett. He had four homers and 13 RBIs last week to help the club rebound from a frustrating first week.

AL West

It was way past bedtime on the East Coast, but the California Angels came back from a seven-run deficit in the ninth inning against the Blue Jays on Friday night -- the biggest ninth-inning comeback by the Angels since they scored eight runs to overcome a 12-5 deficit against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 29, 1986. Light-hitting shortstop Dick Schofield hit a grand slam to win that game. Former Orioles second baseman Harold Reynolds bounced a double over the right-field fence with the bases loaded to complete Friday night's comeback in the ninth. The Angels won it in the 10th. . . . The Texas Rangers' pitching staff may be worse off than anyone imagined, especially if Kevin Brown's 0-3 record and 8.84 ERA isn't an aberration.

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