Glavine charts course toward Braves title Game 6 starter noted how Cleveland adjusted to Maddux

Seeks Series clincher

If Atlanta falls tonight, history favors Indians

October 28, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Tom Glavine sat in the Braves' dugout during LTC Game 5, clipboard on his lap, charting the pitches thrown by Atlanta ace Greg Maddux. He watched the Cleveland Indians' hitters stand a little closer to the plate, show a little more discipline.

The adjustments helped the Indians thump Maddux and survive to play Game 6 of the World Series, which Glavine starts tonight against Cleveland right-hander Dennis Martinez. The Braves lead the series three games to two, but the tide of history could turn against them tonight. Seven times teams that have led a seven-game series 3-1 lost games 5 and 6. Only two of those teams went on to win Game 7.

Glavine plans to talk to Maddux today about what went wrong. From his perspective on the bench, Glavine believes that what happened was that by hovering over the plate, the Indians assumed control of the outside corner and anticipated Maddux's changeup, his best pitch. It was a changeup that Jim Thome slapped up the middle to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning.

"I really have to talk to Greg, though," Glavine said, "because it could be that he feels like he just didn't throw a pitch in the right spot, whether they made adjustments or his location was not that great. It will be interesting to see what he says."

Even more interesting though, is that Glavine might soak up the knowledge learned from Game 5 -- and then choose to ignore it. "I'm sure I'll have to make some adjustments," he said. "But I don't plan to go into the game thinking I'll have to make adjustments. I want to see how hitters react to me, and if they do some things differently, then I will.

"But if you get caught up in trying to make too many adjustments, then you play right into their hands and you get away from being the type of pitcher that you have to be to win."

Glavine is, in many ways, like Fernando Valenzuela in the mid-1980s. Left-handed, has good but not great stuff, a pitcher who will give up walks and hits. But runners reach base and Glavine's resolve enters the equation.

The Indians had five walks and three hits against Glavine in Game 2 and lost, and several spoke with despair about missed opportunities, but that is the way Glavine has pitched for years.

He acknowledged later that he was having trouble locating his fastball and didn't have a good breaking ball; about the only pitch he could throw with any effectiveness was his changeup. His stuff, Glavine said, "was average at best."

But Glavine would not surrender to the hitters and throw his fastball over the heart of the plate when he was behind in the count, choosing to walk hitters instead of throwing a pitch they could drive.

Walking five doesn't necessarily mean Glavine is having control trouble. Walking five often means Glavine is asserting control of the game situation. "You learn to gamble and have confidence," he said, "and then you can get by even without your best stuff."

Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz said: "He's competitive, as tough a pitcher as I've ever seen. He has game toughness and rises to the occasion. He's been one of the best National League pitchers the last four years."

Glavine never has had this chance, pitching with the chance to wrap up a world championship for the Braves.

"Certainly it's a unique opportunity," he said. "This is what it's all about. To have the chance to pitch a game that could give us the world title is something we've all been searching for since 1991.

"I'm going to try not to think about it that much. I'll try to look at this like it's just another game."

Just your basic, average Game 6 of the World Series, against a great-hitting team attempting to make adjustments and mash the seams out of your pitches, with the hopes and dreams of your teammates and your city on your shoulders.

Tom Glavine will try not to think about any of that today.

World Series

Cleveland Indians

vs. Atlanta Braves

Series: Braves lead 3-2

Game 6: Tonight, 7:20, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, chs. 11, 4

Starters: Indians' Dennis Martinez (13-7, 3.10) vs. Braves' Tom Glavine (17-7, 3.00)

Note: Pitchers' records include postseason

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