Key shrugs off end to Camden Yards slide Pitcher says first home win since May 7 is no big deal

Oriole Notebook

September 18, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Jimmy Key didn't exactly whoop it up in the clubhouse Tuesday night after ending a winless streak at Camden Yards that dated to May 7. To him, the drought never was an issue, except with the media.

"I know it's a relief to you guys [reporters] because you won't have to write about it anymore," he said after limiting Cleveland to two unearned runs over 7 2/3 innings.

"Like I've told you all along, it doesn't matter where I pitch. I've pitched some real good games here and lost. That's the way this game goes sometimes. I can't control what happens as far as run support or the way guys play. All I can control is the way I pitch.

"Over the starts I had here when I didn't win, I think there were quite a few good real games I threw in there. On the road, I was getting the wins. But I've pitched every game the same way, whether I was pitching here or on the road, and let the chips fall where they may."

And not let the lack of a positive return eat at him.

"I deal with pitching well," he said. "When I feel like I pitched well, I go home and sleep good. I look at myself in the mirror and say, 'I did all I could do.' I've been around it too long and been through it, and know what I have to do to get myself ready for the next start."

Key was sharper in his last appearance than previous outings of late, though the numbers didn't show it. He was charged with six earned runs (eight total) in 5 1/3 innings in a 14-2 loss in New York on Sept. 11. Tuesday night, he was back to the form that enabled him to jump out to an 11-1 start.

"It's like in golf. You know the feeling when you make a good swing? Pitching's the same way, when I get that feel when I'm releasing the ball in the right spot," he said. "When I'm locating my fastball, all my other pitches fall off of that. Hopefully, I can maintain this feeling I have, the way I'm throwing, for a couple more starts and then go into the postseason with it."

Manager Davey Johnson said he appreciated Key going an extra inning Tuesday, knowing the shape the bullpen was in.

"I wasn't taking any chances letting this game get away," Johnson said.

Said Key: "Once I got through seven, I was close to a hundred pitches. At that point, I told him that every out I get is one less out that those guys [relievers] have to get. All our starters have done that, tried to take away as many innings from those guys out there as we can. When you have the opportunity to go a little farther, you try to do it."

Pitchers fine, Johnson says

Johnson said before the game that he didn't believe any of his pitchers were overworked, though he added that he leaned "pretty hard" on his bullpen the past three games.

"But I think they were strong coming into it. I managed to get a couple of them a breather a day. We should be fine," he said.

Breathing easier

Breaking even in the consecutive day-night doubleheaders against Cleveland, which followed a Sunday night loss to the Yankees, suited Johnson just fine. So did coming away from playing five games in 49 hours in one piece.

"The good news is everybody's kind of healthy. We didn't burn out anybody," he said.

That includes the manager and staff.

"Mentally, it wears you out," he said. "We sit here with a dumb look on our face because we're probably dumb, but we actually are thinking about two or three innings ahead of time, about what may happen, all the contingencies, who's available to hit. That can wear you out. There's a lot of thinking going on. You're constantly going over all the scenarios that can come up in each situation. When you have to do it for five games in 49 hours against good competition, that doesn't make it any easier."

Neither did going to Florida to begin this month, then playing eight games in 11 days against the New York Yankees.

"Everything's out of whack for me," he said. "National League, American League, playing another division winner [Cleveland] here in the middle of September. I don't know what division I'm in or what league I'm in half the time."

Around the horn

Eric Davis wasn't with the club yesterday after receiving his eighth chemotherapy treatment. "I expect him to want to play [today]," Johnson said. Davis told Johnson on Tuesday that he probably needed another 15 at-bats before he's back to form. Roberto Alomar, batting leadoff, entered the game 6-for-10 (.600) with two home runs against Brewers starter Jeff D'Amico. It was the sixth time in 18 games that Milwaukee scored more than three runs.

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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