Game 1 in review

October 02, 1997|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,New York Times

Right stuff

Even though he had been questioned about leaving some of his best players on the bench for Game 1, manager Davey Johnson again stacked his lineup with right-handed hitters against Seattle starter Randy Johnson. Again, he looked smart. And, again, Seattle's Big Unit sputtered against the Orioles. Of the Orioles' first seven runs, six were driven home by right-handed hitters, including two apiece by shortstop Mike Bordick and right fielder Eric Davis.

Key play 1

In perhaps the key play in the Orioles' four-run fifth, Johnson appeared to have Jeffrey Hammonds picked off first. But, after receiving Johnson's pickoff throw and with Hammonds breaking toward second, first baseman Paul Sorrento hit Hammonds in the foot with his throw. The result was that the ball caromed into left field and Hammonds ended up on third instead of being the first out of the inning. Two batters later, Brady Anderson singled to center to score Hammonds and put the Orioles in front for good.

Key play 2

With the Orioles leading 2-1 and runners on first and second in the fifth, Jeff Reboulet executed a sacrifice bunt with two strikes. With runners now at second and third, the Mariners pulled their infield in, and Davis bounced a single over the head of third baseman Mike Blowers to give the Orioles a 4-1 advantage.

Labor intensive

The Mariners' Johnson, who was 0-2 against the Orioles during the regular season, labored through five innings. He went to a 3-ball count on nine of the first 18 Orioles hitters and his fastball was registering in the high 80s and low 90s instead of the mid to upper 90s. He threw 100 pitches in five innings and struck out half as many batters as Mike Mussina in that span, 6-3.

Clutch performance

The Mariners were favored in Game 1 because of Johnson and the home-field advantage, but Mussina thrived in the underdog role. He defeated Johnson for the second time this season, yielding two runs on five hits in seven innings. He also struck out nine and perhaps struck down the criticism that he's not a big-game pitcher.

Scary sight

With the Orioles leading 9-1 after back-to-back four-run innings, they encountered a frightening moment in the sixth when catcher Chris Hoiles was struck in the head on a follow-through swing by Joey Cora. The bat hit Hoiles' helmet, which he wears under his catcher's mask, but he was knocked to the ground and had to be assisted from the field. Hoiles did not lose consciousness and appeared OK afterward, but it's doubtful he'll play today.

Left out

Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar and B. J. Surhoff, three of the left-handed hitting regulars that Johnson had on the bench, made immediate contributions when they entered the game in the sixth. Palmeiro doubled and scored, Alomar walked and scored and Surhoff hit a two-run double. Anderson, the lone left-handed hitter who started, went 2-for-3 against Johnson.

Jr. Achievement

Cal Ripken had a better opening night than Ken Griffey in the competition between the Juniors. Ripken had three hits. Griffey was 0-for-4.

Quote

"I was happy the Big Unit was getting all the press and everybody was talking like Mike Mussina was chopped liver," Orioles manager Davey Johnson said. "I said, 'Man, I wouldn't bet against Mike.' I mean he's been the best pitcher in baseball over the same period.

"I'd rather have everybody in the world thinking he has no chance to beat this guy pitching. I thought that was the greatest thing we had going for us, all the hype that Randy Johnson was getting."

What they're saying

"Imagine having the gall to bench Joe Montana for a playoff game, or Michael Jordan, or Mark Messier. That's what Baltimore Manager Davey Johnson did on Wednesday night, and he got away with it. In a big way."

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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