Settling Seattle score finishes far down on Myers' priority list Closer just wanted a win


Erickson to start Game 1

October 06, 1997|By Roch Kubatko, Joe Strauss and Don Markus | Roch Kubatko, Joe Strauss and Don Markus,SUN STAFF

The first batter that Randy Myers faced in the ninth inning of yesterday's Game 4 of the Division Series was Edgar Martinez, who was 2-for-5 with a double and a walk lifetime against the Orioles' closer.

In back-to-back games in May against the Seattle Mariners, Orioles manager Davey Johnson removed a struggling Myers for Armando Benitez with Martinez coming up. Both times, Benitez got the save.

Yesterday, Myers got his matchup. But it wasn't one he had been yearning for, or one he savored after striking out the Mariners' designated hitter in the Orioles' series-clinching 3-1 victory.

"I'd rather have a five- or six-run lead and not even be out there. That's kind of the way I like to see it," he said.

"Even in this series, if we'd had a close game and been into their right-handed lineup, Armando probably would have been pitching the ninth. I might have pitched the eighth and Armando might have pitched the ninth, depending on the situation. You do everything you can.

"Edgar's been successful. We had a two-run lead, which made it easier to pitch to him than the situations I've been in before."

Myers entered the series having allowed 11 hits and five runs (three earned) in 6 1/3 innings against the Mariners this season. He struck out the side in Game 1, and struck out two of the three batters he faced yesterday, including pinch hitter Roberto Kelly, who was 3-for-7 with a home run lifetime against him. He also induced a ground ball from Jay Buhner, who was 2-for-5 off him.

"I've pitched, I think, fairly well against Seattle this year," Myers said. "Ground balls getting through the infield isn't the thing that's going to hurt you. It's giving up the long ball. Last year, I gave up a couple long balls against them. This year, I didn't, so I feel I was more successful." As he had done after the Orioles clinched the AL East in Toronto, Myers stayed clear of the champagne, standing in the hallway outside the clubhouse. He conducted his interviews there, and he remained dry.

"For me, it's tough to wind down on a spur of the moment and say, 'OK, it's over.' I'm still wound up, I'm still thinking, 'Who's on deck?' " he said.

"The whole scenario, I'm still locked into that game. It always takes me awhile, about 45 minutes, to wind down after a game. And it's no different in the postseason."

Erickson to start Game 1

Johnson has projected a starting rotation of Scott Erickson, Jimmy Key and Mike Mussina for the first three games of the American League Championship Series, but remained vague on whether Scott Kamieniecki would continue to work out of the bullpen or be plugged in as a Game 4 starter.

"That's my thinking right now, but don't hold me to it," Johnson said of the Erickson-Key-Mussina schedule during the celebration of the Orioles' 3-1 win over the Mariners.

Yesterday's win was huge because it allowed Johnson to hold back Erickson, who would have started a Game 5 against the Mariners. He will pitch Wednesday's ALCS opener on five days' rest. The alternative would have been for Key to pitch the opener.

Johnson said he and pitching coach Ray Miller would announce their decision after today's afternoon workout.

Manager right on, again

Johnson again went with his right-handed lineup against Seattle's Randy Johnson. The only change he made from Game 1 was reversing Geronimo Berroa and Eric Davis in the order, this time batting Berroa third and Davis fourth. Berroa had a double and home run, and Davis singled.

Jerome Walton was given another start at first base, but Davey Johnson said he strongly considered using Rafael Palmeiro, who entered the game 1-for-21 lifetime against the Big Unit.

"I thought about playing Raffy. I thought about it going to sleep," Davey Johnson said. "I kind of passed it in front of my coaches to see what they thought. They thought I ought to leave it."

Palmeiro didn't sit for long, replacing Walton in the fifth inning. He flied out to deep right-center field to end the sixth, his first at-bat against the Big Unit since Aug. 21, 1996.

Cora, Wilson hit depths

Mariners manager Lou Piniella did some more tinkering with his lineup, putting Joey Cora back atop the order and bumping up Alex Rodriguez from fifth to second. Cora led off in the first two games, then was dropped to ninth Saturday. He went 0-for-4 yesterday, striking out three times, and finished the series at .176 after batting an even .300 during the regular season.

Piniella moved Paul Sorrento from seventh to fifth, ahead of Buhner, and started Rob Ducey in left field instead of Kelly to give Seattle more of a left-handed-hitting presence against Mussina.

He also slid catcher Dan Wilson to ninth in the order. Wilson went 0-for-2 with another strikeout yesterday and finished the series 0-for-13 with nine strikeouts. He batted .270 with 15 homers and 74 RBIs during the season.

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