Ogea glad to bring baggage to Game 1 Despite injury-filled year, he's fared well against O's

October 08, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

Chad Ogea's first postseason appearance of the 1997 playoffs might be remembered for the one New York Yankees batter he didn't get out, rather than the 13 in a row he retired after that.

That batter, Paul O'Neill, hit a monstrous, game-breaking grand slam off Ogea in Game 3 at Jacobs Field between the Yankees and Cleveland Indians. It turned a 2-1 deficit into a 6-1 defeat.

"I thought I threw the ball really well," Ogea said yesterday. "I got into a situation where I was facing their hottest hitter at the time. He was on fire the whole series. I got beat with my best pitch."

Tonight, the 26-year-old right-hander will try to beat a resurgent Orioles team in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at Camden Yards.

"They're tough," Ogea said of the Orioles. "They're a veteran-hitting team, they're patient, they know what they're doing in certain situations. They're a good team. They're going to hit."

But Ogea has handled the Orioles well this season, which might be why Indians manager Mike Hargrove went with him over Charles Nagy for Game 1.

In three starts this season, Ogea has won twice and lost once, giving up six runs and 17 hits in 20 innings. One of the victories was a two-hit complete game in which he struck out nine on May 23.

"He's thrown the ball well against us," said Orioles manager Davey Johnson. "He's had a lot of success by throwing strikes and mixing up his pitches. Anytime you do that and throw around 90 [mph], you'll be successful."

After going 8-3 as a rookie in 1995 and 10-6 last season, much was expected of Ogea this year. But after starting 5-3, Ogea hurt his knee in Kansas City in May.

He wound up losing five straight games and strained a ligament in his pitching elbow while trying to compensate for his knee. Ogea spent 15 days on the disabled list and then a month on a rehab assignment in Buffalo. He returned Sept. 1 and finished with an 8-9 record.

Scott Erickson, who will start against Ogea tonight, had a far different year for the Orioles. The 29-year-old right-hander had his most successful season since winning 20 games for the Minnesota Twins in 1991, going 16-7 in 33 starts. He won Game 2 against the Seattle Mariners.

"I'll pretty much go out there with the same attitude I took against Seattle," said Erickson. "I'll try to throw strikes early, keep the ball down and make them put the ball in play before they get into hitter's counts."

Erickson last pitched against Cleveland in Game 2 of last year's Division Series. He went 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs and six hits in a game won by the Orioles, 7-4, with three runs in their last at-bat.

"I think they're a pretty similar team," said Erickson, 7-8 in his career against the Indians. "I think they have more balance this year from the left side of the plate. They're a pretty strong team all around."

Pub Date: 10/08/97

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