Key, Nagy reach back for early-'97 success Game 2 mound opponents slumped in second half, lost in Division Series

October 09, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

They come into tonight's Game 2 of the American League Championship Series looking for the success they had earlier in the season, a little worn but seemingly not worried about their respective capabilities to produce.

Jimmy Key of the Orioles and Charles Nagy of the Cleveland Indians each got off to a fast start this year before fading -- in Key's case, staggering -- down the stretch. Key was 11-1 but has won only once at Camden Yards since May and finished 16-10. Nagy was 8-3 and wound up 15-11.

Key and Nagy also each hope to improve on his performance from last week's Division Series.

Neither was terrible, yet neither was good enough to last for long. Key went 4 2/3 innings in Game 3, giving up eight hits and two runs in a 4-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. Nagy went 3 2/3 innings in Game 3, and his six walks led to five runs, four of them earned, in a 6-1 loss to the New York Yankees.

"The walks in the Division Series pretty much speak for themselves," Nagy said last night.

"I wasn't going to give in to those guys. I was trying to make them hit my pitches. I was all over the place. I've had success against the Orioles. Hopefully, people will be a little more at ease with me being on the mound this time."

In particular, his manager.

One of the reasons Mike Hargrove didn't pitch Nagy until Game 3 of the Division Series was his lack of success against the Yankees -- 0-3 with an 18.00 ERA.

It is for the same reason Hargrove hopes that the 30-year-old right-hander will pitch well tonight.

Nagy was 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA against the Orioles this season and has a 5-2 record lifetime, including a career-best one-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1992. But the Orioles also remember last year, when they had a five-run sixth inning in Game 1 of the Division Series and hit back-to-back home runs in the clinching Game 4. Nagy struck out 12 of the next 15 hitters after the home runs.

"I think the last time [against the Yankees], he picked a little too much and pitched behind hitters," Hargrove said.

"I felt he was a little confused. I'd like to see him be more aggressive."

As for Key, his well-documented struggles this summer at Camden Yards will not be part of his mind-set when he takes the mound against the Indians. His confidence was raised last week, and he said he thought that manager Davey Johnson's decision to lift him quickly had more to do with the immediate future than the recent past.

"We haven't discussed it, but some of it may have been him wanting to give me a little more rest," Key said last night.

Asked whether he was tired, Key said: "Everybody is tired at this time of year. If you're not, it means you haven't been putting out for six to eight months. I'm happy where I'm at right now, with what I bring to the table. I feel every time I go out that I'm going to pitch a shutout."

Johnson seems comfortable with Key's health and attitude.

"He pitched great for 25 starts. He's struggled the last six or seven," Johnson said.

"He's thrown a lot more this year than he did last year, and he probably needs a little break. He's just had a phenomenal year. This ballpark isn't as easy to pitch in as Yankee Stadium, and he's done a great job."

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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