Anderson takes over with 1st-inning catch, first-pitch home run O's outfielder sets tone with a leaping grab of drive by Ramirez

October 09, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Brady Anderson prevented one baseball from going over the fence, and launched another into the seats. In the first inning. In a game that had his personal stamp on it before the last of the ticket stubs had been torn.

Anderson set the tone for the night, and perhaps the entire American League Championship Series, with some early heroics that guided the Orioles to a 3-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians before 49,029 at Camden Yards.

It started with a long drive to center field by Manny Ramirez, one that kept carrying but couldn't elude Anderson's leaping stab. Pitcher Scott Erickson said the catch surprised him only because he initially believed it wouldn't be necessary.

"I thought it was more of a pop-up. I really thought nothing of it when it first came off the bat," he said.

"That's the thing about Ramirez," Anderson said. "He has great power. He stays inside the ball very well. His ball is very deceptive coming off the bat. When he hit it, I really didn't think it had enough to get out."

The crowd roared after Anderson's catch, not knowing that he was just warming up.

He turned on the game's next pitch, a curveball from Indians starter Chad Ogea, and lined it into the temporary bleachers in right, the fifth time he had led off a game with a home run this year. Not only had he denied the Indians a lead, but he also had given the Orioles one.

The shift in momentum was enough to rattle the windows in the warehouse.

"Brady's a big-game player," said manager Davey Johnson. "Ever since I've been here, he rises to the occasion. He's not intimidated by any situation he's in. Maybe that's from water skiing in Tahoe in the wintertime. I don't know."

Anderson, who also hit a leadoff homer in Game 1 of last year's Division Series, off Cleveland's Charles Nagy, didn't know what to make of Johnson's analogy when it was relayed to him by a reporter.

"He talked about my skiing in Tahoe?" Anderson asked, grinning.

"I ski in Lake Tahoe in the winter. I'm usually the only one out there, but I don't get a lot of chances to water ski in the summer. I'm not sure how that related to anything today, but thanks for mentioning it."

Anderson wasn't looking for a certain pitch from Ogea, just the ball. "He's the type of guy who'll throw any pitch anytime in the count. If you can't see the ball well off him, he can give you a lot of trouble. I got in a good position to hit it and hit it pretty well."

When he returned to the dugout, he heard the usual banter. "Nice going, witty stuff like that," he said.

Anderson took another trip around the bases in the third, slicing a one-out double to left before Roberto Alomar's home run. Anderson reached out for a 2-2 changeup from Ogea that was up and away. The home run was a pitch down and away.

Is any spot safe right now?

He ended the regular season with an 11-game hitting streak, and his two doubles on the final day in Milwaukee gave him a career-high 39. His 170 hits were two short of his personal best.

The rampage continued in the Division Series. Anderson had six hits in 17 at-bats (.353) against Seattle, including a home run in Game 2 that factored into his four RBIs.

It was more of the same last night. And more than the Indians could stomach.

Asked if the catch set the tone, Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove said, "Yes, a little. And his homer on the first pitch put an exclamation point on it. To make a fine defensive play and then come up and hit a first-pitch homer is a nice piece of hitting."

So was the double, on a pitch that Ogea usually retires Anderson on during the season.

"If I'm not swinging the bat really well, I'm just going to dribble that to shortstop or strike out on it. So, I thought both pitches I hit were pretty good pitches," Anderson said.

"He's probably got to give me a little credit on those. He didn't groove them or anything."

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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