Kamieniecki restored to rotation for Game 5 10-game winner used during Game 2 in relief, goes 3 scoreless innings

October 10, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Scott Kamieniecki finally escaped the bullpen, in more ways than one.

Manager Davey Johnson confirmed yesterday that Kamieneicki would start Monday's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series in Cleveland. Then, he brought the right-hander into Game 2 last night at Camden Yards in relief of Jimmy Key, his first appearance in more than two weeks.

Johnson's decision to start Kamieniecki is tied closely to Scott Erickson, who will be brought back on three days' rest for Game 4 and again in Game 7, if needed. Erickson shut out the Indians over eight innings Wednesday night and is 2-0 in the postseason.

"That's probably the main reason," Johnson said.

But not the only one. The move also sets up Mike Mussina to pitch games 3 and 6, limiting Jimmy Key to last night's start and theoretically making him fresher for the World Series, when he could start twice if the Orioles get past Cleveland.

Kamieniecki received a championship ring while with the New York Yankees last year but hardly felt a part of the team, not pitching in the major leagues after May because he needed surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. It wouldn't have taken much to surpass his output after signing with the Orioles as a free agent, and he piled on the excess.

His 10 victories matched a career high and were nine more than he had last season. The final win, when he gave up three runs in seven innings in Toronto on Sept. 24, enabled the Orioles to clinch the AL East title.

He had been sitting on that moment ever since, failing to appear in any of the Division Series games against the Seattle Mariners. But he pitched three scoreless innings last night, walking one.

Kamieniecki declined to be interviewed before the game. During Tuesday's workout at Camden Yards, he made it clear his preference was to start.

"But that's not the situation," he said. "I've just got to be ready when I get a chance. The situation dictates everything."

He also referred to his bullpen role as a double-edged sword.

"I want to get in there, but in a way I don't," he said. "If I have to get in, then it means someone else failed or someone got ripped or was hurt. If I don't get in there, it means everything went according to schedule and we win the series. I don't wish upon Scotty or Jimmy or Moose to be ripped."

When asked yesterday whether the decision on Kamieniecki was definite, Johnson said: "How definite is Game 5? We'll see what happens along the way.

"You try to map out what would be a contingency plan: What would you do if this happened, this happened and this happened, and that's where you're scheduled to pitch."

Johnson said he wasn't concerned about the elapsed time between Kamieniecki's starts, confident that the other means of keeping him sharp would take hold. Pitching in relief last night was the strongest remedy.

"In the workout [Tuesday] he threw to some live hitters, and he's been having regular bullpen work," Johnson said. "He's a veteran type of player, so he basically knows what he needs to do."

The right-hander would be getting his second look at the Indians this year. He limited them to one run over six innings in a Sept. 8 start in Cleveland, but ended up with a no-decision after Geronimo Berroa charged a line drive in right field that cleared his head and turned a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 loss.

In his career, Kamieniecki is 3-2 with a 4.27 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) against the Indians. Jim Thome is 4-for-10 with a home run and four RBIs lifetime against Kamieniecki, Manny Ramirez is 3-for-8 and Bip Roberts is 4-for-9. Catcher Sandy Alomar is just 2-for-12.

Pub Date: 10/10/97

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