'Concerned' O's to rest Key for refreshed World Series Davis' status uncertain

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Justice injury just bruise

October 11, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- There is heightened concern within the Orioles' organization pertaining to left-hander Jimmy Key, whose difficulties have overlapped into the postseason, where he hasn't gotten through the fifth inning in either of his two starts. But pitching coach Ray Miller said Key still is projected to make two starts in the World Series if the Orioles advance past Cleveland in the American League Championship Series.

Key's troubles escalate with runners on base, when his control seems to suffer. He pitched from the stretch to 16 of the 21 batters he faced in Game 2, leaving after four innings with the score tied 2-2.

"[Thursday] night was typical of some of the problems he's been having," said manager Davey Johnson. "He threw 77 pitches, and anybody else probably would have given up five or six runs. He managed to make the pitches when he had to make them. [But] am I concerned about him? Yes."

Enough so that Key won't start another game in this series, Johnson hoping the extended rest will invigorate the left-hander if the Orioles reach the World Series.

"Back when I was a player, if a guy had a problem or struggled a little bit, we'd let him miss a start and generally bring him back," Johnson said. "Now, everybody's got MRIs and every kind of thing. It usually just means that maybe a guy needs a breather. He's made an awful lot of good pitches. But his location is not what it was in probably his first 20, 25 starts."

Key won 11 of his first 12 decisions after signing with the Orioles as a free agent, and his ERA was 2.47 through 14 starts. But in his past 22 starts, including the postseason, his ERA is 4.15.

Indians manager Mike Hargrove said it appeared to him that Key's arm strength was the same as earlier this year, but "his location and command were not as precise. But Jimmy Key, even not at his best, is still very good."

Key set a playoff record by hitting three batters in the first inning. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out four before being lifted for Scott Kamieniecki, who didn't allow a hit in three innings.

Kamieniecki, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 24 in Toronto, will start Game 5 on Monday in Cleveland. It's a Catch-22 for the right-hander. He preferred starting to working out of the bullpen, but wanted the series to be over before his turn came up.

"If things worked out perfectly, I wouldn't pitch at all," he said. "But I have no problem with it. I'll keep myself ready."

Kamieniecki, who stood to win Game 2 if the Indians hadn't rallied in the eighth against reliever Armando Benitez, was pleased with his command.

"I threw strikes," he said. "I just tried to concentrate on relaxing and not overthrowing the ball."

If the Orioles need to use a reliever early today, the first option probably will be left-hander Arthur Rhodes, who threw in the bullpen in Game 2. It would be his first appearance since Game 3 of the Division Series last Saturday, when he experienced some stiffness in his upper forearm while warming up in the ninth inning.

Media field day in Cleveland

If Key thought the Indians were giving him a hard time in Game 2, he should have seen what some of the local writers had to say about him in yesterday's editions.

Some samplings from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

"Orioles manager Davey Johnson served Jimmy Key to the Indians on a silver platter last night in Camden Yards. The only thing missing was a sprinkle of parsley and a bottle of good wine. The Indians refused to partake of the free meal at the expense of the veteran left-hander. Instead, they took a large bite out of Baltimore's vaunted bullpen "

"Two runs was the least [the Indians] could get out of the first inning. Jimmy Key treated Indians batters like ducks in an arcade, hitting three of them in the inning."

"[Marquis] Grissom gave breath to a series that had all but expired because of the Indians' curious inability to feed on the Baltimore delicacy known as Jimmy Key, a lefty whose arm is cooked pasta."

"[The waste] would have been because they failed to take advantage of Key, who had blown more games in Baltimore this season than the Ravens did in the past two."

Oh yes, the Ravens. Cleveland's former football team even managed to take some hits, like the following:

"The Indians needed this game the way Vinny Testaverde needs rule change that limits NFL Sundays to three quarters."

Davis decision on hold

Eric Davis received his chemotherapy treatment at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center after Game 2 and was scheduled to be in Cleveland around 5 p.m. yesterday. He was allowed to skip the afternoon workout.

Johnson said he'll speak with the outfielder before deciding whether to include him in today's lineup.

"I know he was looking forward to being in there," Johnson said.

Only a bruise for Justice

An MRI performed on the left shoulder of Cleveland's David Justice revealed only a bruised rotator cuff, and Hargrove expects him to play in Game 3.

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