Marlins' Brown counting on mind over matter Viral infection won't keep Florida ace from mound

NLCS notebook

October 12, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- Four-time Cy Young Award-winner Greg Maddux of Atlanta said yesterday that "sometimes it can be a good thing" when a pitcher is not at his best physically.

That situation applies to Florida's ace, Kevin Brown, who has been troubled by a viral infection since the National League Championship Series shifted here.

"It forces you to concentrate a little more," Maddux said. "You're stronger mentally, even though you're weaker on the physical side."

Brown, who bested Maddux in Game 1, is still scheduled to pitch this afternoon. Marlins manager Jim Leyland listed his condition as "ninety-five percent. He's just OK but probable. But it's not a total slam dunk."

For the series opener, Brown had gone seven days between starts and Leyland thought the pitcher was too strong, if anything. He labored through six innings and got the victory despite allowing home runs to Ryan Klesko and Chipper Jones.

Brown originally was scheduled to pitch last night, but was pushed back because of his health.

"You might have to shoot me to keep me from going out there," Brown said. "I could have thrown tonight, but they want to make sure I can be as good as I can and the extra day could help."

Brown said his between-games work schedule has been affected by the illness, but that he is "not going to be out there worrying about whether I threw on the side. I'm not looking to make excuses."

Klesko is hurting

The Braves' Klesko was scratched from last night's starting lineup after injuring himself in making a diving attempt to catch Charles Johnson's three-run double Friday night.

"His wrist and his shoulder are both banged up a little," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We're going to watch him swing and maybe he'll be available later in the game."

Cox cool on errors

Errors have been a bane for the Braves in their two defeats, but Cox does not seem overly concerned about his defense.

"They were all tough plays, really," he said. "Sometimes you make them, sometimes you don't. I'd like to have them back and try them over again. We'd probably make a couple of them."

"I've never seen an error look good," said Maddux, the victim of two in Game 1.

Cox said he is more concerned about baserunning mistakes like the one Chipper Jones made Friday night. Jones overran second and possibly prevented a big inning.

Saunders learns

The Marlins' Tony Saunders is likely to get another start if the series goes long enough.

The Maryland native pitched a resourceful game against the Braves Friday night with a huge dose of adrenalin.

"I never experienced that before," Saunders said. "I kept trying to tell myself, 'Keep it small, don't think too big,' But it's kind of tough when you're out there."

"After the first inning, when I got all the nervousness away, I tried to settle down and just pitch."

Saunders got out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the fourth by allowing only one run. He finished with a two-run, four-hit performance over 5 1/3 innings.

Gregg's call backed

Leyland's protest of Friday's game became a moot point when the Marlins won, but Bruce Froemming, chief of the umpiring crew, said umpire Eric Gregg did the right thing on the disputed play at second base in the fourth inning.

Kenny Lofton attempted to steal second on a 3-2 pitch while Jeff Blauser walked. That entitled Lofton to the base, but Gregg initially called him out.

When Lofton strayed off the base and was tagged by Craig Counsell, Gregg ruled that Lofton was safe.

"Eric Gregg did not realize it was ball four when he called the runner out," Froemming said.

"Eric realized his mistake and called time on the field to correct. Leyland's argument was that you could not call time in that situation and that play had to continue."

Looking ahead


Potential pitching matchups for the Marlins-Braves series:

Game 6, at Atlanta, 8: 07 p.m. Tuesday

Atl.: Tom Glavine (*1-0, 1.17)

Fla.: L. Hernandez (*1-0, 0.00)

Game 7, at Atlanta, 8: 07 p.m. Wednesday

Atl.: John Smoltz (*0-1, 7.50)

Fla.: Tony Saunders (*0-0, 3.38)

* NLCS stats

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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