Brown isn't titling start as anything different Possible clincher taken in stride by former Oriole

World Series notebook

October 25, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- Former Orioles pitcher Kevin Brown has a chance to close out the World Series tonight and make up for a disappointing start in Game 2. Just don't expect him to get too excited over either prospect.

Brown barely registered a pulse when discussing his assignment tonight, which could bring the Florida Marlins a championship after only five years of existence and deny the Cleveland Indians their first since 1948. The right-hander needs to be sharper than his previous appearance, when he allowed six runs and 10 hits in six innings, absorbing a 6-1 loss at Pro Player Stadium.

Brown said he'll approach this start "the same way as in any other game. You've got to go out and make good pitches and hope things bounce your way."

Or, in the case of a sinkerball pitcher, roll to your infielders.

"I didn't throw the ball that badly, but I felt like I could throw it better," he said. "My plan is to go out and do a better job next time and hopefully get them to hit ground balls to people."

This is the farthest Brown has worked into a season, and he endured a stomach virus and 140-pitch effort in the decisive game of the National League Championship Series to get the Marlins here. How much, Brown was asked, does he have left in his tank?

He paused, broke into a grin and said, "I don't know."

Both teams will find out tonight.

"I think Kevin Brown is one of the best pitchers in baseball today," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "Not many people throw 95-, 96-mph sinkers. He's a tremendous athlete, to boot. Kevin wasn't fun to face when he was in the American League. When he went to the National League, I didn't ever think I'd have to face him again. But I'm glad we are."

Ogea keeps the faith

Brown again will be opposed by Chad Ogea, who rebounded from a rough first inning in Game 2 and pitched into the seventh, allowing one run and seven hits. The Marlins put at least one runner on base against him in every inning except the second, collecting four doubles in the process, but couldn't deliver the big blow.

Before that, Ogea had given the Indians eight solid innings in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, a two-run single by the Orioles' Geronimo Berroa the only damage against him. He also had kept the Indians close in Game 1, allowing three runs in six innings.

Ogea said he's pitching as well in the last month as at any time during his young career.

"The biggest thing is I've been able to focus on what I'm doing from pitch to pitch, instead of worrying about things around me," he said. "I've thrown strikes and gotten ahead of guys. And that's pitching."

Ogea couldn't do anything at the major-league level for more than two months because of elbow and knee injuries. Now, he's being asked to help save the Indians' season.

"God has taken care of me the whole year. He's brought me back to this point," Ogea said.

"Three months ago, I was sitting watching our team play while I was trying to come back. I thank God for this every day."

Bonilla hobbles on

Florida manager Jim Leyland said he expects Bobby Bonilla, playing through the pain of a strained hamstring, to remain in the lineup. Leyland removed Bonilla for a pinch runner in the ninth inning of Game 5, after the former Oriole hobbled into second with a double.

"I think he's fine," Leyland said. "I think he's probably suspicious of his leg and once in a while there is a slight pull there and there's a possibility that it cramps up. He said he felt like he'd be OK, and we'll just have to wait and see."

Bonilla is 4-for-20 in the Series (.200), with as many RBIs (two) as errors.

Daulton a base stealer?

Florida's Darren Daulton isn't playing like someone who nearly was driven from the game because of a succession of knee operations. He's swinging a hot bat, going 7-for-15 (.467) with a home run, and running the bases with abandon.

Daulton even stole third in the ninth inning of Game 5, his first career postseason theft.

"I told Darren, 'If you feel comfortable and you feel like you've got one, you go ahead and go,' " Leyland said. "He's had a lot of knee operations, but he's a pretty good base runner, with very good instincts. And I trust him with my life.

"I'd say since we acquired Darren Daulton [in a July 21 trade with Philadelphia], he's made between five and 10 outstanding base-running plays. He's a pleasure to watch and a true professional. It's an honor to be his manager."

Manto's spirits, splinters up

While the Indians fight for their postseason lives tonight, utility infielder Jeff Manto will sit in the dugout, where he's been throughout the playoffs. The former Oriole has yet to get into a game, but senses he hasn't been forgotten.

"Even though I haven't stepped on the field, [Hargrove] has made some moves that I've seen, knowing he has me on the bench," Manto said. "That's as good as playing, as far as I'm concerned. Yes, I want to get out there and hit and play defense, but some of the moves he makes, I know he has me in the back of his mind. It's rewarding in that sense."

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