Struggling starters lack finishing touch

Minus bullpen, teams' ERAs are around 9.00

World Series

October 25, 2002|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO - The 98th World Series has come down to a series of starts and stops.

The San Francisco Giants and the Anaheim Angels came into the postseason with similarly solid starting rotations, both ranking fourth in their respective leagues in team ERA, but who would know it from the individual performances in this Fall Classic? Left-hander Jarrod Washburn, who won 18 games during the regular season, gave up six runs in the first two innings of Game 5 last night to put the Angels in a major hole and Giants starter Jason Schmidt just couldn't figure out what to do with such a generous lead.

Schmidt dodged a couple of potential Angels rallies in the early innings, but finally found himself up to his ears in base hits in the fifth inning and had to give way to the bullpen with the potential tying run on deck.

Just another busy day at the office for opposing managers Mike Scioscia and Dusty Baker, who have spent the past five games trying to keep their bullpens fresh for the next long night.

Here's what they've had to deal with: No starting pitcher in the first five games has thrown a pitch in the seventh inning, Giants left-hander Kirk Rueter coming the closest when he completed six innings in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

The eight starting pitchers who have worked in the Series - including Washburn and Schmidt twice - have combined to fashion an astronomical 8.93 ERA. Both teams have been almost equally ineffective, with the Giants starters running up an 8.72 ERA and the Angels starters slightly higher at 9.14.

In each case, the number is more than double the combined ERA of the starting rotation during the regular season.

Scioscia couldn't sugarcoat that discouraging stat, but he said before last night's game that the Angels would be ready and able to meet the challenge of Game 6 and possibly Game 7 in Anaheim.

"Starters at this time of year are not going to be as fresh as they were," Scioscia said. "I think that the same thing can be said for the guys on the other side, for the Giants. That's why the end of the season, to get to this level is such a test. We have enough gas in our tank. I think our guys will be able to do what we need to do."

The ugly numbers are skewed upward by the horrible combined performance of Giants starter Russ Ortiz and Angels right-hander Kevin Appier in Game 2, who pitched a total of 3 2/3 innings and gave up 12 runs.

They will be the starters tomorrow night when the Angels attempt to even the best-of-seven series at Edison International Field.

"I think, for the most part, we've got confidence in what Kevin will be able to do for us," Scioscia said. "Then we'll move on from there to Game 7 and make a decision."

The Giants have a slightly better idea of what they will do if the Angels rebound from last night's lopsided defeat to force a Game 7. They'll go with October veteran Livan Hernandez, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on the way to his first-ever postseason defeat in Game 3.

"Right now, Livan [Hernandez] is scheduled to start the seventh game," Baker said before last night's game.

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