McGwire starts Game 1 for Cardinals; Big Unit takes issue
NEW YORK (AP) -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told Mark McGwire that he would start Game 1 against Arizona just as Big Mac was walking to the cage for batting practice on Monday.
“He must have hit 50 balls into the seats,” La Russa said, “so I don't think he was unhappy with the start.”
St. Louis faced Curt Schilling in Tuesday night's opener at Phoenix. McGwire was 4-for-18 against Schilling in his career, but all four hits were home runs.
“He gives us an extra dimension,” La Russa said of his decision to start McGwire instead of Craig Paquette.
Slowed by bad knees, McGwire hit .187 this season. It was uncertain how much he would play in the best-of-five series.
With only five position players as reservers, La Russa also would rather have the versatile Paquette ready on the bench.
“Mac on the bench, you can't run with him, and he's a first baseman,” La Russa said. “This gives us more flexibility off the bench.”
Big Unit: I’m not a big bust
Randy Johnson takes issue with those who say he has been a playoff failure.
Johnson is 2-6 overall, and 0-6 since the 1995 American League division series, the longest string of postseason losses in baseball history.
“I don't think the look very deep into the numbers. They've looked at the wins and losses. I know what I am. I'm 2-6. But you look at the games I've pitched, the two games I pitched in Houston, the game I pitched against Baltimore,” he said Tuesday. “Those are games that you get wins or maybe a no-decision, but in a postseason game it's very easy to get a loss.”
Johnson, who will start for Arizona in Game 2 against St. Louis on Wednesday, is 0-1 with the Diamondbacks, giving up seven runs on eight hits in 8 1/3 innings in a loss to the New York Mets in the opener of the 1999 division series.
“I pitched two horribly pitched games in postseason, one for the Diamondbacks and one for Seattle,” he said, “but I'm not afraid to say that all the other postseason games I've pitched I feel I've pitched pretty well.”
Johnson (21-6) said this has been an enjoyable season because he hasn't had to bear the entire burden of carrying a pitching staff. He's had Curt Schilling, the starter in Game 1, to share it with.
“I feel like the responsibility of carrying the team in postseason has been evenly divided now,” Johnson said. “I think that even during the course of the season, I was having a little more fun, if you want to word it that way, because the responsibility wasn't solely on me every fifth day.”
Tom Glavine probably didn't like coming to Houston very much at the start of his career. Now, it's got to be his favorite road trip.
Glavine has won his last nine decisions in Houston since losing the first eight times he started there. The Atlanta left-hander will try continuing the streak Wednesday when he starts Game 2 of the NL first-round series against the Astros.
The Braves won the opener 7-4.
Glavine admits he knows he hasn't lost in the Bayou City in a decade, spanning starts in the Astrodome and Enron Field.
“You know, I think that certainly enters your mind,” he said. “But I don't think you think about it a whole lot. Much like if you're getting beat by a particular club, you don't take for granted that sooner or later the law of averages is going to catch up with you.”
Still, it does provide a nice mental edge.
“Any time you can have confidence about what it is you're trying to do based on past performance when you go out there, it's a great thing to have,” he said.
Nothing was going to keep Charlie Manuel from managing the Cleveland Indians in the postseason.
Manuel rejoined the team last weekend in Toronto after being hospitalized for eight days with an abdominal infection. He has had health problems for two years, and was absent for a while after colon surgery.
While he was out, the 57-year-old missed Cleveland's AL Central-clinching victory and had to watch on TV as his players hoisted another banner above Jacobs Field.
He wasn't missing any more October parties.
“I was going to make the postseason even if I had to leave the hospital,” Manuel said.
Cleveland beat Seattle 5-0 in Game 1 Tuesday.
Manuel will have his gall bladder removed after the season, and said he has lost more than 20 pounds in the last few weeks.
He was so excited for his first playoff game as manager that he awoke at 5:30 a.m. and was at Safeco Field at 9:15 -- more than four hours before the first pitch.
“I'm ready,” he said.
With Roger Clemens on the mound in the opener of the Oakland-New York series, talk naturally turns to the inside of the plate.
Oakland manager Art Howe doesn't mind the inside game.
“That's part of pitching,” he said Tuesday. “That's the way we believe. We just want umpires to call strikes 'strikes' and balls ‘balls.’ We'll take care of the rest.”
Mark Mulder, the Athletics' Game 1 starter Wednesday night, agreed with his manager and said inside pitches by the Rocket weren't a concern.
“You have to throw inside to be successful,” he said. “You can't just live on the outside corner. If something like that happens, I'm not worried about that.”
The increased security for this year's playoffs will even affect the players.
Game 1 starter Roger Clemens said he plans to leave earlier than usual before Wednesday night's start to account for the extra traffic.
“It's probably going to take a little more time to get in, so the guys are trying to figure out when they are going to leave and things of that nature,” Clemens said.
Fans will have it tough, too. Parking will be limited because of the extra security vehicles, traffic across bridges will be slowed because of police checkpoints and coolers, backpacks, briefcases, umbrellas, containers and bags of any kind are banned at Yankee Stadium for the entire postseason.
For many of the Yankees, the precautions won't be that new. Bomb-sniffing dogs have always been on hand for the postseason and Mets' series, and there have been snipers at the top of the stadium in the past as well.
“These are old hat here,” reliever Mike Stanton said. “They've been here ever since I've been here.”