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Crews Is Off to Good Start in Relief : But Dodger's Major League Debut Comes as Big Surprise

July 28, 1987|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | Times Staff Writer

Let it be recorded that on July 27, 1987, Timothy Stanley Crews, a right-handed pitcher who had spent 6 1/2 years in the minors, made his major league debut for the Dodgers. He pitched fairly well in 1 innings, allowing one run and two hits while striking out two.

Those are the facts from Monday night's game at Dodger Stadium. This is the background:

He did it with a sore right triceps, which forced him away from the fastball, his favorite pitch, into using a split-finger fastball as much as he ever has.

He did it one night after being called up from Albuquerque, in a nationally televised game, and after coming in with the score tied, 3-3.

He helped the Dodgers beat San Francisco, 6-5, which, in turn, helped out the Cincinnati Reds, who are trying to hold off the Giants for the lead in the West. The thing is, Crews, who grew up in Tampa, Fla., has been a Reds' fan practically all his life.

Not any more, though.

"Nope," he said after Monday's game. "I'm a Dodger fan now."

The feeling is mutual.

"It really seems like he wants the ball out there," said Ron Perranoski, Dodger pitching coach. "The key to the whole thing is his poise out there."

That attribute is the first thing most people mention about Crews. Big leagues or the minors. Take, for example, the stretch about a month ago when he entered three straight games with the bases loaded and no outs and each time snuffed the rally without a run scoring.

"That's good stuff and poise," said Dodger infielder Brad Wellman, who played with Crews in Triple-A before being promoted himself over the weekend.

Such confidence came in real handy against the Giants Monday, when he made his surprise debut. Surprise to him, that is.

Crews, acquired with pitcher Tim Leary from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Greg Brock trade last December, started the eighth inning by striking out Bob Brenly (a .298 hitter) on three pitches and then Chili Davis (16 homers and 52 RBIs) on a full count. In both cases, the split-finger fastball was the finisher.

"I felt, 'This is not as hard as it seems,' " Crews said. "It was exciting. I just wanted to keep pitching and for good things to happen."

They did, for the most part. After walking Rob Thompson on another 3-and-2 pitch, he got Jose Uribe to ground out to end the inning. In the ninth, Crews had a 4-3 lead and a chance for the win but, after getting pinch-hitter Eddie Milner to ground out, back-to-back singles by Mike Aldrete and Kevin Mitchell finished him.

"I didn't expect I would pitch today," said Crews, a starter all his life before the Dodgers made him their workhorse stopper out of the bullpen in Triple-A. "I thought they'd let me get my feet on the ground for a while. When they called to say, 'You're in in the eighth,' I got butterflies. But when I got to the mound, it all came together and I went right at the hitters.

"It all happened real quick. Like a whirlwind. I'm just real excited to be here, to be part of the Los Angeles Dodgers."

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