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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : NATIONAL: San Francisco vs. St. Louis : Notebook : Cardinals Hope Candlestick Wind Will Blow Away the Fog

October 09, 1987|SAM McMANIS | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Magrane, always good for a laugh if not a win, had this to say back in May as the St. Louis Cardinals prepared for their first series against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park:

"I'm just looking ahead to what kind of survivalist techniques I'm going to have to use in Candlestick. . . . Maybe I'll take a Bunsen burner out there. Maybe take some powdered food."

Magrane, the Cardinals' rookie pitcher, and his teammates survived their earlier trips to Candlestick Park, where the wind kicks up in the late afternoon and the fog rolls in for the evening.

The Cardinals are back in the Bay Area this weekend to play the Giants in Games 3, 4 and 5 of the National League playoffs. St. Louis, which split the first two games with the Giants, will start Magrane tonight against the Giants' Atlee Hammaker.

Right-hander Danny Cox was scheduled to start, but the stiff neck that kept him out of Tuesday night's opener has not improved. He now is tentatively scheduled to pitch in Game 4 Saturday night.

From the way some of the Cardinals are talking, Candlestick Park itself is an opponent.

"I really don't have time now to go into a long soliloquy about it," Magrane said. "I'm always asking Jack Clark about it, because he's indigenous to Candlestick."

Clark, the Cardinals' first baseman who will likely miss all three weekend games with a severely sprained ankle, recalled his days as a Giant.

"Turtlenecks and long sleeves," he said. "Tornado-type winds. There could be a big dust storm at shortstop, and everybody else is like a day at the beach. It looks like it is nice and calm back there, and all of a sudden the ball goes up and nobody can catch it.

"This time of year, it's better, but it's still a difficult park to play in."

The temperature at Candlestick is expected to range between 68 and 55 degrees, but the fog and wind are unavoidable. The Cardinals tried to adapt Thursday by practicing at night under "game conditions."

Said Giant Manager Roger Craig, who relishes the home-field advantage: "A lot of things can happen. Balls hit good there sometimes don't go out. And some that aren't hit good do go out. (Giant pitcher) Mike Krukow says he pitches according to whether the hot dog wrappers fly to the left-field fence or to right field."

Everybody has a favorite Candlestick Park story, and this one comes from Cardinal second baseman Tommy Herr: "I remember one time when (former teammate) Alan Knicely was hit on the top of the head with a foul ball. We put a target on his hat the next day."

Cardinal third baseman Terry Pendleton twisted a knee during Thursday night's practice at Candlestick and may not play in Game 3. Jose Oquendo would start in his place.

Hammaker, the Giants' starter tonight, is a candidate for National League comeback player of the year after undergoing a second rotator cuff operation on his left shoulder.

Since being activated April 30, Hammaker has a 9-2 record with a 2.57 earned-run average at Candlestick Park, including seven straight wins. He is only 1-8 on the road, but should the series go to seven games, Hammaker is tentatively scheduled to start Game 7 at St. Louis.

Neither Hammaker nor Craig had an explanation for the pitcher's success at home and struggles on the road.

Asked how he has changed as a pitcher since the surgery, Hammaker said: "I threw much harder before the injuries, but now I think I'm more of a pitcher and I have more pitches at my command."

One of the new ones is a split-fingered fastball, Craig's trademark.

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