MINNEAPOLIS — Along with earplugs, maybe they also should have given St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Magrane a blindfold and a cigarette before he ventured to the mound here Saturday night in that Teflon jungle known as the Metrodome.
The introduction of Magrane and the rest of the Cardinals' pitching staff to the Minnesota Twins and their humbling abode in Game 1 of the World Series was nothing short of a disaster. St. Louis lost to the Twins, 10-1, and also lost a little confidence in a pitching staff that has carried them this far.
Magrane, the rookie left-hander with a good sinker and one-liners, didn't make it out of the fourth inning. He gave up a two-run, bases-loaded single to Kent Hrbek and then loaded the bases again with no outs before Manager Whitey Herzog gave this budding comic the hook.
Bob Forsch, the next Cardinal pitching victim, yielded a run-scoring single to light-hitting Tim Laudner. Then, Forsch yielded a grand slam to Dan Gladden that gave the Twins a 7-1 lead. One inning later, Forsch allowed a two-run homer to Steve Lombardozzi.
Even reliever Rick Horton, given mop-up duty on this mess, gave up a run-scoring double to Gladden to enable the Twins to reach double figures.
Cardinal players had the usual complaints about the conditions at the Metrodome. Outfielders said they lost fly balls in the roof, not the bright lights. They also said the orange mood lighting reflecting off the Teflon-coated roof affected their vision.
But the pitchers had no such excuses on which to fall back.
As promised, Magrane was given earplugs to wear in an attempt to muffle the voluminous crowd noise. Magrane said it worked. It was about the only aspect of his game that did.
"The crowd was not a factor," the rookie said. "I just did not make the pitches I had to. I really had no reservations with the way I pitched. But with men on base, I didn't make the kind of pitches I needed. Whenever I really needed a good pitch, I (threw) one with too much plate on it.
"I felt good and strong at the start. I thought I was doing a good job of keeping them off base. I just didn't make the pitches I had to make to the power hitters. I'm disappointed."
This obviously wasn't the outcome--4 runs, 5 hits and 4 walks in 3 innings--Magrane had expected. Consequently, there were no funny wisecracks afterward. His comedic material was about as good as his fastball, which isn't saying much.
It appears that a chance for a guest shot with David Letterman is pretty bleak.
"If you look at it wholelistically (or maybe he meant holistically), I've pitched pretty bad in the postseason," said Magrane, who gave up four runs in four innings in his only playoff start against San Francisco. "But tonight, I think I just made a few mistakes but didn't pitch really bad. I wanted to get my sinker working, but I never really got command of it. I was focused and pitching the way I wanted to the whole time."
For a short while, Magrane actually was dominating. Seemingly unruffled by the noise or the Twins' powerful lineup, he retired the first five batters he faced. But he walked Tom Brunansky and Hrbek in the second and took the count to 3 and 2 to Lombardozzi before forcing a pop-up.
The next inning, Magrane found himself with Gladden on first and one out. He made nine straight pickoff attempts at first base before even dealing with Gary Gagne, the hitter.
"Yeah, I messed around with (Gladden) too much," Magrane said. "But that turned out to be a moot point because I got out of the inning."
Magrane would not make it out of the fourth inning. He gave up four consecutive singles and a walk before Forsch was summoned. By the end of the inning, the Cardinals trailed by six runs, punctuated by Gladden's grand slam.
Magrane, watching Forsch work from the bench, said he was surprised.
"Anytime Bob Forsch relieves for me, I'm totally confident," Magrane said. "I have absolutely no feelings of inadequacy when he's out there."
It's a good thing Magrane had confidence in Forsch, because Forsch didn't think much of himself Saturday.
"I just didn't pitch very well; I didn't feel right out there," Forsch said. "What I got to do is get the ball down. But I didn't get it down (to Gladden, on the grand slam). He hit a curveball. I made a couple other bad pitches."
Manager Whitey Herzog, worried that young starting pitchers such as Magrane and Greg Mathews would buckle under the obstacles at the Metrodome, considered starting Forsch in Game 1. He opted for Magrane instead, but Forsch was warming up in the bullpen early in the fourth inning.
Normally a starter, Forsch said it is a tough adjustment switching to long relief.
"It's new, but it really shouldn't be a problem," Forsch said. "I've got to take a look at the way I'm pitching and see what the problem is."
Surveying the damaged staff was pitching coach Mike Roarke, who claimed the performance wasn't as horrendous as the numbers showed.