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THE WORLD SERIES : MINNESOTA TWINS vs. ST. LOUIS CARDINAL S : Magrane's the Best Option Because He's the Only Option

October 25, 1987|SAM McMANIS | Times Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS — Unless he decides to forget it all and go fishing at Lake Wobegon, St. Louis Cardinals Manager Whitey Herzog faces the prospect of playing Game 7 of the World Series with a pitching staff that has been woeful in the Metrodome.

Examining Herzog's options for a Game 7 starter following the Cardinals' 11-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins Saturday, it turns out he really doesn't have one. Not a good one, at least.

The choice turned out to be rookie left-hander Joe Magrane, bombed for four runs and five hits in less than four innings of Game 1 and not much better in his lone playoff start against San Francisco.

Asked Saturday to explain his decision, Herzog ran a hand through that straw-colored whisk broom that passes for hair and said: "No."

Tom Kelly, the Twins' rookie manager, earlier had criticized Herzog's choice of Tudor, over Magrane, as his starter for Game 6. "It seems like Whitey's playing for the sweep," said Kelly, after the Cardinals had won three straight in St. Louis.

Kelly's point was borne out Saturday. Tudor, pitching for the first time this season on three days' rest, gave up 6 runs and 11 hits in slightly more than 4 innings of what was a potential Series-clinching game.

Now, considering the Cardinals' dire situation, Magrane seems the most logical choice, if not the best.

Herzog had dabbled with the thought of starting Danny Cox, the winner of Game 5 Thursday, on two days' rest. But if Tudor could not fare any better than he did on Saturday, how brutally would Cox be knocked around today?

Greg Mathews, who has aggravated a pulled right thigh muscle in each of his last two playoff starts, is unable to pitch. Bob Forsch, who allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning Saturday in his third World Series appearance, is neither fresh nor effective enough to start such an important game.

That leaves either Magrane or utilityman extraordinaire Jose Oquendo as the candidates. Since Oquendo's regular-season earned-run average is 27.00 (3 runs in 1 inning), Magrane won the starting bid by a landslide.

Given Magrane's past performances, a Twin landslide victory tonight in Game 7 might be forthcoming. But rather than hanging the "Gone Fishing" sign on the door to his clubhouse office late Saturday afternoon, Herzog allowed reporters to ask about his pitching dilemma.

Question: Is Magrane the starter?

Answer: Yup, Magrane.

Q: Was it too much of a risk pitching Cox on two days' rest?

A: Magrane.

Q: Can Cox pitch any in relief?

A: Yeah.

Q: Do you think Cox can pitch on two days' rest?

A: He'll be the first guy up in the pen.

Later, Herzog became slightly more expansive. But since his options were so limited, so were his words.

"Cox will be ready," Herzog said. "I want to see if we can get a few innings from Magrane. We want to try and stay as close as we can and see if we can score some runs. We hope he pitches three scoreless innings, like he did the last time ( before getting bombed in the fourth ) ."

Magrane was conspicuous by his absence in the Cardinal clubhouse following Saturday's blowout loss.

Maybe Magrane, not Herzog, went fishing in one of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes.

Tudor probably wishes he had been anywhere but the Metrodome Saturday. He allowed two runs in the first inning, Kirby Puckett and Don Baylor rapping run-scoring singles. Then, in the fifth, Tudor was bombed for four runs on four hits, the major blow being a two-run home run by Baylor.

By the end of the inning, the Twins had erased St. Louis' 5-2 lead and held a 6-5 advantage that swelled to 10-5 an inning later.

"They sat on the inside pitches and went with the slow stuff outside," said Tudor, meaning that the Twins did not try to pull the outside pitches. "I pitched inside enough to keep those guys off the plate, but it was like they were looking for changeups, exclusively.

"Generally, even when teams make an adjustment on me, it doesn't go this bad. I made some good pitches. I don't think I threw a bad game. but the bottom line is, we lost."

Even Herzog, it seems, has lowered his expectations about his pitching staff. He, too, thought Tudor pitched well.

"I thought (Tudor) made good pitches," Herzog said. "It almost seemed like they knew what was coming."

Perhaps Herzog, in the back of his mind, knows what is coming tonight in Game 7. Maybe there still is time to find a fishing hole on Lake Wobegon.

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