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Brewers Are Coming Up Big Despite Lack of Big Names

May 12, 1997|MIKE DiGIOVANNA

There are no superstars--heck, most outside Wisconsin would have trouble identifying two or three of their starters--but Milwaukee Brewer Manager Phil Garner's collection of no-names and supposed has-beens is leading the American League's Central Division by two games, thanks to their 18-14 start.

"We want to go home at night and turn on [ESPN's] SportsCenter and be at the top of the hour, because that means you're in first place," Garner said. "I don't put any stock in that now, but our players need to get used to looking at the standings and seeing themselves in first."

The small-market Brewers have a payroll of about $23 million--roughly $10 million less than the Angels--and the heart of their lineup includes Jeff Cirillo, David Nilsson, John Jaha and Matt Mieske.

Offense is not their strong suit, but the Brewers have hit just well enough and played just well enough defensively to support a superb bullpen, which retired all 10 Angels it faced in Sunday's 5-2 victory.

Four Milwaukee relievers combined for four shutout innings in Saturday's 4-3 victory, and 39-year-old reliever Doug Jones, who has been cast off like Power Bait since 1993 (five teams in four years), saved all three games in the series, ending each with a strikeout.

The Brewers are a league-best 8-1 in one-run games thanks to Jones, who is eight for eight in save opportunities and threw a total of 24 pitches Saturday and Sunday, 22 for strikes.

"I've seen him enough to know he's a quality pitcher," Angel Manager Terry Collins said. "He's very tough when he's hitting his spots."


Mark Langston, recovering from an inflamed left elbow, threw 76 pitches off the mound Saturday at Anaheim and experienced no discomfort. Collins said Langston will pitch Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox in Anaheim Stadium.

Collins also said Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who made two solid starts in Langston's absence, will remain in the rotation, meaning knuckleballer Dennis Springer will be headed for the bullpen or triple-A Vancouver.

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