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The Shadow grips Indians and O’s

October 15, 1997

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Harsh, menacing shadows were on deck at Camden Yards.

The ball figured to be so hard to pick up that batters might as well be searching for Sam Spade in the San Francisco fog.

With Mike Mussina and Charles Nagy on the mound for a game that started at 4:15 p.m. EDT, why should the batters even show up?

``The people who set the time don’t have to play,″ the Orioles’ Eric Davis said Tuesday. ``They don’t know what it’s like to be in the shadows and try to hit the ball.″

Davis’ ninth-inning homer was the decisive run in Baltimore’s 4-2 victory Monday night. The Orioles, trying to become the ninth team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in a postseason series, hoped to tie the series behind Mussina, who struck out an ALCS record 15 for seven innings in Game 3.

That was in the twilight, too.

``It’s hard enough facing Mussina at night,″ Cleveland’s Sandy Alomar said. ``You see the ball coming, but you see a black ball coming. You see a ball with no rotation. If you can’t see the rotation, you can’t react to the baseball. You start swinging late.″

Mussina, 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three postseason starts, wasn’t among the Orioles at Tuesday’s voluntary workout. He wasn’t concerned about coming back on three days’ rest.

``I don’t feel tired and I’m not worried about it,″ he said on the Orioles’ charter flight following Game 5. ``There’ll be time to be tired in November.″

Nagy, 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA in two postseason starts, didn’t make much of Wednesday’s twilight start. The sun might not even be a factor, with a weather forecast calling for cloud cover.

``It’s not going to change the way I pitch because of the shadows or anything like that,″ Nagy said.

Nagy was much better during the regular season, going 15-11 with a 4.28 ERA, including 2-1 against Baltimore with 2.61 ERA. The playoffs started badly for Nagy, who walked six in 3 2-3 innings against the Yankees in Game 3.

``I think he’s trying not to leave everything in the middle of the plate, and that’s causing him to pitch behind in the count a lot,″ Alomar said. ``When you are behind in the count against this type of hitter, you have to throw the ball down the middle, and they don’t miss those. I think we have to be more aggressive.″

In Nagy’s last start, Baltimore was on the verge of taking a 2-0 lead in the series, but Marquis Grissom hit a three-run homer off Armando Benitez to give Cleveland a 5-4 victory.

``We were up 4-2 on him and had opportunities to win,″ B.J. Surhoff said. ``But Charlie pitched well.″

Surhoff was hoping the weather reports for today turn out to be correct.

``I think everyone playing in a twilight game would like it to be cloudy, because then you have darkness everywhere and don’t have to worry about the ball coming in and out of the shadows.″

Cleveland, seeking its second AL pennant in three seasons, had hoped to win the pennant before its home fans. Nagy said trying to finish off the Orioles at Camden Yards wouldn’t present an unusual problem.

``People complain it’s not a fair park because the dimensions are short,″ he said. ``But I’m a sinkerball pitcher and if I get my ground balls _ I haven’t seen too many ground balls that went over the fence.″

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