10/06/2002 11:40 pm ET
Glavine can't explain rough outing
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Braves pitcher Tom Glavine repeatedly dragged one shoe through the dirt of the Pacific Bell Park mound as if hoping to uncover a new explanation.
Until Rich Aurilia's third-inning homer -- the key blow in the Giants' 8-3 victory Sunday which forced a deciding fifth game of their National League Division Series at Atlanta's Turner Field on Monday night -- he could have repeated his previous analysis and at least had a case.
But after leaving with seven earned runs and seven hits charged to him in 2 2/3 innings, Glavine was looking, or maybe searching for, the truth.
"I guess it's hard to argue with the results, so obviously something's not right," Glavine said.
Glavine could have attributed the hole he had dug for himself early in Sunday to the same forces that he claimed did him in during his Game 1 loss. He didn't pitch badly and the Giants didn't hit him -- it was just that the ball kept landing in the wrong place. That was a tough sell on Wednesday, when he allowed six runs on 10 hits.
No one could say he pitched well after walking five early Sunday, but the they-hit-'em-where-we-ain't defense actually had basis in the beginning. The first six hits he allowed were singles, and half of them were the kind of softies of the bloop and broken-bat variety -- hits that have a way of making performances that look so bad on the stat sheet feel so good.
But Aurilia hit Glavine's 2-2 pitch into a place where only Giants fans were -- the left-field seats -- for a 7-0 lead. Finally hit hard, Glavine left the field with his status having officially changed from hard-luck to slumping.
"I made a couple of decent pitches and got bad results, and obviously made some bad pitches and got real bad results on them," Glavine said. "Other than that, I don't know what to tell you. I feel like I'm throwing the ball good. I'm just not executing and getting the results I want."
Glavine has yet to dig for an answer. Immediately after leaving Game 1, he fired up the VCR, but he wasn't so quick to watch Sunday's horror film. Of course, he might not have any adjustments to make until next season.
If the Braves prevail on Monday and earn their 10th appearance in the last 11 National League Championship Series, Glavine will have to find more than an explanation for what happened in two games against the Giants. He'll have to find his form.
Glavine's last three starts have come on three days' rest.
"Believe me, I wish I could sit here and tell you that there's a reason for why I've pitched as poorly as I have in this series, but I can't," Glavine said. "Physically, I feel as good as any point during the year. The short rest has nothing to do with it.
"Something's not happening the way I want to."
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said Glavine's problems had more to do with strategy than strength.
"He threw harder tonight than he has all year -- he's throwing a little bit too strong," Cox said. "I don't know if he didn't have the confidence in the changeup tonight or just didn't want to throw it because the fastball was so quick."
The Braves were depending on Glavine to close out the Giants much the way he closed out the Indians in the 1995 World Series -- the only one the Braves have claimed during their run of 11 division championships. Glavine was the World Series MVP.
But instead, Glavine failed and his troubles at serve to illustrate an unusual turn of this series. Both teams had more-experienced pitchers to choose from, but no one is arguing the logic of San Francisco's Russ Ortiz and Atlanta's Kevin Millwood taking the mound for the deciding game.
Glavine knows he has not pitched like a guy the Braves should be depending on right now.
"Kevin's been strong for us ... I wish he didn't have to go out there, but he's been throwing the ball good for us and I would expect him to do the same," Glavine said.
Glavine has allowed four or more earned runs in five of his last seven starts dating from Sept. 8 at home against Montreal. In one of the other games, his final pre-playoff tuneup, he gave up a run and walked two in two innings against the New York Mets. His six shutout innings against Philadelphia on Sept. 18, his last win, was his last passable performance.
"I let myself down, let everybody in here down, let everybody in Atlanta down," said Glavine, an 18-game winner during the regular season. "All I can do is hope for another opportunity."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.