10/07/2002 7:53 pm ET
MLBeat: Resting their case
Ortiz, Millwood approached tonight's start differently
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Here's the big question going into Monday night's deciding Game 5 in the NL Division Series: What's more important, rest or
That is, is it better to have Russ Ortiz pitching on four-days' rest but having slept Sunday night on a plane flying across America and arriving
at the team hotel at 6:15 a.m. local time? Or is it more beneficial that Kevin Millwood, pitching on three days of rest, spent last night in his
own bed at home here, having flown ahead of the team?
"I think it depends on the person," said Giants manager Dusty Baker when asked whether he believes in the statistics that show a large
performance decline in pitchers throwing on three-days' rest. "It depends on how many innings they have on them, how resilient they are,
how strong they are physically and mentally, what kind of condition they're in. ... You've got to have good mechanics, number one, because if
you don't you're going to be sore as a dog."
Sore is one thing but tired is another. Ortiz reportedly slept like a baby on the team charter, where the seats recline completely. Then again,
who needs sleep?
"I don't think any of us slept as long as we normally would," said shortstop Rich Aurilia. "But if you need to get more sleep for a game of this
caliber today or your adrenaline is not pumping, something's wrong. I think we're all ready to play tonight, we're all excited and we have
confidence in our starting pitcher and our team to go out there and do the job we know we can do."
Besides, the last time the Giants flew all night to play a game the next day, they swept the Brewers and went on to win a season-high eight
straight games to end the season. Overall, they've won 10 of their last 12 games.
"When we got into Milwaukee, I know I didn't pitch that day but I got plenty of sleep," said Ortiz before boarding the plane Sunday night. "I
actually felt great that day, so I don't think it's going to be any different."
That's because everyone tried to put Sunday's victory behind them as quickly as possible.
"I think everybody was excited with the win yesterday and the way we won, especially facing elimination," said Aurilia. "But at the same time, I
think everybody on the flight knew what was at hand today and knew we needed to get our rest, so it was a little more quiet than usual and
you'd hope it would be, traveling in the wee hours of the morning.
"You don't want too many people talking so I think everybody got their rest and got their rest this morning, too."
Still, Baker wasn't taking any chances.
"I told the starters to show up [at Turner Field] later, come out and hit just a little bit to get the blood going and then come on back inside," he
said. "The key is, both [teams] will be walking around the same way, versus when we got to Florida [on Aug. 16], they were asleep waiting for
us to get there.
"I don't know how many of the guys adhered to that advice," Baker said. "It's hard to keep some of them away."
Both clubs also share the same advantage of having seen the opposing starting pitcher earlier this week and Aurilia thinks that will help
"We know what he throws," said the shortstop. "We know how he's probably going to try and approach us. He's on three-days' rest and I
don't know how often he's thrown on three-days' rest, regardless of the amount of pitches he threw in his last game. But at least we know
now what we're probably going to see.
"Going into Game 2, we hadn't seen him since May and that was before he started throwing the ball really well so at least we know a little bit
more what to expect from him and hopefully learn from our experience."
Looking ahead: If the Giants win tonight, tickets for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the NLCS, to be played at Pacific Bell Park, would go on
sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday through sfgiants.com, the ballpark box office or by phone at (510) 762-2277. ... Game 1 would be Kirk Rueter vs. the
Cardinals' Matt Morris and Game 2 would feature Jason Schmidt at Busch Stadium.
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.