10/13/2002 8:12 pm ET
Rueter gets the ball for Game 5
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Kirk Rueter may have won Game 1 of the National League Championship Series for the Giants, but he knows he owes that in large part to his teammates' offensive explosion against the Cardinals' Matt Morris.
Rueter allowed five runs in five innings while Morris gave up seven in 4 1/3 innings of the Giants' 9-6 victory. Rueter doesn't plan to change much for his Game 5 start Monday, however.
"Hopefully, not give up the two home runs," said Rueter with a chuckle. "I try and do the same thing most every start, make my pitches with location and let my defense play behind me. So I don't plan on changing that too much."
What could change is the way the left-hander feels physically. He had an extra day of rest before that Game 1 start, and his manager said that may have been the reason Rueter struggled.
"His sinker should be better," said Dusty Baker. "He's been getting the ball up a little bit. But I think for a sinker-ball pitcher, [when] his arm is a little bit tired, the ball tends to sink better, much like Tom Glavine.
"Sometimes when you are too strong, the ball straightens out and you throw a little too hard."
Also to Rueter's benefit will be Pacific Bell Park's spacious outfield and excellent infield, which have been conducive to his style of pitching. He doesn't strike out many batters, instead letting them hit the ball to his defense.
But Rueter said he tries not to think about the type of park in which he's pitching.
"I take the same philosophy here or on the road," he said. "Even though this is more of a pitcher's park, you still have to make your pitches because, I mean, this park has proven you can give up home runs."
Rueter also noted that with the warmer temperatures of late September and October, the ball has been carrying much better. The Giants and Cardinals hit four homers in Game 3's 5-4 Cardinals victory, but that was an afternoon start.
Monday's first pitch is scheduled for 5:19 p.m. PT, when the sun should be dipping behind the stadium and cooler air should keep the ball in the park a bit better. Wind also blows in from McCovey Cove, beyond the right-field wall, making the short porch in right much more daunting to all but the most powerful left-handed sluggers.
"Being a pitcher's park, that's what helps you the most, that big right-center [alley], and the ball does not carry as much out from center to right," said Rueter. "Being a pitcher's park that way, I'm not going to go and try to change because it's a little warmer and think that I have to do anything differently."
Prior to Sunday's 4-3 victory over the Cardinals, Rueter said he wouldn't feel any different whether he's pitching with the series tied at two games each or the Giants on the verge of a World Series berth with a 3-1 series lead, but he acknowledged it would be a privilege to be the pitcher to send the Giants to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1989.
"It would be exciting to have that opportunity," he said. "You know, [the Cardinals] are a great team and they are not going to just let us go out there and win easily. So, [Sunday], if we happen to win, then I'll probably think about it."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.