Belcher’s Hit Upsets Reds More Than His 6-0 Victory
With one swing of the bat in the Dodgers’ 6-0 win Tuesday night, Tim Belcher apparently did more to rattle the Cincinnati Reds than he did with nine innings of four-hit, 10-strikeout pitching in Dodger Stadium.
When the Dodger pitcher followed Alfredo Griffin’s two-run double with a two-run single in the eighth inning, Red reliever Rob Dibble obviously took it personally, because his next pitch went above and behind the head of the next Dodger batter, Willie Randolph.
Granted, the Dodgers had scored more runs in one inning against Dibble than they had in any one of a week’s worth of games. But was that any reason for Dibble to dabble in some human target practice?
Evidently, Dibble thought so, and since he toes the rubber at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Randolph wasn’t inclined to argue the point at the time, though umpire Harry Wendelstedt saw fit to warn the Red pitcher against any further unguided missiles.
Even afterward, Dibble was unrepentant, which might make for an interesting subplot in tonight’s rubber game of this three-game set should Dibble make an encore appearance.
“They’ve been digging in and getting too much of the plate against me and I’m tired of it,” Dibble said.
“All last year they went out and got the outside pitch. Tonight, Griffin hits a good pitch and the pitcher walks up and gets a hit.
“There are things you can do in this game. If they don’t like it they can come out and see me. I figure if Randolph had something to say, he’d have come out and said it. I was waiting for him to come out and say it.”
If those aren’t fighting words, then Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda’s waist size is expanding, not contracting. But Dibble did add a qualifier: Yes, his pitch was not without intention, but no, he wasn’t aiming on leaving any indentations on Randolph.
“I was trying to brush him back and the pitch did get away,” Dibble said. “I don’t throw at people.
“Hard as I throw, if I throw at people I wouldn’t be around long. I’d be killing too many.”
So much for a kindler, gentler national pastime.
“The guy must have lost his mind, throwing at (Randolph’s) head like that,” Lasorda said.
Of course, Lasorda shouldn’t have been one to talk Tuesday. In batting practice before the game, he plunked both Fernando Valenzuela and John Tudor with pitches, which is one more batter than Dibble hit. The Red reliever nailed Mike Marshall to open the eighth inning.
“Yeah, but those weren’t intentional,” Lasorda protested. “Those were curveballs that didn’t break. I said to them, ‘I’m sending you pitchers a message.’ ”
If Dibble thought he was airmailing a message to Randolph, something was probably lost in the translation. Randolph saw no reason to take it very seriously.
“I didn’t think it was a big deal, it was so ridiculous,” said the Dodger second baseman, who reached base four times Tuesday and also snuffed out a Reds’ threat in the ninth with a pretty pickup of a smash by Eric Davis.
“That ball was so far behind me, it was a foolish thing to do. If he was trying to intimidate me, that was silly.”
From the Dodger dugout, which erupted in invective at the Reds’ pitcher, came another adjective.
“Pretty stupid,” Orel Hershiser said. “To have pinpoint control, and then all of a sudden throw one three feet over a guy’s head. That’s not smart.”
At least one Cincinnati player appeared to be in agreement: second baseman Ron Oester, who aired out Dibble in full view of the crowd of 33,619.
“He’s young, he gets hyper out there, too intense,” Oester said of his 25-year-old teammate. “It’s good to be intense, but he has to remember to stay within himself.
” . . . I wouldn’t have said anything if he just brushed him back. But to throw behind him was just ridiculous.”
Belcher, whose flared single to right was what fueled this whole mess, actually gave Dibble the benefit of the doubt.
“He’s just the type of pitcher who has a real intimidating fastball that sometimes gets away from him,” said Belcher, who had the Reds under complete control all night, not walking a batter and allowing only one Red--Chris Sabo, who doubled in the first--to reach second base.
“I’d hate to think that he intentionally did that.”
Belcher may be inclined to take a longer view of things than the average player. He is, after all, a twice-weekly contributor to WMVO, a small AM station in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, near his hometown.
“It’s just a day-in-the-life kind of thing,” said Belcher, who goes on the air with a five-minute show.
“I’m not a journalist. People send in postcards with questions like, ‘Why do pitchers ice after a game?’ or ‘What’s a beat writer?’ That’s truly how light-hearted it is.”
Belcher looked around at the group of reporters who were dividing their time talking with him and with Griffin, who detoured from his season-long slump to stroke three doubles.
“I speak highly of all of you,” he said.
Hot on the farm: Ramon Martinez is 3-0 with an 0.41 earned-run average for Albuquerque after pitching a four-hit shutout Monday against Portland. Martinez has struck out 24 batters in 22 innings, but he has also walked 10. Chris Gwynn, who had such an outstanding exhibition season for the Dodgers, is batting .381 through 11 games for Albuquerque, while Jose Gonzalez is hitting .316 with a team-leading three home runs. Domingo Michel, Pedro Guerrero’s half-brother, is at .361. . . . Kirk Gibson did not start for the third time in 14 games. Mickey Hatcher, batting .118 to begin the night, started in left field. Dave Anderson started at third in place of Jeff Hamilton. Both players were hitting .167.
Pete Rose on whether Fernando Valenzuela can win with the stuff he showed in five scoreless innings Monday: “I don’t know. I think he still gets a lot of guys out on his name. I think last night was one of those deals where he was screwing everyone’s mind up. You keep thinking, ‘I know he’s going to throw harder.’ By the time you realize he isn’t, you’re 0-and-2. He was definitely painting the black. His screwball is still the same. It’s just that his velocity is down, and his velocity sets up the screwball.”