Orel Hershiser will start Game 5 of the American League’s championship series tonight on three days’ rest, replacing Dennis Martinez, who has been moved back to Game 6 Tuesday night in Seattle after coming out of Game 1 because of shoulder stiffness that isn’t considered serious.
Hershiser is the first Cleveland pitcher to start on three days’ rest this year. It is also only his second start on short rest since his reconstructive shoulder surgery in 1990.
“I’ll take the ball whenever they give it to me,” he said.
Pitching for the Dodgers in the 1998 National League playoffs against the New York Mets, Hershiser started Games 1, 4 and 7, the last on two days’ rest after relieving in Game 5.
“There seemed to be tremendous urgency in ’88,” he said. “Right now, I don’t feel that same urgency, but maybe that’s a defense mechanism so that my adreneline doesn’t kick in too soon.”
Hershiser beat the Mariners in Game 2 to improve his career record in the postseason to 6-0. Seattle Manager Lou Piniella was asked if his team will try to change its approach tonight?
“We may try to put the game in motion, run more if we get the chance,” Piniella said. “He has the ability to throw breaking balls for strikes in fastball counts, and I don’t think you can pull the ball against him. If I was up there hitting, I might have to take what he gives me [and attempt to hit to the opposite field].”
Hershiser said he likes the extended playoffs because it enhances the regular season by putting more cities into a “contending mode” and adds one more “intense chapter” to the conclusion of a season that he compared to an “unfolding novel.”
He said, however, that deeper teams obviously have an advantage and it “strains managerial decisions” by putting managers and pitchers particularly into more of a “risk-reward area” in which the chance of injury to a tired arm has to be weighed against the stakes.