Baseball: Blue Jays grounded by poor pitching: World Series champions must trade to escape AL divisional dogfight

Click to follow
The Independent Online
CITO GASTON won no points for tact at Baltimore last week. As manager of the American League team which beat the National League 9-3 in the All-Star Game - the main principle of which, to adapt Andy Warhol, is that everybody gets 15 minutes a game - he put backs up by finding playing time for seven of his own Toronto Blue Jays, earning boos in the ninth inning when he sent on Duane Ward, rather than Baltimore's Mike Mussina, to close out the win.

Perhaps Gaston hoped to oil the creaking joints of his World Series champions, to remind them that they are all supposed to be stars. The Jays are engaged in a dogfight at the top of the AL East, with themselves, the Yankees, Baltimore and Detroit separated by a mere half-game.

With the first baseman John Olerud flirting with a .400 batting average and Devon White, Roberto Alomar and Paul Molitor all hitting .300, the problem is not run production - they are up on their 1992 pace.

But the starting pitchers have let the side down badly. Jack Morris, who won World Series rings with Minnesota in 1991 and Toronto in 1992, has suffered the worst slide. The club's first 20-game winner last year, he stands 5-10, with a ballooning 7.41 earned run average this term. 'I'm doing the best I can,' he said after a 7-3 loss at the weekend. 'I still think we're the best team in the division.'

Though the left-hander Pat Hentgen (11-4) has emerged to fill the shoes of Jimmy Key, who went to the Yankees this year, Toronto know they must trade for an extra arm before September. Sparky Anderson, Detroit's manager, fears that Toronto's extra resources will give them an edge. 'They will do exactly what they have to do (by way of a trade) to win it,' he said.

Last year, Toronto hooked David Cone, whose five wins helped take them to the World Series, in late season. This time it may not be so easy, since other teams want young pitching prospects in return. More teams may need to slip out of the pennant races before they are willing to do business on Toronto's terms.

AMERICAN LEAGUE: Boston 7 Seattle 6; Baltimore 7 Minnesota 2; Cleveland 2 California 1; Toronto 4 Kansas City 3; Chicago White Sox 3 Milwaukee 1; New York Yankees 13 Oakland 6; Detroit 2 Texas 0.

NATIONAL LEAGUE: Atlanta 2 Pittsburgh 0; Cincinnati 5 Florida 3; St Louis 7 Houston 6 (11 innings); Chicago Cubs 12 Colorado 2 (7 inn/rain); Los Angeles 2 Montreal 1; Philadelphia 6 San Diego 3; New York Mets 12 San Francisco 6.

----------------------------------------------------------------- MAJOR LEAGUE STANDINGS ----------------------------------------------------------------- AMERICAN LEAGUE ----------------------------------------------------------------- East Division ----------------------------------------------------------------- W L Pct GB Toronto. . . . . . . . . . . . 51 42 .548 - New York Yankees. . . . . . . .51 42 .548 - Baltimore. . . . . . . . . . . 50 42 .543 1/2 Detroit. . . . . . . . . . . . 50 42 .543 1/2 Boston. . . . . . . . . . . . .48 43 .528 2 Cleveland. . . . . . . . . . . 43 49 .467 7 1/2 Milwaukee. . . . . . . . . . . 37 53 .411 12 1/2 ----------------------------------------------------------------- West Division ----------------------------------------------------------------- Chicago White Sox. . . . . . . 49 41 .544 - Kansas City. . . . . . . . . . 46 44 .511 3 Texas. . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 44 .511 3 California. . . . . . . . . . .44 46 .489 5 Seattle. . . . . . . . . . . . 45 47 .489 5 Oakland. . . . . . . . . . . . 39 49 .443 9 Minnesota. . . . . . . . . . . 37 52 .416 11 1/2 ----------------------------------------------------------------- NATIONAL LEAGUE ----------------------------------------------------------------- East Division ----------------------------------------------------------------- W L Pct GB St Louis. . . . . . . . . . . .54 37 .593 3 Montreal. . . . . . . . . . . .49 43 .533 8 1/2 Chicago Cubs. . . . . . . . . .45 45 .500 11 1/2 Pittsburgh. . . . . . . . . . .43 49 .467 14 1/2 Florida. . . . . . . . . . . . 38 53 .418 19 New York Mets. . . . . . . . . 29 62 .319 27 ----------------------------------------------------------------- West Division ----------------------------------------------------------------- San Francisco. . . . . . . . . 61 32 .656 - Atlanta. . . . . . . . . . . . 53 40 .570 8 Los Angeles. . . . . . . . . . 49 42 .538 11 Houston. . . . . . . . . . . . 47 44 .517 13 Cincinnati. . . . . . . . . . .48 46 .501 13 1/2 San Diego. . . . . . . . . . . 36 57 .387 25 Colorado. . . . . . . . . . . .33 58 .363 27 -----------------------------------------------------------------

Comments