1996 NEWS

1996 News > Pitch And Tell

PITCH AND TELL

By Bill Zack, Fan Magazine

On a crisp autumn evening at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium Tom Glavine stood in the center of a diamond as 50,000 voices swelled in sweet anticipation of a World Series championship.

It's October28, 1995, and the Atlanta Braves lefthander is about to deliver the first pitch of Game 6 against the Cleveland Indians. For the first time since he was named the Series MVP, Glavine recently watched a videotape of the game. Seated in manager Bobby Cox's office at spring training headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., he shared his thoughts and strategy as he pitched the biggest game of his career.

Glavine remembers standing on the mound, reminding himself to relax, reminding himself to treat it like any other game...

FIRST INNING:

All I wanted to do in the first inning was get as comfortable as I could, hopefully get through the inning without any problems and get us back to the dugout as quick as possible.

I started Kenny Lofton with a fastball away. then got a slider up to him. It was up a little bit more than I liked, but he got under it and hit a fly to David (Justice).

I tried to keep the ball away from Omar vizquel. Fastballs and changeups away. The first inning I'm primarily trying to establish away, particularly with my fastball and changeup. If I can get through the inning without coming in on somebody or throwing a changeup. I'll try and do it, but right there I'm just trying to establish the outside part of the plate.

I used a fastball and three changeups to vizquel and struck him out. Carlos Baerga was next, and now I've got two outs and nobody on, a chance for a quick inning. I want to get him. I tell myself not to lose my concentration, don't relax because you've got two outs. Get this guy out and have Albert Belle leading off the next inning, not hitting with someone on base.

I throw two fastballs to Baerga, one away and one down and in, and both are called balls. Then I throw a changeup and it's a strike, though it's probably a little off the plate. Then I throw another changeup for a strike. Sometimes I'll throw three or four or five changeups in a row. If I have a night where I have good location with my changeup, I'll throw it a bunch of times in a row. I throw a fastball in to Baerga and he hits one back to me to end the inning. The inning pretty much reassured me that I have better stuff and better location than I had in Game 2, and probably better-than-average on both.

SECOND INNING:

I want to keep the ball away from Belle. If he's going to beat me, he's got to beat me away. If he's got the strength to hit the ball out of park the other way like he did in Cleveland, then that's what he's going to have to do. I started him with a changeup away, then threw a fastball away. Two more fastballs away and I walk him on four pitches. I don't like walking anybody and certainly not to lead off an inning, but I'd rather walk this guy than throw a strike and have him hit a double or a home run.

The big thing I'm thinking about with Eddie Murray is don't do what you did the last time you were in this situation with him. Don't get so concerned about Albert Belle that you throw a pitch right down the middle and he hits a home run.

My first pitch to Murray was a fastball down and away. The second pitch was a changeup. Belle tried to steal and Javy (Lopez) threw him out. I threw two fastballs to Murray on the outer half, then struck him out on a fasthall on the inside corner It's a good pitch because I know he's looking away and the only thing I want to think about right there is if l miss, miss in off the plate where he's not going to hurt me. That pitch probably caught a quarter of the plate, but because he's looking away so much, he thinks that pitch is in on his hands.

I try to keep the ball down against Manny Ramirez, push him off the plate in. I thinkhis power is fastball middle in, so obviously I'm going to try and get him out away.

Being a young hitter like he is, I want him to know I'll come in there on him to keep him honest. He's a guy you don't want to go inside too much against because you're playing into his game. I throw three fastballs to him, then four changeups in a row. He strikes out on the last one and right then I knew I had a great changeup.

THIRD INNING:

I start Jim Thome off with a fastball for a strike, then throw a curve for another strike. Looking back, this is probably the best I pitched a lefty all year long. I know this guy has got some power and I'm just trying to keep the ball down and away and make him beat me the other way. I throw him a slider away for a ball, then a changeup on the outside corner for strike three.

I've got one out and Tony Pena at the plate. Here's a guy who's probably not the biggest threat in their lineup, but a guy who can take you deep. I'm thinking, don't get careless.

I throw two changeups. the first one a terrible one up and away, then he hits the second one back to me. Ifyou throw a guy a bad changeup, the best pitch to come back with is another changeup. My thinking is, I just threw this guy a terrible changeup, he got a good look at it, and if l come back with another one, I'm going to throw it better than that last one, so it's going to be hard for him to make that adjustment.

I start Dennis Martinez off with a fastball for a strike, then throw him a changeup. I'll throw anybody a changeup. Why not It's my best pitch. I throw him another then throw a fastball in and he swings and misses for strike three.

FOURTH INNING:

I know the second time around the lineup I may need to come in on some guys a little bit more, maybe mix in some first pitch sliders or curveballs to try and get ahead in the count, rather than using a fastball or changeup. But I'm not going to change a lot.

Lofton is at the plate again and the only thing I'm thinking is, don't get so defensive that you walk him. Be aggressive and go after him. I throw him a fastball for a strike, then a slider away He tries to bunt a changeup and misses. Another changeup and he's way out in front of it and hits a grounder to Freddie (McGriff). I start off vizquel with a fastball for a strike, then he fouls off another changeup. I want to put him away. I've got him 0-and-2, right where I want him, and I don't want to fool around with him. I throw a slider inside, then a changeup outside. He fouled off another changeup, then I struck him out with a slider I stay away from Baerga and throw three straight fastballs outside. Another fastball is called a strike, then I throw a high changeup and he pops the ball up to Marquis (Grissom). The pitch was up a little bit, not where I usually throw a change- up, but if you hang 'em high enough they're hard to hit too.

FIFTH INNING:

I want to stay away from Belle. I start him off with a changeup that he fouls off, then I get away with a fastball. I wanted to get it in, but I left it over the middle of the plate. He missed it and fouled it off. That's probably a direct result of all the changeups he's seen. He hadn't seen my good fastball yet.

I throw another changeup away, then a slider down and in. He fouls off another changeup, then I throw a fastball. I wanted to make sure I got it inside to him, but I threw it a little too hard. It's up and away. He fouls off a changeup, then I wanted a fastball in and I threw it away.

I'll be upset if I walk Belle after being ahead 0-and-2, but again, if it's a choice between a walk or laying it over the plate, I'll walk him. And that's what I do. I throw another changeup and he takes it low.

Murray is usually looking for a first-pitch fastball, something he can drive. I think he's usually a little bit more aggressive when he's got guys on base, so you try and play that to your advantage. I start him off with a changeup and he pops it up to Javy (Lopez).

My first two pitches to Ramirez, a fastball and a changeup, are away. I'm thinking I don't want to give in to him. This is probably a good hit-and-run count, a count where he's looking for a fastball, so he's probably going to be aggressive.

It's a good time for a good changeup. I'm thinking, just try and throw him a strike on the outer half of the plate and try and get a ground ball. He fouls off a changeup, then tries to pull another changeup and hits a grounder to Raffy (Belliard).

I start Thome off with a slider away, then he swings and misses a changeup. I generally don't have as much movement against a lefty with my changeup as I do to a righty so I really have to rely on location. It's harder for me to get the ball to sink on that side of the plate because I don't have my natural mechanics over there.

I throw a fastball and it's called a strike, then I miss with two sliders. Next, I throw one of my better changeups and Thome swings and misses for strike three.

Every inning when I come off the field people are getting louder and louder. When I walked off this time, they were real loud. When you hear it growing inning after inning, you know there's something different that they're paying attention to. That's why I started thinking about the no-hitter, though I didn't think about it very long.

SIXTH INNING:

I start Pena off with a fastball up and away then another fastball for a strike. I go with a changeup next and he's out in front of it, but hits it into center for a single. I tell myself to forget about it, don't be so concerned about losing a no-hitter. Be more concerned that you have the leadoff guy on.

I'm trying to get a ball up to (pitcher Jim) Poole and get him to either miss it or pop it up. He does just what I want him to do. He pops up a pitch to Freddie (McGriff) for the first out.

I try and stay away from Lofton, get him to beat me with my pitches. I'll see if l can get lucky and get him to hit it right at somebody and maybe turn a double play He rolls over a nice changeup and hits it back to me. We almost turned a double play but Lofton is too fast and he beat the throw.

I'm not going to be overly concerned about Lofton stealing second, because I think I can get Vizquel. I'm going to do what I can to keep Lofton close, but ultimately I think I can get Vizquel. so if he steals second I'm not worried about it.

A fastball off the plate is called a strike. Then, I throw over to first and pick off Lofton, but he steals second anyway I'm a little hacked off that I guessed right and had him picked off and still didn't get him, but that shows you what kind of speed he's got.

Now I'm in a situation where I can probably worry even less about Lofton and concentrate more on the hitter. Vizquel fouls off a changeup, then I throw a slider inside. Javy (Lopez) comes out to the mound to make sure we know what pitch we want to throw. Maybe he thinks Lolton is giving signs out there, so he's telling me that no matter what sign he gives, this is what we're going to throw.

Vizquel fouls off a changeup, then I throw another one and he hits a foul popup to Fred (McGriff) for the third out.

SEVENTH INNING:

I've got a 1-0 lead, I want to try and get ahead of Baerga, keep attacking them and get us back to the dugout as quick as I can. These guys have seen a lot of changeups, so I start him with two fastballs.

I throw another fastball inside and he fouls it off and breaks his bat. It's always fun seeing a guy shatter his bat. Next, I throw a changeup away then come back with a slider in on his hands and he hits a soft liner to Chipper (Jones).

It's a little bit different facing Belle, because now I'm trying to protect a lead and make the one run stand up. I start him off with a fasthall for a strike, then throw a changeup and he misses it by a foot. My third pitch is another change and he swings and misses. Those are the same pitches I threw him earlier in the game and he was a little bit more patient with them, but now they're down 1-0 and he's probably thinking, "I want to make something happen right here," so he's a little bit more aggressive and he chases them.

I walk Murray on four pitches. It's one of those concentration lapses that I try and fight the whole game. I got two quick outs and I had a chance for a nice easy inning and I make the mistake of thinking the inning is over and lost my concentration. I throw a fastball away to Ramirez, then a fastball that's off the corner is called a strike. (Home plate umpire Joe) Brinkman is calling a great game. Ramirez swings at a slider that's down and hits a fly to Marquis.

EIGHTH INNING: The seventh inning was another one of our long. long innings and I sat on the bench for a good 20 minutes. You can do that two or three times a game, but when you start doing it four or five times, it starts to take a toll. That's what happened. I'm not as loose when I'm warming up and my pitches don't seem to have as much life on them, particularly my fastball. When you start losing your stuff, you start becoming more location conscious.

Thome is the first hitter and I hang a slider to him. If he hits the ball to any other part of the park except left-center. it's a home run. The pitch didn't have anywhere near the life on it that my other sliders have had. but I got away with the mistake.

It's a good thing I'm facing the lower part of the lineup. I throw a high changeup to Pena, then another change is down and away I try and throw a fastball away and I cut it over the middle of the plate. My location is brutal. I'm getting away with some mistakes. Another hanging changeup and Pena fouled it off. I throw a fastball and I try to go in with it. but I got it middle-in, instead of in where I wanted it. Fortunately, Pena hits a fly to David.

Rueben Amaro is pinch hitting and I start him with a changeup that's outside. I throw another changeup, probably the one good pitch I threw the whole inning, and he rolled it to Fred (McGriff.) I come off the mound and I know Bobby (Cox) and Leo (Mazzone) are going to ask me how I feel. I've got to be honest with them. As much as I'd love to be out there for the ninth inning. I know I'm not loose anymore and I know I got away with making a bunch of mistakes that inning.

NINTH INNING:

My biggest emotion as I sat on the bench and watched Mark Wohlers start the ninth was, God, we've got to win this thing because I don't want to subject everybody to all the second-guessing that's going to happen if we don't.

I had huge butterflies. It's worse for me sitting there watching, than it is being out there pitching. When you don't have any control over what's going on, it's hard to sit and watch.

I'm thinking that if Mark gets Lofton out, we'll win the game. Sure enough. Lofton hit a foul fly ball down the left field line that Raffy makes a heck ofa play on. That's a play that I don't know if anybody else makes.

Paul Sorrento pinch hits and flies to Marquis. Baerga is next and I'm thinking, please Mark, don't make a mistake to him. With Belle on deck, you just don't want to see here.

Baerga hits another fly to Marquis and it's all over. we're world champion As quickly as it happened. I sat there for a second with a lot of things going through my head. You know how people who have near-death experiences say they have their life flash before their eyes? Well, a similar thing happened. I sat there for just a moment, but it seemed like an eternity thinking about losing 100 games losing two World Series, different things that happened during the course of the year and the bitterness that we had experienced before in losing, and now we're the guys out there jumping around.

The thing that probably made it so much fun was that a lot of those guys who were out there were the same guys who were around when we lost. What a great experience it is, what a perfect situation it is that we all went through the disappointments together and now we're getting to experience the ultimate high together.