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Karsay struggles at bad time

By BRUCE LOWITT, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 4, 2000

In his five most recent appearances, Indians reliever Steve Karsay has given up eight runs on 12 hits in three innings -- a 24.00 ERA.

"Maybe the problem is where we're at in the (pennant/wild card) race," manager Charlie Manuel told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Some of our guys might be getting tight. We do try to keep it as free and easy as we can here. I'm concerned about Steve, but at the same time, he has one of the best arms in the American League. He's got to stay relaxed. He can be more aggressive and pound the strike zone."

Karsay doesn't buy that argument as the cause of his recent ineffectiveness.

"I am approaching these games no differently than I did in games of April or May," he said. "I approach every situation the same way. This is the first uphill climb I have had in a long time, and it is coming at the wrong time. ...

"This is my first full season in the bullpen. To tell you the truth, I don't know how to handle it. Maybe a couple of days off is the answer. I don't know. Right now I am making bad pitches and getting hit. I am making good pitches and getting hit. It's like a hitter who goes through a slump. These are the most important games of the season. I've got to figure out a way to get back on track."

GOING UP: Kenny Lofton's batting average has spiked because of his new attitude and a healthy left shoulder, hitting coach Clarence Jones said.

"Kenny is leaving the bench to hit, not to walk," Jones said. "When he's aggressive, he's a tough out. When he goes up there and takes the first pitch for a strike and then fakes a bunt to make it 0-2, that's a tough way to hit."

Lofton had surgery in December to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder. "The first half of the season, Kenny's shoulder would feel good some days and not so good on others," Jones said. "Now that the warmer weather is here, the shoulder is feeling stronger."

HE ADMITTED HE BLEW IT: Umpire John Shulock told Manuel he made a mistake when he failed to invoke the infield fly rule Friday against Baltimore. The result: a triple play.

"I've known John for a long time," Manuel said. "He's a good guy. He basically apologized. ... It was a weird play, but the good thing is we won the game."

Shulock, working third base, didn't call the infield fly rule on a pop-up to short leftfield by Sandy Alomar with runners on first and second. Orioles shortstop Melvin Mora let the ball fall at his feet, setting up the triple play.

Shulock said he didn't feel Mora could have made the catch "with ordinary effort," a phrase from the baseball rules book that gives the umpire the right to call an infield fly. He also said he didn't think Mora let the ball fall intentionally (Mora said he did).

"Umpires make mistakes," Manuel said. "I make mistakes. Players make mistakes. We're all human. I've never blamed an umpire for winning or losing a game. When a guy tells you he missed a play, what can you say? You've got to respect that guy."

WHERE DOES IT HURT?: Bartolo Colon, 3-0 in his past seven starts, left Saturday's game in the sixth inning, the second time in his past three starts he's left because of an injury. This time it was a sore right shoulder. On Aug. 23 against Oakland, it was a sore left knee.

Chris Nichting, who relieved Colon on Saturday, was the 31st pitcher the Indians have used this season, adding to their major-league record.

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