Cone goes out in blaze of 19-strikeout glory

October 07, 1991|By Don Bostrom | Don Bostrom,Allentown Morning Call

PHILADELPHIA -- David Cone gave Fan Appreciation Day a new meaning yesterday as he closed the season with a National League record-tying 19-strikeout gem as the New York Mets blitzed the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-0.

Cone (14-14) matched the NL standard shared by Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver with a dazzling performance that was the most ever against a Phillies team.

Cone also set a Veterans Stadium mark and it was the most strikeouts by any pitcher in the majors this season.

"Just to be mentioned with Carlton and Seaver is something special," said Cone. "I wouldn't compare myself to those guys, but to be in the record book with them is a real treat."

Cone, who won the National League strikeout title for the second straight year, tied Roger Clemens for this year's major-league strikeout crown (241), had a chance to equal Clemens' all-time record of 20 strikeouts, but Wes Chamberlain doubled to right with two out in the ninth and Dale Murphy grounded out to short.

"I told everyone I was not going to make the last out," said Chamberlain. "He got me three times. That was enough. I had something to prove."

"I didn't want to go into the books for that," said Murphy. "He had everything going. He was throwing hard. When he's got his fastball and throwing it where he wants it, forget it. He broke my bat on that last swing. Not a bad day for him."

"Dale has always been tough on me," said Cone, who walked just one and scattered three hits during his second shutout of the season. "He's a Hall of Famer. I have a lot of respect for him. I wasn't too happy seeing him come up there for No. 20. I made a good pitch, but he hit it.

"It's kind of tough to get some excitement on the last day of the season, but just to have a chance to get 20 is something I'll never forget," Cone said. "I was aware of the record. Larry Bowa [the Phillies third base coach] mentioned it to me after I had 15 through six innings.

"The guys on our bench were acting like it was a no-hitter," Cone said. "They didn't want to jinx me."

Cone struck out the side in the first, second and fourth and two more in every other frame except the seventh, when he got none. One reason for that was Cone injured his knee slightly sliding home on a bloop double by Keith Miller in the top of the inning.

"I twisted my knee. It stiffened a bit. I don't think I favored it," Cone said. "Maybe I was pressing a bit there trying to get strikeouts. When you do that, it usually doesn't happen."

Facing a typical final-day lineup, Cone struck out rookie shortstop Kim Batiste four times. Chamberlain and Doug Lindsey, making his major-league debut, struck out three times apiece.

"I don't think anyone could be any rougher than he was today," said Batiste. "His slider had a lot of bite. I was impressed."

Cone's previous career-high had been 13 strikeouts.

"I established the strike zone with my fastball and then I got them to chase some sliders," Cone said. "Eighteen of the 19 were swinging. That showed I was getting ahead and being aggressive."

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