McDonald-Cone duel could be classic

June 07, 1994|By Lori Van Lonkhuyzen | Lori Van Lonkhuyzen,Sun Staff Writer

Fans at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium tonight may be witnesses to one of the best pitching duels the American League has to offer.

The Royals deliver their ace, David Cone (8-2, 2.64 ERA), while the Orioles send out a rested Ben McDonald (8-3, 3.89 ERA).

Cone is among the top five in virtually every pitching category in the American League.

His ERA is fourth in the league. Opponents are batting a dismal .194 against him -- second-lowest in the AL. He's pitched four complete games, which also ties him for second, and has three shutouts to his credit, tied for tops in the league.

McDonald offers up equally impressive stats to Cone's and is returning after missing his last start.

Against Chicago, May 28, McDonald left in the third inning after aggravating a strained right groin muscle he first suffered May 23 in Milwaukee. He missed his next start, last Thursday, breaking an 80-game streak.

Several Orioles have had success against Cone, most notably designated hitter Harold Baines. Baines is 7-for-8 for an .875 average with two home runs and four RBIs. Lonnie Smith also has been a riddle for Cone, batting .353 on 6-for-17 hitting and two home runs.

Royals backup catcher Brent Mayne (6-for-13), center fielder Brian McRae (7-for-21, .333), and outfielder/designated hitter Dave Henderson (8-for-27, .296) have had the best showings vs. McDonald.

McDonald and Cone last met April 6, in the second game of the season. McDonald came away a 4-2 winner, giving up two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Cone had a rougher outing, giving up three of the Orioles' runs in five innings. He walked four and gave up back-to-back home runs to Rafael Palmeiro and Baines as the Orioles swept the two-game series.

Cone has been near-perfect since then, losing only once in two months.

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