Cone makes stunning return Back from aneurysm, throws 7 no-hit innings

September 03, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

OAKLAND, Calif. -- David Cone turned his already impressive comeback story into an amazing tale yesterday when he pitched seven no-hit innings against the Oakland Athletics, less than four months after surgery to remove an aneurysm under his right armpit.

The New York Yankees pitcher, who was making his first major-league start since May 2, was removed from the game after throwing 85 pitches. The Yankees had announced that he would be limited to 100 pitches, but manager Joe Torre decided it was not worth taking risks with his top starter.

"I could not let the no-hitter cloud what we set out to do," said Torre, whose team won a 5-0 one-hitter. "If I leave him in and he throws 105 or 106 pitches and wakes up with a sore arm tomorrow, I'd never forgive myself for that."

Cone said: "When you go through what I've gone through, you realize your mortality. There's only so much tread left on the tire. I appreciate them taking me out. Getting to the World Series is more important."

Mariano Rivera took over for Cone in the eighth inning and gave up the only hit, an infield single with one out in the ninth.

It was a stunningly sweet day for the Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, who had wondered whether his 11-year career was over, and for the Yankees, who had not expected him to make it back to the mound this year.

After having surgery on May 10 to remove the aneurysm and replace the affected section of artery with a 1-inch vein graft, Cone did not throw a baseball again until June 26. After a month of conditioning, he made two starts in August in Double-A.

Of his 85 pitches yesterday, Cone threw 54 for strikes, registering six strikeouts and three walks and improved his record for the season to 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA.

"It didn't look like he missed a beat at all," said Scott Brosius, who popped out twice against Cone. "He had movement on the fastball, a good slider. He looked like the Cone of old."

The Athletics came close to registering hits in their final two at-bats against Cone. With one out in the seventh, Mark McGwire smashed a sharp ground ball to third base that Charlie Hayes took three steps to his left to snare, tumbling to the dirt as he fielded it and recovering in time to get the runner at first.

The next batter, Geronimo Berroa, crushed an 0-2 pitch to center that Bernie Williams caught over the fence.

Rivera lost the no-hit bid when Carlos Herrera slapped a grounder past a diving Hayes at third base. Shortstop Derek Jeter fielded the ball, but his strong, accurate throw from deep in the hole barely missed getting Herrera, who slid headfirst.

Pub Date: 9/03/96

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