Tudor Throws a Perfect Six at Dodgers, Wins
We will never know, of course, whether the St. Louis Cardinals’ John Tudor would have pitched a no-hitter against the Dodgers Sunday afternoon, though all indications were that he had a better chance than most pitchers ever do.
But this much was indisputable: Both Tudor and Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog believe it foolish to risk the welfare of the team’s best pitcher, a week after coming off the disabled list, even for the lasting achievement of pitching a no-hitter.
So, when Tudor neared his 75-pitch limit after six innings in what was to become a 9-0 win over the Dodgers, and was scheduled to be the leadoff hitter in the top of the seventh, Herzog approached him in the most delicate way the crusty manager can to talk about it.
“I said to him, ‘I’ll let you keep going until you give up a hit, if you want,’ ” Herzog said. “He said, no, that he was starting to tighten up. He was at 68 pitches, so we decided it was best.
“It was a mutual agreement.”
The decision apparently did not disappoint the stoic Tudor, or his Cardinal teammates or Dodger hitters, who no doubt welcomed the pitching change. But it drew an emotional disapproval of many in the crowd of 46,176 at Dodger Stadium, who booed when Tom Pagnozzi was sent up to pinch-hit for Tudor.
Four pitches into Scott Terry’s relief appearance in the bottom of the seventh, Dodger left fielder Kirk Gibson broke the then-shared no-hit bid with a single to left field. But that would be the only hit the Dodgers (13-8) would scrounge up all day, while the Cardinals got 15 off three Dodger pitchers.
“I’m sure John would have liked the opportunity to finish a no-hitter had he been healthy,” Terry said. “But there’s no reason to risk injury. We need John Tudor the whole season, not just to finish off a no-hitter.”
A less pragmatic pitcher than Tudor might have looked back in longing at this opportunity. But Tudor, making only his second start since coming back from assorted maladies that included a sore shoulder, was the voice of reason afterward.
“I knew I wasn’t going nine (innings) before the game,” Tudor said. “But I guess at that point (in the seventh), it was my choice. I could have gone another inning, but I didn’t see the point. I was starting to feel a little stiff.”
A no-hitter would have been a nice diversion Sunday, since Tudor and the Cardinals took control early with a six-run inning against starter Tim Leary and reliever Brian Holton, and never let up. Through six innings, the only Dodger who came close to hitting safely was Steve Sax, who hit a sharp one-hopper to Terry Pendleton in the third inning. Pendleton backhanded the ball and threw out Sax.
The unsightly crackup of Leary began with a balk. Actually, it began with a one-out first-inning walk to Ozzie Smith, a disquieting experience in itself.
But with Smith on first and Willie McGee at bat, first base umpire Bruce Froemming called a balk on Leary for not coming to a complete and discernible stop. McGee hit a slow grounder to second for what probably would have been the second out. But the pitch was voided and Smith awarded second.
McGee, who had four hits Sunday, then reached base on a drag bunt on which both first baseman Mike Marshall and a rattled Leary broke late.
That is when Leary unraveled. He gave up a run-scoring single to Bob Horner, a walk to Pendleton, a run-scoring single to Tom Brunansky, a run-scoring grounder to Tony Pena and then yet another run-scoring single to light-hitting Luis Alicea. But when Leary walked Tudor, a career .170 hitter, on five pitches and then went 2-and-1 to Vince Coleman, Manager Tom Lasorda gave him the hook.
Holton gave up a two-run bloop single to Coleman before getting Smith to ground out for the long-sought third out.
“That balk changed the whole complexion of the game,” Lasorda said. “But if (Leary) lets it bother him, it’s his fault. He has to forget those things and worry about the next hitter.”
Added pitching coach Ron Perranoski: “He definitely stopped. He didn’t balk. After that, he lost concentration. Hell, he even walked the pitcher. (The balk) is doing that to a lot of pitchers.”
Froemming, one of the National League’s most respected umpires, said that he called the balk because he saw that Leary did not stop before beginning his delivery.
“But I reviewed the tape (afterward) and it showed that he did come to a stop,” Froemming said. “So, that’s the end of it.”
Leary’s earned-run average rose from 2.52 to 4.56 as he yeilded 6 runs, 4 hits and 3 walks in two-thirds of an inning. Holton allowed 1 run and 6 hits in 5 innings. Brad Havens gave up the other two runs, and his ERA climbed to 5.41.
Meanwhile, Tudor has an ERA of 0.00. After being activated on April 25, Tudor made his first start the next night and pitched six shutout innings, allowing four hits. Herzog had Tudor on a 65-pitch limit that night.
“He’s an amazing pitcher,” Herzog said of Tudor. “I’m surprised he’s pitched (so well), because he hasn’t pitched much at all. Up until Tuesday night in San Diego, he had thrown only 5 innings, and that’s with an extended spring training.
“He knows what he can do. If he overdoes it, he might come up lame. We just didn’t want to force it anymore.”
Jesse Orosco, the Dodgers’ left-handed short reliever, pitched the ninth inning Sunday simply to get in work. It was the third straight time in a week Manager Tom Lasorda has had Orosco pitch in so-called mop-up situations. He has not allowed a hit in three innings. . . . Brian Holton on replacing Tim Leary so early in Sunday’s game: “I hardly even had a chance to sit down in the bullpen. It really felt like a start to me. But that’s my role, to fill in anywhere. I’m sure there will be games when our offense will come back and score runs and make it a game in that situation.” . . . Pitching Coach Ron Perranoski said he might give Leary a few innings’ work, if the situation arises, because he pitched only two-thirds on an inning. . . . The Dodgers didn’t do much hitting Sunday, but Kirk Gibson did on the basepaths in the seventh inning. Showing aggressiveness that drew praise from Lasorda, Gibson took out St. Louis second baseman Luis Alicea at second base on a potential double-play ball. Gibson slid into second, then popped up and blocked Alicea, whose throw to first was too late to catch Pedro Guerrero. . . . Assistant trainer Charlie Strasser said center fielder John Shelby, on the disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle, might take part in live hitting soon. Shelby is eligible to come off the disabled list Wednesday.
Sunday’s attendance: 46,176
1987 attendance (12 dates): 496,866
1988 attendance (12 dates): 456,285
1988 average per date: 38,024