HIT, THROW AND RUN : Guerrero Throws Bat at Pitcher; Dodgers Lose, 5-2
During the ultimate Lost Weekend at Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers first lost shortstop Alfredo Griffin Saturday night with a broken hand. Then, in an incident not entirely unrelated on Sunday, they lost Pedro Guerrero, who was ejected for throwing the bat at New York Met pitcher David Cone after being hit by a pitch.
Innings later, after the squalor on the field had subsided and order was restored, the Dodgers lost their third straight game to the New York Mets, 5-2, before 44,826 fans at Dodger Stadium.
Speaking of lost causes, Dodger pitcher Fernando Valenzuela completely lost his control and confidence, lasting only 1 innings in Sunday’s loss, but that development was dwarfed in importance by the near bench-clearing brawl resulting from the Guerrero-Cone affair.
As if the loss of Griffin and Valenzuela’s chronic pitching problems weren’t enough to endure in one weekend, there is a good chance that the Dodgers might lose Guerrero for longer than just the 3 innings he missed after being thrown out.
Home plate umpire John Kibler said, as is standard procedure when a player is ejected, he will file a report and it to National League President Bart Giamatti. Speculation on a possible suspension for Guerrero ranged from two days to two weeks. “Mr. Giamatti will see what happened and do what he has to do,” Kibler said. “I’m sure there will be something. (But) I have no idea what he’ll do to him.”
Cone, who later said he still was shocked by Guerrero’s actions, thinks a suspension is necessary.
“For him to throw a bat like that is totally uncalled for,” Cone said. “He missed me, but still. . . . I guess it was no harm, no foul.”
The Dodgers, losers of 5 of their last 6 games and trailing Houston by 1 1/2 games in the National League West, reached a nadir in performance and decorum on a hazy afternoon.
The bat-throwing incident happened with one out in the sixth inning and the Mets comfortably leading, 5-0, after scoring 3 runs in the first inning and 2 in the second off Valenzuela.
Guerrero, who had been upset Saturday night when Dwight Gooden hit Griffin with a fastball, had to avoid a high, inside fastball from Cone on the first pitch. One pitch later, Cone threw a slow curve that appeared to hit Guerrero on the helmet. Cone said the pitch hit Guerrero on the shoulder.
Enraged, Guerrero threw his bat at Cone coming off the mound. The bat sailed wide left, but Guerrero then angrily charged Cone. Before the benches emptied and players from both the Dodgers and Mets restrained Guerrero, Cone yelled to Guerrero, “It was a curve; it was a curve,” in hopes that would tame him.
After a 5-minute delay, Kibler had ejected Guerrero and warned Met Manager Davey Johnson to tell his pitchers not to throw at hitters.
But Kibler agreed with Cone’s contention that he did not intentionally try to throw at Guerrero, either with the first inside fastball or the curveball that hit him.
“It wasn’t much,” Kibler said. “They were throwing him inside all day.”
Guerrero left the clubhouse without talking to reporters. But it is known that he was extremely upset after Gooden’s wild fastball hit Griffin and fractured a bone in Griffin’s right hand on Saturday night.
That incident in the fifth inning of Saturday night’s game was followed the next inning when Dodger pitcher Brian Holton hit Howard Johnson in the right leg with a pitch, drawing a warning from the umpiring crew.
“Anyone here (Saturday) night would have recognized what the facts are,” said Fred Claire, the Dodgers’ executive vice president. “There should have been a warning after (Cone’s) first pitch.”
Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said he felt Cone hitting Guerrero on Sunday was in retaliation for Holton’s beaning of Johnson. Cone denied the charge.
Lasorda said he felt Cone should have been ejected along with Guerrero.
“To me, the inconsistency (of the umpires) is what I don’t understand,” Lasorda said. “(Kibler) said (Cone) wasn’t throwing at him. So, I said, ‘What made you think last night that Holton was throwing at Johnson?’ He said that (the Holton incident) happened right after Gooden hit Griffin.”
Said Cone: “I was in disbelief. I was in shock. I could not believe he would come after me after that. I threw a curve he had to duck into. He could have gotten out of the way.
“If I’m going to hit somebody, it’ll be a 90 mile-per-hour fastball. That first pitch wasn’t even close (to hitting Guerrero), and he was standing over the plate. It’s my job to pitch him inside.”
Guerrero, whose bravado has been likened to a matador, was charging like an enraged bull at Cone, who did a steady retreat before reinforcements could intervene. One Dodger restraining Guerrero was Kirk Gibson, who had struck out moments before.
“I wanted to make sure (Guerrero) didn’t do anything stupid and get suspended, if he isn’t already,” Gibson said.
The loss of Guerrero for any length of time would be a big loss to the Dodgers, who already have lost Griffin, their best defensive player and fifth-leading RBI producer.
Guerrero is hitting .326 and is tied with Mike Marshall for the club’s RBI lead with 26. Before his sixth-inning ejection, Guerrero had gone 0 for 2 against Cone. But he wasn’t alone. At that point, the Dodgers had only two hits and only one scoring chance to speak of against the Met pitcher, who is now 6-0.
After Jeff Hamilton ran for Guerrero, John Shelby doubled to center field, moving Hamilton to third. Hamilton scored and Shelby went to third on Cone’s wild pitch. Shelby scored the Dodgers’ second run on Franklin Stubb’s sacrifice fly to deep right.
But the Dodgers (22-17) would never get any closer than 5-2. The offense had a 15-inning scoreless streak before the sixth and have totaled just 4 runs in the Met series.
A far greater concern than the Dodgers’ offense, which fades in and out like poor radio reception, is the steady decline of Valenzuela, now 3-5 with a 3.94 earned-run average.
Sunday’s outing was the worst, in terms of length and performance, in his eight seasons in the major leagues. His earliest departure before this was 2 innings in 1983 against Houston. He gave up six runs in that outing.
This time, though, Lasorda wouldn’t even let Valenzuela make it out of the second inning.
After Keith Hernandez knocked in Mookie Wilson for the game’s first run, Darryl Strawberry launched a home run to deep center for a 3-0 Met lead. When the inning finally ended three batters later, Valenzuela was booed leaving the field.
In the second inning, Hernandez and Strawberry each produced run-scoring singles, giving the Mets a 5-0 lead. Lasorda had seen enough and called on his bullpen, which shut out the Mets over the final 7 innings.
“I didn’t want him to pitch anymore,” Lasorda said. “When he doesn’t have his stuff, what’s the sense in letting him go on.”
Pitching coach Ron Perranoski had detected a flaw in Valenzuela’s delivery while viewing videotapes with Valenzuela between starts. Valenzuela had kept his right leg straight while planting, affecting his follow-through.
The Dodgers were hoping that correction would make a difference. But with every poor outing, new theories emerge about Valenzuela’s struggles. Some have wondered whether Valenzuela should wear his glasses while pitching as well as hitting, and Valenzuela will not say to what extent the recent news of his father’s serious illness has affected his pitching.
A lingering question from last season is the condition of Valenzuela’s arm.
“Am I satisfied he’s healthy?” Lasorda said, repeating a reporter’s question. “You’ll have to ask him.”
Valenzuela had left the clubhouse before reporters entered and was unavailable for comment.
So, the Dodgers will slink off to Philadelphia today to begin a nine-game trip without Griffin, possibly without the services of Guerrero for an undetermined length and with their erstwhile ace pitcher having lost his dominance.
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