Dave Stieb came oh so close. Again.
The Toronto right-hander pitched probably the best back-to-back games since Johnny Vander Meer threw consecutive no-hitters for the Cincinnati Reds in 1938. All Stieb had to show for his efforts was a pair of one-hitters.
A bad-hop single and a bloop single, each coming with two out in the ninth inning, deprived Stieb (16-8) of baseball immortality.
Last Saturday at Cleveland, with two out in the ninth, Julio Franco hit a ground ball that apparently hit something and bounced over the glove of second baseman Manny Lee for a hit.
Stieb had retired 26 Baltimore batters at Toronto Friday night when Jim Traber, batting only .216, blooped a single to right. Stieb, who walked two batters in each near-miss, retired the next batter, and the Blue Jays won, 4-0.
Before the first one-hitter, Stieb pitched a 4-hitter against Cleveland. The hot finish took away some of the disappointment of a season in which Stieb battled injury and problems with management.
Stieb laughed off the first near-miss, but this time it hurt too much.
“It’s a heartbreaker,” said Stieb, his face flushed. “It’s hard to put into words. I’m just wrecked. You get through it all, the ball hits the bat, and you wait. Then it doesn’t happen. It was a good pitch. I don’t know how he hit it.”
First baseman Fred McGriff made a valiant effort to catch the looper, but it cleared his glove by about 3 feet.
“I was back on the grass,” he said, “but as I gave chase I had that sinking feeling. If it had just stayed up a little, I could have reached it.”
Traber admitted he didn’t hit the ball very well. “He threw me some good pitches,” he said. “I didn’t hit it well, but what counts is that it dropped.”
There has never been a no-hitter thrown by a Blue Jay pitcher.
This was the eighth time this season that a pitcher lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning.
New York 4, St. Louis 2--David Cone established some weeks ago that he was the best pitcher on the Mets.
Although a misplayed drive by right fielder Darryl Strawberry prevented the young right-hander from winning the ERA title in the National League, he did become the Mets’ only 20-game winner.
Cone, who has lost only 3 games, had a 3-0 lead going into the sixth inning at New York. Tom Brunansky singled and John Morris hit a drive to right that Strawberry misjudged and it went for a double. Jose Oquendo singled in one run and the other run scored on a fielder’s choice.
So, Cone finished with an ERA of 2.22. The winner was Joe Magrane of the Cardinals. Although he has a 5-9 record, Magrane has an ERA of 2.18.
San Diego 5, Houston 1--The Padres continued their drive to overtake the Astros for fourth place in the NL West. Carmelo Martinez had 3 hits and drove in 3 runs at Houston and the Padres moved to within a half-game of fourth.