Cone not perfect, but he gets job done in Game 2
Posted: Friday October 15, 1999 01:41 AM
Strike it rich: David Cone threw 84 strikes in seven innings and tied his career playoff record with nine K's. AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- Maybe what David Cone needed all along was to be on the 12-day rotation.
Pitching for the first time in nearly two weeks, Cone never gave in Thursday night, escaping jam after jam and pitching seven gritty innings in a 3-2 victory over Boston that gave the New York Yankees 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series which resumes Saturday in Boston.
"I was in trouble all night," Cone said. "They got tough at-bats all night and I had to make big pitches. It seemed like every inning, there were runners on base and you can't afford mistakes."
"David was sensational," manager Joe Torre said. "He got in a groove a lot quicker than I thought he would."
That was important because he was in constant trouble.
Cone left runners stranded in every inning, time after time getting big outs to escape jams like Houdini on the mound.
It was not easy on a cold, brisk night.
"They're hot right now," he said of the Red Sox. "They're a resilient team. Every batter gets quality at-bats and puts pressure on the pitcher."
The extra time off may have provided Cone with the reserve of energy he needed to keep avoiding disaster against the Red Sox. Except for a two-run home run by Nomar Garciaparra, Cone kept Boston at bay.
He walked two batters in the first inning but left them stranded. He gave up a one-out triple to Jason Varitek in the second but got the next two hitters. There were two more hits in the third before he struck out Troy O'Leary to end the threat. In the fourth, Varitek doubled but again Cone escaped by retiring Darren Lewis and Trot Nixon.
Cone surrendered Garciaparra's home run in the fifth but struck out the Boston slugger to end the seventh, leaving another Red Sox runner stranded, and that was the end of his night.
The home run was hardly embarrassing to Cone.
"He is just one great ballplayer," the pitcher said. "I was trying to waste a pitch. I threw a sidearm slider off the plate to get to the next pitch. It was the only slider all night that didn't break. He doesn't miss that."
Cone last pitched on Oct. 2 and the 12-day layoff was more than either the pitcher or manager would have preferred. But it worked out.
"I felt good all night," he said. "The extra rest really helped. It's been that way in the past. I seem to work well with extra rest. I seem to respond to rest very well."
Cone came out after seven innings. He threw 128 pitches, 84 for strikes, and his nine strikeouts tied his career playoff high. He struck out nine in Game 5 of the division series against Seattle Oct. 8, 1995.
He told Torre he felt he could come out for the eighth but the manager decided to turn the game over to the bullpen.
"I was very pleased," Torre said. "He gave us seven strong innings. To maintain his stuff the whole seven innings was great."
Cone had been something of an enigma after pitching a perfect game against Montreal on July 18. He was just 2-5 in 13 starts following the perfecto and winless in eight starts from Aug. 14 to Sept. 25, the longest such stretch in his career. He finished the season a so-so 12-9.
"After the perfect game, I was so grounded about not having a letdown," Cone said. "Maybe I should have allowed myself to absorb and enjoy it."
The Yankees certainly enjoyed his effort in Game 2.
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