Cone arrived in Toronto on Friday and seemed happy to be a rent-an-ace. He was certainly glad to escape the moribund Met clubhouse. "It's been like a renewal," he said. "In a matter of 48 hours I feel like I've been turned around."
Wide-eyed and eager to please, Cone sat counting to 10 during a TV sound check. "Want me to do it in French?" he asked. "Un, deux, trois, quatre...."
That night, his counting-en fran�ais or otherwise—was taxed mightily by the numbers Milwaukee put up: 22 runs on 31 hits to tie the 91-year-old modern record for most hits by a team in a nine-inning game. The Brewers' number 8, 9 and 1 batters went a combined 16 for 21. Cone began charting the game but stopped in the fifth. "He probably had to ice his wrist," said Toronto starter Jimmy Key.
Milwaukee righthander Cal Eldred kept trying to convince himself that he was in a 0-0 game. "I know that sounds wild, but that's what they tell us to do," he said afterward. "My teachers always told me I didn't have much imagination. I showed tonight that I do."
Although the Brewers entered the series having lost three straight games in New York, they sent the Jays' ERA from ninth to 12th in the league with Friday's eruption. The Brew Crew, the American League's most larcenous team, then set a club record with those eight steals—a not-so-surprising development, considering that Cone has allowed more stolen bases than any other pitcher in baseball this season.
Cone gave up seven runs in 6? innings on seven hits and seven walks before being lifted. The defeat left him with a 3-4 record and a 5.07 ERA since July 17, when he threw 166 pitches against the San Francisco Giants. Cone, however, dismisses the notion that his arm is weary. "This wasn't what I was looking for, but I'll get better," he said on Saturday. "I started to press when we were having trouble scoring runs."
Cone received a warm reception from the Toronto fans—though those paying homage by wearing Coneheads had to doff them once play started because they obstructed sight lines—and so did Guzman on Sunday. Coming back after missing four starts because of shoulder soreness, Guzman pitched four strong innings before leaving with a 4-1 lead.
Of the three contenders, Toronto has the least difficult schedule down the stretch, followed, in order, by Baltimore and Milwaukee. However, the order of pressure is exactly the reverse. Blue Jay manager Cito Gaston, in particular, seems to be feeling the heat, often taking refuge behind closed doors to avoid reporters' questions. With Cone, though, the Blue Jays like their chances. "One of these days," says Toronto reliever Tom Henke, "we're going to trick some people and win it all."