"I felt like Jack did," Smoltz says. "I was going to go as long as it took—10, 11 innings. I'm amazed Kelly was able to leave Morris in, but that's what I grew up watching."
Reliever Mike Stanton intentionally walked Puckett to load the bases. Then Knoblauch made an even worse baserunning gaffe than Smith's. He took off from second on Hrbek's soft liner to second baseman Mark Lemke and was doubled off. Inning over.
Morris had reached the big leagues in 1977, a time when no one paid much attention to pitch counts or rotator cuffs or knew what a closer was. He was 22 years old when he made his first major league start. He walked the first four batters he faced. Manager Ralph Houk left him in for nine innings. He struck out 12; heaven knows how many pitches he threw. His arm hurt like hell for the next year and a half. Houk's successor, Anderson, reinforced the tenet that Morris should not look to the bullpen for help.
"During the '82 season Sparky left me out there to rot because he was teaching me something," Morris says. "He believed in me, believed I had the best stuff on the team. He knew I was strong, knew I was durable and knew I could handle it mentally. Once I got what he was doing, I wasn't going to let him take the ball from me ever again. I always looked at it this way: If the relievers came into the game, I screwed up. It wasn't, Jack, you did a good job for seven. Bull crap."
One day Morris was losing 5-4 in the fifth inning when he noticed "our 20th pitcher warming up." He saw Anderson leave the dugout for the mound, his second visit of the inning, which required Morris's removal once Anderson had crossed the third base line. Morris walked toward Anderson and grabbed him before he reached that line. "Get the hell out of here," he yelled, "because what you've got warming up is no better than what I've got right now."
Says Morris, "He looked at me like, You're nuts, but he turned around. I got out of the jam, and we won the game."
"We had more fights and arguments than the world would allow," Anderson says. "But I don't have more respect for anybody. This man was quality, the best pitcher I ever had in 26 years."
Morris breezed through the ninth inning, getting three outs on eight pitches. He had thrown 118 pitches in the game. His innings odometer for the year read 282. Kelly thanked him in the dugout, told him "Great job, that's all we can expect from you," and walked away...even though no one was throwing in the bullpen.
"I'm fine," Morris said. "I'm fine."
Morris and Kelly had not always seen eye to eye. "I think when I came to Minnesota he didn't know how to handle me," Morris says. "It was all kind of trial and error for the first few months. One time I remember I got so pissed off at him that I wanted to go kill him."