Tudor's record on June 3 was 1-7. Since then he has gone 16-1, throwing eight shutouts and lowering his ERA from 3.73 to 1.87. A native New Engender (from Peabody, Mass.), he's what you might call aggressively reticent. He had a 52-50 career record (mostly with the Red Sox) before his phenomenal surge, which has helped him keep success in perspective. "This is a Cinderella year," Tudor says. He teases hitters with breaking balls, changeups and un-overpowering fastballs that never arrive quite when and where the hitter expects them. "You can't even guess with him," says the Mets' Gary Carter.
Tudor doesn't allow a hit until the sixth—a single by Santana, whom Tudor promptly picks off. Altogether, Tudor gives up just three hits in 10 innings, faces two batters over the minimum and never allows a Mets runner to reach second. "We were overmatched tonight," says Strawberry after striking out on a high fastball to end the 10-inning, 1-0 Mets loss. "He had our number."
Gooden matched Tudor zero for zero, striking out seven through nine scoreless innings before being lifted for a pinch hitter. He gave up five hits and three walks—all the free passes coming in the eighth inning when, with the bases full, he got Tom Herr to foul out. It marked the second straight outing in which Gooden pitched nine shutout innings but came away empty. "He has given up two runs in his last 24 innings and is 0-1," said Mets manager Dave Johnson. "It's tough." But Tudor hasn't given up a run in 28 innings. Asked why he didn't leave Gooden in, Johnson pointed to the 136 pitches the kid had thrown. "At this stage of his career, when he's thrown 130-140 pitches he's coming out. I don't care if it's the last game of the season. He'll be winning games here long after I'm gone, and I'm not taking any chances." Then Johnson grinned. "Well, maybe if it's the last day of the year."
Gooden's replacement, Jesse Orosco, gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, pinch hitter Cesar Cedeno, who had struck out in his five previous appearances against the Mets' lefty. In 10 games since coming to the Cards from Cincinnati on Aug. 29, Cedeno has hit .438 with three homers and seven RBIs. "I've got new blood running down my veins," Cedeno says by way of explanation.
Ozzie Smith, the Cards' slick-fielding shortstop, put the night in perspective. "When you try to tell people about pitching and the way baseball should be played, just put on a tape of this game and say, 'Hey, fellas, this is it.' "
THURSDAY, SEPT. 12 1:35 P.M.—QUEENS
This is the day the baseball junkies have been waiting for—Mets-Cards at 1:35, Yanks-Jays at 8 p.m.—and it has arrived in a bright blue bottle with a crispness that foretells the coming fall.
The Cardinals start the day badly by losing the 1 p.m. coin flip for home-field advantage in the event the regular season ends as it now stands—dead even. The playoff would be held Monday, Oct. 7 at Shea. Before long, things get worse. In the first inning the Mets shell Joaquin Andujar (20-9), once Herzog's stopper, as Strawberry, Danny Heep and HoJo Johnson all tee off for two-out, wall-bending, RBI doubles. Rightfielder Andy Van Slyke looks like he's playing a game of handball.
Down 6-0 after two innings, the Cards battle back against Mets starter Ed Lynch, picking up three in the third and two more in the fourth. Meanwhile three Cardinal relievers hold the Mets in check; so the game is 6-5 with one out in the ninth when Willie McGee ties it with a towering 400-foot shot off Orosco. It's the fifth hit of the series by the NL's leading hitter and marks the third outing in a row that Orosco has blown a save opportunity by giving up a homer.
Six-all from six-zip. Gag city. Still, the Mets show their mettle by winning in the bottom of the ninth on an infield hit by Mookie Wilson, a sacrifice by Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez's sliced single to left off reliever Ken Dayley. Hernandez's 22nd game-winning RBI of the season set an NL record.