CINCINNATI — Like most people less than 100 years old, Andy Hawkins had never heard of Rube Marquard, but after winning his 11th consecutive game Sunday, the Padre pitcher got a little history lesson.
Marquard won 19 in a row with the New York Giants in 1919 to establish a major league record that is little known, but seldom challenged. Dave McNally of the Baltimore Orioles once won 15 in a row. And now, at 11-0, there's Hawkins, who defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 5-3, before 27,981 fans at Riverfront Stadium.
Hawkins may be having an unreal season--how else to describe his record?--but he still has very real emotions.
For instance, there's no more Mr. Nice Guy. Hawkins got mad when he read the Sunday paper and saw the umpteenth reference to his former self, the "Timid Texan." He got even more upset when he saw a writer had accused him of speaking in fragments.
Later, after struggling with his control and his slider and throwing 113 pitches in the muggy heat at Riverfront, Hawkins talked about the uncertainty that accompanies each appearance, along with his bolstered confidence.
"I still feel edgy, jittery and worried every time I pitch," he said. "I ask myself if this is the day I'm going to get beat. I try to push those thoughts out of my mind, but if you don't get nervous, something is missing."
Beneath the nervousness is a new and prized layer of belief in himself.
"I have the faith I can win," Hawkins said. "I think of all the success I've had, and I know I'll feel competitive when I get out there, and that helps with the nervousness. I may have hit a little plateau in confidence, but I love pitching in situations, because I know what I've got to throw at the hitters."
Hawkins, who walked six Sunday (two of them intentionally), had more than his share of ticklish situations from which to extricate himself. And he was more than equal to the test.
"He got me out with a cut fastball my first time up," Pete Rose said. "He uses that very effectively against left-handed hitters, and it's a nasty pitch. I think it's harder than his fastball . . . and if you got a pitch that's quicker than your fastball, you've got me out."
Rose got one hit off Hawkins and another off reliever Goose Gossage, leaving him 48 shy of breaking Ty Cobb's record of 4,191 hits.
Meanwhile, the Padres, in taking three out of four from the Reds to build their lead to 3 1/2 games, defeated Mario Soto (8-4) who had more than a little to do with his own demise.
Soto, who has a well-earned reputation as a hothead, added to it in the eighth inning, when the Padres scored four runs to break open a 1-1 game. Graig Nettles had hit his first homer since May 4 and fifth of the year to get the Padres a tie in the fifth inning.
After two outs in the eighth, Steve Garvey and Terry Kennedy singled and advanced on a passed ball. With Kevin McReynolds batting, Soto uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Garvey, who is no Carl Lewis, to score from third.
Soto was blocking the plate as Garvey slid in. There was a little tangle of bodies, and Soto appeared to be riled. But Garvey, forever the diplomat, smoothed things over by politely dusting off Soto's cap and handing it to him.
"He turned around and saw it was me," Garvey said, describing a look of mild surprise on Soto's face.
"I told him, 'Easy, easy.' "
That was the way the Padres had it the rest of the inning. McReynolds drove in a run, then Carmelo Martinez and Garry Templeton added run-scoring singles off the troubled Soto.
"When he makes a mistake, he gets upset," Rose said. "You know, the Padres weren't exactly rapping the ball around that inning."
So the Padres had Soto to thank for his own execution.
San Diego Manager Dick Williams was more entertained by the display of his own pitcher.
"20 and 0?" Williams said, repeating a question. "I'd love to see it. Hawk was brilliant today, getting himself into wild streaks and then getting out of it. I thought he was going to run out of gas in the fourth inning, but he regrouped and pitched well until the eighth."
Williams likened the 11-0 start by Hawkins to the 35-5 start by the Detroit Tigers a year ago in being totally unpredictable.
There is one factor, however, that is predictable. The Padres score more runs and play better when Hawkins is pitching.
"I think there is a fine edge there when he is on the mound," Williams said. "It's way too early to say he is going to become one of the game's great pitchers, but he's smooth, he should be able to avoid arm trouble, and that would certainly be a plus."
An assessment of the Padres is probably more meaningful at this point than trying to predict Hawkins' future.
Rose provided a nice, succinct commentary.
"San Diego is good, real good," he said. "They got good chemistry and Dick is a good manager.
"But I think they have a few question marks, and I don't think they'll run away with it this year. I'm not being disrespectful to the Padres. I just don't see them or any team winning our race by 8 or 10 games."