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Tudor: Neither Imposing Nor Fearsome : He's Improved as Pitcher, Howser Says

October 25, 1985|Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — The batter's view of John Tudor shows nothing so imposing. He's average size for a major league pitcher, 6 feet tall and 185 pounds.

The record book shows nothing fearsome, either--a left-handed pitcher who never won more than 13 games in any of his first six seasons in the majors and whose career record with three teams during that time was 51-43.

But looks can be deceiving, and the record book doesn't include 1985 yet.

"He's the kind of pitcher that throughout the game you keep saying to yourself that you can hit, and then after it's all done you're 0 for 4," said Kansas City's Darryl Motley.

That's exactly what Motley did Wednesday night, when Tudor pitched a five-hitter and beat the Royals, 3-0.

Motley need not feel too bad. No one has done well against Tudor this year.

After being traded to the Cardinals by Pittsburgh last December for outfielder-first baseman George Hendrick and catcher Steve Barnard, the 31-year-old Tudor became one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.

He began the season 1-7 but finished 21-8 with a 1.93 earned- run average and a major league-leading 10 shutouts. He was 1-1 in the National League playoffs against Los Angeles. Wednesday night's performance, the first Series shutout in two years, was Tudor's second victory in as many Series starts.

No pitcher has ever won more postseason games in one year.

Royals Manager Dick Howser said the Tudor pitching now only faintly resembles the Tudor who was 2-5 against Kansas City during four-plus seasons with the Boston Red Sox.

"He's more of a pitcher now. He changes speeds more," Howser said. "He doesn't walk any hitters, and because of that you need to get three or four hits to score some runs."

After Tudor and Cardinal reliever Todd Worrell had beaten the Royals in Game 1, the Royals' George Brett said:

"He didn't throw one slider. When he was with Boston, he used to throw sliders all the time. He's changed, and I think he's changed for the better."

Even before taking the mound Wednesday night, Tudor knew Game 4 could be special.

"I told (pitching coach) Mike Roarke before the game. It was kind of scary to admit it, because if they pound me I really look bad," he said. "Yeah, I knew I had my good stuff when I was warming up."

Willie Wilson solved him for an early single. But 16 of Kansas City's next 17 batters were retired, a span interrupted only by Steve Balboni's two-out single in the fifth.

Balboni also would become part of the reason for Tudor's lone predicament following seventh-inning singles by George Brett and Jim Sundberg.

"Yes, I was pitching around Balboni," Tudor said of his two-out walk to Kansas City's leading home run hitter.

Due up next was light-hitting shortstop Buddy Biancalana. What Tudor didn't think about was that Hal McRae, the Royals' usual cleanup hitter relegated to pinch hitting in this Series, might hit for Biancalana. McRae had a better than .400 career average and better than 1.000 slugging percentage against Tudor.

"I didn't think about it until I saw McRae start to take off his warmup jacket," Tudor said. "The first thing that went through my mind when he came up was, 'I'm in a lot of trouble."'

But McRae grounded sharply to third baseman Terry Pendleton for a forceout to end the threat.

"The pitch was low. I was hoping for a better pitch. I was hoping to drive in at least two runs," McRae said. "My intention was to hit the first pitch, because he had just walked Balboni and I thought he would come in with one."

Tudor's shutout contrasted with his wobbly performance in Game 1.

Then, working with five days' rest, he surrendered seven hits and one run in 6 innings, requiring Worrell's relief to nail down a 3-1 victory. This time he threw 106 pitches, all but 28 of them strikes. His masterpiece required 2 hours and 19 minutes to complete, the shortest World Series game in four years.

In keeping with his character, Tudor refrained from celebrating his success.

"I try to take each game as just another game. You start with your best stuff and just keep going," he said. "I don't think we have accomplished anything until we have won the World Series. Personally, I am not going to think about what I have accomplished, because I might have to go out there and pitch again."

The Cardinals wrer hoping that wouldn't be necessary.

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