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NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: METS 3, DODGERS 2 : HERSHISER'S VIEW : Pitcher Was Not Tired but Says That Lasorda Was Correct in Taking Him Out

October 05, 1988|ROSS NEWHAN | Times Staff Writer

Was he tired?

Tom Lasorda said yes.

Orel Hershiser said no.

Did he try to convince Lasorda of that?

"It was pretty tough when he (pitching coach Ron Perranoski, actually) went straight to the umpire and made a double switch," Hershiser said.

It happened in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the National League championship series Tuesday night.

Hershiser and the Dodgers held a 2-0 lead after eight innings. Hershiser had allowed 5 hits, stretching his string of consecutive shutout innings to an amazing 67.

Then, in stunning succession, the streak ended, Hershiser was out, and the New York Mets had rallied for 3 runs and a 3-2 victory, the tying and winning runs scoring on Gary Carter's bloop double off Jay Howell.

Should Hershiser have come out? Would he second-guess Lasorda?

"I don't think anyone should second-guess Tommy for taking me out," he said. "I wasn't tired. I'd only thrown about a hundred pitches (99, to be exact). But I'd have taken myself out. Not as a competitor but as a manager. It was the right move to bring in your bullpen ace.

"I mean, we led the league in saves. We got outstanding relief all season. Jay came in and made great pitches. If you asked him, I'm sure he'd tell you that he would make the same pitch (to Carter) again.

"I just wish they had put better wood in that bat. Then Carter wouldn't have broken it and it would have been an easy fly ball."

Center fielder John Shelby missed a diving catch of what would have been the third out, the tying and winning runs scoring as Hershiser watched from the dugout.

He had left to a standing ovation from the partisans in a Dodger Stadium crowd of 55,582, his streak of shutout innings having ended moments earlier when Gregg Jefferies singled to open the inning, moved to second on Keith Hernandez's ground out and scored on Darryl Strawberry's double to right center.

"A hanging curve?" Lasorda was asked of the pitch to Strawberry.

"Yes. A hanging curve. It said, 'here hit me,' " Lasorda said.

Then he thought Hershiser was tired?

"Definitely," he responded. "The first two guys (Jefferies and Hernandez) had hit the ball hard as well."

Jefferies' single was his third of the game. Hershiser had never faced the rookie third baseman.

"Two ground balls and a line drive," Hershiser said of Jefferies' production. "I'll give him the last one. He hit a good pitch--a sinker down the middle. It was up a little, but I'll take my chances with a two-run lead. I said, 'Here, hit it,' and he did."

Strawberry's double with a 2-and-2 count came after a dramatic duel in which the Met right fielder first fouled off four pitches.

"I made a bad pitch to a good hitter after he had fouled off some good fastballs," Hershiser said. "It was my one bad pitch of the inning. Give Strawberry credit. He had a good at-bat."

Hershiser sat in the center of the Dodger clubhouse. He dipped his right elbow into a tub of ice. A bag of ice was strapped to his right shoulder. He was cool as ever in the wake of the numbing defeat, smiling slightly when a man with a notebook asked if the string of shutout innings and complete games had taken a toll.

He reiterated that he wasn't tired.

"I don't think you can throw 59 straight zeroes if you're tired," he said. "If I was tired, I'd have been giving up some runs."

Might he have experienced a letdown, however, when the shutout string ended?

"No," he said, "because I wasn't even thinking of the streak. The streak (for record purposes) ended when the regular season did."

It had been 35 days since Hershiser last gave up a run and 51 since he last pitched fewer than 9 innings.

Prodded by reporters, he reflected and said: "I'm proud of what I did. I knew the streak would end, of course. I didn't know if it would be in this game, but I felt I did a good job. I've thrown better at times and worse at times. I was fortunate early when they hit the ball hard and they were fortunate later. I feel I dealt with the pressure as well as I could."

He also said he didn't feel the game was lost in the ninth inning. He cited the failure of the Dodgers to advance runners in the early innings and said:

"You don't have to be an educated baseball fan to know there were areas of the game in which we didn't execute. Anytime you have an opportunity to score and don't, it's important. Anytime you do that against a good team, it's likely to come back on you.

"The Mets are beatable, but you have to execute to do it."

The Dodgers didn't, losing a game Hershiser had described Monday as an "attitude adjuster," a chance for the Dodgers to erase the memory of their 10 losses in 11 regular-season games with the Mets. Now they have lost again with their best pitcher holding a 2-0 lead and needing just two outs for the win.

Standing at his locker, having shed the ice, Hershiser attempted to downplay the psychological impact, saying it was just one game in a possible series of seven, and that there is too much adrenaline in a playoff for one game to burden a team in the next.

"We didn't finish second in the league in earned-run average with just me walking out there," he said. "We have a lot of good pitchers. I mean, people have been looking for us to fold all year, and every time we come back to win. We can do it again."

They will have to do it with their shutout specialist watching from the bench, as he was when the Mets scored the runs that decided Game 1.

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