The Final Piece
2. David Cone for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson
In late August the Toronto Blue Jays were in first place in the AL East and looking for their third ALCS in four years. They had a rotation that was looking good but not deep as Blue Jays legend Dave Stieb was having trouble staying healthy. The team had lost three times in the ALCS in the previous seven years and needed a kick somewhere in the roster to get them over the hump and into the World Series.
On August 27, with the team up two and a half games in the division, Pat Gillick acquired front of the rotation starter David Cone from the New York Mets. The price was heavy as they had to send 24-year old high-end prospect Jeff Kent as well as Ryan Thompson. Both had lengthy careers and Kent would be a constant All-Star and won the NL MVP in 200, but you can’t put a price on a World Series ring.
Things did not look good after his first two appearances in a Blue Jays uniform as he combined to allow 12 runs in 12.2 IP in those games. However, Cone made five more starts and allowed just four runs over his next 38.1 IP striking out 34.
Cone’s first playoff performance was a masterpiece as the Blue Jays were home to the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 down 1-0 in the series. He shut down the Athletics through the first eight innings and wasn’t pulled until he allowed his first run in the top of the ninth. Tom Henke would come in and close the door to bring the series back one game apiece. Cone would get a second start in Game 5 of the series with Toronto up 3-1 in the series but wasn’t able to close it out. As we all know the Blue Jays would eventually win the series and make their first World Series appearance.
In the World Series, Cone would start two games again. He started the second game of the series where he got hit around and couldn’t get through the fifth, but the team wound up coming back to win the game. In arguably the most important game in Blue Jays history, at least to that date, Cone was given the start in Game 6 with Toronto up 3-2 in the series.
Cone was his elite self, sitting down the Atlanta Braves hitters through six innings. Cone allowed just four hits and one run on six strikeouts. Cone was in line for the win until a ninth-inning blown save. Toronto would eventually win the game on a two-run double in the eleventh inning by Dave Winfield.