To catch up on the first two months of Dwight Gooden's remarkable 1985 season, read the first part of our series.
Dwight Gooden broke a personal two-game losing streak by defeating San Francisco, 2-1, on May 30, 1985. It began a streak of fourteen straight winning decisions for Doc. The next three months were the best times of Dr. K’s career.
June 4 in Los Angeles was a rematch of the May 25 game at Shea between Gooden and Fernando Valenzuela. This time, Gooden got the victory, 4-1, pitching a complete game while walking two and striking out 12. For the fourth consecutive start, Doc served up a home run, this time to Pedro Guerrero in the sixth inning to tie the game at 1-1. The Mets won the game with three runs in the ninth. The third run scored on a two-out single by Gooden to chase Valenzuela from the game; it was Gooden’s third hit in the game.
On June 9, a Sunday afternoon game at Shea, Gooden notched a 6-1 win against the Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader. It was a tight 2-1 contest until the Mets broke it open late. It was also an unspectacular but effective outing for Doc, who went eight innings and allowed one run, six hits, three walks, and struck out four. At the end of the day, the second-place Mets were three games ahead of the fourth-place Cards.
After a no decision in a 5-4 Mets loss in Montreal on June 14, Dr. K was back in the groove on June 19 with a complete game shutout at Shea versus the Cubs. The 1-0 win was Doc’s tenth on the season. That night, he walked two and struck out nine. After the first two Cubs got on base in the ninth, Gooden settled down and retired the next three batters to preserve the win. The Mets’ ace struck out Thad Bosley to end the game, as the Mets pulled a half game ahead of Chicago in the NL East standings.
Six days later, on June 25, Doc pitched another complete game victory against the Cubs, this time winning by a 3-2 score at Wrigley Field. It was his fifth straight win. On June 30 in St. Louis, Gooden had a no-decision in a 2-1 Cardinals win in eleven innings. Jack Clark homered off Doc for the Cards’ only run off him. Through June, Gooden was 11-3 on the season, with a 1.65 ERA.
Gooden was the Mets’ starting pitcher in the legendary July 4 game in Atlanta, which the Mets eventually won, 16-13, in 19 innings at 4 a.m. It was Doc’s shortest outing of the year: the game started 90 minutes late due to rain, and after another rain delay in the third inning, he left after only 2.1 innings pitched.
On July 9, Gooden earned an easy 11-2 win at Cincinnati, pitching eight innings. Five days later at the Astrodome in Houston on July 14, Doc threw a complete game shutout against the Astros that the Mets won 1-0. Gooden struck out 11 batters, while the Mets managed to scratch out an unearned run in the eighth inning for the game’s only score.
Gooden threw six innings for the win in a 16-4 laugher at Shea on July 20 against the Braves, as the Mets pulled to within one game of St. Louis in the loss column. Doc’s following four starts were all complete game victories.
On July 25, he defeated the Astros, 6-3, at Shea to improve to 15-3 on the year. He struck out 10 and pitched another complete game shutout against the Expos at Shea on July 30 for a 2-0 Mets victory. Both runs scored on RBI singles by George Foster—one in the sixth, the other in the eighth. It was Gooden’s tenth consecutive winning decision. Through July, he was 16-3 in 23 starts. His ERA was holding steady at 1.65.
On August 4, back at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Doc defeated the Cubs again, this time by a 4-1 score. Gooden doubled to lead off a three-run third inning rally, and then came around to score. On August 10, he beat the Cubs once more, this time 8-3 at Shea. Gooden went the distance for the fourth straight time, his twelfth complete game of the year in 25 starts.
Doc had a rare poor start on August 15 against the Phillies at Shea, getting a no decision in a 10-7 Mets victory. Gooden lasted only five innings, giving up five runs on eight hits, with only four punchouts. His ERA "ballooned" to 1.82. It would never be that high again in 1985.
Then, on an August 25 Sunday afternoon game at Shea, Gooden earned his 20th victory of the season, pitching six innings in a 9-3 win over the Padres. It was only an average outing for Doc, but it got him on the cover of the September 2 issue of Sports Illustrated. The headline declared, "DWIGHT THE GREAT: At Age 20 Dwight Gooden Wins No. 20." You can read the cover story here.
Unfortunately, the SI cover jinx was in effect, as the Giants got some revenge on Doc with a 3-2 victory in San Francisco on August 31 to stop Gooden’s personal winning streak at 14 games. One could hardly say Gooden was hit hard though, as he gave up two runs on six hits in six innings of work. His seven strikeouts gave him a league-leading 219 on the season. Gooden ended August with a 20-4 record, and a 1.81 ERA.
The Mets were 76-52 at this point, two games behind the first-place Cardinals. The Mets had 34 games left to play, as Gooden and his teammates aimed for a division title and a playoff berth. Incredibly, some of Doc’s best games of the season were yet to be pitched.