Atlantic City Press - April 12, 1980

Slim-And-Trim Luzinski Slugs Phillies Past Expos


Philadelphia 6, Montreal 3


By Pete Wickham, Press Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA — Greg Luzinski was absolved of all his sins Friday night at Veterans Stadium, Did one home run and three RBI penance with one crack of the bat, and was set free by the opening night crowd of 48,460 as he sparked the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-3 win over the Montreal Expos. 


“There was a lot of emotion pent up inside of me at that moment,” said the Phils slimmed-down leftfielder who rounded the bases with his fist clenched in the air, then tried to take off a half dozen arms with handshakes. 


“I knew I had put in a good winter and spring training. I knew I needed a lot of work,” said Luzinski, less 25 pounds and some bad habits that resulted in a dismal 1979 season, when he took most of the blame for the Phils fourth-place finish in the National League East. 


“After the hell I went through last year, I was anxious to get it going. (Steve) Rogers pitched me a little tight on the 2-2 pitch. I was hoping just to get the ball in play, but it was satisfying to see things pay off so quickly.” 


Phils’ manager Dallas Green was more than glad to see it, too. 


“I told you I'd bet my house that Bull would have a good year,” Green said. “I guess that means the first mortgage payment is in the bank.” 


Green also got a complete game from Steve Carlton, something many did not expect after the last 10 days of the exhibition season were wiped out by the players’ strike. More importantly, though, the Phils made several heads up plays, and made up for the few opening night miscues. It was the first testimonial to the club’s sticking together for organized workouts after the shut down. 


“Given what I thought of our performance in spring training and the situation created by the last 10 days, I thought we did very well,” Green said “From Steve, I would expect nothing less. As for what it all means, I'll tell you Sunday (after the Expos series is over).”


Green’s new ‘speed before sock’ lineup paid off on the very first crack. With two outs, Garry Maddox and Mike Schmidt drew walks on Rogers, who tried to keep the ball low both times. 


Rogers then tested Luzinski, and he laced a graceful liner into the leftfield seats that sparked a five-minute standing ovation from the fans, who didn't stop until he came out of the dugout for a bow. 


The rest of the game extolled the virtues of the work ethic, as the Phils won their first season opener since 1974. Even Kite Man III executed the center field-to-home plate play right this time, despite a smoke bomb catching fire on the tip of his right wing. 


The Phils made it 4-0 in the fourth on a play that should have brought the boo birds to life. 


Larry Bowa, who earlier committed his first Veterans Stadium error since late 1978, was on first with two out when Manny Trillo lined a single off the glove of Expos second baseman Rodney Scott. Trillo rounded first too wide, and was caught in a rundown, but in the confusion Bowa took the turn for home. Shortstop Chris Speier’s atrocious throw was too high to nab him at the plate. 


The Phils added two more runs in the seventh off reliever Stan Bahnsen on an error, a walk, Bake McBride’s second double of the game and a sacrifice fly by Maddox. 


Montreal, which did not stick together for the late workouts, committed a couple of costly faux pas on the base paths, as Ron Lelore was picked off in the first inning and Warren Cromartie, after nailing a one-out triple in the fifth, roamed too far off third base on a Speier chopper back to the mound. 


Of the eight hits Carlton gave up, five were for extra bases. But the Phillies ace, who struck out six and walked only one, wasn’t tapped for a run until the sixth inning on a single by Scott and a triple by Ellis Valentine. A double by Larry Parrish and a homer by Gary Carter in the ninth ended the Expos scoring, but Green insisted, “Steve didn’t have more than two or three pitches he was unhappy with, I’m sure.” 


In other words, no repentance necessary.