Allentown Morning Call - April 13, 1980
Phillies mow down Expos 2nd time, 6-2
By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – You would think that Manny Trillo, currently the hottest-hitting eighth batter in baseball, has heard quite enough over the last few months about his spot in the Phillies' batting order. But Trillo himself does not want the book closed.
"I told the man (manager Dallas Green) I'm going to win that second spot back," said Trillo with a smile that was more serious than joking, "and I wasn't kidding. Sure, Bake's (McBride) hitting the ball well, too. But I'll be back there.”
Trillo went 3-for-4 with two RBIs yesterday afternoon as the Phillies stayed at 1.000 for the season with a 6-2 victory over Montreal. With two hits in Friday night's win, Trillo is batting .625. And this from a man who barely averaged the Florida temperature in the abbreviated Grapefruit League season, thus losing the second spot in the batting order that Green swore was his.
And Trillo was not the only good offensive news for the Phillies who collected eight extra-base hits off Bill Lee, Freddy Norman and Bill Murray. More important to the Phils in the long run, however, was the seven-inning stint of winner Dick Ruthven.
"There's no way in the world you should give up that many hits (six) and that many walks (five) and give up only one run," said Ruthven. "I have to count myself lucky today."
He should. But, at the same time, Ruthven did look good in spots and went about as far as Green had hoped before the game.
"That was good enough for today," said Green. "We got 84 pitches out of him and seven good innings. He was struggling a little at the end and that's why we made the change. But I was quite happy."
Green and pitching coach Herm Starrette want to bring Ruthven, who had elbow surgery last season, along slowly. It is a philosophy that Ruthven will buy but will not turn cartwheels over.
"Today my idea was to go as many as they'd let me," said Ruthven who had three shaky outings in spring training. "Could I have gone nine? Certainly. I see no reason I couldn't. But they have an idea of the maximum number of pitches they want from me."
Ruthven's performance was inconclusive. Green and Ruthven were both happy but not overjoyed. And Montreal manager Dick Williams had this to say:
"He threw good enough to beat us but he's not the Ruthven I've seen before. Speed-wise and control-wise, he isn't the same pitcher. But it takes a little time. But he got the win and that's all that counts."
Ruthven's performance was not half as interesting as that of the Phillie relievers. With a 6-1 lead in the eighth. Green went to Ron Reed who promptly threw eight straight balls to Rodney Scott and Andrew Dawson He got an infield out, then Larry Parrish brought in a run with a sacrifice fly, then Reed walked Gary Carter. Green had seen enough and went to Tug McGraw who got Warren Cromartie on a groundout.
In the ninth, McGraw got the first two outs but gave up a single to Ken Macha and walks to Scott and Dawson before getting Ellis Valentine on a long, long flyball to center to end the game. It was relief pitching without the relief.
"Ron knew I was not looking for a base on balls in that situation," said Green, "so he was not surprised I took him out. So, I went to Tug and he didn't throw much better. But, hey, they're my two guys out there. I made up my mind that I'm using them in those situations. And I'll continue to do it until they show me they can't do the job."
Actually, the Phillies' relief pitching wasn't half as interesting as Montreal's defense.
With the game tied 1-1 in the third, Garry Maddox hit a two-out bases-empty home run to left. Mike Schmidt then hit a gloveable smash down the third base line but Parrish couldn't come up with it. Out in leftfield, meanwhile, Ron LeFlore picked it up and mysteriously threw to third as Schmidt rolled into second with a "double."
Thinking immediately of an encore, LeFlore charged Greg Luzinski's single but let it go by him to the wall as Schmidt scored. As Luzinski rambled toward third, shortstop Chris Speier took LeFlore's relay throw but dropped it and Luzinski reached third. "Sacre bleu."
It had been rumored that LeFlore can barely reach the infield because of a shoulder separation he suffered while playing for the Tigers last season. But both he and Williams insist he'll be over it soon. Until then, the Expos better find a better hiding place for him than leftfield.
The Phillies got a cleaner run in the fourth as Larry Bowa tripled to right-center and Trillo followed with a triple to make it 4-1. Trillo scored the fifth run in the sixth when he singled and came home on Pete Rose's double (Rose's first hit of the season) and Bob Boone knocked in the final run in the seventh with a single.
Trillo's fast start is somewhat surprising since he was the only Phillie apparently worried about missing the last week of the Grapefruit League season.
"I had just begun to put it together when the games stopped," said Trillo who also turned two double plays that bailed Ruthven out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings. "Spring training was a very hard time for me. I struggled at the beginning. And it wasn't the same for me batting in practice games as it would've been going against, say, Pittsburgh and Montreal pitching.
"There is a little more pressure hitting second than eighth. But so far I've been getting enough good pitches. I'm not swinging at balls.
"I've gotten off to fast starts before. When I was with Chicago one year (1977) I was leading the league early in the season. I was hitting so well I must' ve been sick.
NOTES: Maddox had a double and single to go with his home run and said he has been happy with the reception he's gotten so far at the Vet. He figured that his own salary squabble combined with the player strike would make him an obvious boobird target.
"I've heard only a few things directed at me so I guess I have to be happy," said Maddox. Someone mentioned that he hadn't heard any boos.
"Well, you weren't listening for them like I was," he said with a smile… Bowa's triple tied him for sixth on the Phils' all-time hit list with 1,553, the same total as Cy Williams… After a near-record Opening Day crowd, only 22,605 paid to get in yesterday. There were, however, an additional 14,000 unpaid fans for Junior Baseball Federation Day.
Dallas Green was anxious in opener
By Gordon Smith, Call Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Green is 45-years-old. He has played and managed so many baseball games they're beginning to blend into one giant box score in his mind. But Friday night's was different.
"I don't want to say I was overly nervous," the tall, sternly-built Phillies manager laughed. "But I arrived at the ballpark at 1:15 in the afternoon."
Taking a nervous sip from a can of Coke, Green tried to relax as he entertained newsmen in his small office following the 6-3 victory over Montreal, a game that opened the season for both clubs.
"I was wishing we could get the game started and it was only 2:30. Finally I decided to talk to Paul (Owens) and Howie (Bedell), and that helped."
Owens is the Phils Vice-president in charge of player personnel, and Bedell is the new director of minor league operations, replacing Green.
"We went over problems we encountered during spring training. Tactical problems, not anything to do with the strike vote or any little arguments that arise from day to day. Finally I went to the locker room, and, as you might expect, Pete Rose was already there, and Larry Bowa came in shortly afterwards."
Then Green flashed a smile of movie star quality. "You know what made my day? Before the game everybody went around wishing each other good luck. It was really a warm thing. I thought to myself, God. all the little problems of spring training, and all we put the players through, and here we are, a team, patting each other.on the back and putting it together before we go out on the A flow of warmth just rose from my toes to my head. Then the guys went out and won their first opener since 1974."
One of the biggest issues currently confronting Green is that of Larry Bowa, generally considered the Phils' No. 2 batter, but dropped to seventh in the lineup for the opener.
"Much has been made of it," Green smiled. "But Larry will probably bat seventh most of the time. It wasn't for this game and series only or because he has batted .218 lifetime against Montreal.
"I can still use the hit-and-run with Trillo up next, and Larry's speed can be big in the No. 7 spot. I know he's not happy with it at the moment, but he could learn to love it."
Most of Green's post-game conversation concerned his boyish enthusiasm for starting his first full major league season as manager.
And. like the guy at the door to the locker room said, "With Danny Ozark gone, even Kiteman' made it to home plate.