Doylestown Daily Intelligencer - April 14, 1980
Valentine HR Ruins Phils’ Comeback
By Paul Giordano, Intelligencer Writer
PHILADELPHIA – For a split second it looked like the Phillies were going to get another chance to steal Sunday afternoon’s game from the Montreal Expos.
With two out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Bob Boone lined a four-iron shot to deep left-centerfield. The ball had possible home run or at least a double written on it.
Expos’ left fielder Jerry White raced back, braced himself against the wall and jumped. He caught it in the web of his glove.
Boone kicked the dirt and the Expos dusted off a 5-4 win.
“I hit it good,” Boone said. “It was just a little too much away from me to juice it. But I still thought it had a shot. I’ll take my chance with that kind of shot in the summer.”
The Phils closed out their season home opener series with two wins and one loss. You can’t win ‘em all.
But the Green-born-again Phillies tried. They rallied for three runs after two were out in the bottom of the ninth to knot the score at 4-4 and send the game into extra innings, before Ellis Valentine opened the 10th with a home run off relief pitcher Lerrin LaGrow.
“It was a high fastball,” LaGrow said. “You don’t throw anyone a high fastball. I tried to keep it (3-1 pitch) away from him. My fastball just had crummy location… all my fastballs had crummy location. I could have and will go to a breaking ball in that situation, but I didn’t want to walk him.”
Montreal took a 1-0 lead off starter Larry Christenson in the first inning. Ron LeFlore opened with a walk, took second on a balk, third on Rodney Scott’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Andre Dawson’s infield ground out to shortstop Larry Bowa.
The Phils tied the score in the fourth inning on a single by Mike Schmidt, a single by Boone, Schmidt’s steal of third base and Bowa’s force out ground ball at second off starter Scott Sanderson.
A triple by Bill Almon, Roland Office’s pinch-hit run-scoring sacrifice fly, a walk by LeFlore and Dawson’s home run gave the Expos a 4-1 edge in the fifth. Christenson was taken out after the fifth inning.
“I was going to take him out after that inning anyway,” Green said. “I was pleased with the way he was throwing. But he was in the high 70s (total pitches) and I had my mind already made up. If it wasn’t for that one pitch (Dawson’s home run), a slider up and out over the plate, he would have had a super outing. He threw four or five changes, all excellent. If he continues that pattern, he’ll surely help himself.
After taking Christenson out of the game, Green went to his Kiddie Corps. First he brought in Dickie Noles who pitched two innings of shutout ball, then to Scott Munninghoff, who added two more blank innings.
Expos manager Dick Williams took Sanderson out of the game when he used Office as a pinch hitter in the fifth. He replaced Sanderson with Stan Bahnsen. And before the Phils tagged Bahnsen for three unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth, Bahnsen looked more like Bruce Sutter than Stan Bahnsen.
That is, until the bottom of the ninth. Greg Luzinski opened the Phils’ ninth with a single up the middle. Boone followed with a single to center. Bowa followed and hit a chopper behind second base. Expos’ shortstop Almon made a stab for the ball, speared it, dove at the second base bag and just beat Boone’s slide. Luzinski advanced to third.
Manny Trillo followed. Bahnsen uncorked a wild pitch and Bowa raced to second. Trillo was out at second on a check-swing ground ball back to Bahnsen. Green went to his bench and called on Greg Gross to hit for Munninghoff.
Gross worked Bahnsen to a 3-0 count and then 3-1. Then, on the next offering, Gross lashed a soft liner at third baseman Larry Parrish. Parrish raised both hands just above his head, caught the ball, but then let it go through his web and into left field, an error. Luzinski and Bowa scored runs two and three.
Green sent in Lonnie Smith to run for Gross and Williams brought in Woody Fryman to pitch to Pete Rose and Bake McBride.
Fryman went ahead of Rose 0-2. Then, Rose lined a ball between third and short for a single. Smith took a gamble. He rounded second and headed for third, just beating White’s throw with a head first slide. It could have been a costly mistake. Or it was a good play.
“Flip a coin,” Green said. “He better be safe. But it’s not a mistake because he made it.”
Then it was Fryman against McBride, left-hander against left-hander. But someone forgot to tell the Expos McBride hits better against left-handers (.343) than he does right-handers (.245). McBride proceeded to keep his stats intact, lashing Fryman’s slider over second base and scoring Smith with the tying run.
“Woody didn’t believe I hit it,” McBride said. “It was a good pitch, right where he wanted it.”
Williams brought in Elias Sosa to pitch to Garry Maddox. Maddox struck out to end the inning. Then LaGrow, Valentine’s home run and the ballgame.
“It was a good ballgame,” Green said, “good all the way. I just didn’t like the outcome. And we did hit three good balls in the 10th. The thing that pleased me, we didn’t die when we were down 4-1. Even in the 10th we came right at them. Some days the other guys are better than you are in certain situations. But we stayed with them today.”
EXTRA BASES – Phils are off today and after an afternoon workout will fly to St. Louis for a two-game set against the Cardinals Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. Randy Lerch goes against Pete Vukovich Tuesday, Steve Carlton against Bob Forsch.