Camden Courier-Post - April 19, 1980
Expos steal win over Phillies
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
MONTREAL – The Montreal Expos transformed their home opener yesterday into a track meet, dashing past Dick Ruthven and the Phillies, 7-5, before 41,222 chilled fans in Olympic Stadium – which doubles as the world's largest igloo.
Ruthven, a pitcher whose pickoff move picked up and moved years ago, was victimized by the Expos for four of their five stolen bases, a total two shy of the Montreal single-game club record. The Expos rushed catcher Bob Boone into making three consecutive throwing errors – one off the modern major league record – and so unnerved Ruthven the righthander all but lost his concentration during a watershed five-run sixth inning.
Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski hit back-to-back home runs off Montreal starter Scott Sanderson to highlight a three-run Phillies fifth that gave Ruthven, 1-1, a 4-2 lead going into the nightmare sixth. It was the first time the Phillies' two primary power hitters had back-to-back homers in 167 games, since the second game of the 1979 season against St. Louis.
Ruthven opened the sixth by hitting leadoff man Ron LeFlore with a 1-2 pitch. LeFlore immediately stole second and, after Rodney Scott flied out, Ruthven wild pitched LeFlore to third. Phillies Manager Dallas Green decided it was time to have a talk with his righthander.
"I never had any intention of taking him out," said Green. "I told him I felt he was showing his frustration and, as a consequence, was losing some concentration. I told him not to worry about the runners, to just concentrate on one hitter at a time. I told him, 'Don't let them build this thing into a big inning.'
"He heeded that advice," Green concluded wryly, "very nicely."
Green, as it turned out, should have given Ruthven the hook instead of advice. Ruthven permitted the Expos to fashion a game-winning inning by walking Dawson and, an out later, allowing an RBI single to Larry Parrish. Ruthven's next pitch was a fast ball to catcher Gary Carter, who roped it over the wall in left-center field for a crushing three-run home run. Green pulled Ruthven after the homer, replacing him with lefthander Kevin Saucier, who gave up two hits, a run and a stolen base before getting the final out.
"Dick Ruthven is one of my top pitchers," said Green. "I'm not going to take him out in that situation (with Dawson at the plate, one out and no runs in). It's that simple."
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the third when Pete Rose singled and scored on Schmidt's base hit. Actually, the Phillies had an excellent opportunity to score more than one run in the inning, Ruthven leading it off with a double to dead center field and moving to third on Rose's single. Rose went 1-for-5, is now 4-for-26 for the season, and 0-for-9 leading off innings.
With Ruthven at third and Rose at first, Bake McBride popped up to shortstop and Garry Maddox grounded to third baseman Parrish, who caught Ruthven off third for the inning's second out. Schmidt, who was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and one run scored, followed with his single before Sanderson walked Luzinski to load the bases.
But Boone, who would single and score on one of three Montreal errors in the eighth, flied out to deep left, end- -ing the threat.
The stolen bases and Boone's throwing errors, on which each runner advanced to third, did not hurt Ruthven until the fourth, when Ellis Valentine opened wjth single, stole second and trotted over to third when Boone's throw had to be fielded by Maddox in center.
"I just rushed everything today," said Boone. "I should be more experienced with the mechanics and not try too throw too quickly. Dick seemed to lose his touch. I didn’t help him out any and I'm sure it (the stolen bases) had an effect on him.”
Amazingly, Ruthven has been victimized by base stealers 18 times in their last 24 tries, Including yesterday, over the past two seasons. Fully a dozen of those, runners have gone on to score.
It was no surprise, then, that Valentine checked in with Montreal's first run in the fourth on a Carter single. Carter later came around to score on a double to right-center by shortstop Chris Speier.
Schmidt and Luzinskl conspired to put the Phillies in the lead in the fifth, setting the stage for basepath adventurism by the Expos in the home half of the inning.
PHIL UPS Warren Cromartle sprained his left ankle rounding first after hitting a single and had to leave the game... Schmidt says his sudden awakening at the plate is a matter of relaxation... "I couldn't believe how relaxed I was in spring training and how unrelaxed I was during the season," he said.