Montreal Gazette - April 21, 1980
Long sacrifice off Carter bat sparks Expos
By Ian MacDonald of The Gazette
The Expos got hot as the temperature dropped at the icebox they call the Big 0 yesterday.
Perhaps they are just gearing their act for late October performances after all. The Phillies figured they had this thing iced when they went ahead three times in the late innings.
But the Expos battled back each time and finally took the rubber match of a strange series 7-6.
Expos' relief pitching changed as dramatically as the weather. As ineffective as it was Saturday, it was superior for those of the 25,722 who toughed it out all the way.
"The relief pitching was as excellent today as it was not yesterday," manager Dick Williams said as he shakily poured a generous shot of scotch strictly as anti-freeze medication, of course.
Deserved bitter fate
"They all did the job. And Bill Lee, too. He deserved a better fate. He pitched a helluva game."
Lee went six and two-thirds which may not sound like a big deal but it's further than any other Expo starter has gone. And the fun-loving lefty with the shaggy beard sees better days ahead.
"That's my spring training finished with," explained Lee after Gary Carter's ninth inning fly ball scored Andre Dawson with the winning run.
"I only had 14 innings in the spring (he missed some work with a back injury and then, of course, the final 10 games were wiped out by the players strike)." He has gone four, five and six-plus in championship play.
"That's it. That's about how many innings I should have worked during spring training. The season starts for me in the next one. I get into the eighth in that one."
Lee deserved better here but an error by a shaky Chris Speier opened the door for two unearned runs in the fifth and a tie ball game.
Dawson led a tremendous Expos' outburst in the first inning when with two out he homered. Ellis Valentine followed with another homer. Larry Parrish doubled and was cashed by Carter's single.
Lee had this 3-1 lead into that fifth. The two runs which scored after the first of Speier's two miscues came in on a triple by Bake McBride as Dawson just missed making a sensational running catch.
"I had the ball in my glove," Dawson explained, "but when I went to bring it to my body my knee hit the glove and ball popped out."
"I tried something new with McBride," Lee revealed. "I tried to make like a lefthanded Juan Marichal (former Giants ace noted for his high kick delivery and knockdown fast-balls).
Smiled both times
"I decked him twice and he came up smiling both times. Then he connected. Oh well, back to the drawing board."
Greg Luzinski put the Phillies ahead for the first time in the fifth when he drilled a Lee delivery high up in the seats. The Bull is going to do that to a lot of pitchers so it’s no great shame.
It was when Luzinski scored the sixth run for the Phillies in the eighth, their third lead, that there was room for concern. He did that with his "speed."
Luzinski grounded to short but Speier's throw took Waren Cromartie off the bag. After the runners were sacrificed ahead, Luis Aguayo then brought the big man home with a line-drive to shallow left.
"I would have had a chance to get Luzinski," said Ron LeFlore who had to run hard towards the infield to make the catch but then threw way wide.
"I grabbed the ball wrong and I didn't grip the seams. The ball slipped away."
LeFlore didn't have to defend his defence on this occasion. He made a truly outstading catch against the plexiglass to rob Mike Schmidt of extra bases.
"I'm glad that wasn't a brick wall," said LeFlore. "If that was in Chicago, I might not be up yet."
A funny thing had been happening in this series. LeFlore was becoming more comfortable in left, making some fine catches. That was an area whre he needed enormous improvement. Meanwhile, his hitting was tailing off.
Zero for 13
As a matter of fact. LeFlore was zero for 13 when he singled in the eighth and was one of two runs driven in by Ellis Valentine and Larry Parrish with singles. Then in the eighth, it was LeFlore's two out single that drove home Warren Cromartie with a tieing run. Cro experienced his second three-hit game of the season and his sixth multiple hit game in succession.
"Sometimes it takes strange things to break you out of a slump." LeFlore reasoned. "That catch certainly gave me confidence in the field. And it may have helped with the hitting as well."
Despite the uncomfortable conditions this was the best game of the series, by far. Luzinski leaped high to rob Carter just as LeFlore had done to Schmidt.
"That was a big win," Lee reasoned. "We let the Phillies know we can win the close ones. And with the Pirates coming in, we let them know that we're for real.
"We're on the way now."
EXPOSES – Phillies' second baseman Manny Trillo was on crutches and is out for a week or 10 days. He sprained his ankle while rounding third base Saturday...
While there were 41,222 on hand for Friday's opener, there were actually better than 48.700 tickets sold. Cold and the fact the game was televised are reasons for the discrepancy...
Dawson. Valentine and Cromartie all "stretched their hitting streaks to six games with constructive contributions...
Ross Grimsley makes his first appearance of the season when he starts against the Pirates this afternoon. He draws John Candelaria...
The Expos have stolen seven straight bases without being caught. They have stolen seven this season against the Phillies Bob Boone...
Phils jolt Expos in sloppy game Saturday
By Ian MacDonald of The Gazette
It was 'blah' baseball from the start.
By keeping Pete Rose in the park, so to speak (two-for-six and one run), the Expos prevented the Phillies from running up the score. After relief pitcher Dickie Noles singled home a pair in the ninth. Rose flied out and that meant the Phillies "only” won 13-4.
Players on both sides were acting as though they had gone on strike fundamentals-wise. Either that or they want ed to show 23,088 paid what to expect if the owners bring up minor leaguers to play when they do go on strike.
That isn't right either, of course, because many of the mishaps through Saturday's game were from lack of hustle which is something the minor leaguers don't practice.
Larry Christenson balked twice, walked opposing pitcher Steve Rogers and threw a pickoff try at second base past the centrefielder allowing the runner to score.
That was all in two innings and he was the winning pitcher!
Relievers Stan Bahnsen and Noles brought some semblance of class to the presentation. However, Expos needed runs at this stage and after pinch hitters failed, the relievers following Bahnsen had nothing.
"It's a good one to get out of our system," understated Expos' manager Dick Williams after his players were charged with three errors. Officially, the Phillies had two miscues and both clubs were guilty of numerous other faux-pas as well.
Steve Rogers couldn't hold a three-run lead. The righthander had stiffness in his elbow and the back of his leg was taped but his biggest problem was that he couldn't get Christenson out.
Rattled after a ground ball was bungled as Chis Speier and Rodney Scott collided. Rogers gave up a hit to Christenson in the third. Before the inning was over Bake McBride drilled a ground ball through Warren Cromartie's legs at first base for two runs.
Two innings later, Rogers walked Christenson ahead of a Rose double. McBride tried his luck again and lined towards first. This time the ball went off Cromartie's glove for two more runs.
"I should have had both those balls." said Cromartie. whose offensive output of a home run and double were not enough to offset those plays.
"The first one completely fooled me. It was hit harder than I thought and got down on me. It was a double play ball if I got down on it properly."
When Christenson forgot to back up third and Gary Maddox bounced his throw into the visitors' dugout, the Expos had another run so this weird affair was tied after five.
Despite the fact that he had scored two runs and pitched half-decently, the other aspects of Christenson's game were enough that manager Dallas Green derricked him.
Noles. a young starter having trouble breaking into the rotation, then tied the Expos up in knots while the Philles bullied Dale Murray and Fred Norman.
After striking out six and spacing two hits through four, Noles admitted, "1 want to be a starter because it is easier to prepare, physically and mentally."
Rogers did not want to lean on any excuses and said. "I should have, adjusted better. I feel bad because the guys came out strong and were playing good ball. I didn't play as well as I should have."
Rodney Scott neglected to run out a grounder which he may easily have beaten out since it was bobbled.