Philadelphia Daily News - April 22, 1980
Burris Hot Stuff for Mets
By Bill Conlin
There are men skilled in the art of illusion who can pull rabbits out of hats. That is called magic.
Mets Manager Joe Torre reached into his hat last night and pulled out Bob Gibson. That is called a miracle.
Oh. you say that was really Ray Burris who overpowered Steve Carlton and the Phillies, 3-0, with late help from relief ace Neil Allen?
You could have fooled hell out of 23,856 Vet witnesses.
That wasn't a guy with a 7.00 ERA in two previous starts out there turning Bake McBride's hot bat into a cold popsicle stick. That wasn't a pitcher who had a combined 1-5 record last season with the Yankees. Cubs and Mets. And if that's the same guy the Cubs traded to the Yankees after the ‘78 season for Dick Tidrow, then Harry Houdini was a second-rate carnival hustler.
Burris buried everybody but Pete Rose with a riding fastball and darting slider, and even the Phillies' first baseman, who had three of the four hits off Burris, tipped his hat.
"I THOUGHT the guy threw as good as I've ever seen hire throw," Rose said. "Two of the hits I got came on pitches so good I'm sure he'd take his chances throwing them to me again. He's always been a guy with good stuff who usually hurt himself somewhere in a ballgame with mistakes. But tonight he didn't make any mistakes."
Actually, the 6-5 righthander's bloated ERA was also something of an illusion. He was bombed by the Cubs in his first start on April 11, lasting only 2 innings. He came back from that five-run pounding to beat the Expos, 3-2, in a solid six-inning, six-strikeout effort.
Nor were the Phillies ever a particular mystery to Burris during the years when the Cubs were waiting for him to blossom into the next Ferguson Jenkins. Last night's victory raised his career record against them to 9-4.
Sometimes you get The Burr, but most of the time The Burr gets you, as Danny Ozark used to say.
All the sleight of hand didn't belong to the Mets, a team which limped into town after a fearful weekend pounding in Wrigley Field. Dallas Green's defense fooled everybody into thinking they had just seen a vintage Carlton effort, albeit a losing one.
GARRY MADDOX, who covered more acres of Southeastern Pennsylvania than a Republican Presidential candidate, saved at least three runs with a trio of dynamite catches, robbing John Stearns in the first, Stearns again in the fifth and Frank Taveras in the ninth. Larry Bowa made a leaping stab of a Lee Mazzilli liner in the first and a fine force play on Jerry Morales in the fourth. Bake McBride robbed Steve Henderson in the second.
"That's a big outfield but that guy makes it smaller," Torre said of Maddox. "The ball looks like it's hanging, but it's not hanging; he just makes it hang."
The Mets converted what the Phillies couldn't catch into single runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Burris, meanwhile, had his only problems with two outs. He threw a ground ball to Maddox with Rose and McBride on base in the third and got Larry Bowa on a liner to right with Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone on base in the sixth. But the 29-year-old righthander did his best bit of pitching in the seventh, when Rose gapped a hard grounder up the middle for a triple. Ray got McBride on a semi-liner to left to end the inning.
TORRE WENT to Allen when Burns walked Mike Schmidt with one out in the eighth. The hard-throwing youngster the Phillies tried unsuccessfully to get in the Richie Hebner deal last spring was still suffering windburn from a Cubs rally Saturday that had Anna and the King of Mongolia dancing in the Wrigley Field aisles.
Allen was torched for seven runs in 1⅓ innings, and bringing a young pitcher in to face Luzinski for his next assignment was like ordering a Stalingrad survivor back into immediate combat. Allen fell behind 3-0 in the count, but The Bull flied out to right on a 3-1 pitch. Bob Boone took a called strike on 3-1 and flied to left. Del Unser pinch-hit a single with two outs in the ninth, but Rose hit the first pitch to center. Allen had his fourth save of what will be a very busy season.
"In that situation I don't like lo take a strike just to take a strike," Rose said. "He was down 3-1 to Bull and Boone and didn’t walk them, so I knew he wasn’t gonna walk me. I knew he just wanted to get a strike on me. so I figured I'd get a fastball to hit. That's what I got and I should have hit it harder than I hit it."
IT WAS excellent therapy for Neil Allen.
"I was kind of shell-shocked (after Chicago)." he said. "I think tonight got me over the hump. I got a little confidence out of it. I embarrassed myself in Chicago. I'm a better pitcher than that."
What the Mets proved was that on any given Monday night, etc, etc. They proved that Steve Carlton vs. Ray Burris was not a mortal lock.
Even Dallas Green couldn't get worked up over this one. Any fools, even the writers, could see that Burris was getting the Phillies out with legit stuff. Nobody, but nobody, over 40 muttered, "I could have hit the bleep that guy was throwing."
"HE NEVER threw like that in Wrigley Field," Larry Bowa said. "I guess he's not afraid he's gonna get a pitch up and have it blow out of the park on him. He was nasty, the best I've seen him throw."
The loss left Green waiting for the other cleat to drop.
"The test will be tomorrow," he said, "to see how we can come back. I can take a loss like this. The guy pitched a helluva game. That's gonna happen in this league. Lefty wins 90 percent of the games he pitches with stuff like that. If he keeps pitching like that Cy Young won't know what the hell it's all about."
Joe Torre is going with Tom Hausman tonight. The 6-5 righthander's record is 0-1, his ERA 3.75.
Having pulled Bob Gibson out of his hat last night, asking Joe to come up with Cy Young for an encore might be too much. That's a job for Mandrake the Magician.
PHILUPS: Reports on Manny Tnllo's sprained left ankle are not encouraging. "I think we're looking past this weekend;" Dallas Green said. "But I don't think we're looking at a disabled list situation"... Nino Espinosa continues to make slow – infinitesmal? – progress and will not work in Thursday evening's exhibition in Reading... Ron Reed worked behind Steve Carlton and struggled with location two walks (one intentional) and a hit batsman. Veteran allowed an eighth-inning run. Pitching staff has logged one complete game in nine outings (Carlton, opening day), two saves... Dick Ruthven will make his third start tonight.
There were five winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff. In the sixth inning of the Phillies-Mets game, Mildred T. Fackler of Philadelphia won $10 and four reserved seats to a future Phillies game on a single by Greg Luzinski. Kevin Ghee, Bernard M. Krebs, and Minnie Nixon all from Philadelphia and Kstelle Quirk of Thorofare, N.J., each won tickets to a Phillies game.
This brings the total to $2,680 paid out by the Daily News.
Today's entry coupon is on this page.