Philadelphia Daily News - April 23, 1980

Homers Highlight Phils’ Rally

 

By Bill Conlin

 

There are different ways of looking at a baseball game when you are down 8-4 in the fourth. None are very encouraging, but some breed more optimism than others.

 

If the team beating your brains out at that juncture happens to be the Pirates, Astros, Reds or Dodgers, your chances are not awfully good. It's a good night to use all the pitchers who haven't been getting enough work and sweep the cobwebs off some of your extra men.

 

Down 8-4 after four against the Mets, however, chances are your chances are awfully good, to quote Johnny Mathis.

 

Never mind that a still off-form Dick Ruthven is pounded for six runs in the second. Not to worry. Recent history and the Mets' pitching staff are on your side.

 

The four-wood Mike Schmidt dropped in the first row of the 500 level in the first inning was a two-run clue that Tom Hausman would not be around all night, or even a significant portion of it.

 

STILL, DALLAS GREEN was worried. He had every right to be. Ruthven was flat-out torched. And Scott Munninghoff. gathering rust since his first big-league appearance 10 days ago, added two runs to Ruthven's line and gave up two more on his own before settling down.

 

Nor were the Mets scoring on broken-bat flares and bleeders. They were hitting tracers.

 

There was some advance warning, however, to the eventual avalanche which would bury the Mets. 14-8. Munninghoff’s first big-league hit came in his first at-bat and became a triple when it stayed in the rightfield corner so long fans along the first base line wondered if Joel Youngblood had been kidnapped. And George Vuckovich, hitting for Munninghoff leading off the fifth, wound up with a triple for his first big-league hit on a fly to deep center that should have and could have been caught by Jerry Morales.

 

When Pete Rose walked and Bake McBride made it 8-5 with a single, Joe Torre, the patient man who is left with the debris from a brief, fallen empire, went to right-handed reliever Jeffery Reardon.

 

Like many of the young arms on Torre's staff. Reardon throws hard and he pumped a fastball past Greg Luzinski. The kid missed with a breaking ball and came back with a 1-1 heater. Bull got it all, tying the game, 8-8, with a dead-center homer just a little lower but no slower than his historic Liberty Bell shot in 73 off Burt Hooton.

 

"I CRUSHED THAT ball," Greg said, telling no lie. "When I hit it there was no doubt in my mind. It was a fastball down just a little bit."

 

One Green would say, "left a helluva lot faster than it came in – and it came in pretty fast."

 

It remained for The Wild Bunch to take charge, the kids Green brought north because they showed signs in the minors of enjoying hell out of playing baseball and would guarantee his bench wouldn't "look like a " bunch of penguins sitting there."

 

Luis Aguayo, the slick little second baseman filling in for injured Manny Trillo, came up with a decisive defensive play with one out in the seventh. Kevin Saucier, who plays The Bear to Dickie Noles B J., was in a bases-loaded jam. Elliott Maddox smoked a ball up the middle.

 

Aguayo got a tremendous jump on the liner, speared it and outraced Youngblood to second for the unassisted double play. "I had moved one step to the right just before that play," Luis said. "We needed a double play and there it was. I beat him to the bag by maybe eight inches."

 

Saucier walked three but nobody scored during the three innings he was in there. And if the tough lefthander sometimes looks angry out there, it's because he is.

 

"I don't like base hits," he said. "I'll admit that. There's nothing wrong with getting a little red-assed as long as it don't blow your concentration. I get hot when I make a stupid pitch and somebody gets a base hit.

 

"LUIS KEPT ME OUT there long enough to pick up the win. No way I hit if the ball gets through and a couple of runs score. The kid comes to play. He's a good ballplayer. He can play behind me any day. I think he'd be playing every day with some other clubs. He's showing he can do a job."

 

Larry Bowa triggered the putaway six-run eighth with a one-out single and Aguayo fueled the rally with a professional single to left after falling behind, 0-2, in the count.

 

Keith Moreland was the pinch hitter for Saucier. In the Phillies yearbook. Bob Boone's backup says his favorite city is Dallas, his favorite TV show is "Dallas," his favorite book is "North Dallas Forty" and his greatest achievement was being a college All-American in baseball at, you guessed it, Texas University.

 

He rewarded his favorite manager, Dallas Green, with a shot to deep left which might have been caught by a better outfielder than Ken Henderson. But the ball clattered off Henderson's glove and off the fence while Bowa and Aguayo scampered, home.

 

Torre grimly went to hard-throwing righthander John Pacella, who has trouble throwing strikes. Pacella intentionally walked Pete Rose, struck out Bake McBride and walked Garry Maddox to load them up for Schmidt.

 

Schmidt crushed a 2-1 fastball into the seats in left for his fourth career grand slam and third off the Mets, the first two coming in 1973, his rookie year, eight days apart off the incomparable Harry Parker and Phil Hennigan.

 

"I COULDN'T TELL you who I hit any of 'em off," said Schmidt, who hit the last one off Enrique Romo last September and had the second six-RBI game of his career. "The first ball I got under and lofted. I hit the second one much better. I'd like to hit a few lines drives once in a while, too."

 

Schmidt says he likes the young look on the bench.

 

"In Montreal when he got his first big-league base hit on a squeeze bunt, Luis didn't want the ball," Schmidt said. "He said he wanted his first hit to be a clean one. I've thought all along the young guys would do a good job. Hey, Manny's our second baseman and nobody likes to see him out of our lineup, but it gives Luis 10-15 games in a row to play. That's 30-40 at-bats."

 

Aguayo says in the Yearbook that his biggest turn on is, "Every time I go home in September," his biggest turnoff is, "Saying goodbye in March to my family and girlfriend."

 

"His biggest turnons will change," Schmidt grinned. "I can guarantee that."

 

It remained for Noles to pound through a hitless ninth.

 

The pitchers behind Ruthven were Munninghoff, Saucier and Noles, three kids who were in the minors this time last season. The old bullpen order changeth.

 

The starting order might not be far behind.

 

PHILUPS: "I felt sorry for Dick Ruthven," Dallas Green said. "I can't get him started. He didn't have good stuff. He tells me he has no pain in his arm, no pain in his back or anywhere else, but he's just not throwing the ball"... In three relief appearances covering 7.2 innings, Dickie Noles has allowed four hits, no runs, struck out nine and walked just two... Mike Schmidt jumped into the club RBI lead by doubling his previous total of six. His other six-RBI game and his top RBI game of eight both came in Wrigley Field... The Phils have three six-run innings and are outscoring the opposition, 64 runs to 49... Mark Bomback makes his first N.L. start tonight vs. Larry Christenson.

5 More Win

 

There were five winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the fourth inning of the Phillies-Mets game, Maureen Schmidt of Warminster won $50 on a double by Bob Boone. Joseph Cardia of Vineland won $25 on a RBI-sacrifice fly by Larry Bowa, and Louis Market of Philadelphia won $10 via a single by Greg Luzinski. Winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game were Jim Dormer of Philadelphia and Dean Fisher of Bensalem.

 

So far the Daily News has paid out $2,765.

 

 

Today's entry coupon can be found on page 71.