Wilmington Evening Journal - April 23, 1980

Green Phils ripen at the Vet


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – Baseball talk is cheap when we're all knee-deep in snow. Most of that is soon forgotten with the first scent of spring.


Dallas Green insists his talk is not cheap. When he took over as manager of the Phillies for 1980 he said he was going to find 25 athletes who wanted to play and win for Philadelphia.


Nobody thought too much of this, but the day he cut pitchers Rawly Eastwick and Doug Bird, and infielder Buddy Harrelson from the team in spring training a few eyebrows were lifted. If Eastwick and Bird do not hook on with other teams, that move alone might cost owner Ruly Carpenter nearly a million dollars because Eastwick and Bird had guaranteed contracts.


The Phillies stormed from behind in the April chill of Veterans Stadium last night to shock the terrible New York Mets 14-8. Mike Schmidt blasted two homers, including a grand slam, and Greg Luzinski's three-run rocket pulled the Phils even when it was 8-5.


But if you really analyze the victory, the play of Dallas Green's youngsters, the five rookies and a couple of sophomores made it all possible.


And with that, something he said in spring training came to mind.


"I got tired of the same old, tired smug look I saw on our bench last September," said Green. "Cripes, we'd be in a tough game and I'd look down there and it was like 10 penguins sitting there. These kids will be hollering and they'll go out and battle somebody. When they go in, they won't look like they're going to the electric chair."


The only people who felt they were going to the electric chair last night were the men wearing Mets' uniforms. After all, they pounded Dick Ruthven for six runs in the second inning and at one stage were on top 8-3, out-hitting the Phils 13-5.


But rookie Scott Munninghoff came in and threw some water on the fire, pitching well for 3 innings. Then, for a few innings, the game was put in rookie second baseman Luis Aguayo's talented but inexperienced, hands.


Aguayo, filling in for the injured Manny Trillo, speared a line drive in the sixth with the bases loaded and turned it into an inning-ending doubleplay to get second-year reliever and eventual winner Kevin Saucier off the hook.


"That's what got us started," said Schmidt, who blasted a two-run homer in the second and his fourth grand slam in the eighth when the Phils scored six times. "That took the wind out of their sails."


Earlier, in the fifth, rookie pinch-hitter George Vuckovich opened the inning with his first major-league hit, a triple to center on a night when the ball was carrying like a paper airplane. He eventually scored and a few moments later Luzinski cracked his home run that tied the marathon at 8-8.


That's how it remained when the Phils opened the eighth, with Aguayo again playing an important role by keeping a budding rally alive with a sharp single to left.


But the rookie corps was not finished there.


Keith Moreland walked to the plate with runners on first and sec ond, and one out. He swung ana missed the first two Kevin Kobel pitches, then with the count 1-2 smashed a double to left that went down in the books as the game winner.


Schmidt's grand slam off John Pacella was mere icing on the cake and second-year man Dickie Noles, Green's new "hammer" put down the numbed Mets in the ninth without a disturbance.


Schmidt's last grand slam came against Pittsburgh in September of 1979. His first two were eight days apart in June of 1973. This was the 21st time he has hit two homers in a game.


"I'm getting better pitches to hit this year because I am hitting behind Greg," said Schmidt, who is batting .310 with four homers and 12 RBI. "Last year he was scuffling and the pitchers could be more selective in what they gave me. He is on his way to a great year, I think he is going to be the key to this team this year.


"That pitcher (Reardon) was tough and with two out was in the driver's seat. The Bull waited on him and went to center field. That was a fine piece of hitting."


"It was a good pitch," said Luzinski, who is hitting .325 with four homers and 10 RBI. "The ball was carrying well tonight, but I crushed it. I knew it was gone the minute I hit it. It's good to be able to put runs on the board when we're so far behind. I think the mood on the bench, though, was that we were going to come back."


After Ray Burris and Neil Allen shut out the Phils 3-0 on Monday night, Green said the Tuesday game would be interesting.


"I was anxious to see what kind of an approach we would take after that," he said. "I was a little worried when it was 8-3, but these guys kept battling. When you look back, we have only been out of one game and that was Monday night."


"I'm a little concerned about Ruthven," said Green. "He is having no physical problems with his arm, but just can't get going. I thought I went with him as long as I could tonight."


"After Monday night it looked like we were digging a hole for ourselves," added Schmidt. "If we had lost tonight, we would have had to regroup. Now, we can feel pretty good, Let me tell you one thing even though we beat the New York Mets, we had to get those hits and runs against major-league players."