Camden Courier-Post - April 24, 1980

Phils miss too many chances


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


PHILADELPHIA – Perhaps the seeds of the Phillies' 3-2 loss to the New York Mets last night were sown early on, when the Phils failed to answer opportunity's repeated rapping.


When a team strands 13 base runners and three times fails to bring men in from scoring position with less than one out, it's difficult to pin a loss on another factor. Yet, last night's defeat can – at least in part – be attributed to managerial moves backfiring on Dallas Green.


Green found himself in an eighth-inning chess match with Mets Manager Joe Torre when, with runners at first and third, one out, a run already in and righthanded reliever Neil Allen on the mound, Green sent lefthander Del Unser in to pinchhit for second baseman Luis Aguayo.


TORRE IMMEDIATELY countered, bringing in lefthander Ed Glynn. Green responded by calling Unser back to the dugout and sending Bob Boone, who'd been given the night off from catching, to the plate.


"Bobby's a very capable hitter," Green would say later. "I was very comfortable with him in that situation."


It was, however, something of a calculated risk sending Boone, who's not fast enough to avoid a double play should he hit a ground ball, to hit in that situation. In fairness. Green had no other righthanded hitters left, Manny Trillo having not recovered sufficiently from his sprained right ankle to be of service.


"BOBBY'S TRYING to lift the ball (in the air)," continued Green. "He knows he's a double play hitter. We had so many chances. We had to go into the bullpen (because starter Larry Christenson pulled a groin muscle in the first inning and had to leave the game) and they held, and we did some things I like. We kept battling back, battling back, and we just didn't get the big hit, we didn't get the big fly ball, we didn't get the run in."


Boone got the desired fly ball, hitting it to Jerry Morales in shallow center field. Lonnie Smith, who was sent in to pinch run for Keith Moreland after Moreland had made it 3-2 with an RBI single, was the runner at third. Larry Bowa, who had singled off Allen's leg, advancing Smith from second, was the runner at first.


Smith is the fastest man on the team and might have challenged Morales' arm. But third base Coach Lee Elia held Smith, and both watched as Morales' throw landed well in front of the plate.


"THAT'S A tough judgment (whether or not to send Smith)," said Green. "We got the benefit of seeing what happened... It would've been an interesting play."


There would more developments of interest in what proved to be a fascinating game. The Phils were one strike away from losing in the ninth when Garry Maddox hammered a 1-2 pitch to left for a double. Mike Schmidt, who had three hits and scored on Moreland's single in the eighth, followed by working a walk after falling behind, 0-2.


That brought up Greg Luzinski with runners at first and second and, because of Green's previous moves, reliever Dickie Noles on deck. Torre immediately called in righthander Jeff Reardon, whom the Bull had victimized for a three-run home run on Tuesday. The fact that Noles would be the next hitter if Luzinski kept the inning going might not have been important – except Green was out of pinchhitters.


SO IT was that Luzinski, after also going 0-2, walked to load the bases. Green had no other choice but to use a pitcher – no other player was available – to pinchhit. Steve Carlton and Randy Lerch are the Phils' two best hitting pitchers. Green decided to go with Lerch, who worked a 2-2 count and fouled off a pitch before striking out to end the game.


"We had Steve and him loosening up all the way," Green said. "I thought Randy had better possibilities. He runs a little better than Steve. He battled pretty good.


"We leave three guys on third with one out, A man on third can score a helluva lot of ways. We score one of those, two of those, three of those, we're in pretty good shape, aren't we? "


"The only thing I'd change is we get the three runs in with one out. We do that, I don't have to worry about all that changing.


"IF WE'RE going to contend," Green concluded, "if we're going to do anything that we said we're going to do in spring training, we got to beat these teams. It's that simple. And, we can't beat these teams if we continually leave guys on third base."


Nor will the Phillies win many games when they have to depend upon a pitcher to pinchhit.


PHIL UPS – Bowa appeared in his 1,500th major league game... Phils may be considering placing Trillo on disabled list, enabling them to call up another player... Mets stole two bases, bringing the number of stolen bases against the Phillies to 14 in the last six games... Phils have an exhibition game against Reading tonight.