Philadelphia Inquirer - April 24, 1980
Mark Bomback (Who?) stops Phillies, 3-2
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
There have been other Mark Bombacks in other years.
There has been Randy Niemann. There has been Larry Bradford. There has been Mike Bruhert. There have been millions more.
They descend from Pluto of the Intergalactic League or someplace. The Phillies have never seen them before. The Phillies don't like them because they have never seen them before. And the Phillies lose to them, because they have never seen them before.
Last night it was Mets rookie Mark Bomback who did the honors in a 3-2 win over the Phillies.
Bomback, at age 27, already is a veteran of nine straight years in the minors. He once was released by Boston and was working in a warehouse in Fall River, Mass., on Opening Day 1977.
But Milwaukee tracked him down and signed him. He became the Minor League Player of the Year in 1979. And last night, in his first National League start, he held the Phillies to one run in seven innings.
However, Bomback was far from the whole story last night. He wasn't the whole story because the Phillies got into that legendary Mets bullpen. But even though they sent five hitters to the plate with the tying run in scoring position in the eighth and ninth, they couldn't get that run in.
Bob Boone and Greg Gross couldn't get Lonnie Smith home from third in the eighth. And, in a bizarre finish, with Dallas Green totally out of troops, pinch-hitter Randy Lerch struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth.
"I go back to what I said. If we're gonna contend, if we're gonna do anything we said we were gonna do in spring training, we've got to beat these teams. It's that simple," Green said. "And we can't beat these teams if we continue to leave guys on third base."
Green ripped off a sock. "Gul damn, it was hard to take that one," he said. It was tough to tell if he was referring to the sock or the game.
What made the game tough to take was not so much Bomback, who at least showed a big-league breaking ball. It was more those chances blown and runs given away.
A wild pitch set up the Mets' first run. The second scored on an error by Luis Aguayo on a sixth-inning ground ball with the infield in. A leadoff walk by Tug McGraw in the eighth, followed by a bunt on which neither McGraw nor Aguayo covered first, led to the third run.
In case Green didn't have enough to get upset about, he also lost Larry Christenson for a while. Christenson strained his groin pitching to Jerry Morales in the first inning and is expected to miss at least a turn.
"I've got to look at the pitching," Green said, "because (Dick) Ruthven certainly has to be of concern. Now I have Christenson with a breakdown, and J don't know what the doctor is going to give me there. I can't keep going to the bullpen every single night, that's for sure."
He had to go to Ron Reed in the second inning last night, so the pinch-hitter parade began in the fifth. George Vukovich did the job that time, singling in Aguayo, who had tripled, to tie the score.
Later Greg Gross drilled a pinch triple leading off the seventh. But, as a harbinger of things to come, Pete Rose lined out to Doug Flynn, Bake McBride and Gerry Maddox flied out and Gross stayed put.
So Green started shuffling players like vintage Gene Mauch. In the eighth, after the Mets had pulled away to 3-1, Mike Schmidt (three-for-three) doubled and Keith Moreland singled him in. Moreland reached second on a needless throw to the plate by Flynn, so Green put Lonnie Smith in as a pinch runner.
Later, Larry Bowa beat out a single off the foot of reliever Neil Allen with a hook slide into first. So Green sent Del Unser to bat for Aguayo, who was two-for-three. This was a move that was questioned later. Green shrugged and said, "I don't think I would change anything I did."
Joe Torre countered with lefthander Ed Glynn, so Green replaced Unser with Bob Boone, who would have had to catch the ninth anyway. He battled Glynn to two-and-two, then flied softly to shallow center. Coach Lee Elia looked at Smith at third, then decided not to send him.
"It's a spontaneous reaction," Elia said. "When the ball went up, we both looked at each other. But the ball looked shallow to me when it went up.... I think if he had gone it would nave been a very close play. I think the ball would have beat him, but it short-hopped the catcher. It might have been a tough ball to handle."
But that was said in hindsight – after Gross had flied to left and Smith had been stranded.
Glynn got two outs in the ninth. But Maddox doubled, Glynn pitched around Schmidt and walked him, and Torre sent for righthander Jeff Rear-don to face Greg Luzinski. Dickie Noles, the pitcher, was on deck.
Reardon, who gave up the titanic three-run homer Luzinski hit Tuesday, surprisingly threw him two quick strikes. But the Bull got back to two-and-two, and after that, said Luzinski, "he threw them hard and high and wide."
When Luzinski's walk filled the bases, Green looked down his bench and chose Lerch over Steve Carlton to hit for Noles. His 25th man, Manny Trillo, has a sprained ankle and still can’t play.
“I had Steve and Lerch loosening up all inning," Green said. "I thought Randy had better possibilities. He runs a little better than Steve. He battled pretty good, I thought."
Lerch, who hit two homers, in the famous division-clincher game of 1978, fouled off two fastballs. Then he took a fastball high for ball one, took a curve high for ball two and fouled off another fastball.
Reardon came back with one more fastball.. Lerch missed it. Ball game over. Very weird ball game over.