Reading Eagle - April 24, 1980

Jeff Reardon Stops Phillies


PHILADELPHIA – Jeff Reardon had thrown in the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth innings.  He hadn’t actually pitched, he merely warmed up in the New York Mets bullpen.


“I was ready when they called me,” he said.  “Maybe even a little tired.”


If Reardon had hesitated about finding his way to the mound, he could be excused.  The Philadelphia Phillies, trailing by a run, had runners on first and second, two outs and Greg Luzinski at bat in the ninth inning Wednesday night.


And only the night before, Luzinski had hit what Mets Manager Joe Torre had described as an “earthquake” off Reardon, a three-run homer to deep center field.


This time, the outcome was different.  Luzinski walked on a 3-2, Reardon got the next batter and the Mets beat Philadelphia, 3-2, to take the series, 2-1.


“I had a quick thought about intentionally walking Luzinski,” said Torre, a move that would have sent Garry Maddox to third base and Mike Schmidt to second.  “But there’s something about putting that tying run 90 feet from home plate.”


So Reardon, a 24-year-old right-hander with a 5.40 earned run average this season, pitched Luzinski to an 0-2 count, refrained from giving him anything decent to hit thereafter and walked him, loading the bases.


Now, Phillies’ Manager Dallas Green , who had used all his able-bodied replacements except a few pitchers, called on southpaw hurler Randy Lerch to bat for pitcher Dickie Noles.  Lerch, a pretty good hitter, dueled Reardon to a 2-2 count, then went down swinging.


“We knew he didn’t have any pinch-hitters left,” Reardon said, “so he (Torre) told me not to worry about walking Luzinski.”


The save, Reardon’s first of the season, climaxed a night of Mets’ pitching that stranded 13 Phillies, including Greg Gross who opened the seventh with a triple and stayed there as starter Mark Bomback got Pete Rose, Bake McBride and Garry Maddox.


Bomback was making only his second major league start.


Green, in his first full season since replacing Danny Ozark last August 31, said, “This one hurt.  We had so many chances.  Our bullpen held up and we did some things I like.  But we didn’t get the big hit.”


Other than the loss and the messed-up scoring chances, there was another disturbing note for Green.  Starting pitcher Larry Christenson, who missed much of the 1979 season because of a broken ankle and a groin injury, worked one inning, then had to leave because of a groin strain which will sideline him for at least his next scheduled start.