Wilmington Evening Journal - April 24, 1980

Phils’ failure to produce in pinch is costly


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – It was an honest question, asked with sincerity.


"Why pinch-hit for Luis Aguayo in that situation? After all, he had been hitting the ball hard all night."


Dallas Green stared at the interrogator for several moments. It was not certain whether he was going to explode or whether he was pondering an answer.


Finally, he answered. "That's a second guess. That's all it is. I would not do anything differently… I am not afraid to use my bench in any situation. I am going to use my players."


Last night the Phillies' manager used his players – all of 'em. And in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and two out, he had nobody but a pitcher available to pinch hit.


Randy Lerch struck out and the hapless New York Mets had a 3-2 victory. That gave the weakest team in the National League East two triumphs in the three-game set.


To say that Joe Torre outmanaged Dallas Green last night would be unfair. The Phillies didn't get the hitting when they needed it and didn't get shutout pitching when they needed it.


But to most of the frustrated fans in the Veterans Stadium crowd of 23,023, Green's moves just didn't work even though the Phils, who stranded 13 runners, outhit the Mets 12-7.


For the Phils, the game was obviously lost in the eighth inning.


They were trailing 3-1 when Mike Schmidt led off with a double to left, his third hit of the pleasant night. Greg Luzinski, whose six-game hitting streak came to an end, flied to right before rookie catcher Keith Moreland singled Schmidt home and took second on the throw.


Neil Allen, who had taken over in the eighth in relief of rookie starter Mark Bomback, knew Larry Bowa would be bunting. The shortstop put down a beauty and was safe at first, while Lonnie Smith, who was running for Moreland, took third.


Green sent Smith in because in a one-run game he wanted more speed on the bases. No problems with that, but he used up a potential pinch hitter and Moreland, who would have batted in the ninth in Lerch's spot, was out of the game.


The next move, however, is what hurt the Phillies the most.


Allen, who has four saves, is a right-hander. With runners on first and third, one out, Green sent up left-hander Del Unser to pinch hit.


Torre immediately, countered by bringing in left-hander Ed Glynn. Green's move was to bring Unser back to the dugout and send up Bob Boone, who before that had been given the night off.


Glynn got Boone to hit a soft fly to shallow center and third-base coach Lee Elia elected to hold Smith. As it turned out, the lightning-fast Smith would have been safe because Jerry Morales' throw to the plate was on line, but short.


Greg Gross flied out to left and the eighth was over.


Now, Green inserted reliever Dickie Noles in the Moreland-Smith slot, and already had good-field, no-hit John Vukovich in the No. 2 slot at second base. So, entering the ninth, Green had left available only his nine players on the field plus the injured Manny Trillo and five pitchers.


With two down in the ninth, Garry Maddox doubled off Glynn and after the left-hander walked Schmidt, Torre called on Jeff Reardon to pitch to Luzinski.


Just 24 hours earlier, Luzinski blasted a three-run homer off the hard-throwing right-hander that wiped out an 8-5 Mets' lead. Last night, after getting ahead 0-2, Reardon was unable to put Luzinski away and walked bim on a 3-2 pitch.


"When Torre brought me in he told me not to worry about Tuesday night," said Reardon. "With Luzinski coming up, he warned me not to give him anything good to hit. He knew that they didn't have anybody left to bat. Frankly, I just tried to put Luzinski's home run out of my mind. It wasn't easy, but that's what I tried to do."


The night started off on the wrong foot for the Phils and never really improved.


Starting pitcher Larry Christenson did not return to the mound after the first inning because of a first-degree groin pull that will probably cost him at least one start.


The injury-plagued right-hander hurt himself when he pitched to Jerry Morales in the first inning after the Mets took a 1-0 lead.


Ron Reed blanked the Mets for four innings, but relievers Lerrin LaGrow and Tug McGraw each gave up a run.


Meanwhile, Bomback spaced eight hits and allowed just one run over seven innings.


In the sixth, Lee Mazzilli doubled with one out, stole third and scored on Luis Aguayo's error at second base.


McGraw's eighth inning, however, was the difference. The left-handed reliever walked Frank Taveras to start the inning and when John Steam bunted, failed to cover first base and both runners were safe. McGraw fielded Maz-xilli's bunt and threw out Taveras at third, but Joel Youngblood followed with a single to center and the Mets bad 3-1 lead.


The Phils had scored their first run, in the fifth, on Aguayo's triple and George Vukovich's single.


EXTRA POINTS - The Phils have established a 7:05 starting time for Saturday night games, instead of the usual 7:35... Today is an open date, but the team will play an exhibition tonight at Reading… The front office was involved in a golf outing and a trip to Atlantic City... Last night's was Bowa's 1,500th game... Pitcher Jim Kaat, released this week by the Yankees, was at the stadium last night... If he is unable to book on with another club, be may take a job in the Phils', minor-league system.