Wilmington Morning News - April 24, 1980

Green leaves Phils in Lerch


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies sputtered into the ninth inning last night trailing the Mets 3-2. When they loaded the bases with two out, Manager Dallas Green passed the bat to Randy Lerch.


Randy Lerch?


Yep, Randy Lerch, the pitcher.


In a game of musical players at Veterans Stadium, the rookie manager painted himself into the proverbial corner and had nobody but pitchers left to pinch hit with the game on the line.


Lerch, who battled Mets' reliever Jeff Reardon to a 2-2 count, fanned and New York a 3-2 triumph and two surprising victories in the three-game set.


"I've said all along I am not going to be afraid to use my bench in key situations," offered Green, who admitted the jarring loss to the weakest team in the division was the toughest pill he has had to swallow as manager. "Tonight, I used everybody.


"And the bottom line is that not everyone came through. Truthfully, though, I thought the key was that we had guys on third base with one out and couldn't get them home. That was the difference."


In the seventh, trailing 3-2, pinch-hitter Greg Gross led off the seventh with a triple and stayed there. In the eighth, pinch-runner Lonnie Smith made it to third with one out and stayed there as pinch-hitter Bob Boone lofted a fly to shallow center.


And in the ninth, with two out, Garry Maddox doubled off Ed Glynn and after the left-hander walked Mike Schmidt, New York Manager Joe Torre called on 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 and obviously aware the Phils had no more players available, he walked Luzinski.


"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, New York starter Mark 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, however, was the difference. The left-handed reliever walked Frank Taveras to start the inning and when John Stearns bunted, failed to cover first base and both runners were safe. McGraw fielded Mazzilli's bunt and threw out Taveras at third, but Joel Youngblood followed with a single to center and the Mets had a 3-1 lead.


The Phils had scored their only run on Aguayo's triple and George Vukovich's single.


The eighth was the most difficult inning.


Schmidt, who had earlier singled twice and walked once, opened with a double to left off Neil Allen. Luzinski flied to right before Keith Moreland singled to center and went to second as Schmidt scored ahead of the throw.


Now, Green pulled out all the stops. Smith was sent in to run for Moreland. After Larry Bowa beat out an infield single, and Smith stopped at third. Green sent Del Unser to the plate to bat for Aguayo. Torre immediately countered, bringing in the left-hander Glynn to face the left-handed Unser.


Here, Green called Unser back and sent Boone, who was getting the night off to rest, to the plate. The catcher's fly ball to center was too shallow to score Smith and Glynn had a big out before Greg Gross flied to left to end it.


Taking Aguayo out was the key to the predicament the Phils found themselves in in the ninth. Not only did the move use up two players, it also meant that weak-hitting John Vukovich had to take over at second base and was the scheduled No. 2 batter in the ninth. He popped out.


"I still wouldn't change anything I did," said Green. "Bobby Boone is a good hitter. We thought he could get the run home. No. we were not trying anything fancy, like a squeeze or hit-and-run. We were just trying to get the run home. Bobby knows he is a doubleplay man if he hits the ball on the ground, so he was trying to get under it."


As it turned out. Smith probably would have been able to score because center fielder Morales' throw was on line, but short.


"It was a judgment call (by third base coach Lee Elia)," said Green. "We had the benefit of seeing what happened after the decision was made. It would have been an interesting play."


Green said he had both Lerch and Steve Carlton ready to pinch hit in the ninth, but went with Randy "because he runs a little bit better than Steve."