Camden Courier-Post - April 28, 1980
Forsch handcuffs Phils as Cardinals roll to win
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies yesterday ended their second home stand of the season the way it began – with a loss in which hits were as hard to come by as a 90-cent gallon of gasoline."
They ended the six-game Veterans Stadium set 2-4 after the St. Louis Cardinals beat them up, 10-1, behind the six-hit pitching of righthander Bob Forsch. And, when the runaway was finally over, Phils Manager Dallas Green called his players together for a meeting.
"We had a little discussion. I did most of the discussing," Green said after watching the Cardinals batter five of his pitchers for 19 hits, including a two-run inside-the-park home run by Ken Oberkfell. "I just told them how I felt about where we are right now. It was just a reminder that I'm not going to let them slip into some areas that we slipped into before as a team."
WHERE THE Phillies were yesterday was peering at the wrong end of 4-0 score before the second out was recorded in the third inning. The Cards dealt righthander Dick Ruthven out early, reaching him for eight hits and the four runs in that time span.
The Phillies have been known to recover from four-run deficits. But St. Louis got three runs off lefthander Kevin Saucier and three unearned runs – compliments of a two-out error by second baseman Luis Aguayo – off Lerrin LaGrow. By the time the Phils batted in the home seventh, the final score had already been tabulated.
"It's a psychological thing," Green said. "It's a little bit more encouraging to come back from four runs down than nine down. That's the snowballing thing I don't want to happen. I want somebody to grab it and get it done."
The Phillies seem to have fallen into that baseball trap of not getting good pitching and good hitting simultaneously. Steve Carlton's one-hitter of Saturday night was backed by seven runs, but his first start of the home stand was a 3-0 loss. The hitters were on in a 14-8 win over the Mets last Tuesday, then off in ensuing 3-2 and 3-1 defeats.
YESTERDAY, however, the Phils got neither good hitting nor good pitching.
"Okay, the starters haven't pitched well," said Green. "But neither have the relievers when you get to the bottom line. And, we’re just not hitting well. It's that simple. We're not hitting as a team and there are darn few individuals hitting.
"That's what I told them today. It's pretty much been a team effort as far as lousing up is concerned."
The lousing up began on Ruthven's second pitch, which Garry Templeton lined into right field for a triple. Pete Rose gave Ruthven a temporary reprieve by stabbing an Oberkfell line drive, but Keith Hernandez followed with an RBI single. Thus began the onslaught.
HERNANDEZ PUT on a dazzling hitting display, going 5-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. He also stole two bases. Hernandez' steal was the eighth straight against Ruthven over the last three games. George Hendrick would make it nine straight in the second, eventually scoring on a single by Forsch.
Ruthven got one out in the third, Dan Iorg sending right fielder Greg Gross to the wall, but Terry Kennedy and Ken Reitz – who went 3-for-5 – delivered RBI singles that ended Ruthven's afternoon.
Scott Munninghoff, the most likely candidate to start Friday's game against Los Angeles since Larry Christenson will miss a turn with a groin pull, got the last two outs in the third and Saucier worked a scoreless fourth.
Saucier, who pitched well in his two previous appearances, ran into trouble in the fifth when he hit Hendrick with a pitch and Reitz followed with a single. Two outs later, Garry Templeton (3-for-6) stroked an RBI single to right that Gross misplayed, allowing another run to score. Templeton made it 7-0 when Hernandez ripped his fourth hit of the game.
The Phils got their only run in the fifth with some help from one of four St Louis errors. Larry Bowa, the only player in the lineup with more than one hit, grounded a ball to deep shortstop that Templeton threw away, Bowa winding up at third base. Aguayo followed with an RBI single.
PHIL UPS – The top of the Phillies lineup is struggling... Pete Rose, who singled in his first at bat, has just four hits in his last 18 at bats… Gross is 1-for-7 in the last two games... Mike Schmidt was 0-for-11 before singling in the ninth... Phils, off today, open three-game series against Mets in Shea Stadium tomorrow... Pitching matchups for series: Randy Lerch vs. Mark Bomback; Carlton vs. Pete Falcone; Ruthven vs. Craig Swan.
Ruthven’s performance has Phillies troubled
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – It would not be unfair, right now, to say the Phillies have struggled through their first 14 games with virtually the same problems they had during much of last year.
Granted, April games generally serve as a poor season barometer. But there is no guarantee that the difficulties the Phils are now facing will melt away under the July sun. Nor is there any assurance the club will return to its division-winning form of two years ago.
The primary concern yesterday was pitcher Dick Ruthven, who for the third straight time failed to get past the fourth inning. Ruthven was ripped for eight hits and four runs in 2⅓ innings by the St, Louis Cardinals en route to a 10-1 pasting that left Phillies Manager Dallas Green searching for answers.
"I would," Green said of Ruthven, "be more encouraged if he threw the ball. He's just not throwing the ball. And, how you get that across to a pitcher – other telling him and for him to look in the paper and see the results of his pitching – I'm not sure I know."
If yesterday's game were an isolated case, Green's concern would be premature. The fact is, however, since going seven innings in beating the Expos, 6-2, on April 12, Ruthven has been rocked for 22 hits and 16 runs in three starts. The righthander allowed Montreal seven hits and six runs in 4⅔ innings in his second outing and, against the Mets last Tuesday, Ruthven yielded seven more hits and six more runs in 1⅔ innings.
"The velocity is what we're worried about," said Green. "We don't see the velocity. And I think he (Ruthven) knows it down deep because he doesn't seem to want to throw it (his fastball) either.
"He feels like he's throwing the ball, but he's not. Everybody's told him that from the catcher to the pitching coach to me. The ration of changes and curves to fast-balls is probably 50-50, and that really shouldn't be Dick Ruthven."
There's little doubt the heart of Ruthven's problem lies in the surgery he underwent to remove bone chips from his right elbow. It takes a great deal of time for a pitcher to heal both physically and psychologically after surgery. Ruthven is no different, even though he has been saying since spring training that he feels no pain, no discomfort.
"Anytime you cut on an arm," Green continued, "it takes quite awhile to get everything back into sync. But with no pain, no discomfort, I just can't understand why he can't get it going. Dick and I have to talk about it a little more, just so I can understand him a little better."
The Phils have little choice except to be patient and hope Ruthven will eventually find himself. It may be too much to expect a guy coming off arm surgery to be in mid-season form in his first four starts.
But the Phillies do not have the luxury of time. Larry Christenson already will miss a turn, having pulled a groin muscle against the Mets last Wednesday. Nino Espinosa remains on the disabled list And, the only pitcher in the farm system who seems capable of filling a gap is Bob Walk.
"We're trying to have as much patience as possible," said Green. "But these games in April mean as much as games in September. A 'W' is a 'W' and an ‘L' is an 'L'. It may be that well have to take a tougher look at the thing and reevaluate where we are with him. I want to give him one more start – not meaning it will be his last start – and see if the shock treatment of these last few games and what we'll talk about will do something.
"Dick Ruthven is a big part of this pitching staff. He's proved he can win and that's why we got to get him going again. I think we have to exhaust everything in our knowledge of how to handle the pitching staff before we say, 'Dick, that's it,' and make a move."
A move open to the Phillies would be to trade for pitching help. It is rumored that General Manager Paul Owens would be willing to part with second baseman Manny Trillo for a front line pitcher. The problem is, few National League clubs have the caliber of pitcher a Trillo should bring.
The Phillies, then, have little choice but to wait – and hope – Ruthven finds his way back from pitching limbo.