Philadelphia Daily News - April 28, 1980
Cards Bats Deck Phils
By Bill Conlin
It was like watching a good round of batting practice. The hitters are warmed up and loose. The BP pitcher is in such a tight groove the guys face him day after day could hit line drives with their eyes closed.
Dick Ruthven pitched a good round of batting practice yesterday.
The same Cardinal team which had trouble putting together a good swing 18 hours before against Steve Carlton's one-hit stuff quickly found a groove against Dallas Green"s endangered righthander.
He faced 17 batters before the Phillies manager yanked him with one out in the third. Eight of them flogged base hits. It was not a case of broken bats, bleeders through the infield or opposite field flares. The Cardinals were beating the ball lopsided. Even the outs were spinning fielders or pinning their numbers against an outfield fence.
THE CARDINALS did not discriminate against Ruthven.
After blitzing to a 4-0 lead they screwed themselves into the ground and pounded four bullpenners. When the mushroom cloud drifted off to the southwest. St. Louis had a thermonuclear 10-1, 19-hit victory.
"Ruthven was up with everything today." said Cards Manager Ken Boyer. who got an awesome 5-for-5 performance from batting champion Keith Hernandez and three hits apiece from Garry Templeton and second-string catcher Terry Kennedy "He shut us out 1-0 a couple of years ago and it was one of the most overpowering games I've ever seen a pitcher throw. I was talking to (pitching coach) Claude Osteen on the bench and told him it was the first time I've ever seen him up with all his pitches."
In four starts, including a scuffling victory over the Expos in the second game of the season. Ruthven has allowed a staggering 28 hits in 15s innings. His ERA is 9.56.
Ruthven is baffled. He steadfastly maintains that nothing is bothering him physically. He says his surgically-repaired right elbow feels fine. But Dick might not be the best witness in his own behalf. He went half a season last year saying he felt terrific, despite medical evidence which finally caught up with him the second half of the season.
IF A GUY is legitimately injured, he has an obligation to his manager and teammates to report the problem if it is serious enough to diminish his performance. Bake McBride helped hang a failed-to-hustle rap on himself Friday night when he pinch-hit with a knee injury and failed to go from first to third on a single to right. Lack of communication between player and manager caused undue criticism of McBride and Green's failure to use the pinch-runner he would have used had he known the extent of the swelling in Bake's knee might have cost the Phillies a ball game.
There is no way a manager can read 25 minds.
The cold evidence in the wake of Ruthven's performances since spring training points to a physical problem. An arm is not a tangle of cables which can be cut into and spliced together every couple of years like an electrical cable. Ruthven has had elbow surgery twice. His arm was so weak after 1974 surgery he spent most of the ‘75 season in the minors.
"I've never been cut on arm-wise." a worried Green said after the Phillies lost their third consecutive three-game series. "I've pitched with a sore arm. which Dick has done in the past, but I can't relate to what he might be experiencing in the wake of surgery. He says he has no pain, no discomfort. I can't understand, he can't understand, why he can't get it going. He may have (subconscious) fear of hurting it again and that may be a valid reason.
"He's just not throwing the ball. We don't see the velocity and velocity is what we're worried about right now. His ratio of fast balls to change-ups and breaking balls is probably a 50-50 deal right now and that's not Dickie Ruthven."
GREEN'S OPTIONS are severely limited. His best minor-league arms – Jim Wright and Marty Bystrom – are in limbo. Wright is coming back from two years of injury-enforced inactivity. Bystrom is still on the disabled list from an early-spring groin injury.
Nobody in the league, with the possible exception of Houston, has enough pitching and any club Paul Owens attempts to pry a starter from would demand a heavy price.
"It may be we have to take a tougher look at this and re-evaluate where we are with him." Green said. "I want to give him another start – that's not to say it's his last start – to see if any of the shock treatment and some of the conversations ahead the next couple of days prove beneficial. He's very much a part ot the pitching staff and we've got to get him going."
A BOOK SITS atop the filing cabinet in Green's office. The title is, "How To Avoid Stress Before It Kills You."
The way the pitching outlook is falling out of focus, the book may get as much work this spring as the bullpen.
Carlton's record-breaking sixth National League one-hitter and the late offense which led to a 7-0 victory Saturday night is the stuff of which momentum is made. But it's tough to establish momentum when the enemy is lighting up the scoreboard like a pinball machine.
Green addressed the troops after the loss and the press was halted some 30 feet short of the clubhouse door. Yes, his voice will carry through a metal door.
"We had a little discussion with me doing most of the talking," Green said. "I told them how I feel about where we are right now, that we weren't going to let them slip into areas we fell into when we were going bad in the past with this ballclub. Right now we aren't pitching well and we aren't hitting well. If Del Unser and Bob Boone didn't come up with a couple of big hits we might not have scored many runs Saturday night. As a team, we're not hitting and damned few individuals are hitting."
Hernandez is hitting. The splendid first baseman put on a clinic with a single to left, single to center, single to right, single to right and double to center. His second single to right was a low line drive off the fence hit on such a flat trajectory the late Carl Wallenda could have walked it.
"He didn't get 'em all off Dick Ruthven," Green said.
That seems to be a moot point. Once you get past Carlton, Randy Lerch and Dickie Noles, they all look alike.
There were six winners over the weekend in the Daily News Home Run Payoff.
In yesterday's fourth inning, Roberta Gardner of Philadelphia, Jerry O'Neill Jr. of Abington. and Helen Myers of Pennsauken each won four reserved tickets to a Phillies game.
In Saturday's sixth inning, Kay Delmar, Teresa Gadzinski and Margaret H. Small, all of Philadelphia, each won tickets.
So far the Daily News has paid out $2,775. To enter, fill out and mail the coupon that appears on Page 63 of today's paper.