Philadelphia Inquirer - April 28, 1980
Cards rip Phillies, Ruthven, 10-1
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
Somebody told Ken Boyer, the St. Louis Cardinals' manager, that Keith Hernandez had just raised his batting average about 60 points, from .270 to .333. The information did not pull Boyer away from the sausages he was cutting into bite-size pieces in the clubhouse. It was nothing special to him.
"(Garry) Templeton probably added several points to his, too," Boyer said. "It's easy on a day like this – although it's not easy to have a day like this.”
It's easy to inflate your April statistics or your ego when you are knocking out 19 hits and ripping the Phillies, 10-1, which is what the Cardinals did yesterday at the Vet. Thus, the Cardinals got the best of this three-game series, a series that showed how the Phillies would be lost without Steve Carlton.
Carlton tossed a one-hitter at the Cardinals Saturday night, but the Cardinals hit just about everything a five-man parade of Phillie pitchers tossed up yesterday on a raw, gray afternoon.
Hernandez, the Cardinals' co-MVP first baseman, was the big winner with a five-for-five day at the plate. He had four singles and a double, every one a shot, and three RBIs. He was also in a little slump... before the Phillies lifted him out of it yesterday.
Dick Ruthven was the big loser. He started for the Phils and, once again, finished early. He lasted just 2-1/3 innings, allowing eight solid hits and four runs. If nothing else, it was an improvement over his last outing – 1-2/3 innings – seven hits and six runs against the Mets – but the Phillies have more telling improvement in mind.
"He was up high with everything," Boyer said, "which is usually the case when you hit a guy like that. I haven't seen him that much, but, like I told (pitching coach Claude) Osteen on the bench, this was the first time I've seen him up like that."
Meantime, Bob Forsch allowed the Phillies just six hits, two by Larry Bowa, and an unearned run that came in the fifth inning, when the Cardinals were already playing with a 7-0 lead.
"Bob Forsch is a good pitcher, but we ought to have a better shot against him," said Dallas Green, showing some of his Pete Vuckovich frustration. "As a team, we're not hitting, and damn few individuals are hitting, too."
Green was moved enough to conduct a brief team meeting after the game, probably touching on the same themes he has been giving reporters.
"We had a little discussion, I did most of the discussing," the manager said. "It was no big deal. It was just to remind them not to slip into areas we've slipped into before."
The Cardinals had only one hitless inning yesterday (the sixth against Lerrin LaGrow), but they corrected that with a crazy seventh to tack on three runs.
The big hit was a two-run, two-out, inside-the-park homer by Ken Oberkfell after Templeton (three-for-four) had reached base on Luis Aguayo's error. Oberkfell hit his first pitch from LaGrow to deep right-center field, where Greg Gross let the ball skid by him and Lonnie Smith fell trying to cut it off. Next, Hernandez lashed a double, and he scored the final St. Louis run on Terry Kennedy's single.
Bad in April
The double was Hernandez' final hit, but only an eighth-inning defensive shift by Boyer kept Hernandez from batting again in the ninth and going for six-for-six, a feat no St. Louis player has accomplished since Terry Moore did it in 1935.
At any rate, Hernandez definitely came out of the 0-for-7 funk of the . series' first two games. “I’m a bad April player," he kept saying.
"I thought Ruthven was OK," he added, perhaps trying to be kind. "He had a good breaking ball. We just happened to get him today. It can happen that way: You can have good stuff and get killed.
"This was just a day where I came out and found myself. I can't tell you how or why, and I didn't feel that good before the game or anything."
The Cardinals didn't start too badly, just the same. Templeton – who, as he will do, made two errors at shortstop – drilled Ruthven's second pitch, a changeup, into the right-field corner for a triple. Pete Rose saved a run by spearing an Oberkfell line drive, but then Hernandez began his day with a sharp ground single to left to bring in Templeton.
That's all the Cardinals would get at that point. They added another run in the second, but two more in the third. Hernandez led off with a single and scored on a double by catcher Kennedy, who had a three-for-four day while Ted Simmons rested. After George Hendrick walked and Ken Reitz singled to plate Hernandez, Ruthven was gone.
Scott Munninghoff got out of that jam, but next Green went for Kevin Saucier, who was tagged for three runs in the fifth.
The Phillies got their run in the fifth without hitting the ball out of the infield. Bowa made third when Templeton fielded his tough bouncer but put the throw to first up the right-field line. He scored when Oberkfell reached Aguayo's chopper behind second but had the throw to first go through Hernandez.
Yet it was 7-1, of course, and the only question that remained was how many hits fhe Cardinals and Hernandez would get.
Ruthven puzzle still unsolved
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
A year ago, Dick Ruthven was the hottest starting pitcher in the National League. Now he's one of the hardest hit. In 1524 innings this year he's given up 28 hits and 17 earned runs. Even worse, in his last two starts he's been tagged for I5 hits and 10 earned runs in 3-2/3 innings.
But the Phillies need Dick Ruthven… and they haven't given up on him, even if they are worried about him.
"Let's face it," manager Dallas Green said yesterday after, the Cardinals-tagged Ruthven for eight hits in 2-1/3 innings en route to a 10-1 romp, "these games in April mean as much to me as games in September. A win's a win. An L's an L… It may be we have to take a tougher look and re-evaluate things with him. I'd like to give him another start to see if some of the shock treatment he's gone through in his last two games and some of the conversation we're going to have will do something for him. Dick Ruthven is very much a part of the pitching staff. He's proven he can win. He's proven he can win in the National League. We've got to get him going."
There seems little doubt that off-season surgery – to remove bone chips in his right elbow – has left Ruthven short of the pitcher he was, at least for-the time being.
Even if his stats are horrendous, he insists the pain is gone, a fact that makes Green and pitching coach Herm Starrette see a silver lining in what has the look of a very dark cloud.
"The only thing he (Ruthven) has to do is say, 'The hell with it,' and turn the ball loose," said Slarrette, who feels the pitcher is still at least subconsciously reluctant to do that. "It's like a guy with a broken leg. One day he says, 'The hell with it,' slides into second base and gets over the hump. That's all Dick needs. I'm satisfied in my mind he's sound."
Green, an untouched sandwich on his desk, a book entitled, "How to Avoid Stress Before It Kills You," on the cabinet behind his desk, was dearly troubled about the man he hopes will be his ace righthander.
"I'd be more encouraged if he threw the ball (hard)…. He feels like he's throwing the ball, but he's not," Green said. "Everybody has told him that from the catcher to the pitching coach to me. With no pain and no discomfort, I can't understand why we just can't get it going. Dick and I have to talk a little more to understand what's going on in his mind. He may have a fear of not wanting to hurt his arm again. (But) I guess pitchers live in constant fear of that, anyway. So that's not a valid reason."
According' to Green, "the velocity is what we're worried about, (and) I think he knows it down deep because he doesn't seem to want to throw it (the fastball), either. The ratio of changeup and curves to fast balls is probably in the 50-50 level, and that shouldn't be Dick Ruthven."
At times, though, in the first two innings, Rulhven seemed to have decent velocity; in fact, Slarrette thought he threw some pitches harder than any he's thrown this year. So the struggle to find the real Dick Ruthven will go on.
"We'll continue to work with him," Green said. "We'll hammer it out somehow."