St. Louis Post-Dispatch - April 28, 1980

Carlton’s One-Hitter Stifles Cards


By Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch Staff


PHILADELPHIA – Keith Hernandez felt lousy Sunday morning. Like everyone else, he'd lost an hour of sleep because of the time change. He had trouble going to sleep in the first place. It had taken him a long time to shake the leg strain dogging him since Pittsburgh. The weather he awoke to – dark and rainy – wasn't very inspiring, either. But most importantly, he felt lousy because his recent hitting hadn't been very inspiring.


Your defending National League batting champion had been in a zero-for-nine and three-for-21 dive.


"I've been worrying," he said. "I haven't mastered the art of not worrying. I haven't been swinging the bat good in quite a while. I didn't tell anybody, but my leg really hurt me when I swung."


With all these factors, a day off was called for. "But we'd already had an off day in Chicago and one in Philadelphia. Too many days off. That's why I lost my stroke. I lost my rhythm," he said.


To break the rhythm, Hernandez forsook batting practice in the cage. "I don't need to be tired when I'm swinging horsefeathers," he said. "Don't take any BP. Go into it fresh. Change the rhythm."


Hernandez's energy conservation program was admirable. He went from .273 to .333 in one five-for-five swoop as the Cardinals had a season-high 19 hits in a 10-1 romp that was Bob Forsch's first victory of the season. It was the first five-for-five day in Hernandez's major league career. With his leg feeling better, he even stole two bases. Now, that's therapy.


The performance was vintage Hernandez. The first time up, he singled to left. Then to center. Then to right. Then a line single off the wall in right (almost a grand slam homer) and then a double to left-center.


At this point, in the seventh inning, with the Cardinals ahead by nine runs, Manager Ken Boyer lifted Hernandez from the game before he had a chance to become the first Cardinal to get six hits in a game since Terry Moore in 1935.


"I like Terry. He's a friend," joked Boyer, who said, seriously, that he wasn't aware of the 45-year drought for such events in Cardinal lore and didn't particularly care.


"Those records really don't mean very much to me. I wanted to give other guys a chance at it. He didn't mention anything to me about wanting to stay in."


Hernandez didn't seem to consider it a great loss, although he said, "I wouldn't have minded staying in."


Terry Kennedy, five for nine in two games as Ted Simmons' backup, had three hits, as did Ken Reltz and Garry Templeton. Hernandez had three runs batted in and both Kennedy and Ken Oberkfell, who had an inside-the-park homer, had two. Forsch, meanwhile, allowed only six hits and the run off him was unearned.


"I wonder what Boyer should have done today. Dallas has been telling him what to do all week," said Simmons.


That jest was in reference to Phillies Manager Dallas Green's printed surprise at Boyer pitching to pinch-hitter Del Unser late in Saturday's game with runners at first and second and two out. "You don't let Del Unser beat you in that situation," said Green, after Unser had tripled to help beat the Cardinals.


Boyer smiled Sunday when that remark was brought up and may have wanted to say something other than, "I . don't let that stuff bother me."


As for his output, Hernandez said he really had no clue. "Today was just a day where you come out and you find it. I can't tell you how or why," he said.


The escalated attention toward Hernandez this season, which is an aftereffect of his Most Valuable Player honors, has created a somewhat difficult adjustment for him, he admitted.


"It's been trying," he said. "I like to spend my time before the game being loose, needling people. But this (attention) is part of the game. It's something that I haven't had to deal with in the past but it's something that I have to learn to adjust to."


At bat, Hernandez is quite capable of adjusting, Boyer said.


"He doesn't try to overpower the ball," said Boyer. "He studies how they work the people ahead of him and how they work him.


"He has an excellent ability to hit with two strikes. He'll fight a pitch off, fight a pitch off. He has an excellent ability to make a pitcher make mistakes.


"That's what good hitting is all about. Of course, he also has the swing to go with it."


Even when the flesh isn't always willing.