Wilmington Evening Journal - April 28, 1980

Hernandez is trump Card against Phillies


By Rod Beaton, Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – Keep the psychiatrists' couches handy. Yesterday, three men came to rain-sodden Veterans Stadium apprehensive and befuddled. One left refreshed and renewed, but the others plunged deeper into gloom.


First baseman Keith Hernandez of the St. Louis Cardinals was perplexed by a sub-par spring and a sweet swing gone sour. Dick Ruthven was desperately scuffling to recover his poised pitching prowess and Manager Dallas Green was waiting for Ruthven, or someone on the Phils' staff other than Steve Carlton, to show an ability to retire batters.


Ruthven is still scuffling. Green is still looking.


Hernandez found his groove while righty Ruthven grooved his pitches and the Cards were off to a 10-1 triumph.


Hernandez, 26, was 5-for-5, including a double, three runs batted in, two runs scored and two stolen bases. The day's production behind Bob Forsch's six-hitter lifted hn average 60 points to .333. For the 1979 National League batting champion and co-MVP (with Willie Surgell), it was a load taken off his mind – and placed on Ruthven's and Green's.


"I’d been worrying." said Hernandez, who was tabbed "the next Stan Musul" when he joined the Red-birds iate in 1974. "My stroke hasn't been good. Today I just came out and found it."


He found it without the benefit of batting practice, a concession to persistent injury.


"I’d strained my groin eight days ago." the left-handed hitting Hernandez said. “Today was the first time I could swing without pain."


After off season surgery for the removal of bone chips from his right elbow. Ruthven claims he is throwing without pain. It's the bottom line that's painful. And the "healthy” bullpen hasn’t been an antidote.


Scott Munmnghoff, Kevin Saucier, Lerrin LaGrow and Tug McGraw followed Ruthven's routine. Munnincboff and McGraw survived, but Saucier and LaGrow were torched and Green was hot.


"Okay, the starter didn't pitch well, but neither did the relievers," grumbled Green, who had harangued the 6-8 Phils in a locked clubhouse for 12 minutes after the game. "That's the bottom line. It's pretty much a team effort of doing lousy. We're hitting lousy. We're pitching lousy."


No one is pitching quite as "lousy" as Ruthven, 1-2. In his last two starts he's lasted a total 3 innings, yielding 15 hits and 10 runs, all of them earned.


"He thinks he's throwing the ball, but he's not," said Green. "With no discomfort and no pain, I can't understand why he can't get it going.


"I'd like to give him one more start... One more start to see if this (10-1) shock treatment and our conversations in the next two-three days will get through and do something for him."


Ruthven has done little for the Phillies this season, but besides Steve Carlton (3-1 and a one-hit shutout Saturday) and Dickie Noles (unscored upon in 8 innings of relief), who has? Green's options are limited to recalling a healthy, unproven arm from the minors or begging Paul Owens to make a deal.


Nino Espinosa still experiences twinges of pain when he throws. His return remains indefinite. Christenson's ERA is 6.55. Randy Lerch's is 5.57. And the bullpen is more of the same.


"If your middle relief guys hold, that's encouraging," said Green, noting that his didn't.


"It's this snowball effect. I want someone to grab it, get something going. Steve (Carlton) can't be expected to do it every time."


Ruthven doesn't understand why he can't melt the snowball – and a few bats.


"I don't know if it's strength or what," said Ruthven, 29. "I don't feel as powerful. I never worked this hard in my life to figure something out.


"I'm tired of corning in here (clubhouse) in the third inning and doing pushups until I puke."


Ruthven couldn't figure out the lefty-laden Cards' lineup. He was touched for a run in the first on Hernandez' RBI single, the game-winner in the second on Forsch's single and two more in the third.


The rout was completed by a two-run fifth and three-run seventh, highlighted by Ken Oberkfell's two-run, inside-the-park homer to right-center.


Garry Templeton, Ken Reitz and rookie catcher Terry Kennedy complemented Hernandez' heroics with three hits each. The Cards' 19-hit salvo erased memories of Carlton's one-hitter the night before.


It's a scenario that may be re-run more than old episodes of M*A*S*H.


PHILS FACTS - Luis Aguayo singled in the Phils' run in the fifth... Pete Rose passed Willie Mays to take fourth on the all-time at-bat list with 10,884... The Phils drew 28,200. After nine dates they've attracted 250,761, down 50,686 from last year... Phils open three-game series with the Mets at Shea tomorrow night (Channel-17) against the unforgettable Mark Bomback. Lerch (0-2) for Phils... Rose reached base in the third on catcher's interference... Hernandez was thrown out at home in the fourth by Greg Gross when he tried to score from second on Kennedy's single... Forsch's loss this season was an 8-3 decision to Carlton on the 16th... Tug McGraw threw a scoreless 8th and 9th.