Camden Courier-Post - April 30, 1980

Rainout aids Phillies’ pitching plans


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


NEW YORK – It was with a collective sigh of relief that the Phillies received the news of yesterday's rainout. Their scheduled game against the Mets had been washed away by a steady drizzle that shrouded the Big Apple in an appropriate gray mist.


To Manager Dallas Green, the rainout meant he would not have to shuffle his pitching rotation. He was planning to use lefthander Randy Lerch last night, Steve Carlton tonight and Dick Ruthven tomorrow because his fourth starter, Larry Christenson, is out with a pulled groin muscle.


Green probably would have had to start rookie Scott Munninghoff when the Phils returned home to face Los Angeles on Friday. Now, Green will go with Lerch tonight, Carlton tomorrow and Ruthven Friday. At the least, the rainout gives the beleaguered Ruthven, who has been tattooed for 22 hits and 16 runs in his last three outings, an extra day's rest.


THE METS are having every bit as much trouble as people thought they would have. They've already claimed last place in the National League's East Division, losing 10 of their first 15 games, and calls are out for the front office to make some kind of move to turn the club around.


It seems clear now that hiring a public relations firm to attack the Yankees is not the kind of move that will help the Mets. Their starting pitching has been about as reliable as an Iranian promise, none of the New York starters having completed a game. The Mets' bullpen is working under such poor conditions, the relievers might be considering jumping the May 22 strike deadline.


Their hitters have fared little better, which is the reason why General Manager Frank Cashen has talked to Atlanta about Gary Matthews and the deposed Bob Horner. The problem is, Cashen has little to offer the Braves in return.


INDEED, New York right now is the weakest team in baseball. The Mets' offense has produced a total of three home runs – the fewest in the majors – and has gone 10 games without a homer.


Yet, this is the same club that beat the Phils two-out-of-three in Veterans Stadium last week. It is ironic that the two clubs seem to have similar pitching problems, because the Mets beat the Phillies primarily on pitching.


Ray Burris and a 27-year-old rookie named Mark Bomhack held the Phillies to one run between them, sandwiching New York wins around a 14-8 slugfest Philly victory.


EVEN WITH the series loss to the Mets, the home stand might have been salvaged against the St Louis Cardinals. But it was not to be. Had Steve Carlton not thrown a brilliant one-hitter at the Cards on Saturday night, the Phils might well be going into tonight's game in Shea Stadium with a 5-9 record, ½ game ahead of the Mets in the standings.


Phillie pitchers combined to allow the Mets and Cards 54 hits – 19 by St. Louis on Sunday – and 27 runs (23 earned) in six games. Take away Carlton's one-hitter and you have a good idea of how well the rest of the staff pitched.


The offense was nearly as unproductive. Sure, the Phils scored 25 runs. But 21 of them came in two games (the 14-8 win and Carlton's 7-0 victory). The club batted .257 for the series, .225 against Cardinal pitching, and left a total of 47 base runners stranded.


"WE'RE PLAYING catchup a lot and that puts a burden on everybody," said Green. "When you get two or three guys on base each inning and don't do anything with it, that's when you put the added burden on."


Key figures in the lineup struggled during the home stand. Leadoff man Pete Rose hit .318, but went 2-for-12 when he led off innings. Bake McBride went 3-for-13 and found himself in Green's doghouse after a misunderstanding concerning the extent of a knee difficulty. Mike Schmidt, after going 6-for-8 in the final two games against the Mets, hit .059 against St. Louis. Greg Luzinski got all three of his RBIs with one swing of the bat against New York, and Greg Gross, who replaced McBride in the lineup for the final two games with the Cards, went 1-for-16.