Philadelphia Inquirer - August 14, 1980
Cubs squeak past Ruthven, Phils, 2-1
Schmidt’s 30th HR is wasted
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CHICAGO – Maybe Dick Drott used to throw shutouts at Wrigley Field when the wind was blowing out. Surely, Dick Ellsworth did. Or Don Cardwell or Milt Pappas or some Cub legend did once in a while.
But no way is it easy. When the flags start flapping outward, guys on Waveland Avenue start pounding their gloves. It's even money somebody will catch more balls on the street than Dave Kingman will catch on the field.
Those flags were flapping toward left field yesterday as the Phillies were losing to the Cubs, 2-1, Maybe they weren't exactly your Hurricane Allen-type winds. But they weren't exactly 2-1 game winds, either.
For the 2-1 game, you have to credit starting pitchers Dick Ruthven and Rick Reuschel. They smoked through 6½ innings of 0-0 baseball yesterday. And for that they deserve special citations from the Atmospheric Hall of Fame. Nobody has conquered natural forces like that since Kite Man.
If indeed it was possible to throw a shutout on a day like yesterday, one of these guys seemed poised to do it. Reuschel allowed just five singles over the first seven innings. The Cubs reached Ruthven for only three over the first six.
Ruthven "just had super stuff," Dallas Green said. "I haven't seen him have that good stuff in a long time. He was a pleasure to watch."
And Reuschel always has been maybe the best guy around at keeping the ball down in Home Run Haven. He is 4-1, vith a 0.98 earned-run average in seven starts since the All-Star break. So you know he really has the act in gear these days.
"Today he got a few balls up," Bob Boone said. "He wasn't really sinking the ball down and in the way he normally is. But he's still an outstanding pitcher. He can pitch."
So it was 0-0 as the Phillies trotted to their positions for the bottom of the seventh. But then all those ground balls and shutout innings seemed to incur nature's wrath or something.
Suddenly, dark clouds filled the sky. Rain pounded the field. And over the next hour and 40 minutes, the two teams were able to play baseball for exactly two minutes.
The rain delays were able to do what the Phillies couldn't – get Reuschel out of there. But Ruthven stayed on, in search of his second shutout of the year and his 11th win.
But after the second rain delay, Bill Buckner uppercut his first pitch into the alley in right-center for a one-out double. That left Kingman and Jerry Martin on the horizon. But Ruthven jammed Kingman and popped him up. Then he pumped a fastball on the outside corner past Martin for a strikeout, and he was out of it.
With that, Green assumed Ruthven hadn't lost a thing. And so, when Lenny Randle stroked a wind-blown double off the wall leading off the eighth, Green never got the bullpen up.
Tim Blackwell, who already had nailed three Phillies stealing, was next. He dumped an excellent bunt down the third-base line. Mike Schmidt, Ruthven and Boone held a convention to see who would take it. Finally, Boone polled his delegates, took charge, then slipped and fell. So everybody was safe.
Schmidt maintained there was no way Boone could have gotten Blackwell at first. But Boone felt he could have.
"I don't think either one of those guys had a play," he said."But if I can plant and get something on the throw, I can get him."
Instead, Ruthven had to face pinch-hitter Larry Biittner with nobody out. Biittner crushed his first pitch beyond Garry Maddox's sprint to deep right-center for a double.
It scored Randle routinely. But Blackwell had to hope he could outrun the superhuman arm of relay man Manny Trillo. He couldn't. Trillo sniped down Blackwell at the plate, so one run was all the Phillies needed to make up in the ninth off DickTidrow.
And fortunately for them, the first guy up was Schmidt, who must have been an ancestor of P. K. Wrigley in a previous life. He fouled off three Tidrow sliders. He fouled off one tough fastball. Then he towered a 2-2 pitch onto Waveland Avenue for his sixth Wrigley homer in six games this season (also No. 30 for the year).
"I'll tell you the truth. I don't even know what I hit," Schmidt said. "I think it was a high fastball, but it could have been a slider he tried to cut. I really don't know. All I knew was it was up."
It was a time when home-run hitters deliver. But three days at Wrigley had pushed Schmidt into his ultimate in-the-flow groove, "so I wasn't trying to hit it out of the ballpark," he said. "I just felt good swinging, really. I just felt like I was going to hit the ball hard."
Since he did, Ruthven was back out there again for the bottom of the ninth, even though it had been four hours since he'd thrown his first pitch. "I thought he even had super stuff when he came back the second time," said Green. "I have no qualms about leaving him out there."
But the ninth began looking like trouble fast, when Ruthven went 3-and-2 to leadoff man Ivan DcJesus, then walked him.
"We'd been throwing him all fast-balls," said Boone. "He fouled off a real tough one, so I knew he was looking fastball. I thought if we could get a breaking ball over we could fool him, but he just missed."
Buckner was next. He lined a high fastball to left for a single, and it was first and second for Steve Dillard. By then Ron Reed was pumping in the bullpen.
All Dillard was trying to do was bunt. But after he fouled off one try, Ruthven threw four straight balls and the bases were full.
Enter Reed. The hitter was Martin, and the big hope was to try to strike him out.
"We wanted to go at him real hard," Boone said. "And we jammed him pretty good."
But Martin lofted a fly to just-deep-enough center. DeJesus scored. And not only did Ruthven (10-8) not have a wind-blowing-out shutout, he didn't even have a win.
"He just pitched a heckuva baseball game, Green said. "You cry when you lose that kind. I hate to waste that kind of effort."
Yeah, Dick Drott probably used to say that all the time.
Phils’ DH abstention mirrors evenly divided opinion on rule
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CHICAGO – It was hard to say before yesterday whether the Phillies were in favor of passing the designated-hitter rule or against it. As it turned out, they were neither.
When the issue came up at the National League meetings yesterday, the Phillies chose to abstain from the voting. So did the Pirates and Astros. Had those teams voted yes, the DH rule would have passed. Instead, it failed, 5-4.
The Phillies collectively decided not to vote either way until the matter comes up again at the Winter Meetings for two reasons:
• One, said team vice president Paul Owens, "We wanted to just see how it went before deciding."
• Two, the organization was split on whether it liked the DH or not.
"I favored it," said Owens. "But Dallas (Green) wasn't too high on it. Ruly (Carpenter) was neutral. I think Bill (Giles) was against it."
Green was happy with the vote because "I'm not a DH man," he said. "I just don't think it's good for the game of baseball."
He was asked if it wouldn't at least be tempting to fill out a lineup that included either Greg Luzinski or Lonnie Smith as his DH.
"I'm talking about the good of the game," he said. "Tell me why it's good for the game."
Pete Rose, who has talked occasionally about living a final season or two as a DH someday, took a stance of official neutrality. But he had a hard time understanding why the Astros, Pirates and Phillies would not be in favor.
"You'd think the Astros would want more offense, wouldn't you?" he said. "And I'm surprised the Phillies wouldn't want it, with Luzinski the way he is. And the Pirates, they've got nothing but hitters. And they'd get a lot more wear and tear out of Stargell."
Rose also didn't see any merit to arguments that the DH changes the game too much.
"They say it's going to take away from strategy, but I think playing on AstroTurf takes a lot away from sacrifice bunting," he said. "Bunting's a lost thing now. AstroTurf has changed the game, too. And it's changed it as much in this league, offensively, as the DH has changed the American League."
Probably true, but it's a little too late to vote on that.
NOTES: Mike Schmidt has hit more homers at Wrigley Field this season than Dave Kingman (6-4). "Yeah, well I guarantee you I won't when the year's over," said Schmidt. But then Kingman is having a tough year. He has fewer extra-base hits than Tim Blackwell (18-15)…. Dick Ruthven got to pitch to one batter in between the first and second rain delays yesterday. When the umpires stopped play again. Bill Buckner, the next hitter, refused to leave the batter's box. So Larry Bowa stopped at the mound on the way to the dugout, threw him a pitch, and Buckner ripped it up the middle.... Manny Trillo was 0-for-4 yesterday, but he has hit .330 against the Cubs since they traded him.