Philadelphia Inquirer - August 15, 1980
Espinosa’s five-hitter beats Mets
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
NEW YORK – To the Phillies it was just an ordinary night in Shea Stadium. But not to the Mets. To the Mets it was practically the Crusades.
The Dallas Green quotes about "the Mets playing like the Mets" and about "two runs ought to be enough to beat this team" had stuck with them all these weeks. They came into last night looking to cram them up his larynx.
They started the evening 2½ games out of third, and third is where the Phillies are. Three wins in a row or four out of five, and the Mets could have sprinted on by.
But last night Green got a chance to coin a new slogan for the Mets' bulletin board. How about eight runs ought to be enough to beat this team?
"I would hope," Green laughed after the Phillies' 8-1 win over the Mets last night, "that we'd be able to beat anybody with eight runs."
First, of course, you have to get eight runs. And that's a lot easier when Mike Schmidt is conducting one of his In-The-Flow Festivals.
Schmidt bombed four more hits, including home run No. 31, last night in day four of The Groove. Since his offensive alarm clock went off Monday at Wrigley Field, Schmidt is 12-for-19, with four homers and 10 RBIs. Before Monday, he was 12-for-his-previous-19-games.
Schmidt stumps Green
You figure out why Schmidt blows in and out of these things. Green sure can't.
"I don't," the manager said, "have an answer for that."
Green found himself trying to do a lot of explaining last night:
• Why does Schmidt do impressions of the ice cube that leveled the Titanic one minute and then turn into the Human Furnace the next?
• How can Nino Espinosa (3-3) continue to get hitters out when he can't throw as hard as Al Oerter can put a shot?
• Why is Bob Boone (three hits last night) starting to look like a hitter again?
• Why don't the Mets like him?
All these things are largely unexplainable. But managers get paid to try. At least it's more fun explaining 8-1 wins than why you just got steamrollered by the Pirates.
Schmidt and Boone were the keys to the Phils routing Mets starter Pat Zachry, who was 4-0 since the Phillies beat him June 29, and reliever Dyar Miller, who had an ERA of 0.50 until the sixth inning.
Schmidt sizzled a bases-loaded, two-run single in the third. Boone dropped his ninth homer about three inches beyond the wall in left in the fourth. Schmidt doubled in another run in the seventh. Boone singled and scored in the eighth. Schmidt looped his daily homer around the foul pole in right in the ninth.
Two steals for Smith
In between, Bake McBride, Garry Maddox and Greg Gross also knocked in runs. And Lonnie Smith scored his 50th and 51st runs in his 69th game. Smith also stole two more bases (including third for the first time since Spartanburg).
But it is Schmidt who just awes you, the same way he makes you want to shake your head in bewilderment when he is on the dark side of his naturally streakish mood.
"Mike's battled this thing a long time," said Green. "It was hard for him and hard for us. But like they say, when you're hot, you're hot. And I hope he can maybe can this and keep it going."
It would appear that one reason he is suddenly so fiery is that the Cubs and Mets haven't been quite as diligent in pitching around him as some other clubs are.
"There are a lot of problems you have when you're in those kind of slumps," Green said. "You don't always swing at strikes. If you only swung at strikes you'd be OK. But you get in these bad habits, and then you compound it by not swinging at strikes.
"Hey, pitchers know that. If all hitters only swung at strikes, pitchers would be in the outhouse, I'll tell you that."
But Schmidt says the difference between him now and a week ago is that he isn't forcing himself into a position where he has to swing at pitchers' pitches.
"The big key now is, when I get a pitch to hit, I hit it," he said. "I don't foul it off. When I'm not swinging the bat good, the reason I'm not is that I'm hitting with two strikes all the time."
The reason Boone has turned it on a little (five-for-his-last-nine, two homers) is similar.
"The thing he hadn't been doing before was getting pitches and hitting them," Green said. "Now at least he's hitting them."
Nobody understands the concepts of hitters' pitches versus pitchers' pitches better than Espinosa. Even without a fastball, he is proving you can still win as long as you hit the right spots and throw strikes.
"I'll tell you, you've got to give Nino credit," said Green. "He told me before he had to get on the mound to prove he was sound. There were probably some skeptics at times. But he's proven that to me. Between the white lines, he's tough."
Espinosa beat the Mets for the fifth time in six decisions since they traded him. Claudell Washington spoiled his bid for his first shutout since June 12, 1979, with a seventh-inning homer. But he still wound up with a five-hitter, 16 ground-ball outs and a season-high three strikeouts. He even showed some semblance of a fastball for the first time.
"He had everything right on the corners," said Boone. "He's so much fun to catch, because he's just the classic example of not having to be a hard thrower. He's one of the best I've ever seen at it.
"He puts so much pressure on the hitters that it isn't funny. He never . gives you anything good to hit, yet they're still strikes. It's something that's hard to explain. Nino just has a great ability to pitch."
He certainly defused the first night of Beat Dallas Weekend. The New York papers yesterday had resurrected all of Green's old Mets putdowns; some of which weren't even meant to be putdowns. So Green was asked if he was a little wary coming into Shea this weekend.
"All I did was say one thing facetiously, and it was blown out of pro portion in my mind," he said. "Hell, that was two months ago. That wasn't even on my mind."
On the other hand, if the Mets had come on and taken four out of five this weekend, it might have been-tough to forget.
Dan Larson wins for Reading Phils
By The Associated Press
READING, Pa. – Bob Dernier's RBI single in the eighth inning highlighted a three-run rally that boosted the Reading Phillies to a 7-4 win over the Glens Falls White Sox last night in the Eastern League.
Reliever Dan Larson (1-0), making his first appearance since being sent down by the Phillies to make room for Larry Christenson, picked up the victory, holding the White Sox scoreless over the last four innings.
Starter Dan Prior was knocked out with one out in the fifth inning.
Dernier doubled in the seventh, advanced to third on an infield hit and scored on Jose Castro's sacrifice fly to tie the score at 4.
Glen Falls' Steve Pastrovich (0-2) took the loss.