Wilmington News Journal - August 17, 1980
Phils maul Mets as bats boom
‘Everybody seems to be doing it, all up and down the line’
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
NEW YORK - The first hint the patient was recovering came last Monday in Chicago.
"Sure, we blew a 5-3 lead and ended up having the game suspended," Dallas Green said, "But I saw some good signs. Our bats were beginning to come to alive, we got some good pitching and I saw a lot more intensity."
The day before, the Phils limped out of Pittsburgh following what many said was a premature end to their hopes of winning the National League East Division. The Pirates embarrassed them four games, dropping them six lengths off the pace with 55 games to go.
Green, who shocked his players with a hysterical tirade between games of the Sunday doubleheader, vowed that night his Phils were not about to throw in the towel. During the past week they have added credibility to their manager's support.
The Phils lashed New York 11-6 at Shea Stadium yesterday for their third straight victory over Mets. They have won five of their last six games and are now back in the chase, trailing Pittsburgh by 4½ games and the second-place Expos, who lost 5-0 yesterday to the Pirates, by 2½.
Garry Maddox led yesterday's 19-hit explosion with three singles and a double in five at-bats, and Manny Trillo and Mike Schmidt crushed homers.
Rookie Bob Walk, who struggled in the beginning and ran out of gas in the eighth inning, improved his record to 9-2. Craig Swan, who gave up 10 hits and seven runs in 3⅔ innings, suffered his ninth loss compared to five victories.
The Phils, of course, were dreadful in Pittsburgh to start this 12-game road trip. After Black Sunday, nobody expected them to rebuild their hopes this quickly.
The difference between the team has has scored 27 runs in three games against the Mets and the team that managed only eight in four games in Pittsburgh is that the lower half of the batting order has sprung to life.
Maddox, Larry Bowa and Bob Boone have all started to hit, and in the past week Schmidt has raised his average from .255 to .279.
Prior to that, most of the offense was coming from the top third of the order – Lonnie Smith, Pete Rose and Bake McBride. The only player below them who was contributing was Trillo, who shows no signs of cooling.
"I knew we were not as bad offensively as we had shown in Pittsburgh," said Green. "I'm not sure we're as good as we're showing right now, but we're swinging the bats well and everybody seems to be doing it, all up and down the line. For a while the top part of the order carried us, but right now the bottom half is hitting well and we're getting good run production.
"We had some breaks (Mets' fielding) go our way in the early innings today that really helped turn the game around and Bobby Walk finally settled down and pitched the kind of game he's capable of pitching.
"I'll tell you the truth, though. As much a pleasure as it was to see Nino Espinosa and Larry Christenson pitch so well the past two nights, it's darn nice to see the bats come alive."
The 19 hits are second only to the 21 this year the Phils totalled on July 27 when they trounced Atlanta 17-4.
The key to this current comeback attempt appears to center around today's doubleheader. Steve Carlton (18-6) faces Ray Burris (6-6), with Randy Lerch (3-13) going against Roy Lee Jackson (1-3) in the nightcap.
Carlton is 1-2 against the Mets this year and 24-27 lifetime.
"I look at the first game as important," said Pete Rose, who had a single and a double and scored two runs yesterday. "The Mets always hit Steve, so we have to go out there and try to get the upper hand early."
The Phils, who are now 5-5 on this trip, are off tomorrow then open a nine-game homestand with San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“This is an important time of the season for us," said Green. "With Pittsburgh and Montreal playing each other, we could not afford to keep falling back. We wanted to play well because we played so poorly in Pittsburgh. I have said all along this is a streaky team. We have not had a long win streak, but I think we are due for one."
The Phils took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, but the Mets took advantage of two Schmidt errors in the bottom of the inning to pull even. The tie lasted only until the Phils scored two in the third and three in the fourth. When Schmidt blasted his 32d homer with Rose on base in the fourth, it was the first time since July 29th the Phils homered with a runner on base.
Maddox said one of the reasons he T. has been hitting more lately is the fact he has adjusted his stance.
"I'm standing closer to the plate," he said. "And I have been working very hard with Billy DeMars, trying to get some consistency. I feel comfortable there right now.
EXTRA POINTS - Trillo, who is – hitting .325, is a doubtful starter for the doubleheader today... The second baseman was stung by an insect on the back of the neck during the game and it immediately stiffened... The Phils are even with the Mets after 12 games... Schmidt is 15 for his last 27 at-bats with five homers and 12 runs batted in… Rose needs just 12 more hits to tie Tris Speaker for fourth place on the all-time hits list with 3,515… Smith has batted safely in 17 of 22 games and scored 20 runs in 22 games... After 113 games last year, the Phils were 58-55, in fourth place, seven games back.