Oakland Tribune - August 25, 1980

Knepper may lose Giants starting job


By Nick Peters, Tribune Staff Writer


MONTREAL – Bob Knepper’s spot In the Giants pitching rotation Is in Jeopardy if he doesn’t change his act soon.


That came to pass at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia Sunday night when Knepper was blasted for eight hits and six runs in three and one-third innings during a 7-1 foes to the Phillies.


“I’ll give him till his next start against New York Sunday (at Candlestick Park) to see what happens,” said Manager Dave Bristol before the Giants game against the Expos tonight. "The only thing I can see is that ha might be arm-weary.”


Pitching Coach Don McMahon was less tactful after Kneppers record dropped to 2-11 with a 5.56 earned run average on the road. Knepper is 9-15 with a 4.18 ERA overall.


“Knepper had nothing tonight. McMahon said. "I haw no intensity out there.  He threw a lollipop curve to the pitcher with two strikes and he didn’t back up the plate.  It looked like his mind was wandering.


“We really didn’t want to pitch him here, but we already made a switch with Blue (Vida) and Whitson (Ed) last week and we couldn’t work it out again.  We didn’t want him facing that right-handed power.  He didn’t have it tonight.”


Knepper started to fold in the third inning when Mike Schmidt and rejuvenated Greg Luzinski launched back-to-back home runs to left.  The homers capped a four-run rally that erased the Giants’ 1-0 lead.


To make matters worse for Knepper, winning pitcher Dick Ruthven lined an 0-2 pitch to right-center for a run-scoring triple in the fourth.  He was Knepper’s last batter.  Randy Moffitt, John Montefusco and Gary Lavelle mopped up.


Knepper made a quick exit following the game, but others had plenty to say about him after the Giants lost for the fourth time in 13 games.


“Knep is probably curled up somewhere reading a book,” said Vida Blue.  “I call him ‘Adolph’ now because he’s always reading that book about Hitler.  I’m going to have to take it away from him.”


Another Giant, who requested anonymity, was less kind.


“I hate it when I see a guy with no intensity,” he said. “You’ve got to go out there and concentrate to the maximum, give it all your energy. Watch Carlton or Blue sometimes. That’s why those guys are winners and Knepper isn’t. He’s just been getting by on his arm.”


Strong staff, but Knepper surely isn’t the pitcher he was in 1978, when his record (17-11. 2.63, six shutouts) made him as effective as any left-hander in tbe National League.


“l 'dont know if he’s trying to make his pitches sink like he used to,” said Pete Rose, who had three hits in five trips for the Phils.


“Knepper had great stuff in the past His ball really moved. He a evidently not making the pitches he used to. He doesn’t overpower you; so he has to have his stuff working right.”


Knepper survived the. first and second and was staked to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Johnnie LeMaster led off with a triple to right-center and scored on Manny Trillo's throwing error to third base on the relay.


It seemed as if the Giants would continue their winning; ways when Billy North singled with one out and faced to third on Terry Whitfield's. high-hop double over Rose and down the first-base line.


But Ruthven worked out of that jam and allowed only three hits the rest of the way to finish with a seven-hitter. Ruthven. a Sacramento native and former Fremont prep, raised his career record to 12-8 against the Giants.


Knepper was hit for a double by Lonnie Smith with one down in the third and Smith scored on Roses single up the middle. Knepper cut off the throw home and seemingly had Rose nailed at second but made a high throw.


Then Schmidt socked a hanging curve just to the right of the foul pole in left for his major league-leading 35th homer.. Luzinski, just off the disabled list, duplicated the feat with a towering shot to left, his 16th. It marked the fifth time this season they had connected in succession.


GIANT NOTES: Montefusco said he was "surprised to be taken off the disabled list" after stewing over his inactivity since the start of the trip. Montefusco pitched three scoreless innings... The Giants begin a two-game set at Montreal tonight with rookie Alan Hargesheimer opposing Steve Rogers.