Philadelphia Inquirer - August 25, 1980
Bull’s shot intoxicating to Vet fans
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
For Greg Luzinski, it was opening night revisited.
Then, against the Montreal Expos, he had earned a standing ovation from a Veterans Stadium crowd by booming a home run. Now, against . the San Francisco Giants, he earned another standing ovation by booming another home run.
Last night's crowd hollered and clapped until the Bull, playing for the first time in seven weeks, poked his head out of the dugout and waved. It had to be a satisfying experience for the big guy, whose future with the Phillies seemed more than a little clouded of late.
"I've been traded in the last month about 30 times by sportswriters and sports commentators on the radio," he said, "so it felt good just to gel back in whether he uses me every day or as a pinch-hitter...."
That problem belongs to Dallas Green, and it is not an easy one. For nearly a week, he had put off reinstating Luzinski... but now that the Bull is back, the Phillies have four "first-string" outfielders and only three places to play them.
"I'm not going to worry about that," Luzinski said. "Here's the team trying to win this thing, and Lonnie (Smith) has done a tremendous job – he got three hits again tonight – so wherever I can help the ball club, whether we rotate four outfielders or whatever we do...."
Last night Bake McBride, a .313 hitter with 74 RBIs, was odd man out against lefty Bob Knepper. As time goes on, Green indicated, every one of the four will take his turn on the bench as the manager seeks as much playing time as possible for the hot-hitting Smith.
"It'll depend on who's pitching (for the opposition) and who's hitting (among the four)," Green said. "Right now Lonnie's hitting, and we'll try to work him in the lineup. Lonnie will play some center field," Green said. "He'll play some right field. He'll play some left field."
Last night, he played right field to make room for Luzinski, who followed his 16th home run with a line shot up the middle, on which Giants second baseman Rennie Stennett made an outstanding play, robbing him of a second hit.
"He showed he can still hit 'em," Green said. "I'm happy for him. I'm happy to have him back."
To get him back, the manager had to remove somebody from the active roster – no easy task. Green discussed the situation with four of his 11 pitchers yesterday (Nino Espinosa, Warren Brusstar, Larry Christenson and Kevin Saucier) before deciding to place Saucier on the 21-day disabled list with "tendinitis of the left elbow."
Cynics immediately suspected a phony injury, but Saucier made it clear that his elbow did hurt after his strong (and winning) five-inning stint in Thursday's 17-inning win over the Padres, followed by 1-1/3 hitless innings in Saturday night's loss to the Giants.
"I told him (Green) it bothered me pretty bad," said Saucier, who was 6-3 in 36 relief appearances this year. "Hopefully, I can come back and help this team win."
"It helped solve a dilemma for me," Green said.
One down, one to go for a manager with four starting outfielders.
Phils’ HRs, Ruthven top Giants, 7-1
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Second Coming of Greg Luzinski helped the Phillies snap their two-game mini-slump last night. But a bit of short-term success may breed a bit of a long-term problem.
The Phillies finally pulled The Bull off the disabled list yesterday, and he provided a towering home run in a 7-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants at the Vet. It was a pivotal victory – coming after two straight losses to the Giants and after wins by the Pirates and Expos earlier in the day.
But, now, what does Dallas Green do with his four front-line outfielders? "Well," Pete Rose said after this win, "Bull gives us that home-run potential. But I'd hate to make out the lineup the next couple of days."
Green, who put relief pitcher Kevin Saucier on the 21-day disabled list with tendinitis to make room for Luzinski, basically said he would keep things moving, using Lonnie Smith (3-for-4 last night) at each outfield position on various occasions. For sure, nobody could argue with the way things moved along for his team (with Luzinski in left, Garry Maddox in center and Smith in right) on this occasion.
Dick Ruthven allowed one, tainted run and only seven hits in a strong, complete-game effort. Mike Schmidt blasted another home run, a two-run shot in the third inning. And Luzinski followed it with a home run of his own in the third, the fifth time this season they have hit back-to-back homers.
More importantly, it was Luzinski's first home run since June 14 (his knee ailment put him on the disabled list July 8), and he earned a standing ovation in the style of opening night from the 37,325 fans. The Bull responded with a curtain-call wave.
"I tell you, I thought he was enthused," Green said. "He was shaking hands pretty tough. That's a good sign.
"It's a pleasure to have him back, no question about it. He'll certainly add something to our lineup or I wouldn't have gone to all this trouble to get hm back so quickly."
Even if it creates other trouble with his lineup cards.
"I don't know," Rose said. "Bake (McBride, last night's odd man out) is smart enough to realize that he has trouble with certain pitchers. And a couple days rest will always do Bake some good."
Lost in all the outfield talk were Ruthven, who had the Giants hitting into 22 ground-ball outs, and San Francisco manager Dave Bristol, who had his team playing the game under protest.
The Giants spaced out five singles and two extra-base hits and otherwise kept banging balls to the Phillies' infielders.
"I kept the ball down well," Ruthven said. "I ran some deep counts when I had the big lead, which bleeped me off. But the guys played good defense and got me some runs. Without defense and runs, since I'm not overpowering, it's tough.
"All the ground balls? That's a good statistic, a good outcome. On grass, that makes you a definite winner. But on this billiard table (artificial surface), you've got to wonder if ground balls are the answer. I didn't feel all that confident. But I did keep the ball down. Everything I had was so-so, but down."
Ruthven (12-8) also helped himself with his hitting. He had an RBI triple in a two-run fourth, and he singled and scored the Phillies' final run in the eighth. Rose brought him in with a double, his third hit of the game.
The Phillies began by following a familiar script. They let the Giants get the jump on them for the third straight night by contributing an error, and they were down, 1-0. But, of course, they weren't down for long.
Johnnie LeMaster, the Giants' shortstop, a guy hitting .220, opened the third inning by ripping a ball into the gap in right-center and on to the wall. He had second easy, but third was another matter. As he dove for it, however, Manny Trillo bounced his peg off the runner's back – Trillo's second error in two nights – and the ball bounded away, into the Giants' dugout. LeMaster trotted home.
Whatever, the Phillies wasted no time in bombing away at Bob Knepper, the Giants' starter, and making Luzinski feel like part of the club again.
With one away in the third, Smith slapped a ball to left-center that Terry Whitfield, the Giants' leftfielder, cut off nicely on the bounce. Unfortunately for him, his throw to second couldn't cut down Smith, who had turned at first without losing steam. Rose poked a single up the middle, and it was 1-1.
It was also Schmidt's turn. He took Knepper's 2-1 pitch and curled a drive into the first level of seats just inside the foul pole in left for his 35th home run and his 92d and 93d RBIs.
Before the place was calm, Luzinski had made his return, belated as it was, official.
He tore into Knepper's first pitch and golfed it into the Giants' bullpen in left, as if to tell the guys out there to get ready, as if to tell the world he was back.
"It was good to see Bull hit it out," said Rose. "But I got a better feeling when Schmitty hit his because it put us ahead by two, to be honest with you."
After Luzinski acknowledged the ovation for him, Knepper settled down to retire the side. But the Phillies stung him again in the fourth, the inning in which the Giants became unglued.
Larry Bowa started it with his second single, and, with one out, Ruthven plated him with his triple to the wall in right-center. Smith produced another run with an infield single, and then Rose banged a sharp grounder to first, beginning the sequence that had the Giants boiling and protesting, for what it was worth on this night.
Rose was out as first baseman Mike Ivie stepped on the bag, but Smith beat his throw to second – at least that's how umpire Eric Gregg saw it. Smith wasn't so sure, and he walked off the base.
Bristol thought Smith should have been out for wandering away. Gregg said, correctly, that time had been called.
"I saw him (Gregg) give the safe sign, and this guy (Smith) starts wandering off the field," said Bristol, who, a few minutes later, was ejected with his pitching coach, Don McMahon. "He had forsaken his right to that base. What's he going to do, run the bases backward?"
Now when Lonnie Smith does that Dallas Green's outfield population problem is solved.