San Francisco Examiner - August 25, 1980

Another poor road effort by Knepper


By Glenn Schwarz, Examiner Staff Writer


MONTREAL – Dave Bristol and Don McMahon needed the change of scenery. Going back to Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium would have reminded them of Eric Gregg, Frank Pulli and Bob Knepper.


Before heading here for a two-game-in-three-day series against the Montreal Expos, the Giants' manager and pitching coach heard too much from the umpires and saw enough of their left-handed pitcher last night. What Bristol's and McMahon 's eyes and ears picked up irritated them more than the particulars of the Phillies' 7-1 victory.


The Giants had their hopes for a sweep in Philly dashed during two hot innings of umpire antics and pitching atrocities. Upshots: the Giants lodged a protest they have a ghost of a chance to win and Knepper likely worked himself into six days of rest.


First, the puzzling Knepper, now burdened with a 9-15 record. If he hadn't trotted out yet another lethargic road performance (he's 2-11), Bristol and McMahon probably would have seen the entire game.


As it was, Knepper was handed a 1-0 lead in the third and turned it into a 4-1 deficit by the end of the inning. After Lonnie Smith doubled and Pete Rose singled – crack – Mike Schmidt lined his league-high 35th homer and on the very next pitch – boom – just-back Greg Luzinski launched a mortar shot over the same fence.


And in the fourth, Larry Bowa's single and pitcher Dick Ruthven's triple on an 0-2 pitch sent Knepper w here he belonged – under a shower head. A sixth run was charged to Knepper when Smith then singled off Randy Moffitt.


"He had no velocity, no snap, no crackle to his breaking ball," Bristol said, resisting the temptation to criticize his unaggressive pitcher. "1 think I'll give him two extra days off and try to get some life back in him by not using him again until next Sunday."


With Knepper"s effort of sorts fresh in Bristol's mind, he then watched a strange development at second base.


Rose grounded to Mike Ivie, who stepped on first and threw to shortstop Johnnie LeMaster in an attempt at a double play. Smith beat the throw, umpire Gregg signaled safe and quickly raised his arms in a timeout gesture. But Smith, thinking he was out, began walking toward the Phillies dugout; his teammates had to tell him he was safe and the rookie sheepishly returned to second.


Bristol was there in a flash, intent on telling Gregg that what Smith had done constituted abandoning his base – which is an out in any rulebook.


"I didn't get right in his (Gregg's) face. I stood back and said, 'I gotta hear this explanation,'" Bristol said "He told me that he had called the time out on his own and I said, 'You had ho reason to. And so what Where was Smith going – to get a towel? He can't leave the base like that.'"


"Gregg said that if Smith had crossed the white line, he would've called him out." LeMaster said. "He said he thought Smith was going back for his helmet. But his helmet was between first and second and Lonnie was walking away on an angle."


When Gregg refused to budge – it's never easy moving a 300-pounder – Bristol informed his frequent antagonist that he was protesting the game. What would be the Giants' chances of having their case upheld by National League president Chub Feeney and replaying the thing from that point? Well, Gregg's colleague, Harry Wendelstedt, said afterward, "You can't protest something that happens when time is out."


So how Bristol, back in the dugout, had both Knepper and Gregg sticking in his craw. And Don McMahon, standing alongside the manager, was equally steamed about recent matters. When home ump Pulli called a ball on the next batter, Schmidt, McMahon yelled out, according to Bristol, "Where was that pitch?"


Pulli removed his facemask, peered in McMahon's direction and gave him the thumb. Bristol dashed to Pulli ahead of McMahon, protecting his coach and arguing at the same time, and soon the manager was ejected also. While' carrying on an animated conversation with the fourth ump, Dutch Rennert, Bristol seemingly accidentally slapped Pulli's cheek.


"Damn if I know what I said," said Bristol, reflecting on his second ejection of the week and fourth of the season. "What made me mad was Pulli throwing Don out for nothing. And Pulli called him a no good mother f-----.


"I was afraid Don was going to kill him."


Of course, all this extracurricular activity had no bearing on the game's outcome. The Giants' only run off Ruthven (12-8) came on LeMaster's triple and second baseman Manny Trillo's wild throw to third as the right-hander pitched a neat seven-hitter. And the Phils tacked on another run, by way of Ruthven's single and Rose's double off Gary Lavelie in the eighth.


It was just that the Giants, bothered sufficiently by Knepper's showing, were galled once more by the behavior of the increasingly intolerant men in blue.


"McMahon told me before the game that Pulli didn't like him and that he'd have to keep quiet," coach Vera Benson said. "This showed that Pulli holds a grudge."


Billy North, run by Gregg the previous evening after the Giant brushed the massive ump while questioning a call, was as incensed as Bristol and the quick-dressing McMahon.


"Something's got to be done about this," North said. "You know what Gregg told Rennie (Stennett) tonight? That I hit him. The touch has turned into a hit.




NOTES: Knepper's catcher. Milt May, said it wasn't all the pitcher's fault. "The Phils can score runs as well as any club in baseball. They're leading the league in hitting, aren't they?" May said. "There are days when their good home-run hitters are going to hit them no matter who's pitching I thought both Schmidt and Luiinski hit decent pitches."... Luzinski was activated yesterday alter seven weeks on the disabled list, during which time he underwent knee surgery The Phils put pitcher Kevin Saucier (elbow tendinitis) on the DL… Giants moves: John Montetusco in, Mike Rowland out. The Count, who had been on the DL since July 17 because of a cracked rib, got immediate work. He pitched three shutout innings in relief. Pitcher Rowland was sent to Phoenix... Pete Rose slowing down? He leads the league in doubles and is second in runs. Last night, he tied Frank Robinson for ninth place on the career runs list (1829). Rose needs one more safety to share fourth place with Tris Speaker on the hit list (3615)... Giants and Expos play tonight and Wednesday night. They are off tomorrow because ot a Canadian League football game in Olympic Stadium.