Philadelphia Daily News - August 27, 1980
Phils Fall Down on Job
By Bill Conlin
Swing your partner and circle to the dugout. It is called the Outfield Square Dance.
Bake McBride moved from the dugout to right field last night. Greg Luzinski stayed put in left Lonnie Smith played center and spent more time on the carpet than a Penthouse Pet. Garry Maddox sat the dance out.
The Phillies fiddled away another game on this vital homestand, going down to the crippled Dodgers, 8-4. Jay Johnstone, no stranger to the Outfield Square Dance, scored what proved to be the winning run in a two-run fourth after begging Manager Tommy Lasorda to give him one at-bat against left-handed reliever Randy Lerch.
Johnstone, who found himself the odd man out when the Phillies traded for Bake McBride in 1977, could be a key figure in what figures to be an uphill climb for a team which might not have the health necessary to catch the torrid Astros in the Western Division race. With Reggie Smith injured, Johnstone has been sharing right with rookie Mickey Hatcher, a third baseman by trade.
DALLAS GREEN brought Lerch in to relieve struggling Bob Walk in a four-run third highlighted by Johnstone's RBI triple. Lasorda was ready to hit the right-handed swinging Hatcher for Johnstone with one out in the fourth. Jay could sell Ozzie Myers to a grand jury when it comes to preserving a precious at-bat This was no exception.
"I told Tommy I didn't care about Hatcher replacing me, but please let me have one at bat against a lefthander; I haven't faced one in weeks," Jay grinned in the loose, relaxed Los Angeles clubhouse. "My stroke is not really what I want it to be, but this was the fourth game in a row that I've started and I'm starting to feel confident up there."
Lerch walked his former teammate and Dusty Baker, the league's best all-around leftfielder, jacked the Dodgers lead to 7-1 with a two-run homer. With a triple, two walks and a pair of runs scored, the Phils' former Clown Prince retired for the evening with a .311 average.
"Tommy's treated me great," Jay said. "It's really fun to play for this club. We're having a lot of little injuries now. With Pedro Guerrero and Reggie hurt right now, Rick Monday and I should do a lot of playing."
The Phillies bounced back with three runs off righthander Rick Sutcliffe in the fourth, but the offense sputtered in the fifth, thanks to some questionable baserunning by Mike Schmidt.
THE THIRD BASEMAN, who committed his 24th error, hit his second double with one out in the inning. Greg Luzinski backed Hatcher against the fence in right-center with a long drive. Schmidt went halfway to third instead of tagging up and had no chance to advance when Hatcher caught up with the ball. If it had been off the fence he could have crawled home. Keith Moreland followed with a single to right Running with two outs, Schmidt got a poor jump and was forced to hold at third. Manny rrillo bounced to short for the final out.
Aggressive baseball it wasn’t and the Phillies' offense the rest of the way consisted of singles by Larry Bowa and McBride four innings apart.
Lonnie Smith hit the deck twice more without benefit of an outside force. He played Johnstone's third-inning gapper off the wall, dropped it dribbled it once and fell down as he started to throw the ball. Jay turned the double into a triple and Baker, who had three more RBI, scored him with a single to center.
Maybe the swift, talented rookie outfielder needs spikes like the ones guys wear to climb up glaciers. He led off the third with the first of two singles and was running when Pete Rose lined a ball to Baker in left Lonnie reached second only to go down turning back for first and was easily doubled by Dusty's accurate throw.
LASORDA HAS delegated a lot of authority to Danny Ozark, in deference to Danny's seven seasons at the Phillies helm.
"He's been a big help to me," Lasorda said. “The players like him and his experience he can say some things that a guy who's just been a coach might be uncomfortable saying. One thing he does is set all our defenses in the dugout. He has an excellent knowledge of the hitters in the league and he's done a helluva job moving our guys around."
It is nice to hear the ex-Phillies on the Dodgers are thriving. The current Phillies are not doing so hot, thank you. They are 3-5 on the nine-game homestand, hardly the record Dallas Green had in mind with an 11-game Coast trip looming.
It is worth mentioning that the Phillies are 28-29 so far against the other five teams in the league with better than .500 records. It is also worth mentioning that the Pirates aren't exactly taking advantage of the Phillies shabby homestand. They are busy having one of their own.
Despite what we are seeing on the field, the Phils trail by just 3½ games, a false dawn that refuses to settle back into darkness or flare into daylight.
PHILUPS: Pete Rose singled in the first, career hit No. 3,516. He is alone now in fourth place on the all-time list. Still ahead are Olympians Stan Musial, Hank Aaron and Ty Cobb... Larry Bowa quietly moved into third place on the Phillies all-time at-bats list with 6,331, passing Del Ennis. He’ll pass Ed Delahanty (6,352) this season and will pass Rich Ashburn's 7,122 in 1982 if he's still in a Phillies uniform by then... For the second straight start Bob Walk struggled with his control. He walked five hitters in his 2-inning stint and three of them scored... Steve Carlton makes his second attempt at No. 20 tonight to close the homestand. He’ll face righthander Bob Welch.
Baker Cooking Up Fine Season
By Dick Weiss
The fact that Dusty Baker is having an excellent season comes as no surprise to Tommy Lasorda.
The Los Angeles Dodgers manager is more than willing to leak the not-so-well-kept secret that his sometimes unnoticed, often under-appreciated leftfielder is the best clutch hitter in the National League today.
"When you put him in important situations where there are men on base, he just does the job," Lasorda said. "He just looks to drive in that big run. He's a helluva ballplayer, a very much under-rated player. He can beat you with his glove. He can beat you with his arm. He can beat you with a base hit. He's a percentage hitter. He's a power hitter. He's just what I would call a complete ballplayer."
BAKER IS hitting .301. has 25 home runs and 79 RBI. And last night he continued to torture the Phillies, dredging up ghosts of the 1977 National League playoffs by driving in one run with a single during a four-run third inning and then tacking on a two-run homer in the fourth to carry the Dodgers to an 8-4 victory at the Vet.
So what else is new?
Baker has thrived on pressure ever since he started to compete in organized sports.
"In baseball, I always wanted to be Hank Aaron or Tommy Davis, stepping to the plate with bases loaded and two outs in the ninth. In basketball, I wanted to be Elgin Baylor, 15 feet away from the basket with time running out," Baker admitted. "I don’t know what it is. It seems like the score dictates my performance. It's something I tried to improve on. Trying to be the same all the time. I've talked with Pete Rose. You watch Pete Rose hit He's going to be the same whether the score is 10-1 or 1-10.
"Me. I'm the kind of person who, when things are on the line, I was at my best. Things like cramming for a test. But the stats don't build up when you don’t try to do it all the time. I consider myself a good clutch hitter. I always have. The only difference now is that now I've become a clutch hitter with some power."
BAKER MADE AN immediate impact the first year he played full-time in the majors. He hit .321, had 17 home runs and 76 RBI with Atlanta in 1972. He came to the Dodgers as a major part of a multi-player deal in 1976. In his second year on the Coast, he was one of four players to hit at least 30 home runs for the National League champion Dodgers.
Ironically, for all of this steady progress up the ladder of success, he has never gotten the recognition he deserved. He has never, for example, been selected for the All-Star team.
"My first year, when I broke in with the Braves, I had an excellent season. But I couldn't be Rookie of the Year because I had been up briefly with Atlanta four different times before that and I had too many accumulative days," Baker recalled. "That was one reason. Another reason was that I was on a team where a lot of players were specialists. Like, Hank Aaron was known for his home runs. Ralph Barr was known for his speed. Davey Johnson and Darrell Evans and Earl Williams were hitting between 30 and 40 home runs in that park. I was just in the early 20s. I was a small piece of bark on a big tree.
"I didn't make any All-Star teams there because the Braves were a last-place team until San Diego came into the league. They'd always pick Han Aaron and my roommate, Ralph Garr, who was hitting .340-.350. When I came over to the Dodgers, they already have a team filled with stars. We already had three-four guys who were All-Stars. I guess I've just been a victim of circumstances. Plus, I don't pop off a lot negatively, which apparently is what a lot of guys want to hear. I'm a positive person. I guess I've kinda grown to like it, being an anonymous guy who hurts you."
BAKER IS BOUND to land in the spotlight before this season finally ends. This is the final year of his contract and, whether the Dodgers end up in the World Series or not. Baker's name is certain to raise a few eyebrows if he decides to put himself on the auction block.
Surprisingly enough, he has not been affected by his situation.
"I guess the main reason is that there have been a number of distractions for me," he admitted. "No. 1 occurred in spring training with the threat of a baseball strike. Everybody was focused on the strike. No. 2, everybody was focused on the Lakers and 76ers. After that, everybody was focused on the All-Star game and why I didn't make the team. And now, we're in a pennant race and me being a free agent is still secondary. Which is the way I would prefer it."
Baker is one of the major reasons that the Dodgers are breathing hard down the throat of the Houston Astros. The Dodgers, have won seven of eight games on this road trip to stay within two games of the Astros in the National League West.
"We knew we had to have a good road trip," Baker said. "Tommy Lasorda came up and told us we had to bear down. We knew we would be without Reggie Smith (sore right shoulder). Steve Yeager, Bill Russell And Davey Lopes are all injured. But when you're a champion, you know what you have to do."
Hopefully, the Phillies were taking notes.
There were three winners in last night's Daily News Home Run Payoff. In the third inning of the Phillies-Dodgers game, Trixie B. McCormick of Lansdowne won $10 and four tickets on a Lonnie Smith single. Anna Glass of Philadelphia and Lynn Deull of Margate, N J., won tickets.
So far the Daily News has paid out $16,350. Today's coupon appears on Page 54.