Philadelphia Inquirer - August 27, 1980
Dodgers rip Walk, Phillies, 8-4
Another milestone for Rose
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
For three months, Bob Walk was, quite literally, The Man Who Couldn't Lose.
He pitched great a lot. The Phillies also scored eight runs for him a lot. Even Willie Hernandez couldn't beat that formula.
Walk entered August at 7-1, his earned-run average finally edging under 4.00. He didn't take 10 minutes between pitches any more. He wasn't being known as the aptly named Mr. Walk anymore.
But all of a sudden, Bob Walk's magic has worn off. He was rocked last night by the Dodgers, 8-4. The record's still nice (9-3), but he has won once in his last five starts. His earned-run average for August is 7.39. In six starts this month, he has been hammered for 44 hits, 23 earned runs and 18 Walks in 28-1/3 innings.
He is not throwing strikes anymore. And hitters notice that stuff. A lot more of them are taking on him now, making him get ahead of them. The numbers tell you that he hasn't done that enough.
"I feel like I did when I first came up," said Walk, his head bobbing with frustration. "It seems like the harder I try, the more wild I get. Maybe I'm doing too much thinking out there.
"I don't have any doubts I can pitch up here. I'm just having a hard time figuring out what's been happening to me the last four or five ball games."
Walk was gone after 2-1/3 innings last night. It was the third time in his last five starts that he hasn't made it through the third. Last night, he faced 14 hitters and ran three-ball counts on seven of them. All seven got on – four walks, two singles, one triple.
"I really can't explain why it's happening," Walk said. "Before the game, I was throwing strikes down in the bullpen, throwing the ball right where I wanted, no problems at all. But the last couple of times out, I got in the game and couldn't seem to find the groove."
Walk seemed fine for a while. He rolled through an easy first Inning. Then Pete Rose started a one-run rally in the bottom of the first with career-hit No. 3,516. That's one more than Tris Speaker had in his career, so Rose is now fourth on the all-time list.
But in the second, the Dodgers tied it with a Ron Cey single, a walk to Rick Monday and an RBI single by Bill (Boogaloo) Russell.
Still, Walk felt OK. But he went out for the third, "and even warming up," he said, "I just couldn't get the ball down. I don't know why."
He walked Davey Lopes. He went 3-and-1 to the Jay of Johnstone. Johnstone sliced a triple up the alley in left-center, and the Dodgers went ahead to stay, 2-1.
"I didn't want to walk him, so I just laid it out over the plate," Walk said. "It was like a batting-practice fastball, really."
Next was Dusty Baker. Three-and-one again. Single through the middle. 3-1. He got Steve Garvey. But Cey was next, and by then, said Walk, "I just had no idea."
He wild-pitched Baker to third and walked Cey. And out hopped Dallas Green.. Walk's line in his last two starts: 4Va innings, 9 hits, 10 runs, 7 walks, 2 wild pitches.
"I think he might be just getting too fine, and he doesn't have to," said Green. "His stuff is good enough to win. We'll have a little talk with him and try to temper him down."
But at this point, said Walk: "I don't know what to change. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong. I'm just kind of confused right now.
"The first couple innings, I might have been too fine. But in that third inning, I was just trying to throw the ball right down the middle of the plate. The last couple of pitches, I was 1 trying to throw the ball in the dirt, and it was still going head-high. I felt like I was trying to throw an ice cube or something."
He left with two on, and Randy Lerch gave up RBI singles to Rick Monday and Mike Scioscia. 5-1. Then in the fourth, Lerch went from 0-and-2 to walk Johnstone, got annoyed with himself and the next thing he knew Baker was pumping a 400-foot-line drive off the canopy in deep left-center for his 25th homer. 7-1. That shot also gave Baker the league lead in homers off Lerch this year (three).
"I thought he got squeezed (by home-plate ump Paul Pryor) on the walk to Johnstone," Green said. "But that's the problem. If he gets those pitches, if he gets the out, things start coming a little bit. If he doesn't, he's back into that old thing, the here-we-go-again type thing."
The six-run hole was too far for the Phils to come back against Rick Sutcliffe, who has gone from rookie of the year to last in the league in ERA (5.74) in five months. Before last night, Sutcliffe hadn't started since July 19 and hadn't won since July 2.
When the Phils got to within 7-3 in the fourth, Tommy Lasorda ran out of patience. He yanked Sutcliffe four outs short of what he needed to win one. And even though Lonnie Smith greeted Joe Beckwith with an RBI single, Beckwith and winner Bobby Castillo (4-6) smothered the Phils the rest of the way.
About the only good thing that happened was the Pirates losing their second straight at home to the Braves. So even with a 3-5 home-stand, the Phils are still two out in the loss column.
"I'd like to be winning," said Green. "But I don't think it's a catastrophe because we're losing."
NOTES: Larry Bowa's error in the sixth inning Monday night was changed yesterday to a single for Steve Yeager. But even Dallas Green admitted Monday for the first time that Bowa has seemed shakier in the field this year. "I think Bo has an awful lot on his mind, and I'm just not sure it's all baseball," Green said. "We'd like to say we could overcome these things and play our game, but some guys can do it and some guys apparently can't.... I'm sure in his mind it just looks like the whole world is against him. But that's not the case."... Garry Maddox was the odd-man out in the four-man musical-outfielders game last night. So Lonnie Smith started in center for only the third time this year.... Yeager will miss about 10 days with a bone chip in the middle finger of his throwing hand.... The doctor's report on Don Sutton (fractured big toe): He should miss only one more start. Last night was only the third start Sutton has missed in his whole career because of injuries.
It’s Baker starring once more
By Lewis Freedman, Inquirer Staff Writer
When it comes to All-Star teams, he has been the Forgotten Man. He has been more often overlooked than over- or underrated.
But when it comes to timing, Johnnie B. Baker, more commonly known as "Dusty," has the precision of a standup comic.
Last night in the mugginess of Veterans Stadium, Baker had the clutch hit that was lost in the multitude of Los Angeles run-scoring hits that enabled the Dodgers to beat the Phillies, 8-4, and stay close to Houston in their National League Western Division pennant fight.
Baker, who had singled and scored the third run in the Dodgers' four-run third inning, put the game out of reach in the fourth with a two-run homer over the 371-foot sign in left field. That gave L.A. a 7-1 lead and more or less ended it.
"I hit a fastball," said Baker. It came off of Randy Lerch, the third time this season that Baker has crashed a Lerch pitch into outer space.
But more than that, it was yet another occasion that Baker, 31, has come through in the clutch for Los Angeles and Atlanta, his first stop in the majors.
The homer was his 25th of the year, and he now has 79 RBIs. It's the fifth time Baker has hit more than 23 homers in a season, but he has never made an All-Star squad.
"I've been a victim of circumstances," said outfielder Baker. "And I don't pop off a lot."
In his early major league seasons, Baker was overshadowed by Hank Aaron, Rico Carty and Ralph Garr with the Braves. Then the Braves sank to last. With the Dodgers, he has been one of many stars.
But manager Tommy Lasorda appreciates him.
"He just seems to rise to the occasion," said Lasorda of last night's occasion. "He's a percentage hitter and a power hitter. He's just a complete player."
Baker, who has hit as high as .321 (in 1972) and as many as 30 homers (in 1977), said he was a clutch hitter in the past mostly because he concentrated much harder in tight situations, but he's worked to concentrate all the time now.
Bake practiced being a clutch performer as a little boy – on the field and with his imagination.
"It goes back to Little League and Pony League and even basketball," he said. "I always wanted the ball. "And when I was growing up I used to pretend I was coming up with two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, and my brother was announcing, imitating Vince Scully."
And it wasn't just in sports that Baker came through under pressure.
"Even in school, I was at my best when I crammed for a test," he said, smiling.
Despite trying to concentrate more, this could have been a year loaded with distractions for Baker. He will be a free agent after the season.
"I talked to Pete Rose," said Baker. "He said, 'Baker, don't worry about free agency. Just go out and play your game.' And Willie Stargell told me, 'Just have fun.'"
Other things have helped keep his mind off possible future employment elsewhere.
First, there was almost a baseball strike; then the Lakers monopolized Los Angeles' attention with their NBA championship; then there was an uproar over Baker not being named to the All-Star team.
"And now we're in a pennant race," he said.
The Dodgers are in a pennant race because of more people than Baker, though.
Last night, the winning run was driven in by Jay Johnstone, the free-spirited former Phillie who tripled in the run that made it 2-1 and then was lifted in the fourth inning to give Mickey Hatcher some playing time.
That, however, made Johnstone, who's hitting .311 as a part-timer, nervous.
"We've been ahead in four different games I've come out of and we lost," he said.
But not last night. The Phillies, because of Baker's blast, never got close again.
Phillies end home stand
The Dodgers and Phillies conclude their series at Veterans Stadium tonight, but it won't be long until they meet again. Next weekend they will rendezvous 3,000 miles to the west.
After the Dodgers' final Philadelphia appearance tonight, the Phils will leave on an 11-game West Coast swing through San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles, a pivotal trip for their 1980 Eastern Division chances.
Steve Carlton makes his second attempt to notch his 20th victory of the season tonight. His pitching opponent is scheduled to be Bob Welch.
PHILLIES vs. Los Angela at Veterans Stadium, 7:35 p.m. (Radlo-KYW-1060)
Phillies Clinic at 77th Street and Elmwood Playground, 1 p.m.