Philadelphia Daily News - August 28, 1980
20th Special for Lefty
By Dick Weiss
Dallas Green cast his vote for the Cy Young Award last night.
Condolences, Jerry Reuss. Sorry about that, Jim Bibby. Better luck next year, Bruce Sutter.
"In terms of innings pitched, strikeouts and what he's meant to a team, I don't think there can be anybody close to Steve Carlton," the Phillies manager said.
Go ahead, Lefty. Stand up and take a bow. The crowd of 39,116 at the Vet thought enough of you to let loose with a standing ovation at the grand finale of your 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Carlton, the strong silent type, responded to the applause with an emotional clenched fist. Then, he shook the hand of every man on his team. "Usually, Steve just accepts a win like another notch on the belt. But I think if you saw him shaking all his teammates' hands and acknowledging the fans like that," Green said, "you wouldn't have to ask whether this meant something special."
THERE PROBABLY are some members of the press who would have liked to get the firsthand reaction of the 34-year-old lefthander who quietly became the second man in the majors to win 20 games this year.
Unfortunately, Carlton's self-imposed privacy is one barbed-wire fence very few get to climb over. Carlton did consent to talk to Richie Ashburn on the radio post-game show afterward, claiming that he had a kink in his back and actually felt questionable about taking his turn in the rotation before the game. To the rest of the working media, though, he remained Silent Steve, prefering to let his actions speak louder than words.
Carlton, for the record, is 20-7. He has pitched 238 innings, striking out 232. His earned run average is a brilliant 2.27.
Carlton is the one legitimate stopper the Phillies have at their disposal as the National League division race approaches the finish line. Because of Carlton's astounding consistency, all of his performances are magnified. Sometimes out of proportion.
Just last Friday, Carlton pitched well but lost a 4-3 10-inning game to San Francisco. His defeat was disastrous in light of the fact that the rest of the staff, with the exception of Dick Ruthven, picked a bad time to take summer vacation.
LAST NIGHT Carlton pitched what, for him, probably was an average game. At times, he had difficulty controlling his slider. But he did go eight innings, scattering eight hits and striking out seven before being pulled in the bottom of the eighth for pinch-hitter Keith Moreland when the Phillies had a chance to break up a 3-3 tie.
Carlton put off his trip to the showers, though, staying in the dugout the rest of the way. The wait, as it turned out, was worthwhile. Moreland ended up singling Larry Bowa to third with one out and then lead-off hitter Pete Rose – who drilled three hits – executed the hit-and-run perfectly, bounced a ball to deep short that allowed Bowa to score when it became apparent that Bill Russell had only one play – at first.
Reliever Tug McGraw got his 14th save in the ninth when he put the Dodgers down in order, striking Jay Johnstone and Davey Lopes and then getting Russell on a grounder to second.
Thank heaven for small favors. The Phillies, who leave for an 11-game West Coast swing today, finished their homestand with a less-than-spectacular 4-5 record. Miraculously, because Atlanta swept three games from the Pirates in Three Rivers Stadium, the Phillies are starting this odyssey just 2½ games behind Pittsburgh.
CARLTON IS NOT scheduled to pitch again until five games into this trip when the Phillies arrive in the cold back bay area for a series with San Francisco. Until then, Green will roll dice against San Diego with a rotation of Larry Christenson tomorrow, Ruthven and Nino Espinosa in a Saturday doubleheader and then Bob Walk Sunday.
"Tom Seaver is probably in Carlton's class," said Rose. "And Jim Maloney pitched a lot of no-hitters. But no one is as consistent as Lefty. You know he's going to give you 110."
Green was singing the same kind of hymns. "This year, he has been what I expected out of everybody," he said. "He's been very dedicated every time he walks out there. He's worked hard all year. And, really, nobody deserves it more than he does.
"And it's not over by any stretch of the imagination. He's going to have a lot more chances to win a few more games. Tonight, I know he wanted it. I know the team wanted it for him because we played pretty intense."
That is a theory that was being voiced constantly during the dream season of 1972 when Carlton won 27 games for a team that won only 57 games in its division.
"I don’t think we necessarily play any differently," said catcher Bob Boone. "I think the way Lefty pitches makes it look different. He works fast. And you're on offense a lot of the time. And working fast, I think, makes you a little more aggressive defensively."
BOONE HAS CAUGHT Carlton all year long.
"He was ready to go from Day 1 in spring training," Boone said. "And while he hasn't been awesome, say, this second half, he's been what all great pitchers have to be. Consistent. He reaches back in those tough situations and throws strikes, particularly with his slider."
Carlton looked for a fleeting instant as if he might not survive the first inning last night giving up back-to-back doubles to Davey Lopes and Bill Russell. Then, he settled down. So did his teammates.
The Phillies took a 3-2 lead with two runs in the fifth. Carlton led off with a single, then scored on a double to center by Rose. Rose was out trying to stretch the hit into a triple, but the Phils got one more when Bake McBride singled, moved to third on a short-hop single by Mike Schmidt and then scored when Greg Luzinski hit a one-out chopper to first that Steve Garvey threw into the dugout when he tried to cut down McBride at the plate.
The Dodgers added a touch of drama, tying the score on a Ron Cey homer in the sixth, setting the stage for Rose's latest heroics.
Surprisingly enough, this was Carlton's first regular-season win over Los Angeles since Aug. 7, 1977. It couldn't have come at a better time for him... and for the Phillies.
Rose Begins Drive For the Magic 200
By Phil Jasner
Somebody, somewhere is going to win a pennant this year in the National League East.
But who? And when?
"Talk about consistency," the Phillies' Pete Rose suggested last night. "We haven't been that consistent, but, then, I don't think Pittsburgh or Montreal has been, either.
"Look at us, we sweep a series in New York, come home, play bad, lose two out of three to Los Angeles and we're in a position to gain ground.
"I just figure, in the next month, somebody's gonna just take off, run away and hide, really get hot. I just hope we're the team."
If this team finally emerges as the smoking gun. Pete's the man pulling the trigger. He contributed three hits in last night's 4-3 win over the Dodgers, driving in Steve Carlton with one run in the fifth inning, then allowing Larry Bowa to score the game-winner in the eighth with a tough hit-and-run grounder.
DON’T LOOK now, but Pete has 147 hits with 38 games remaining, beginning tomorrow night in San Diego.
Thirty-eight games. Is that enough time for him to make one more soaring, daring climb to 200 hits?
"If I do." he replied, "it means I'm gonna get hot, create some offense, score some runs. And if all that happens, it means we're gonna win some games.
"It's not many (to reach 200). If you get three every night, they add up pretty fast.
"And what's important to me as a hitter is. I'm seeing the ball good. And when I'm doing that. I hit well. Sometimes you hit ropes and don’t get anything for them, but at least it tells me I'm seeing the pitches. Even when I struck out (in the second inning), I saw that one. It wasn't like he (Bob Welch) overpowered me or blew me away. I got a good rip.... I don't know how I missed it."
He doesn't miss much. He has struck out only 22 times in 497 at-bats and is among the league leaders in hits, doubles and runs scored. In fact, three more doubles will make him No. 5 on baseball's all-time list in that category.
"A tip on how I'm hitting," Pete said, "is that I hit one to each field tonight, and the last time (with pinch-runner Lonnie Smith on first), they told me to watch for the hit-and-run. It's a 'situation' at-bat, and I like that, because... just like when you're up to sacrifice... the ball looks big to you."
THERE WERE 39,116 in the Vet. and in the emotional eighth the various motivational forces gathered their resources.
Here was Rose making his annual drive toward 200 hits, climbing toward .300 (he began the evening at .293). Bowa at third with the lead run and Steve Carlton's 20th victory lingering in the balance.
"I knew Lefty was out of the game (after pinch-hitter Keith Moreland singled)," Pete said, "and I wanted the 20th for Lefty. We wanted it for him Friday night and couldn't get it, so we wanted to get it out of the way. You know, get it, then let him go for 25."
With one out and Smith moving, Rose hit a hard, grounder to shortstop. Some nights, that's all it takes.
"I wouldn't mind seeing Pete get hot," said Dallas Green, the manager. "Naturally, 200 hits are gonna be on his mind, and – you can probably make book on it – he’ll get 'em.
"Down deep in the guy, as much as he's goal-oriented, there's nothing more on his mind than winning. He knows what we want, and that this is the year we want it."
Dallas revels in quietly observing Rose's nightly duels, roughly the same way Pete examines Carlton's parade of excellence.
"WHAT PETE HAS is concentration." the manager said. "He always knows what he can do with a certain pitch, and then doesn't try to do any more than that. I've seen guys go up there looking for a pitch, and even if they get it, they can't always handle it. I just remember he had about the same number of hits when I took over the club last year, and I saw him get 200. Now. I think he's gonna do it again."
Carlton possesses that same spectacular ability to concentrate, to perform, to generate electricity in a stadium.
"I guess (Tom) Seaver's in Carlton's class," Pete said. "And, when I was in Cincinnati, Jim Maloney pitched some no-hitters, but I haven't seen anyone as consistent as Lefty.
"He's consistent with his pitches... with his pickoff moves... with his bat. Even between innings, he throws five, six warm-up pitches, he's ready. He even makes the ground crew hustle.
"You don't like to say you get keyed up for one guy. but when he's pitching you know it's a two-hour game, maybe 2:05, and it moves. He goes out there, it's exciting."
Carlton, as everybody knows, has nothing to say publicly, other than during an occasional radio or TV interview, but – to his credit – he's remarkably consistent about it. Rose, meanwhile, talks patiently, as productive with the media as he is on the field.
There is an amazing thread there that binds the pitcher with the first baseman.
And, in the heat of a pennant race, slender threads are as good as any to cling to.
7 Winners in HR Payoff
There were seven winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest.
In the fifth inning of the Phils-Dodgers game, Joel Nemeroff of Philadelphia won $75 on an RBI double by Pete Rose, Gerald L. Treaster of Lewistown, Pa., won $10 on a single by Bake McBride. John Paul Paine of Philadelphia won $10 on a Mike Schmidt single, and Jose E. Pedraza of Philadelphia also won $10 on a base hit by Steve Carlton.
Winners of four tickets each to a future Phillies game were Mark Balawejder of Wallingford. Pa., and Philadelphians George J. Halliwell and Curtis Bey.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $16,460.
Today's coupon appears on page 64.