Philadelphia Daily News - August 30, 1980
Climate Right for Phils
By Bill Conlin
SAN DIEGO – Dallas Green says the Phillies are ready for September baseball. Never mind that they are coming off a forgettable 4-5 homestand, the manager says the climate, the arithmetic and the logistics are right for the fall offensive.
The Phillies pulled a game ahead of the floundering Pirates in the loss column last night with a tough, 3-2 victory over the untalented, unhappy Padres. They moved within a game of the division-leading Expos, who lost in Los Angeles, and are now even with Montreal in the loss column. The Phillies have 36 games left to prove they are all the things Green has been saying they are, less than six weeks to demonstrate that they can be winners once again.
Green left little doubt that he is ready to unleash the dogs of war.
With two outs in the: top of the ninth and the Phils clinging to a one-run lead, Padres reliever Gary Lucas walked Mike Schmidt. Schmidt stole second. The next hitter was Greg Gross, a defensive replacement for Greg Luzinski in left. Gross swings left-handed. Lucas throws left-handed.
JERRY COLEMAN'S intent was obvious when the beleaguered Padres manager ordered an intentional walk to Gross after Lucas fell behind, 2-0, in the count. He was trying to entice Green into sending up a right-handed pinch-hitter for relief ace Tug McGraw, who was batting in the No. 5 spot.
Green bit his lip. Ron Reed and Dickie Noles were warming in the bullpen. The temptation to go for an insurance run on the road was compelling.
"I've done it in the past," Dallas" said. "I've done it, to get that extra run. But Tug was my man to put them away tonight. That's the way I have him lined up the rest of the way."
McGraw bounced out to short, then made the one-run lead stand up with a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve Larry Chris tenson's fifth victory and record his club-high 15th save.
"Tug's been very close to outstanding the last month," Green said. "He hasn't had too many struggle periods. We're going after it. He's shown me he's the most consistent guy we've had. He's the guy who's going to nail it down in this type of game."
Green says it helped that the Pirates and Expos went on the skids at home the same time as the Phillies.
"I know we're in damn good shape to make a run at this SOB," he said. "We're healthy, catching a few breaks, a couple of teams are helping us out. I've got a good feel about this ballclub right now."
EVEN WHEN HE read the riot act between games on Black Sunday in Pittsburgh, Green felt he still had the basic ingredients of a winner. And his ballclub presented him with what will be recorded as a turning point if the Phillies outlast the Expos and Pirates in what should be a knock-down, drag-out affair right through the first Sunday in October.
"One of the keys to the whole season was the Chicago game where the Cubs came back to tie it, 5-5, and we got stopped by darkness," said Green. "We came back the next day and hung tough to win the suspended game, then won the regular game. If we had blown that 5-5 game it could have been downhill for us. I've felt good about us ever since the five-game sweep in New York. That was a fun series for us. Then we played sloppy baseball at home and caught a helluva break because the other guys were struggling, too. I don't feel we're lucky to be where we are right now. But I can't say we should be any better off than we are because we haven’t been consistent enough to be way ahead."
Christenson, pitching with five days rest after sitting six days between his first and second outing off the disabled list, shut out the Padres on two singles before running into seventh-inning trouble. The offense, meanwhile, managed to nibble two runs of starter Steve Mura in the second on Manny Trillo's infield out and an infield single by Larry Bowa. An infield error Jielped set up an unearned run in the third which scored on Keith Moreland’s RBI single.
DEVASTATING offense it wasn't. But it doesn’t take Murderer's Row to beat a Padres team which seems to have an infinite variety of ways to give away runs. Last night's bonus run came courtesy of a perfect throw by catcher Gene Tenace on a stolen-base attempt by Bake McBride in the second. Second baseman Tim Flannery applied the tag, the out was signaled and, oops, Flannery dropped the ball. McBride was ruled safe and Moreland scored him with two outs.
"Sometimes you need a little luck," Green said.
Third baseman Luis Salazar, stolen from the Pirates' minor-league system in a deal for pinch-hitter Kurt Bevacqua, led off the seventh with a single and Chistenson was in big trouble when he walked Tenace and served a one-out double to pinch-hitter Broderick Perkins. Salazar scored and Green waved in McGraw, who has been superb since his run-in with Bill Russell last Monday.
Tenace made it 3-2 on an infield out by Gene Richards, but Tug got out of the inning when the feeble-swinging Ozzie Smith bounced out to Bowa.
McGraw was in his own hot water after Dave Winfield, booed for almost everything he does, ripped an eighth-inning lead-off double up the alley in left-center. Willie Montanez flied out to shallow right and Winfield was forced to hold second. Then McGraw struck out Jerry Mumphrey on a checked-swing foul tip, walked Salazar and got Tenace to look at a strike three fastball on the inside corner. It was premier relief pitching.
THE SIXTH-PLACE Padres have about packed it in for 1980. Rollie Fingers and Tenace brutally criticized Manager Coleman in print earlier in the week. Ace lefthander Randy Jones is through for the season with chronic shoulder tendinitis. Club President Ballard Smith is searching for a new general manager, with recently deposed St. Louis GM John Claiborne the hot name of the moment.
The Phillies could set up the rest of the Coast trip by savaging Ray Kroc's disinterested, disgruntled Hessians in the three remaining games of the series. And haven’t we heard that tune before?
PHILUPS: Dallas Green started Greg Luzinski in left even though he has hit only one career homer in this ballpark. And the manager raised at least one eyebrow by sitting Bob Boone, a San Diego product who has always hit well here. There is something almost obscene about benching a .351 hitter, but no matter what Green does with his outfield, somebody will protest. How can he sit Bake McBride and his J10 average? How can he lose Garry Maddox' defense in center? How can he sacrifice Lonnie Smith's base-stealing and run-scoring prowess? Green doesn't care whose feelings he bruises as long as the Phillies get him to a division title on time... They'll play a rare Coast twi-nighter today; lefthanders Bob Shirley and John Curtis are scheduled to oppose Dick Ruthven and Nino Espinosa. which means Smith probably will start at least one game… The crowd was a disinterested 10,742. The grunion run, a weird spawning of a sardine-like fish which has turned into a local social event, drew more fans than that to the beaches during the full moon egg-burying ritual the other night.
4 Winners in HR Contest
There were four winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest.
In the eighth inning of the Phils-Padres game, T.J. Disu of Philadelphia won $10 on a Larry Bowa single. Winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game were Philadelphians Joe Rauscher, Hugh H. Hart and Lorenzo Jones Jr.
To date the Daily News has paid out $16,470.