Wilmington News Journal - August 31, 1980

Phillies split with Padres, ½ game back


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


SAN DIEGO – In the fourth inning of a game led by the Phillies 2-1, San Diego's Dave Winfield opened with a screaming triple to right field.


Dick Ruthven glared at the runner who was dancing around third, then promptly put the next three batters down. Quickly.


Willie Montanez grounded out, Jerry Mumphrey flied lined out to left and Bill Fahey grounded out to second.


"After that, I turned the cruise control on," Dick Ruthven kidded after his arm and bat lifted the Phils to an easy 6-1 conquest of the Padres in the opener of a double-header last night at San Diego Stadium. "Getting out of that jam and being able to protect the 2-1 lead set the pattern for everything else."


Ruthven then turned in a routinely professional complete game that vaulted the Phils into first place in the National League East or the first time since July 12, but only for a few hours.


Left-hander John Curtis pitched ' the Padres to a 5-1 victory in the second game that dropped the Phils one-half game behind Montreal and Pittsburgh, both of whom lost yesterday.


As has been the case much of this year, the Phils, who would have been on top by a half game with a sweep, were unable to delivery kayo punch in the nightcap. They went quietly.


Broderick Perkins lashed out three singles, drove in two runs and the Padres took advantage of four stolen bases to end a nine-game losing streak at home.


Nino Espinosa, who gave up eight hits and five runs in 4 innings, suffered the loss.


"I know some of the guys were watching the score from Los Angeles, but if I did that, I would have screwed up everything else," said Ruthven, who improved his record to 13-8 with his 11th career victory over San Diego. “I guess I made it exciting in the early innings, but after I got out of the fourth, I was in a good groove."


In addition to Ruthven's eight-hitter and his sixth complete game of the year, he cracked a bases-loaded double in the sixth inning when the-Phils put the game away, scoring four times.


"The ball just hit my bat," said Ruthven, who attempted to pull off a suicide squeeze and fouled of the first pitch. ''I just tried to drive the ball.”


"If the first pitch had been a ball, we would have tried the squeeze again," said Manager Dallas Green. "When he fouled off the pitch, I took off the squeeze.


"I thought Dick pitched out of two really tough jams tonight. He pitched a strong game, just what we needed at this stage of the season. Although our bullpen is rested, it's always nice to get a complete game."


When the Padres threatened in the eighth inning, reliever Ron Reed was throwing in the bullpen.


"When I went to the mound tonight, I wanted to be strong enough so nobody had to get up in the pen," said Ruthven. "When Reed got up, I was a little upset. I wanted to complete the game.


"I think the key is going to be the second game. We have a tendency to lose some intensity after winning the first game of a doubleheader. But knowing we can be up by one-half game in the division should help."


The Phils broke the first game open when they sent 10 batters to the plate in the sixth inning and scored four runs. It was Ruthven's booming two-run, bases-loaded double that did most of the damage.


The Phils nursed a 2-1 lead until the sixth, built on single runs scored in the second and third innings off left-handed starter Bob Shirley.


The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the first when Gene Richards doubled to center, went to third on a sacrifice and scored on Dave Winfield's infield out.


The Phils retaliated in the second. With two down, Larry Bowa singled to center and raced home on Bob Boone's double to left.


Again, with two out, the Phils scored in the third. Mike Schmidt doubled to left and dashed across the plate on Greg Luzinski's single to center.


Luzinski opened the sixth with a single to left and stopped at second when Manny Trillo ended an 0-for-13 with a single to right. With Greg Gross sent in to run for Luzinski, Garry Maddox was ordered to bunt. Instead, Maddox waited out a walk to load the bases.


San Diego Manager Jerry Coleman had seen enough of Shirley, now 9-10, and called on Mike Armstrong.


The count went 3-0 to Bowa, who then looked at a called strike. Bowa lofted Armstrong's 3-1 delivery in front of the Phils' dugout, an easy play for Luis Salazar.


Boone walked on four pitches to bring home Gross and up came Ruthven, who tried the suicide squeeze on the first pitch, but fouled it off. The pitcher then lined the next delivery to the foot of the wall in right-center, Trillo and Maddox scoring.


Lonnie Smith walked to again load the bases and Coleman called on Dennis Kinney, the left-hander who worked 9 Mi innings before losing that 17-inning marathon in Philadelphia on Aug. 21. Kinney got Pete Rose to ground out, the fourth run of the inning scored. Gross hit into a force to end it.


EXTRA INNINGS – Ruthven now has an 11-2 lifetime record against San Diego and is 3-0 against the Padres this year... Lonnie Smith has batted safely in 14 of 16 games, a .415 clip... His 28 steals are four shy of Richie Ashburn's 1948 club rookie record... Trillo ended an 0-for-13 when he singled in the sixth inning of the opener... Schmidt has a nine-game hitting streak... Rose needs just two more doubles to tie Nap Lajoie for fifth place on the all-time list at 650... When the Phils won the opener, it was their seventh straight victory on the road and ninth triumph in 10... A year ago the Phils were 65-62, in fifth place 94 games out of first place... The season series ends here today with Bob Walk (9-3) going against Juan Eichelberger (3-0)... After that, it's on to San Francisco where the Phils play the Giants in three games... The Phils are 1-2 at Candlestick Park this year and 3-6 vs. San Francisco overall.

Nino sounds off on arms and egos


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


SAN DIEGO – Nino Espinosa sat by his locker, ear phones strapped tightly over his head. His eyes were closed and he tapped a foot gently on the concrete floor.


The tape on his stereo clicked off and Nino looked up.


"I don't know what I would have done without my music," Nino Espinosa said. "That, and my family, got me through some very difficult times."


Maybe the difficult times are over for Nino Espinosa. And on the other hand, maybe they are not. Only time will tell.


On Aug. 15, 1979 Espinosa began his warm-up for a start against Cincinnati at Riverfront Stadium.


"It was my 26th birthday," the Phillies' right-hander recalled. "I threw a couple of pitches and felt a little twinge on top of my right shoulder near the joint. I continued warming up, but it seemed like my arm would not loosen like it usually does. I didn't know what to think."


Nino Espinosa obviously put the pain and stiffness out of his mind. He pitched a complete-game 3-2 victory, allowing the Reds just five hits that left him with a 13-9 record and a 3.60 earned run average.


That start, however, was the beginning of Espinosa's problems. The next days the shoulder stiffened and there was more pain. He lost three of his next four decisions and finally had to call it a season after losing to Montreal 7-4 on Sept. 23.


From then until last July 1, Espinosa lived a nightmare. He returned to his home in the Dominican Republic last September and rested the arm and shoulder for two months. When he tried to pitch in December, there was no improvement. When he came to spring training last February, the situation was even worse.


The pain was so excruciating he could hardly lob the ball. When the season opened he was on the disabled list and some people wondered if he would pitch at all in 1980.


Gradually, the pain began to leave, but Nino was left with little or no velocity on his fastball. In June, stories hit area newspapers that quoted Manager Dallas Green as saying there comes a time when pitchers with sore arms have to learn to pitch with pain. Reliever Warren Brusstar who was suffering from the same problems with his shoulder was in the same category. One headline blared: "Green to Nino and Bru: Pitch or Quit!"


"I went into Dallas' office with the stories and asked him if he said those things," Espinosa said the other day. "He told me he said sometimes players have to learn to play with pain. He did not say we either had to pitch or quit."


A day or so later Espinosa and Brusstar went to the minors to prove their arms were sound.


Now, they're both back and helping the Phillies stay in the thick of the National League East race. Espinosa, who was ineffective in his last start, was looking forward to his start against the Padres in the second game of last night's doubleheader. He knows the Phils need him down the homestretch.


"There is no pain at all now," he said. "My arm feels fine."


Espinosa, relying on his craftiness as a "pitcher," turned in his first complete game since his not-so-happy 26th birthday, defeating the New York Mets 8-1 on a five-hitter in the midst of a five-game Philadelphia sweep at Shea Stadium.


Prior to last night's start, Espinosa had a 3-4 record in 10 starts. His earned run average was 3.74.


Because he feels he was treated so unkindly by reporters when he was struggling to come back, he has refused to grant interviews of any kind.


"Last year (after he was traded to the Phils from the New York Mets for Richie Hebner) I talked to the press even when I was knocked out of games," said Espinosa, in his extremely good English. "I always tried to cooperate. Because the remarks Dallas made were blown out of proportion, I have decided not to talk to reporters. I just feel they were not fair to me and did not like the way I was treated."


Espinosa did, however, grant this interview after several conversations as to why his story should be told.


"In a sense, my problem was like J. R. Richard's," he said. "A lot of people did not think I was hurting, that my arm problem was in my head. Nobody knows when you're hurting except yourself. J. R. Richard almost died. Now, if somebody says he is hurt, people will believe him."


Green, a former pitcher, told Espinosa he (Green) had arm problems. "When all the medical people say you are structurally sound, you have to go out and throw. You have to try to pitch through it."


Espinosa's problem was diagnosed as bursitis. A rehabilitation program was devised by team trainers Don Seger and Jeff Cooper, and by late June the arm and shoulder were strong and the pain was gone.


Still, Nino had to prove he could pitch competitively.


"Dallas wanted me to go to Spartanburg for 20 days," said Espinosa. "I didn't want to go at all, but finally agreed to go for 10. I made three starts and my arm felt fine."


In two previous seasons with the Mets, Espinosa worked 200 and 204 innings. For the Phils, who were plagued by injuries to their pitching staff last year, Espinosa worked 212 innings.


"I really don't think that is what caused the problem," said Nino. "Because Larry Christenson and Randy Lerch and Dick Ruthven were hurt, I pitched most of the year with just three days rest. I had never done that before. Once, after I got knocked out of a game in a St. Louis doubleheader on June 29, I came back two days later and pitched a game against the Mets. With just three days rest, my arm did not have time to come back.


"I never had any kind of injury before. Just like J. R. Richard. I seldom, if ever, missed a start. Because we were still in the pennant race last August, I took my turn even though I was hurting. I felt I should not walk out on the team, but I know I should have rested my arm then. I had never been hurt before and did not know what to expect. In my last 1979 start on Sept. 23, 1 was hurting so much I did nothing more than push the ball."


Since Espinosa's return on July 4, the velocity of his fastball has gradually improved, although you might get an argument on this.


"I don't know why they make such a big deal about my velocity," he said. "It would have been a different story if I had been a power pitcher before I was hurt. True, I struck out 105 batters in 200 innings in 1977, but I was not a power pitcher. I know I used to throw harder than I am throwing now, but I also know my velocity will come back.


"I have never gone out and tried to throw the ball down the middle of the plate, to blow people away. I have to pitch in and out – in and out. That's always been my style."


Espinosa, on the final year of a three-year contract, is not eligible to become a free agent. He will lack that status by 39 days at the end of the season.


"I am not going to talk to Ruly Carpenter (Phillies' owner) until the end of the season," Nino said.


It was obvious he has a lot more pitching to do before now and then. And the emphasis is on "pitching."