Philadelphia Daily News - August 8, 1980
Phils Hitters Slump Out of Town
By Ted Silary
You could note that the Phillies were a hit on their just-completed homestand, winning eight of 12 games including last night's 3-2 success over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Then again, since six of the eight everyday starters lost a total of 31 points off their respective batting averages, perhaps they were not a hit at all.
Somehow, those gray hairs on the head of hitting tipster Billy DeMars appeared more in abundance last night as the players hustled to shower and dress in time to catch a 10:20 bus for the trip to the land of Black and Gold.
In another word, "Pittsburgh," where it only seems that the Pirates hit as hard as the Steelers.
"Just the other day," noted third baseman Mike Schmidt, hitting .195 since the All-Star break with six homers and 15 RBI, "I heard where we were tied with St. Louis for the league lead in hitting. I couldn't believe it. I thought the stat men had made a mistake.
"BLEEP. I'M NOT hitting. Maddox isn't hitting. Boonie isn't hitting. Even Pete isn't hitting that great."
In order, that triumvirate is better known as Garry Maddox, Bob Boone and Pete Rose, although the latter's inclusion in the Flops of the Homestand Club was up for debate considering the first baseman's token rise from .287 to .290.
What was not up for debate, however, was this: unless everyone does his share, the team can expect disaster on a 12-game, three-city swing that features stops in Chicago and New York after western Pennsylvania.
"All in all," noted DeMars, "I thought we hit the ball pretty well during this homestand except for the last two games with St. Louis. But, yes, there are two or three guys who are mired in slumps and it would be nice for them to come out of them.
"If you didn't have slumps, hitting wouldn't be a challenge, now, would it? All you can do is try to ride it out.
"When a guy's not hitting, I tell him not to worry. I try not to worry either, but it does concern me. I find myself asking, 'What can I do to get so-and-so out of it?'
"Well, one thing DeMars can do is stand behind the batting cage for portions of BP, telling Maddox that, "Your hands came through nice on that swing" or telling Boone that, "Your hips are too far behind."
And that DeMars does religiously, avoiding the fault of coming off like a fire and brimstone preacher.
"I HAVE A pretty healthy relationship with most of these guys," he said. "Half the starters (Schmidt, Boone, Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski) have been playing here a long time and even with the others (Maddox, Rose, Manny Trillo, Bake McBride, Lonnie Smith, Keith Moreland, etc.), I feel I know 'em well enough to watch and make suggestions."
More than any other, the season-long nosedive suffered by Boone has the Phils perplexed.
Last year, Boone compiled a career-high average of .286 and was the starter in the All-Star game in Seattle. In July, the Stanford grad smoked along at a .405 pace and established some sort of team record for most times interviewed.
Now the chitchat sessions are as few and far between as his hits and the fans seem anxious to see More-land receive more playing time.
"I had been feeling much better at the plate... until tonight," said Boone, who went an unimpressive 0-for-3 and saw his average sag to .224. "I was hoping that the results would start matching my optimism.
"Throughout all this, I have tried to maintain the same approach on how I play and how I prepare. But it can get tough. One day, you want to try lots of extra hitting. The next day, you feel it would be better if you didn't even get close to a bat."
One of the more interesting statistics that jumped out at the Phils' faithful when the 1979 season sputtered to a close was the one which showed that Luzinski hit .303 on the road and .197 at home.
ALTHOUGH SCHMITTY first scoffed at a suggestion that a change of scenery might help his cause, he was booed with gusto on several occasions, and one instant later there he was, saying...
"It might do us some good to get away, put those blue uniforms on for a while. When we play those Pirates, whether it's home or away, that always seems to get us pumped up. Pittsburgh is a good place to begin a road trip. You're out there hackin' right away."
With a bat and not because of a cough, the Phils can only hope.
"Each time I don't get a hit," spewed Schmidt, 0-for-his-last-14 while playing with a strained muscle in his right groin, "I'm that much closer to my next hit or even my next home run. I know I'm going to come out of it.
"These past few games, my health has been my biggest concern. I could have sat out and been 100 percent for Pittsburgh. But I played for the good of the team. Now, I'm past that caution period with my groin and I hope to go on a binge."
"You never know how long you are going to hit or how long you are not going to hit," said Maddox, who is presently partial to a spread-out, no-stride approach to hitting. "But if history can tell us anything, I would expect that the games in Pittsburgh will help us.
"Check the records. Both teams hit a lot against each other. Maybe we will all get well at once."
Those crossed fingers you see belong to Billy DeMars.
"If nothing else, the past is on our side," he said. "Sometime soon, you would expect Garry (.258) and Boonie to start the climb toward their lifetime average (.293 and .269, respectively). And although Schmitty (.259) is just about there (.255) right now, he's due for some extra be hits and RBIs."
"I'll tell you one thing," Schmidi said. "If we all start swinging the bats on the road, we'll win all the games."
Now, that would make for a hit of a road swing.
Phils Slide by Cards
By Bud Shaw
There were severed thousand reasons why Dallas Green might have wanted to stay off the field last night, and the veins were bulging in most of their necks.
Steve Carlton was holding onto a 3-2 lead by his fingernails in the ninth inning when Green poked his head out of the dugout, realizing immediately that this was not just another humid night at Veterans Stadium and that the rush of warm air greeting his emergence was the hot breath of 31,397 people, who seemed perfectly willing to ride this one out right along with Lefty's slider.
Carlton's slider didn't seem quite so willing, though, and the difference in perspectives between the 700 level and the dugout didn't stop Green from motioning toward the bullpen where Tug McGraw appeared anxious enough to drive himself to the mound.
A YEAR AGO, the guys in the bull pen would have taken this as a cue to put on their gloves, but lately McGraw has been slapping his leg much more frequently than balls have been leaving the playing field.
There were two outs and Cardinals on first and second when Tug turned his attention to Tom Herr, who had blitzed Phillies pitching for three hits the night before. But McGraw, needing one out, got it on the first pitch as Herr grounded into a force play, and thousands of people went home swearing by Dallas Green instead of at him.
"I thought Lefty'd had enough," Green said. "He'd lost a little of his stuff in the eighth and when he started struggling with his control against some of the guys he was struggling with, I figured it was time to make a move.
"I heard the fans but that didn't bother me. I'm sure Lefty would have figured a way out of it. I just thought it was better to go with the fresher guy.
"I told Lefty, I got McGraw.' He said, 'OK.' That was about it. But it weren't exactly the people's choice."
No it weren't, but McGraw wasn't exactly a bad alternative. It was his fourth save since returning from the disabled list, and it followed a night when the Phillies relievers had reason to believe they'd been selected for a Candid Camera out-take.
"We wanted to pitch (Herr) down on the inside part of the plate," said McGraw. "And he did just what we hoped he'd do. I guess there's not really a whole lot to say about one pitch, is there?"
IT WAS ONLY one pitch, but it was significant in that you can figure on McGraw throwing a helluva lot more before the upcoming 12-game road trip ends. And had that one pitch landed somewhere far north of Larry Bowa's glove, they would have needed rocket fuel to get the plane to Pittsburgh off the ground.
As it was, the Phillies completed the homestand with a 8-4 record and only a fleeting memory of a 14-0 loss two nights ago. They only managed to pick up ½ game in the National League East race while they were here but treading water is a whole lot healthier than swimming in quicksand.
"I thought we played pretty good baseball while we were here," admitted Green. "Other than that thing the other night (the 14-0 loss), it evened out pretty well. Really, I couldn't be more pleased.
"You have to remember, it's only August. There's a long way to go yet. Every series, the media tries to make it sound like it's a make-or-break thing. One series doesn't kill you or cure you. Going to Pittsburgh is just another series."
Just another series after which the Phillies could either be close enough to finally wrap their fingers around the necks of the Montreal Expos, or not even within arm's length of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Whatever, the Phillies will do it without Carlton, if only because Green doesn't believe in matching pitchers against certain teams even though no other Phillie starter has beaten the Pirates in Pittsburgh in more than a year.
OF COURSE, if no master plan exists for such things, sending Carlton against the Cardinals will work just fine. Lefty, who is 27-8 lifetime against St. Louis, didn't have his great stuff last night but the Phillies defense, with the exception of an error by Mike Schmidt, did.
Carlton threw four hitless innings to open the game, which, up to that point at least, qualified him as the second-best pitcher on the field. John Fulgham had a perfect game going and got some help from the Phillies when Schmidt watched a ground ball roll through his legs, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the fifth.
Fulgham's lead lasted slightly longer than his perfect game. Schmidt walked to open the fifth but was erased on a ground ball by Garry Maddox. Manny Trillo doubled and both runners scored when Larry Bowa slashed a single down the left-field line. One out later, Carlton brought the third run home with a ground single to right.
That was enough, only because Maddox, Schmidt and Pete Rose made the Cardinals feel like they were playing a game of pool with six hands covering all the pockets. Rose had the fans standing in the seventh after a great diving catch of a foul pop near the Phillies dugout, and they remained standing until Rose came back out for the obligatory wave.
"That," said Dallas Green, "is what makes Pete Rose Pete Rose. An all-out effort regardless of the chances he has to take."
If anybody should know it's Green, who had the crowd standing again in the ninth even though he wasn't the people's choice.
PHILUPS: The Phils will open a four-game series in Pittsburgh tonight with Dick Ruthven going against Rick Rhoden... The pitching rotations for the remainder of the series are Nino Espinosa vs. John Candelaria tomorrow and Randy Lerch and probably Bob Walk vs. Jim Bibby and Bert Blyleven in Sunday's doubleheader... The Phils had only four hits against John Fulgham (3-4)... They now trail Montreal by 3" 2 games, Pittsburgh by two... Both Greg Luzinski and Larry Christenson will accompany the Phillies on their road trip and could be activated before returning home... The Phils now have gone 52 innings without a home run.
3 Winners In Contest
There were three winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the third inning of the Phillies-Cardinals game, winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game were Daniel D. Peta of Reading, Marty Brambrinck Sr. and Louis Fantacone, both of Philadelphia.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $13,800.
Today's entry coupon appears on Page 77.