Philadelphia Inquirer - August 8, 1980
Carlton gets No. 17, stops Cards, 3-2
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
He took a no-hitter into the fifth. Ho-hum.
He didn't give up a hit until the ninth that one of his infielders didn't at least get a glove on. Yawwwwwn.
The only thing that stood between him and the 45th shutout of his life was somebody named Mike Ramsey. So what else is new?
Look, if it were anybody but Steve Carlton doing all that on the way to a 3-2 win over the Cardinals at the Vet last night, it would be big news.
But when Carlton only gets four strikeouts, when he only gets through 8-2/3 innings, when he only takes a no-hitter scare into the fifth, that's about as routine as Bo Derek twirling a braid.
Even that ever-creative orator, Dallas Green, was hard-pressed to come up with something exciting to say about Carlton's 17th win. The most spectacular adjective Green could find to describe it was, uh, "solid." Well, you could hardly blame him. For a change, Carlton (17-6) couldn't have done it without a little help from his friends.
First, there was friend Tug McGraw. Nobody expected this to be the occasion for McGraw's 11th save of the year as Carlton rolled into the ninth with a four-hitter. But then things happened.
George Hendrick sizzled a leadoff double off the wall in right-center. Carlton then got two outs. But Ramsey, whose infield chopper with two outs in the fifth had broken up Carlton's no-hit routine, lined his second RBI single of the night.
And Carlton then hoisted the ultimate distress signal – he walked the incomparable Steve Swisher (season hitting record: 2-for-4 months).
So out stalked Green, off went Carlton and in bounced McGraw, all to the tune of momentous murmuring. The only way Green could have made a less popular move at that point was if he could somehow have found Mac Scarce out there and brought him in.
"I just thought he'd had enough," the manager said. "I thought he'd lost a little bit of stuff in the eighth. Then when he started struggling with control on the guys he struggled with, I just felt it was better to make a move, that's all.
"It wasn't exactly the people's choice, though," Green conceded.
McGraw made one pitch, got Tom Herr to bounce into a force play and picked up his fourth save since his return from the disabled list July 17.
"It was a slider, down, on the inside part of the plate," McGraw said. "And he did just what we hoped he would do. Hmmm, not a whole lot to talk about with one pitch, is there?"
McGraw, clearly Green's favorite short-relief man at the moment, hasn't allowed a run in eight appearances covering 10 innings since escaping the DL. But McGraw covered his ears when somebody tried to recite those numbers later.
"Don't even tell me what I am," he said. "I hate stats, especially after last year. Er, I do know I'm doing good, though."
Carlton was helped even more by his friends with the gloves on.
Garry Maddox made two remarkable-for-anybody-else catches in center. He made a sprinting grab on Ted Simmons' sinking liner in the first. Then he had to shift into his hyperspace gear to stab Hendrick's rocket to deep right-center in the second. Had he not gotten there, beyond him was only Triple Land, U.S.A.
There was more. Mike Schmidt made a run-yielding error but also made a flashy barehanded charge play on Simmons in the fourth. Manny Trillo made a routinely brilliant backhand play on Tony Scott in the first.
But no defensive achievement surpassed Pete Rose's headfirst skid to stab Keith Smith's foul looper in front of the Phillies dugout in the seventh.
It was the catch of Rose's first-base career. It also ended a Cardinals rally. But above all, it made you wonder – doesn't it ever occur to Rose that guys have been known to do awful things to their bodies attempting feats like that?
"It wasn't really any big thing," Rose shrugged. "The only problem is if you've got the gumption to dive at it. A lot of guys don't like to dive on that stuff. But hell. I dive into bases, so what's so different about diving on the AstroTurf?
"All I did was just hurt my knee a little bit and got a couple skin burns. It would have hurt a lot more if I'd missed it."
You would think that with Carlton out there and all that defensive fearlessness going on, the Phils could have made this easy. But there was a time when it looked as if it might be all they could do to avoid being no-hit.
Neither Carlton nor the Cards' John Fulgham had allowed a hit when Schmidt let Terry Landrum's ground ball go through his legs for an error in the fifth. Then Ramsey's broken-bat chopper over the mound ended Carlton's no-hitter and scored Landrum.
It had all the earmarks of another classic Carlton loss at that point, because the Phillies hadn't hit anything hard for four innings. And Fulgham was working on a string of 13 straight scoreless innings since his return from the disabled list last week.
But a walk to Schmidt, Maddox's fielder's-choice grounder and Manny Trillo's double to left put men on second and third for Larry Bowa. And Bowa dumped a single into short left.
The question for a moment was whether it would score two runs or no runs. Maddox held up at third temporarily, but Trillo was going all the way from second. When the ball finally dropped it was all Maddox could do to beat Trillo to the plate, let alone Landrum's throw.
"What did 1 think when I saw Manny right behind me? Well, I knew," Maddox said, "he wasn't going to catch me."
Carlton's RBI single then made it 3-1. And that was enough to take the Phillies into Pittsburgh 3½ games out of first and two behind the second-place Pirates.
Pirates stand in Phils’ road
The Phillies, coming off a 13-game homestand, invade Pittsburgh this weekend for a crucial four-game series. They must do well against the defending world champs, currently in second place in the National League East, if they hope to gain any ground on them and the division-leading Montreal Expos.
Righthander Dick Ruthven (10-7) will take the mound for the' Phils in tonight's opener (7:35, Channel 17) against righthander Rick Rhoden (2-2).
The series continues with a single game tomorrow (2.15 p.m.) and a doubleheader Sunday (1:05 p.m.).
PHILLIES at Pittsburgh (TV-Ch. 17; Radlo-KYW-1060. 7:35 p.m.)
Smith and Green agree… half way
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Next to Bob Walk's earned-run average, the biggest casualty of Wednesday's 14-0 debacle was the death of Lonnie Smith's stolen-base streak.
Smith had swiped 11 bases in a row until he got thrown out Wednesday by Ted Simmons. What made it hurt was that his team was 13 runs down at the time.
Dallas Green wasn't concerned that Smith could have hurt himself in a meaningless game. His reasoning was that at least Smith was still playing as hard as he could, unlike a few other guys.
"Where he'll get hurt," said Green, "is not going hard. But he goes all-out, so I'm not worried about that."
Green simply didn't like the way Smith tried an unusual delayed steal with two strikes on Pete Rose. Rose fanned. Smith got gunned out and there went an inning. The last thing a team can afford in a game like that is to try something tentative and wind up messing up one of the few opportunities it had.
"Lonnie made a mistake, but it won't be repeated, I'm sure," Green said. "He's used a little bit of a delay (in stealing) on lefthanders, and he didn't have to in this situation. He's got to know that when he's allowed to run in that situation, he's got to be dead sure."
Incidentally, Green and Smith had another philosophical disagreement this week on running. Green said he would like Smith to steal third more, But Smith said he doesn't like stealing third.
"I just feel like if I steal second with less than two out, I should be able to score anyway," Smith said. "I don't really see the need to steal third. I've always had problems doing it, and if I get thrown out I might take us out of an inning."
A few statistical post-mortems on Wednesday's game: Walk's ERA inflated 62 points, from 3.78 to 4.40. Kevin Saucier's ERA went up 73 points, from 2.45 to 3.18. The Cardinals regained the league lead in batting average from the Phillies, .271 to .269.