Philadelphia Inquirer - August 9, 1980
Bucs laugh last despite mistakes
By Bob Smizik, Special to The Inquirer
PITTSBURGH – On the bases they ran as though they had blindfolds and ankle weights, as though they had only recently been introduced to the game.
They ran into enough outs to last a week. They looked like the world chumps.
But they are the world champs, and through all the adversity that surrounded them last night at Three Rivers Stadium, the Pittsburgh Pirates still went out a winner.
· In the second, Mike Easier, a below-average runner, is easily thrown out at second base by Bob Boone. Bill Madlock, the batter, blew the hit and run.
· In the fourth, Madlock makes a wide turn at second following an RBI double and is thrown out, Bake McBride to Manny Trillo to Larry Bowa.
· In the fifth, pitcher Rick Rhoden strays too far off second base on a grounder to shortstop, and Larry Bowa beats him back to the base for the out.
· In the sixth, Ed Ott thinks Dickie Noles is pitching to home and breaks for second. But Noles only fakes to third, turns and makes Ott an easy out.
It went on and on all night. But between the goofs, the Pirates had big hits. Willie Stargell's two-run homer in the third put them in an early lead, and Lee Lacy's pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the eighth off Tug McGraw won it.
The Pirates could laugh at their mistakes wen it was over.
"Both clubs have great players, and great players get keyed up when they play against each other," said Pirates manager Chuck Tanner. "When you play hard you make mistakes."
Ott, the Pirates' bulldog of a catcher, laughed when it was suggested all the mistakes were a coincidence.
"We're a very emotional and aggressive team," said Ott. "We know that when we play the Phillies we have to make things happen. If we're getting thrown out on the bases all that means is that we're still being aggressive. I'd rather be aggressive than lay back."
Ott was part of two Pirates mistakes himself. Not only did he get picked off by Noles, but in the top of the sixth he felt he gave Bill Madlock a poor target on a throw to the plate. Madlock's throw wound up hitting Bob Boone, the runner, on the back.
"I let Boone get between me and Madlock," Ott said. "If I give Bill a target, Boone is out easy. It'll never happen again."
But Ott came back from those plays to have a key role in the Pirates' eighth. He made a near-perfect bunt to move the eventual winning run to third.
"I take pride in all parts of my game," said Ott. "Bunting is part of it. You never know what you're going to be called on to do in this game. You have to be able to do everything."
At Three Rivers last night, the Pittsburgh Pirates most certainly didn't do everything. But they did enough things right to beat the Phillies.
McCarver in uniform for a shot at the ‘80s
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH – Everybody always said it would be a rainy night in Pittsburgh when Tim McCarver put on the uniform again.
Not really, of course. But last night, on an evening that fit that description, the once and future Phillies broadcaster slipped on a Phillies uniform for the first time since October and headed toward the nearest baseball field, which happened to be Three Rivers Stadium.
When he got there, he went through his first workout on the road to a return to the Phillies' active roster Sept. 1.
Assuming he lives through three weeks of workouts with Gus Hoefling and actually does return, he would be the first catcher to play in four post-1900 decades (1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s). He would be the 10th player overall. Willie McCovey and Jim Kaat became the eighth and ninth earlier this year (joining Eddie Collins, Mickey Vernon, Ted Williams, Early Wynn, Jack Quinn, Minnie Minoso andBobo Newsome).
"This is it," said McCarver, who broke in with the Cardinals in September 1959. "I'm definitely going to do it. I don't expect to be the No. 1 pinch-hitter or catch Lefty or anything like that. But I'd like to think I could get sufficiently back in shape to help the ball club.
"Actually, though, the real reason I'm coming back is to get back on the dental plan. Let the truth be known."
When McCarver retired last October, he said he would consider com ing back this September if he could do it with dignity. He said he will judge whether he can do that as Sept. 1 nears. But for now, he thinks he can.
"I know I don't want to make a fool of myself or the Phillies," he said. "And I don't think I will – as long as I'm not called on to catch any pop fouls in San Francisco."
In the end, it wasn't dignity but rather the network broadcasting McCarver had been doing for NBC that could have deep-sixed the comeback.
McCarver has done several Saturday afternoon games for NBC this year, but only when the network was televising three games on one day. The network called him last Wednesday to say it had no three-game Saturdays planned for September.
"Then," McCarver said, "I figured, why not?"
So he sat in the dugout before batting practice last night and stared funnily at guys doing something as simple as swinging a bat.
"I'm scared to get in there, to tell you the truth," he said. "I'm trying to think which way I hit."
Finally, he stepped in for six swings against coach Lee Elia – three weak choppers that went about 50 feet, one ground ball through the shortstop hole, one bouncer to the first baseman, one broken-bat popup.
"Oooh," McCarver grimaced. "I've got the wrong kind of callouses. I've got those gift-certificate callouses."
Pirates ruin Phils heroics, 6-5
Lacy RBI wins it in eighth
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH – It is nights such as last night that tell you why the Phillies are as impossible to love as they are to dismiss.
They lost to the Pirates, 6-5, on a bases-loaded, eighth-inning sacrifice fly by Lee Lacy off (who else?) Tug McGraw. But it was how they did it that so dramatically showed off their schizophrenic nature.
They fell behind the Bucs, 3-0, after five innings. They looked absolutely flat-out finished.
Rick Rhoden had one-hit them. They had scored in one inning out of their last 25. They had been battered with all the things they hate – rain delays (1 hour, 26 minutes), Wilver Stargell homers, Omar Moreno steals....
Then, suddenly, they were back in it. They struck for two runs in the sixth and had the tying run thrown out at the plate, and The Family could feel breathing on its neck.
Then they were out of it again. Weren't they? There was a bizarre passed ball during an intentional walk, the obligatory Ed Ott RBI single, a run-scoring hit by the pitcher. And bam, it was 5-2 again after six.
But what is this? A team that hadn't hit a homer in 57 innings gets back-to-back shots from Garry Maddox and Manny Trillo off Rhoden in the seventh, and it's 5-4.
Then Lonnie Smith gets a hard-earned walk off Kent Tekulve in the eighth. A Pete Rose hit-and-run single and a Bake McBride double-play ball get him home and, somehow, it is tied, 5-5. Phew!
So they go to the bottom of the eighth. McGraw, unscored upon in his previous eight outings, is the pitcher. But the scene is Three Rivers Stadium, a place McGraw hates, a place where the Bucs always seem to jump on him, no matter how well he pitches.
He had finished the seventh with a strikeout, looking, on Stargell. But Mike Easier, the man with the .611 slugging percentage, ripped a high fastball to left-center for a leadoff double in the eighth.
"How do you pitch him? I'm not real sure," Dallas Green muttered. "I'm not real sure anybody knows. He's hit us like he owns us. I know that."
Bill Madlock was next, and Green did what he had to. Intentional walk. So Matt Alexander ran for Easier, and' the hitter was Ott, author of a very famous grand slam off McGraw and another game-winning hit off him in June.
But this time Ott was bunting. The Phils had their rotation play on, looking for the force at third. Instead, Ott made a gorgeous bunt into the teeth of the rotation, and Mike Schmidt had to make a sensational grab and throw just to get the out.
"A helluva bunt," Rose sighed. "But I'll tell you. It seems like every time we've used that defense to get the force at third, it seems like the guy makes a perfect bunt right to Schmitty. It never fails."
It didn't this time. So Green knew he had to walk the unbeatable Phil Garner, even though all it got him was Lacy, who is hitting .353. Lacy pumped a sacrifice fly to deep center, and Alexander could have scored running backwards.
As a matter of fact, he did, which didn't make him the Phillies' most popular Pirate.
"Matt Alexander has to be a part of the team," Green harrumphed, talking about a guy who has scored eight runs and doesn't have an at-bat yet. "I guess that's just the way he does things. But I often wonder what would happen if it were reversed, what their reaction would be."
"Hey, if I'd tripped or gotten tagged out at the plate, they'd all have laughed," Alexander said. "But since I scored, they're mad. Hey, that's how the game should be played. It should be relaxed, and not all serious."
That, it seems, is just the Pirates way. The World Champeens are an enigmatic bunch themselves. They took the lead, strutting. Stargell bashed a two-run homer off Dick Ruthven to make it 2-0 in the fourth. Then Easier and Madlock slashed back-to-back doubles to make it 3-0.
But the Bucs also made a half-dozen critical baserunning blunders as the Phils fought back. That, too, is part of that Pirates style – play the game with a swagger even if you make mistakes. Mistakes can be overcome. But not everybody can have Style.
By the sixth inning, it looked as if it wouldn't matter how many runs the Pirates ran themselves out of. The Phillies had only an infield single by Rose to show for five innings of hacks off Rhoden.
But Boone lined a double over a bewildered Easier in. left-center. Easier threw the ball to no infielder in particular, and Boone was on third. Madlock tried to get Boone at the plate on a Lonnie Smith chopper, hit Boone on the back with the throw, and it was 3-1.
Rose blooped an RBI double to short left, and it was 3-2. Then came the game's pivotal moment. McBride stroked a soft single to center. Rose was going all the way. Moreno charged it hard, scooped it and Ott finished off the play with a sprawling tag of Rose at home.
"Hell, we've got to score a run, and you can't score runs holding guys up," Green said. "Moreno made a real good play. But if that ball scoots either way, or if it stays down, it's no contest."
"I didn't slow up, because with his speed you can't slow up," Rose said. "The wet turf probably got us there. It hit the turf and skidded right to him. I still might have been safe. I'm not sure. I know he tagged me. I just don't know where I was at."
But the Pirates pounced again on Kevin Saucier in the sixth. Saucier walked Stargell with nobody out, Easier moved him to second and Green elected to walk Madlock to get to Ott. But in the process, Saucier crossed up Boone, throwing one back toward the plate, and Boone was too shocked to catch it. Passed ball.
Ott crossed up the intentional-walk strategy, as he always does, ripping an RBI single to right. Dickie Noles. then came on and picked Ott off first. But Rhoden, a pitcher who can really hit (.308), stroked an RBI single, giving the Phillies plenty of coming back to do.
"We played pretty well. We battled them," Green said after his team fell four games behind first-place Mont-. real and three behind second-place Pittsburgh. "Just a typical Phillies-Pirates game."