Philadelphia Inquirer - July 13, 1980
Boone’s single in ninth sinks Pirates
Expo loss lifts Phils into first
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Kent Tekulve is a guy who probably could get Godzilla to hit a ground ball to shortstop if he needed one.
Bob Boone is a guy whose tendency is to hit a lot of ground balls to shortstop.
So when Tekulve was seen standing out there in the ninth inning with five infielders behind him last night, who was to say it was crazy?
On the left side of Tekulve 's infield were Bill Madlock, the third baseman; Tim Foli, the shortstop, and Phil Garner, a second baseman making a special guest appearance on the other side of second.
On the right side of Tekulve's infield were Bill Robinson, the first baseman, and – ta-taaaah – introducing Dave Parker, formerly of right field, as the brand new temporary second baseman.
The winning run was on third with one out. But all that was required of Tekulve was to get Boone to hit a ground ball to the left side of the infield. And that's exactly what Tekulve did.
Boone drilled the first pitch on the ground directly to the left side. And through the left side. And so even baseball's version of the Nickel Defense couldn't keep the Phillies from beating the Pirates, 5-4, last night.
"That play doesn't work," pronounced Dallas Green after the Phillies had moved into first place by a half game after Montreal split with Chicago last night. "Gene Mauch used to try it all the time. And it never worked.
"I can't second-guess Chuck (Tanner). Chuck knows his personnel and where they can play. That's just not my kind of play, that's all."
Steve Carlton (still 14-4) pitched eight very good innings for the Phillies, but he didn't get the win. Jim Bibby (still 11-1) pitched 7-1/3 real good innings for the Pirates, but he didn't get his second loss.
Carlton left trailing, 3-2. But the Phillies rallied for two in the bottom of the eighth. Bibby left ahead, 3-2. But he left with two men on. And Grant Jackson gave up a blooping two-run double to Pete Rose, and Bibby stood to lose his first game since May 18.
But Dickie Noles couldn't save it for Carlton. He hit Lee Lacy leading off the ninth and gave up a single to Garner three pitches later.
Then Kevin Saucier stalked in to pitch to lefthanded-hitting John Milner. He prevented Milner from bunting, got ahead 1-and-2 and then walked him to load the bases. It was the walk that killed him.
"If he just K's (strikes out) that guy, he gives us what we need," Green said.
Instead, Manny Sanguillen's double-play ball tied it, leaving the Phils to battle Tekulve in the ninth.
Tekulve hadn't allowed an earned run in his previous 16 appearances. But he gave up a leadoff single to Garry Maddox, another single to Manny Trillo (3-for-4) and a perfect sacrifice bunt by Larry Bowa.
And the next thing he knew, he couldn't get Boone to hit a ground ball to any of his five infielders. Apparently, Abner Doubleday knew what he was doing when he decided to try and make it with four.
But Boone wasn't so sure of that at the time. He stood there at the plate, feeling like a guy trying to steer a tractor-trailer between two row houses. Or maybe like Bjorn Borg trying to backhand a winner past five John McEnroes.
"Maybe Dallas thinks it doesn't work, but if I hit it at somebody it sure does," Boone said. "I don't think it's that bad a play. He's in a situation where he can just as easily walk me and it doesn't hurt him. And any time you've got somebody on third with one out, it's a tough situation to defense."
"Mentally, something like that can screw a hitter up" said Boone. "If he starts thinking, 'I'm gonna hit that ball to right field (which was vacant), he's in trouble."
But Boone has hit only one ground-ball out to the right side since May 27. So he decided a) he couldn't change now, and b) Tekulve probably wasn't planning to pitch him so he could hit anything to right anyway.
"I'm sure Tanner told him to feed me sinkers down and in," Boone said. "Obviously. So I just tried to stay relaxed. I really didn't think any differently at all. It was one of those things. I was just lucky I hit it where it went."
Carlton was fairly awesome for three innings, allowing one hit, striking out four. And Mike Schmidt's first homer since June 24 (No. 22) gave him a 1-0 lead.
But Dave Parker, previously 3-for-22 with 12 strikeouts against Carlton over the last two seasons, singled in the tying run in the fourth. And Schmidt got caught backing up on Garner's two-out chopper, couldn't come up with it and Parker scored.
Trillo's RBI single tied it. But Lacy's two-out double in the sixth gave the Pirates another lead, 3-2.
The way Bibby was going, that one-run lead looked like one too many. But sometimes the power of the bloop is greater than the power of the rocket up the gap.
After Greg Gross fisted a one-out single to left off Bibby in the eighth, Bibby buzzed a fastball in on Lonnie Smith. But Smith looped it in front of Parker in short right-center. And suddenly, there was Tanner signaling the start of the Pirates bullpen parade.
Jackson was the man he chose first. But Rose fought off his 1-2 pitch and blooped another one to right. Parker might have had a shot to catch it, decided at the last second that he didn't and it skipped under his glove – destination: deep right. Garner ran it down, but too late to keep both runs from scoring.
It didn't look then as if it would take Nickel Defenses or seeing-eye grounders to win or lose this thing. But what did you expect from a Phillies-Pirates showdown sanity?
Gimme 5: Boone rejects Bucs’ offer
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
Chuck Tanner, the Pirates' manager, stood in front of the dugout, trying to get Dave Parker's attention. Again and again Tanner motioned for his All-Star rightfielder to move in.
Grudgingly, step by step, Parker came closer to the plate – but not nearly close enough.
Now Tanner was on the mound, meeting with his pitcher, Kent Te-kulve, and his infielders. Again he motioned. Again Parker moved a little closer.
Tanner walked toward right field, gesturing, calling. Finally, Parker got the idea. His manager didn't just want him to play a short right field with the winning Phillies run on third and one out. He wanted Parker to play second base as part of a five-man infield.
"I've done that before," Tanner said last night after Bob Boone wrecked the strategy by grounding the ball sharply through the overstocked left side of the Pirates infield to beat the world champion's relief ace, Tekulve, 5-4. "I can't remember when I did it, but I know I did it in the minor leagues. The ball just happened to get hit between (Tim) Foli and (Bill) Madlock."
Parker said he had played second base before – but never as part of a five-man infield.
"If you had to throw the ball from there," Rick Rhoden kidded him, "the ball would've gone in the upper deck."
Tekulve remembered seeing the five-man infield trick before, too – in the minors.
"We did it once when I was pitching in the International League," he said. "Bases loaded, one out and we got a third-to-home-to-first double play and ended up winning the game on it."
This time it didn't work, although Tekulve threw the pitch where he wanted it, and got what he wanted: a ground ball to the left side.
"What are the odds of hitting (a ball through) the hole when three guys are standing on that side?" he asked. "But he didn't even leak it through. He hit it dead center. It's a case of doing exactly what you want, and still it didn't work out. Stack the defense. Make him hit it on the ground, and still it doesn't work....
"It was a good pitcher's pitch. Actually, I was a little surprised he swung at it on an early pitch (actually the very first pitch). I thought he'd wait for something up a little bit...."
But Boone didn't wait, and now Tekulve was sitting quietly in front of his locker, thinking about the first earned run he'd given up in his last 17 appearances.
"A game like this is a little tough," he said, "but I'm realistic enough to know I'm not infallible. If the same situation comes up tomorrow, we'll do the same thing, and I'll throw the same pitches and maybe they won't hit the ball in the hole."
The Pirate who seemed most upset by last night's loss was the right-fielder-turned-second-baseman-for-a-pitch. The Pirates, Parker knew, wouldn't have been faced with that ninth-inning crisis if he had been able to catch a couple of eighth-inning bloopers that turned a 3-2 Pittsburgh lead into a 4-3 deficit.
Lonnie Smith dumped the first one in front of Parker, putting two Phillies on base with one out. Then, after lefty Grant Jackson relieved starter Jim Bibby, Pete Rose popped another one to right. The ball landed just in front of Parker and bounded past him as both runners scored.
"Those lights!" fumed Parker. "I don't know how Bake (McBride) plays out there. What a way to lose a ball game. That's what ticked me off. The game should've been over."
Parker said he didn't see Smith's ball until the last instant, and never did pick up Rose's pop fly in the glare of the Vet Stadium lights. "At least," he said, "I picked the first one up in time to adjust (and stop the ball from bouncing past him for extra bases).
"I'm telling you, it's terrible. Every time I come in here, there are one or two incidents. One time I almost got hit In the head by a line drive (hit by Larry Bowa)."
This time Parker didn't have to worry about saving his skull, merely saving the ball game.
"It's a hard way to lose a game – on something that's routine," he said. "It's a bleeping shame."
In the end, though, there was nothing at all routine about the way the Pirates lost this game.
Lively ball deadens pitchers’ records
By Allen Lewis, On Baseball
Quick quiz. Since the introduction of the lively ball in 1920, how many pitchers have won more than 25 games in a season more than twice?
The answer: None.
Winning 25 games is truly an accomplishment. Only 25 pitchers in the past 60 seasons have done it. Seven of those 25 did it twice, but Lefty Grove, Bob Feller, Hal Newhouser and Sandy Koufax could not make it three, although they each missed by only one victory. Dizzy Dean, Carl Mays and George Uhle are the only others to win more than 25 twice.
In the same span, there have been just four pitchers who have won 30 or more. Jim Bagby won 31 in 1920, Lefty Grove 31 in 1931, Dizzy Dean 30 in 1934 and Denny McLain 31 in 1968. Their teams (Indians, Athletics, Cardinals and Tigers, respectively) won the pennant in each case.
Since McLain's great season, the closest any pitcher has come to winning 30 games was in 1972, when Steve Carlton won 27 for the Phillies, a truly remarkable feat in view of the Phillies' last-place finish – as a team, the Phillies won only 59 games.
With more than half a season still to go this year, Carlton has to be given a chance to match or surpass that 1972 total and, possibly, an outside shot at winning 30.
At the halfway point in 1972, Carlton was in the midst of a 15-game winning streak. But he had only 12 victories then, and didn't win his 20th until Aug. 17, the final game in that winning streak.
In 1968, McLain won his 20th on July 27. That same season, Juan Marichal of the Giants won his 20th on Aug. 1 but won only six more.
Back in 1904, Jack Chesbro of the Highlanders (now Yankees) won his 20th on July 16, en route to the all-time record of 41 victories.
NOTES: Twins manager Gene Mauch was prophetic when he said this spring, "We'll miss the Dave Goltz of 1977. Anybody would miss a 20-game winner. But not the Goltz of 1979. I'm not taking anything away from Goltz, who is a fine pitcher, but eight of his (14) wins last year came against Toronto, Seattle and Oakland."... If Orlando Cepeda has a pecial feeling for Phillies manager Dallas Green, it's understandable. After his release from prison for his marijuana-possession conviction, Cepeda got a job as a batting instructor in the farm system Green then headed. At season's end, Green wrote every major league club, recommending Cepeda for a coaching job Green couldn't give him because of commitments Green had made previously. Cepeda, who is winning praise for the job he's doing with the White Sox, played for nine major league managers in his 17 years, and says, "The best manager I ever played for was Eddie Kasko. He's a great man." Kasko managed Cepeda with the Red Sox in 1973, and is now Boston's director of scouting.... Doug Capilla, the 5-foot, 8-inch lefthander who is beginning to pitch well for the Cubs, made a spectacular pro debut a decade ago. The Hawaiian-born Capilla, who finished high school in Campbell, Calif., in 1970, was signed by the Giants and sent to Great Falls, Mont., in the Pioneer League. In his first game, he struck out the first 21 batters who came to the plate.... The new basic agreement between players and owners raises the guaranteed minimum players' pool for the World Series winners from $640,000 to $720,000 and the losers from $320,000 to $500,000.... Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer's new contract is a two-year extension through 1982, with an option through 1983. Including his signing bonus, he'll get $500,000 a year, plus a $200,000 loan.
The answer to last week's Trivia Question: In the first All-Star Game ever played, back in 1933 at Chicago's Comiskey Park, Yankee pitcher Lefty Gomez, a lifetime .147 hitter, singled to left in the second inning, driving in White Sox third baseman Jimmy Dykes for the first RBI in All-Star history. Babe Ruth's two-run homer in the third inning was the game-winning blow in the AL's 4-2 victory. Andy Baumbach of Reading was first with the correct answer.
This week's question (suggested by Jerry Howard Van Horn of Philadelphia): Name the last major league player to lead his league in runs scored, bases on balls and stolen bases in the same season.
Luzinski’s out, and Brusstar’s in
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Greg Luzinski's knee has not improved a lot, so the Phillies placed him on the 15-day disabled list yesterday and activated Warren Brusstar.
Luzinski was placed on the DL retroactive to July 8, so he is eligible to come off a week from Wednesday. He had his knee X-rayed yesterday, simply for precaution's sake.
The Bull has not started a game – or even taken batting practice – since last Saturday in St. Louis. He heads for the DL in a 5-for-50 streak.
Team physician Phillip Marone says the Bull has "traumatic synovitis." Fortunately, there are medical dictionaries to tell us that means he has as an inflammation leading to fluid on the knee.
NOTES: The brighter side of Luzinski's absence is that the Phillies get to play Lonnie Smith more. The Phils are 13-4 in games Smith has started, including last night. He is hitting .391 (27-for-69) in games he has started.... Incidentally, the last pitch Brusstar threw in the big leagues, last July 24, was ripped for a grand slam by the Dodgers' Dusty Baker…. The Phillies released 2,836 balloons before the game, to commemorate the number of career strikeouts registered by Steve Carlton. When asked who counted the 2,836 balloons, Phillies publicity director Larry Shenk replied, "You'll have to talk to the commonwealth." He was kidding.... Nino Espinosa (0-0) vs. Don Robinson (2-4) this afternoon.
National League is better than AL, Rice conceded
By the Associated Press
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice, elected an American League starter for last week's All-Star Game, says he could have helped the team if he had played, but it wouldn't have made much difference.
"The National League is the dominant league – they just have more talent," Rice said.
Rice, a native of Anderson, S.C, made the remark at a news conference Friday to promote a celebrity golf tournament he is sponsoring at Greenville in October. He spoke by telephone from Milwaukee, where the Red Sox were playing the Brewers.
"We just can't beat those guys," he said of the National League, which won, 4-2, its 17th win in the last 18 All-Star Games.
Hard-hitting infielders are the big difference in the leagues, Rice said. "We have power hitters in the outfield," he said, "but every starter on the National League All-Star team is a power hitter."
The Red Sox are mired in fifth place, and Rice, who has been sidelined since June with a broken wrist, doesn't think the team will do much better in the second half of the season.
"We've been banged up all year. It's been one thing after another," he said.
He said he doesn't know when he will get back into the lineup.
"I'm getting a new cast next week, but there's no way I can swing the bat anytime soon," Rice said. "I can't drive through the ball with my left hand."
Signs biggest Met bonus
NEW YORK – Darryl Strawberry, the No. 1 selection in last month's amateur free agent draft, has signed with the New York Mets for what the club says is the highest bonus it has ever paid. Terms were not disclosed. Strawberry, 18, an outfielder who had been asking for $300,000, will be assigned to the club's Appalachian League farm team at Kingsport, Tenn.