Pittsburgh Press - July 13, 1980
Exotic Buc Defense Fails In 5-4 Loss
5 Infielders Can’t Stop Phils In 9th
By Dan Donovan, Press Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Bob Boone thwarted Pirate strategy, singling through a five-man infield in the bottom of the ninth to give the Philadelphia Phillies a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Pirates last night to once again prove there is no such thing as an "ordinary" Pirates-Phillies game.
The largest crowd in the National League this year (53,254) may have seen the most thrilling game of the season.
And the decisive play was unusual, to say the least. With runners on second and third with one out, Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner brought right fielder Dave Parker into the infield and stationed three fielders on the left side of the infield.
He instructed pitcher Kent Tekulve to throw Boone sinkers inside, and that's exactly what he did. But Boone hit a bouncing single through what wasn't supposed to exist – a hole in the left side of the infield.
"I know I was lucky I didn't hit that ball at somebody," Boone said. "Their moves told me what they were trying to do. I knew Tanner told Tekulve to throw his good sinker down and in, because walking me wouldn't do any harm.
"So I was looking for that pitch and it was a good one, at the knees, probably for a strike."
With the five-man infield, the Pirates had the line covered, the hole at short covered and the middle covered. But Boone hit the ball almost equidistant between shortstop Tim Foli and third baseman Bill Madlock.
"There's not a whole lot of holes out there with that defense," Tekulve said. "Wouldn't you know he would hit one dead-center. It was good strategy. If it came up tomorrow, we'd do it again."
The formation, besides taking away holes, is supposed to affect a hitter psychologically. After all, with no right fielder, Boone could have just dumped the ball over the right side of the infield.
"The purpose of any shift, like the one they use on Mike Schmidt, is to make you do something you don't normally do," Boone said. "But I knew I wouldn't see any pitches out over the plate that I could hit to right field, so I just stayed within myself and tried to do what I normally do."
What Boone normally does is hit the ball to the left side... consistently.
"I tried that play with (Harmon) Killebrew a few years ago," Tanner said. "He tried to go the other way and we got him out. Afterwards, he was mad at himself and said he should have stayed within himself."
While it was the most decisive play, it wasn't the only frustrating play for the Pirates.
They tied the score, 4-4, in the top of the ninth when pinch hitter Manny Sanguillen hit into a bases-loaded double play.
"Sangy hit his ball harder than any of their guys did in the ninth inning," Tanner said. "I wish he'd hit it softer, then there wouldn't have been a double play. But that's the way this game goes."
"I wish the ball (Manny) Trillo hit (in the ninth) would have been at someone," Tekulve said. "Then none of this would have come about. It would have been two out and nobody on."
The Phillies took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth on two soft hits – a bloop single by Lonnie Smith and a bloop double to right by Pete Rose that skipped past Parker.
"This defeat is hard to take because we were beaten by the elements," Parker said. "I lost both those balls in the lights. I always have a tough time with the lights here. The first one, I don't know if I would have caught anyway, because I picked it up. But Rose's I never saw.
"I looked over to see if Phil Garner was closer to me so that he could catch it, but he wasn't."
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the seesaw game when Schmidt homered, his 22nd of the year and first since June 24.
The Pirates tied it in the fourth when Tim Foli singled, stole second and scored on Parker's single.
Parker reached second when center fielder Garry Maddox juggled the ball for an error, took third on a pop-up and scored on Garner's single that glanced off Schmidt at third.
The Phillies came right back to tie it, 2-2, in the bottom of the fourth. Bake McBride singled, second baseman Garner stopping it with a dive but throwing wild to first.
McBride stole second, went to third on an infield out and scored on the second of Trillo's three singles.
The Pirates put starter Jim Bibby back on top, 3-2, in the sixth by scratching Steve Carlton for a run.
Bill Robinson singled and was replaced on the basepaths when Madlock hit into a fielder's choice. Madlock scored from first when Lee Lacy doubled off the wall.
Lacy's hit bounced off the wall and hit left fielder Lonnie Smith.
The Phillies thought they went ahead for good in the eighth, when pinch hitter Greg Gross's single was followed by the two soft liners to right by Smith and Rose.
But the Pirates got new life in the ninth when reliever Dickie Noles hit Lacy and surrendered a single to Garner. Reliever Kevin Saucier walked pinch hitter John Milner to load the bases, then Sanguillen hit into the double play that tied the score.
Maddox opened the ninth with a single, Trillo bounced another single through the infield and shortstop Larry Bowa made an important play – a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners.
Whether or not his single gets through the infield, Boone sees the Phillies staying in the pennant race this year.
"We've been playing good baseball every day," Boone said. "With all the other things going on (the drug investigation allegedly involving several Phillies' players) we thought it was good to have a team meeting and just talk baseball. Those things don't always work, but this time it did."
And this time, the five-man Pirate infield didn't.
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PIRATE NOTES – Willie Stargell has no intentions of doing an Eric Heiden and switching to the sport of bicycling, but he did cycle 50 miles yesterday in Philadelphia.
The Pirate captain packaged his bike, flew with it to Philadelphia and cycled around the city.
"I'm supposed to do exercises that circulate the blood, but won't tear the muscles," said Stargell, on the disabled list with a hamstring pull. "I'm supposed to do a lot of bicycling and swimming."
Each day in Philadelphia, Stargell plans on cycling 15 miles to a park, traverse its 20-mile course, then cycle the 15 miles back.
Nino Espinosa, sidelined most of the year with an injury, will start today's game for the Phillies for his second start since coming off the disabled list.
In his previous outing, Espinosa pitched eight innings, gave up two hits and no runs, but the Phillies lost in extra innings, 1-0.
The Pirates will start Don Robinson.
Before the game, the Phillies put slugger Greg Luzinski on the disabled list to rest his troublesome knee. They activated pitcher Warren Brusstar, who has been out with a shoulder injury.
The Phillies also have two pitchers on the disabled list, Tug McGraw and Larry Christenson.
Randy Lerch, the mysteriously ineffective Phillies' left-hander who pitches well against the Pirates, will pitch tomorrow night against Rick Rhoden.