Sports Illustrated - July 14, 1980

Baseball- N.L. East


By Jim Kaplan


For a first-place team, the Expos (3-5) looked like stumblebums. When he was called to the dugout for an interview, Pitcher Bill Lee caught the cleats of his right shoe in the laces of his left and fell, injuring his right knee. Expo fielders were just about as ungraceful. Third Baseman Larry Parrish cost Montreal one game by bobbling a throw, Shortstop Chris Speier set up a big inning in another defeat by booting a double-play ball, and the Expos committed five errors in a 9-5 loss to the Mets.


Philadelphia (5-3) Pitcher Bob Walk had better support. "Instead of trying to strike everybody out, I threw fastballs and let them hit is to one of those Gold Gloves," he said after setting down St. Louis 8-1. His teammates played errorless ball both in that game and in Walk's 5-2 win over the Mets. But when the Phillies had a chance to catch Montreal, Steve Carlton pitched his worst game of the year and lost 6-1.


There was little joy in Pittsburgh (4-4). The Pirates dropped a doubleheader to the Cubs and got virtually no hitting from anyone but Mike Easler, who didn't come to bat often enough (8 for 20) to really help. The only real high point was Jim Bibby's 5-3 win over the Cubs. It was Bibby's 10th victory in 11 decisions, and his .909 won-lost percentage leads both leagues.


The confusion atop the standings ignited a joyous - if premature - bout of Saturday night fever in New York. The Mets (4-3) edged within one game of .500 by beating the Expos 7-5 before 51,097 Saturday night revelers at Shea Stadium. Said Centerfielder Lee Mazzilli, who homered in four consecutive games and ran his hitting streak to 16 games, "I've said it before and nobody seems to listen. Whether prople realize it or not, we're in a pennant race. We're going into the All-Star break and we're still in the thick of things. This is a pennant race." We get the idea, Lee.


The acme of Chicago's 3-4 week was the play of Pitcher Doug Capilla. As Pittsburgh Third Baseman Bill Madlock charged in, anticipating a sacrifice, Capilla faked a bunt and bounced the ball past Madlock to score Scot Thompson. That hit and Capilla's pitching - he allowed only two hits in seven innings - led to a 2-1 victory. The nadir was Dave Kingman's play. Kong was booed by Wrigley Field fans for failing to drive in runs and allowing two Cardinals to score when he dropped a fly ball in a 9-7 loss. For their part, the Cardinals (4-4) were uncharacteristically alert, especially Shortstop Garry Templeton, who raced into centerfield to snare a fly ball and start a double play. "He actually outran the ball," said Pittsburgh Manager Chuck Tanner. "That has to be one of the greatest fielding plays I have ever seen."


MONT 41-34; PHIL 40-35; PITT 41-37; NY 38-39; CHI 33-42; ST. L 34-45