Allentown Morning Call - July 16, 1980

This beats watching batting practice


By John Kunda, Executive Sports Editor


Nobody ever said it would be easy rooting for the Phillies. Cheer up, though, it's better than rooting for the Cubs. 


Where else but in Philadelphia could a rooter get the real highs and the real lows like he got the other night and still have his team only a game out of first place? 


Ah, Veterans Stadium, scene of the Summer Game, and, as the promotions say, "for the fun of it." 


The Pirates took some fun out of it in that 13-11 game, but really, a sluggers' game (this one had a total of 36 hits) is worth a $4 seat no matter who wins or loses. It beats watching batting practice. 


And the emotional factor? One inning the 44.000-plus are cheering their lungs out. The next inning they're booing their lungs out. Emotional therapy, that's what it is. 


"My kids are Phillies' fans," a father of three who had his kids at the Vet Monday night said, "but they had themselves a ball. They 'd rather see something like this than a 1-0 game." 


For the fun of it. Never mind that the kids didn't get home until well after 1 a.m. 


But you know what one of these "fun" games does for a pitching staff. Especially a suspect pitching staff, and. at best, the Phillies have a suspect pitching staff. 


Poor Randy Lerch. As if he didn't have enough troubles starting the game. Dave Parker sent him to the showers in the third inning, but that might have been expected from a pitcher who has won three and lost 11. 


Later, Manager Dallas Green said he's had it up to his ears with Lerch. Bullpen duty is next for the 6-3 lefthander who was supposed to be a mainstay in the rotation. Is Oklahoma City far away? 


The carefree Pirates took two out of three in their short visit. The only people sorry to see the Pirates leave are those who count the money.


The Pirates are a good draw – the series attracted 145.651 and in a season when attendance figures are lagging the Phils are about 1 19.000 behind last year's pace ). it's nice to have the champs in town. 


The Pirates and the Phils always put on a show. Chuck Tanner mentioned that. "When you play the Phillies." he said, "you're never really safe. They have an excellent offense, good speed. When we get together, you never know what to expect. You might see three 2-1 games. But this is a game you might see three or four times a year when we hook up." 


It's a long time between meetings, especially meetings at the Vet. The Pirates don't come to Philadelphia until Sept. 8, and that is a time when "for the fun of it" takes on a different meaning. However, the Phillies visit Pittsburgh for a weekend series on Aug. 8. 9 and 10th. 


In 10 meetings this year, the Pirates hold a 6-4 edge over the Phillies which shouldn't be too surprising. The Pirates, from here, anyway, seem to have the edge over the Phillies in every department. 


A statistic that is somewhat surprising is that the Phillies have an edge against only one team. Chicago, in the National League East The Phils are 5-3 against the Cubs; 6-6 against the Expos and 5-5 against the Cards.


But look what the amazing Mets have done against Philadelphia. The Mets have won six of the nine games between the two teams, and that's got to ruffle the feathers of the diehards. And Green had the gall to put the rap on the Mets in their most recent series. 


Over-all, the Phils are losers in the games between divisional teams. They are 23-26 against teams in their own division.


Thank goodness for the upcoming trip to Houston. Atlanta and Cincinnati. 


The Phils have had success against the Western Division teams, winning 21 and losing 11. 


Going into the game with Houston last night, the Phils had a 5-1 record against the Astros and that's encouraging because the Astros are a team with championship on their minds. 


The Phils are 3-1 against Atlanta, a team they 'll visit this weekend. Against the Reds, whom the Phils play early next week, Philadelphia has broken even three wins and three losses. 


Only the Giants in the Western Division have a winning record against the Phils. The Phils beat the Giants only twice in six games. 


It was expected that the N.L. East would be the tightest of all the pennant races.


That 's fine because a close race keeps "for the fun of it" alive. It should be that way to the very end.

Phillies find another way to lose in the 9th, 3-2


HOUSTON ( AP) – Pinch runner Jeff Leonard scored the winning run in the ninth inning on a pair of miscues by Philadelphia starter Dick Ruthven last night as the Houston Astros downed the Phillies 3-2. 


Alan Ashby led off the Astros ninth with a single. Leonard, running for the Houston catcher, took second on a balk by Ruthven. He scored all the way from second when Ruthven, 8-6, fielded Craig Reynolds' bunt and threw it away. 


Joe Sambito, 4-1, picked up the victory with an inning of scoreless relief.


The Phillies greeted Houston starter Nolan Ryan with four singles that produced a 1-0 first-inning lead. Pete Rose led off with an infield hit and moved to third on Manny Trillo's single. Trillo was out trying to advance to second, but Del Unser's hit scored Rose. 


The Astros evened the game 1-1 in the fourth when Terry Puhl ended Ruthven's 3 'a innings of perfect pitching with an infield single. Puhl stole second and continued to third on catcher Bob Boone's throwing error, Jose Cruz sent Puhl home with a sacrifice fly.


Ryan retired 13 Phillies in a row before Rose singled in the sixth inning. Third baseman Art Howe bobbled Trillo's grounder and threw it into right field, allowing Rose to go to third and Trillo to second. Bake McBride's grounder scored Rose. 


In the bottom of the eighth, the Astros grouped singles by Rafael Landestoy, Puhl, and Denny Walling to knot the score 2-2. Landestoy scored when Waiting's grounder got past Ruthven.