Philadelphia Daily News - July 17, 1980

LaGrow Might Go


By Bill Conlin


HOUSTON – Tug McGraw is eligible to come off the disabled list tonight. That means somebody will have to be optioned, disabled or released.


Dallas Green says if this were the good old days of baseball, he'd be tempted to send Randy Lerch to Oklahoma City.


But this is 1980, Lerch can't be sent to the minors without his permission and the struggling lefthander is smart enough to know that Oklahoma City has been hotter than the south side of hell during the Great Midlands Heat Wave.


The disabled list already has a sufficient complement.


So the ax probably will fall in the form of a release before tonight's game.


Don't be surprised if the Phillies hand walking papers to veteran reliever Lerrin LaGrow. LaGrow is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA and doesn't have a role now that Warren Brusstar is back in action. Green's alternative would be to send down Dan Larson. But the manager feels the righthander has done a decent job. Also, the Phils could lose him in the draft. He's out of options.


LaGrow's contract is guaranteed. The Phillies would have to pay him off or hope to reach an accommodation with the club that picks him up. Lerrin probably could find a home in the American League.

Walk a Hit in Houston


By Bill Conlin


HOUSTON – Bob Walk is 6-0, the kind of halfway number which gets a pitcher Rookie of the Year consideration.


When he went out to face the Western Division-leading Astros last night, the scoreboard told him that the Pirates already had won and that the Expos were winning. Yes, it is deep enough into July for scoreboard-watching.


"I knew we had lost three straight, that the team I was facing was in first place, that the Pirates had won and the Expos were winning," Walk said later. "There were a few clues around that this was probably the most important game I've started for the Phillies."


IN ADDITION, DISABLED Greg Luzinski was back in Philly. Mike Schmidt was riding the pines with a pulled hamstring. Dallas Green decided to rest Bob Boone and Larry Bowa. Four guys in the lineup which went against righthander Bob Forsch – John Vukovich, Lonnie Smith, Keith Moreland and Ramon Aviles – were in the minors last year.


The Phillies beat the Astros, 4-2. Walk was brilliant in a park built for his kind of power pitching. The Astros got a first-inning hit when Walk missed first base after taking a feed from Pete Rose on Jose Cruz' grounder. They didn't get another until the fifth, when Cesar Cedeno walked with two outs and Art Howe poled a high fastball to left for a two-run homer which whittled the Phils' lead to 3-2.


From the fifth through one out in the ninth, Houston managed just one runner and Moreland gunned out Terry Puhl on a pitchout to end the fifth.


Cruz halted the string of outs with an infield hit off Vukovich's glove in the hole. It was the third and final hit off Walk, who could have wound up with a one-hitter very easily. Bob threw ground balls to Cedeno and Howe and his second complete game was history.


"Bobby did a lot of running out there tonight, both on the bases and covering first," Green said after the Phils stayed in third place, a game behind the division-leading Expos. "He was a little pooped by the fifth when he walked Cedeno and made a bad pitch to Howe. He could have folded right there, but he didn't. He sucked it in and showed us some second wind."


AS WALK'S ERA COMES down, his confidence is going up. After his shaky early starts he was comparing negatives. Now he is in the delicious phase of being able to rate an expanding list of strong professional efforts. Not surprisingly. Bob didn't rate this as his best.


"It's the best I've pitched in a game that really meant something." he said, "but I think my command was a little better against the Expos and Cardinals. I threw a lot of pitches that were hit hard. There were some balls hit to the outfield that could have been gappers. I kept going in and out of spells where I'd really get my rhythm going, then lose it. But it always came back."


Walk gapped a double in the second, his first extra-base hit in professional ball. And if you wonder why he was grinning broadly when he huffed into second, it was over something Pete Rose said to him during batting practice.


"I was really lousy during BP," Bob grinned. "Pete was really on me. I told him I was gonna get as many hits as he did. He doubled in the first and I came right back and tied him. I thought I had him, but he came back with another double in the ninth."


The mix of regulars and scrubeenies put together the kind of offense Green demands from a club which must capitalize on every opportunity with both power men out of the lineup.


ROSE LASHED HIS 29th double with one out in the first and scored on another RBI single by Bake McBride. who is second on the club with 49 RBI. Bake went to third on Moreland's flare to center and scored on an infield out by Garry Maddox.


The flaming bat of Manny Trillo started the Phils toward a fourth-inning run which gave Walk a 3-0 pad. Trillo, who leads the league with a.331 average, was 2-for-4 and nailed the ball all four at-bats. He led off the fourth with a single to center, stole second and went to third on Alan Ashby's heave into center. Smith scored Manny with a two-out single to right.


"Manny's hitting every pitch in every location," Tim McCarver observed from the press box. "He's in a groove right now where he just knows that he's going to get the fat part of the bat on the ball every at-bat."


Trillo also scored a vital insurance run in the sixth. He led off the inning with a single to left and wound up on third when Craig Reynolds made an ill-advised attempt to force Manny at second on a hit-and-run bouncer to short by Aviles. Reynolds threw the ball past Rafael Landestoy and Trillo, who even seems to be running a step faster, wound up on third. Vukovich scored him with a fly to left.


"WE GROUND IT OUT pretty well." Green said. "We still made some mistakes. We didn't execute the squeeze (Aviles fouled off a two-strike bunt in the fourth), we made a baserunning mistake (Walk, no gazelle, hesitated going from first to third in the fourth and was gunned out) and Bobby didn't tag second on that play. But we played better tonight, no question of that."


Walk is also finding out that the first thing most writers want to talk about when the Phils are on the road is his celebrated arrest in Dodger Stadium for throwing a tennis ball at Cesar Cedeno.


He ran through the story one more time for the Houston writers.


"I was 19," he said. "I did it 'cause I was drunk. I don't know how close the ball came to him because my vision was too blurred up. I was just out there in the pavilion with the rest of the crazies."


Walk tossed a soft 0-for-3 at Cedeno last night.


He has come a long way from the Dodger Stadium tennis-ball league.


PHILUPS: J.R. Richard threw before the game, said he had discomfort and was immediately put on the 21-day disabled list by Manager Bill Virdon. "I want to get us out from under the cloud of whatever it is that's bothering him," Virdon said. "Let him rest it and take it from there next month."... Mike Schmidt is on a day-to-day basis... Steve Carlton vs. Joe Niekro tonight... For weather buffs, the temperature hit a record 104 here yesterday, but it's a dry heat blowing up from the arid deserts of central Mexico and actually is more comfortable than the normal 95-degree, 85-percent humidity normal in southeast Texas. The humidity at 5 p.m., when the mercury was still at 103, was a low 25 percent. There has been no measurable rain here for five weeks.

4 Winners


There were four winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the third inning of the Phillies-Astros game, Thomas Turner of Philadelphia won $10, plus four tickets to a Phillies game, on Keith Moreland's single.


Winners of four tickets each were Oscar Boyd of Philadelphia, Prudence V. Sullivan of Harrisburg and J.T. Murphy of Feasterville.


To date, the Daily News has paid out $12,295.


Today's entry coupon appears on Page 60.