Philadelphia Inquirer - July 20, 1980

Atlanta sweeps Phillies


Green sees red, losing by 5-2, 7-2


By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer


ATLANTA – The Phillies had just dropped both ends of a doubleheader to the Atlanta Braves, something you don't want to do every day, and so Dallas Green was burning.


But his Phillies were not the guys under fire, although they probably deserved it after 5-2 and 7-2 losses to the Braves last night. No, Green was chewing on the umpires and spitting them out like the seeds from the watermelon he was eating after the second game.


That was the 7-2 loss. It had a six-run sixth inning for the Braves, and the inning had a beginning that had Green hopping mad on the field.


The Phillies were holding a one-run lead at that point, when Tommy Boggs, the Braves' pitcher, started things quite innocently by lucking into a single on a checked-swing bunt; the Phillies bought that. But they didn't buy what happened next.


Jerry Royster laid down another bunt, up the third-base line. Catcher Keith Moreland fielded the ball, but he threw wildly to first – into the hands of a stadium worker in the right-field corner area, in fact.


Boggs scored to tie the game, 2-2, Royster scampered around to third, and Green charged out like a bull elephant. He claimed that Royster had actually bunted the ball twice – hitting it once, then off his bat again – and thus should have been called out.


No kid gloves


He did not use kid gloves on this three-man umpiring crew of Eric Gregg, Dutch Rennert and Harry Wendelstedt.


"Eric did not tell me a bleeping thing," Green fumed. "Dutch did not tell me a bleeping thing. Here are three umpires who can't tell me a bleeping thing because they never saw the bleeping thing. Here are three very competent umpires, and none of them saw the bleeping thing."


Green said he appealed to have Royster called out, to, in his words, "kill the play at home."


"I can't look through bodies," Wendelstedt, the plate umpire, said later. "I saw the man square off and the ball hit the bat. If he (Moreland) saw it, why did he keep playing it? I saw backs. To be fair, you've got to check with your partners, and neither of my partners saw the ball strike the bat (a second time)."


That play was like opening a floodgate for the Braves, mainly because Green immediately stomped back to the mound to remove starter Dan Larson, who was doing a decent job, and bring Dickie Noles out of the bullpen. "I was looking for a strikeout," Green said of the move, "and I've got the best bleeping guy to strike a guy out."


Presumably, he meant Noles.


No strikeout


Noles started with a groundout and an intentional walk and worked his way up to five hits and four runs before Ron Reed was in the game and the Phillies were out of the inning. As it was, they also were out of the game.


The first game, the 5-2 game, was more of a nightmare for Dick Ruthven, the Phillies starter and himself a former Brave. All his fears about the way the ball carries in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium were confirmed in the sixth inning, when back-to-back home runs by Gary Matthews and Bob Horner – the first of two for the night for him – were part of a four-run rally.


That came while the Phillies were struggling against Braves pitcher Doyle Alexander, who threw a five-hitter.


The loss in the first game cut off a Phillies winning streak at three, and also ended a string of three truly well-pitched games for them.


"I felt great," Ruthven said later. "I don't know what Dallas said. But I felt great. They certainly weren't swinging like it was hard to see (at dusk), and I mean the whole bleeping game (he means for both teams)."


Maybe Ruthven wasn't awful (eight hits in six innings), but he wasn't exactly in charge in the fourth.


Brian Asselstine (3-for-4) opened the inning by smacking an 0-2 pitch by a diving Pete Rose into right field for a single. Bake McBride gave him an extra base by letting the ball dribble off his shoe for the Phillies' second error of the game. Chris Chambliss then poked a 3-1 pitch up the middle to score Asselstine, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead.


Matthews then lifted a 2-1 pitch just over the fence in the left-field corner. 4-1.


"The pitch to Matthews," Ruthven said, "was the pitch I wanted to make. It was in on him, and somehow he got it out. I have," he added sourly, "seen that happen here before."


Then Ruthven grooved a 3-2 fastball to Horner, who drove it into the lower tier in left.


In the Phillies' seventh, Garry Maddox led off with a double, and Bob Boone followed by lashing a single to right.


As Maddox was held up at third, Chambliss cut off the throw from the outfield and flipped to Glenn Hubbard, covering first, to catch Boone – and set off Green and first base coach Ruben Amaro.


"The damn ump (Harry Wendelstet) is not in good position to make that call," Green said. "He can't see. That's what Ruben was yelling about."


Larry Bowa got Maddox in with a single.


It was a 1-1 first game after five innings, with both Ruthven and Alexander on top of the hitters, and both teams rode errors to runs in the fourth inning.


Alexander – the ace of the Braves' staff, such as it is – put the first 10 Phillies down in order before walking Rose on four pitches with one out in the fourth. McBride followed with a chopper that made right field because Rose was heading for second on the pitch, and Rose made third.


Rose made it home when Alexander flung a pickoff try at first off McBride's thigh.


The Braves came back, Asselstine leading off with a hard single to right. Horner bounced a ball into the shortstop hole, the third out, and Bowa misplayed it for his 10th error of the season, leaving runners at first and second. Mike Lum then got a ground single up the middle to produce the Braves' first run.


Before Green began his second-game show, and the Braves began theirs, the Phillies got a gutty start from Larson and a 2-0 lead from Lonnie Smith and Bake McBride in the second game.


Smith reached on an error, stole' second, moved to third on a ground-out and scored on McBride's ground-out in the third.


Smith led off the fifth with a single, and he stole second again. Rose moved him to third with a bunt, and then McBride brought him around again with a drive that Matthews reached in right.


 Larson's only real mistake was a 3-2 pitch that Horner made his 12th homer in the last 19 games.

Running game needs more tutors


By Allen Lewis, on baseball


It wasn't so long ago that major league teams hired coaches for two reasons – to work the lines and to socialize with the manager. Then came pitching coaches, batting coaches and bullpen coaches. Now, every club has at least one of each on staffs that range from four to six men.


Tradition dies hard in baseball, however, and big league clubs have been slow to hire coaches who have expertise in what is now a vital phase of the game – base stealing.


Of the more than 100 coaches in the major leagues, only two, Tommy Harper and Bobby Tolan, were base stealers who would rank with today's stars. Harper, who works for the Red Sox, a team that prefers playing long ball to stealing, swiped 73 bases 11 years ago. Tolan, hired in May by the Padres, stole 57 in 1970.


Only two other coaches, Vada Pinson of the Mariners and Minnie Minoso of the White Sox, ever stole as many as 30 in a season, and each did that only once. The six Phillies coaches stole a grand total of just 22.


How vital stolen bases now are in a team's offense can be seen from figures at the All-Star break that indicate the National League will average 140 stolen bases per team this season, highest in more than 50 years, and that the Expos will swipe 250. Only the 1977 Pirates, with 277, have had more in the NL in the last half-century. A mere 11 years ago, the Astros led the NL with just 101.


The emphasis on the running game is forcing clubs to reevaluate their minor league catching prospects. Youngsters with weak arms are being shifted to other positions or being cut loose.


As the Padres' Jerry Coleman said recently of his first years as a manager, "One thing I've learned this season, at least, is that the most important thing in baseball is a throwing catcher. You can't play this game without pitching, but you've also got to have a catcher who can throw people out at second base.


"Everybody is running. The big difference in the game since my playing days (Yankees, 1949-1957) is speed and bullpen. An Astro gets to first base and it's as good as a triple. You got to have a catcher who can hold them from stealing your teeth."


Coleman knows whereof he speaks. When catcher Bill Fahey threw out Expo Warren Cromartie at second on June 28, it marked the first time since May 28 that a San Diego catcher had thrown out a runner trying to steal. The opposition had swiped 24 in a row, half of them leading to runs.


NOTES: Despite one poll of NL players and another of NL general managers, both of which picked Ted Simmons as the best catcher, I'd rather have Expo Gary Carter. He's a better catcher and thrower, runs better, and has more power, and only Pete Rose outhustles him.... Despite his two wild pitches in the All-Star Game, Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb must have had baseball men everywhere wishing they had him. Everything he throws is downstairs. If he stays healthy, he should be a star very soon. He turns 23 on Tuesday.... "Cleaning house," as Padres president Ballard Smith threatens to do if the club doesn't improve in the second half, may be a lot harder to do than to talk about because so many players have no-trade contracts.... One of the Orioles' problems this season is that their home run production is down one-third from a year ago.



The answer to last week's Trivia Question: The last major leaguer to lead his league in runs scored, bases on balls and stolen bases was out fielder Johnny Mostil of the White Sox in 1925. He scored 135 runs, drew 90 walks to tie for the American League lead and stole 43 bases. First with the correct answer was John Reilly of Stratford, N.J.


This week's question: Name the only major league team since 1900 that did not have a pitcher win as many as eight games in a season.