Philadelphia Inquirer - July 22, 1980
Bull is eligible, but is he ready?
Luzinski apparently worried that knee isn’t healed
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CINCINNATI – Greg Luzinski is eligible to come off the disabled list when the Phillies finish their three-city road trip tomorrow. But Luzinski's return to the active list might not be that imminent.
The Bull, who didn't make this trip, worked out yesterday at the Vet with hitting coach Billy DeMars. They went to the batting tee, hoping to resurrect Luzinski's long-lost groove. But it was the knee, not the tee, that had the Bull worried.
"He generally felt fair," said Dallas Green yesterday. "Not outstanding, but fair. He's still got some nagging thoughts, something that's worrying him. So we're going to have the doctor look at him (today) and evaluate him again."
Green said he wasn't sure about the nature of Luzinski's worries. He said the puffiness in Luzinski's sore right knee had subsided. But Luzinski just isn't confident that it is sound. Stay tuned.
NOTES: Last time the Phillies were in Cincinnati, Pete Rose threw seven baseballs into the stands to fans. Rose's old buddy, Reds president Dick Wagner, reported him to the league office. So Rose was fined $175, or $25 a ball.... Bake McBride reinjured his chronically hurting knee in Houston last week. So Green gave him the night off last night. Del Unser played right, and Greg Gross played left in place of Lonnie Smith (1-for-13). "I haven't played Del or Greg very much," Green said. "I just thought it was time they got a chance to play. And Bake needed a little bit of rest." Keith Moreland also caught. Moreland had caught two of Randy Lerch's three wins.... Rose's averaged jumped a couple of points yesterday afternoon, and he hadn't even swung a bat yet. Saturday in Atlanta, Rose bunted with two on and nobody out but didn't get credit for a sacrifice because the scorer ruled he was bunting for a hit. Yesterday the Elias Sports Bureau, which figures National League stats, told the scorer he was wrong. So Rose got his sacrifice and lost an at-bat.... Steve Carlton (154) vs. Mario Soto (34) tonight. Soto has made two starts since the Ail-Star break and has 18 strikeouts in 15 innings.
Phillies lose, 5-4, to Reds
2-run 7th inning Lerch’s undoing
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CINCINNATI – Every Randy Lerch start seems to look like every other Randy Lerch start. Unfortunately, when you're 3-12, as Lerch is, that's not good.
The script is so familiar you can almost fill out your scorecard before the game starts.
There is the standard run or two in the first inning. There is the crucial point later when Lerch has to either make some key pitch or get beat. There is the line drive a moment after that which decides it.
It all happened again last night in the Reds' 5-4 win over the Phillies, the Phils' fourth loss in a row on a road trip that has turned out to be slightly less fun than parading through inland Texas in a fur coat.
Last night Lerch battled through two rain delays, an assortment of jams and several seemingly crucial escape acts. But even that wasn't enough to get him win No. 4.
Pitches to Bench
After the Phillies struggled back from a 2-0 deficit to hand him a 3-2 lead, Lerch blew it.
Junior Kennedy doubled in the tying run in the sixth. Then Lerch got to the crisis point – two outs in the seventh, the go-ahead run on second, Johnny Bench up. This was the ball game. Lerch knew it. Bench knew it. Dallas Green knew it.
So Green strolled to the mound to see whether Lerch wanted to pitch to Bench (15 RBIs in the last three weeks) or on-deck hitter Ray Knight (58 RBIs for the year). Or, more precisely, Green went out to tell him who he wanted to pitch to. He chose Bench.
"Who the hell else you gonna pitch to?" demanded Green, whose scouting reports floweth over with praise for Knight's ability in the clutch. "Pitch to Knight? Humpphh. You got your choice."
Lerch got to 1-and-l on Bench, who had knocked in a run earlier. He came back with a fastball, got it up instead of away and Bench smoked a gapper to right-center. Boom 4-3.
Right pitch, but...
"A very elementary piece of pitching right there," Green said. "Keith (Moreland, the catcher) was thinking exactly the way he should have. He throws the slider for a ball, a little off-speed. Then the change-up for a strike.
"Now you can't throw another change. You've got to throw something hard. You want to keep it away from him, down. And the ball's up in his eyes. We're trying to set him up to come back with the change. You can't throw three straight off-speed pitches. But...."
The evening's second rain delay interrupted the proceedings at that point.
Lerch just stood there, sad and alone, for a moment. Then he slammed the ball down and walked to the dugout, head down, hand on hips. It isn't easy being Randy Lerch.
"He's just got to make the one pitch in the critical situation," Green said. "And he didn't do it. He pitched out of two jams I thought he pitched super in. Now he's got the game on the line in the later innings, with a guy he can get out. And he doesn't."
Nearly an hour after the rain came and Lerch went, Kevin Saucier strolled out to replace Lerch and gave up an end-of-the-bat looper to Dan Driessen that made it 5-3.
That turned out to be critical because the Phillies suddenly jumped on bullpen ace Tom Hume in the ninth. Larry Bowa tripled with one out. Bake McBride slashed a pinch double. And so the tying run was on second for the two best contact hitters on the roster – Pete Rose and Greg Gross.
But Rose fouled off four and then flied out. And Gross' liner went right to second baseman Ron Oester.
"Little do you figure that Dan Driessen's little bloop single is gonna be the game-winner," sighed Green.
What killed Lerch in the first last night was not Concepcion's one-out double. And it was not his subsequent walk of Griffey. It was the 1-2 slider he bounced past Moreland with Foster up that did him in.
The wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. So when Foster finally ended a nine-pitch battle with a line drive to Del Unser in deep right, it brought in Concepcion with the first run.
Then the Reds made it 2-0 in the third. Lerch walked leadoff hitter Dave Collins. And Concepcion singled him to second. Griffey beat out a bunt down the third-base line. So the bases were loaded for Foster.
Foster since the All-Star break was a meek 18-for-56 (.321) with 19 RBls and five homers to that point. But Lerch got him to fly to medium-short right, and Collins held at third.
It still was only the first out, though. And Bench got the run in with a base hit to left. But Concepcion decided to challenge Gross in left, and hardly anybody gets away with that.
The Gross-to-Schmidt-to-Moreland relay had him easy. Gross has five assists, most on the team. And four of them have nailed guys at the plate.
So it was only 2-0 as they began the fourth. And there wasn't much assurance it would stay that way, since Reds starter Mike LaCoss hasn't exactly been Brooks Lawrence himself this year (5-9.5.38).
LaCoss walked Schmidt with no body out in the fourth. Then Keith Moreland took his next pitch about 400 feet to left-center, and the Phillies were even again in a hurry.
They took the lead in the sixth. Garry Maddox, who has hit in 13 of 14 games and 17 of 19, puched a two-out single to right. LaCoss tried to pick Maddox off first, heaved it into the stands and Maddox was on second.
He walked Manny Trillo. And Bowa looped one into the narrow gap between Concepcion and Foster in short left, and it was 3-2.
Lerch hadn't seen a lead in two weeks, but he didn't give himself much time to revel in it. After Bench began the sixth by nearly hitting two balls out (one foul, one caught by Maddox at the wall), the Reds got started.
Knight bounced a one-out single. Lerch walked Driessen. Then he ran a 1-2 fastball in on Kennedy. Kennedy pulled it into left for an RBI double.
But after a 14-minute thunderstorm delay, Lerch returned to pitch out of it.
Somebody proposed then that Green order a rainstorm every time Lerch pitches. But apparently, it will take more than that.