Philadelphia Inquirer - July 29, 1980
Astros beat Phils in 10th, 3-2
Cedeno’s triple is key blow
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Where once the Houston Astros brought you J. R. Richard, last night they brought the Phillies the mysterious Gordon Pladson.
Little did they know they had the Phillies right where they wanted them.
The Astros beat the Phils, 3-2. last night. But it took a 10th-inning triple by Cesar Cedeno to do it.
So Pladson – a rookie righthander who began the evening with no big-league wins, one big league start and a 6.00 earned-run average – didn't get to join that less-than-exclusive club, "No-Names Who Have Beaten the Phillies." But it sure wasn't his fault.
The Astros gave a seminar behind him entitled, "A Million and One Things First-Place Teams Are Not Supposed to Do." They botched a rundown play for one Phillies run. They botched a fly ball for the other.
At times like that, rookie pitchers are supposed to crumble – or at least sulk or throw a bat or something. Pladson was so distraught, he set down 10 of the last 11 hitters, never let another runner reach second and exited with an eight-inning four-hitter.
"You can't let yourself get too discouraged," Pladson said, "or you're not going to be thinking about pitching. I've played long enough. I've seen a lot of things happen in this game."
Baseball is a never-ending source of spectacles you've never seen before. But a lot stranger things have gone on than people named Gordon Pladson beating the Phillies. Pladson was merely treading over trails previously blazed by Bruce Berenyi, Mark Bomback, Allen Ripley and a million or so like them.
Dallas Green has noted this trend before. But he was not real receptive to that diagnosis last night.
"Geez," Green snapped at writers, "you guys think that just because a guy has a high ERA, he's out there trying to lose. Or we're supposed to automatically kick the hell out of them all the time.
"Hell, that doesn't happen all the time. He's out there trying to earn his money, too."
The closest Green came to conceding the point was an admission that hitters "just do not feel comfortable when they haven't seen a guy." But Pladson smiled quizzically at that notion.
"I don't really see why it should make any difference," he said. "Montreal had never seen me in my last start, and I lasted an inning and a third against them. After three innings, they've all seen me once anyway."
After three innings, Pladson had a 1-0 lead. It should have been about 4-0. But a fan saved Nino Espinosa one run by reaching out from the picnic area to scoop up what might have been an RBI double by Jose Cruz.
Bob Boone saved another run in the second, throwing out Enos Cabell stealing before an Alan Ashby single. Boone has nailed 11 of 20 base-stealers since the All-Star break.
And finally, Joe Morgan saved Espinosa a third run. Morgan somehow forgot to tag up on Danny Heep's liner to, center in the third. If that mistake seemed improbable, it was nothing compared to what followed.
Pladson got Bake McBride to hit a routine fly to right center with Pete Rose on first in the fourth. But Dave Bergman, filling in for injured right-fielder Terry Puhl, played it more like Ingrid Bergman.
He broke back late, then started glancing hopefully at Cedeno, the centerfielder. They wound up both lerching after it futilely, and it dropped for a double. Garry Maddox got the run home with a chopper to short.
Then in the fifth, the Phils had Larry Bowa on third, Espinosa at the plate and one out. You didn't have to be The Amazing Kreskin to figure there was some squeezing in the works.
Green sent Bowa once, and Espinosa bunted foul. An unsuccessful pitchout later, they tried it again, but Espinosa missed the bunt completely.
So Bowa was hung up. But Cabell, the third baseman, ran Bowa so far in toward the plate, Bowa figured, aw, what the heck, and just tried to beat the ball.
It all wound up with Pladson missing the tag, Bowa missing home and Pladson pleading with plate ump Doug Harvey as Bowa was scrambling back to plant a hand on the plate.
So it was 2-1 after six, and Espinosa had retired 11 in a row. But he walked Ashby with nobody out in the seventh. Bergman smoked a single off the wall in right. And Tug McGraw came on to throw a game-tying pinch single to Art Howe.
So it came down to a duel of relievers Joe Sambito and Ron Reed. The best thing Reed (6-4) did was catch a ground ball between his legs. The worst thing he did was walk Cruz with two outs and nobody on in the 10th.
Cedeno then inside-outed a game-winning triple into the right-field corner. And all the Phillies managed against Sambito (6-1, 10 saves) was Keith Moreland's infield single with two out in the 10th.
One of Sambito's three strikeouts came when Mike Schmidt looked at a 2-2 slider in the ninth. Schmidt was so delighted he stood at the plate for about a half-hour before departing.
"Just got the outside corner," Sambito said. "Heck, I didn't want to give him anything out over the plate in that situation. The closest I want to come is to just nip the corner. And I think it was a good call. He's seen me many times. He knows I try to hit that spot with pitches."
Green didn't admire that call, nor a ball Harvey called on a similar Reed pitch before his critical walk of Cruz in the 10th. He did express some admiration, though, for the way the Astros manage to win with pitching, baserunning and contact hitting.
"I'm no expert on that division," Green said. "But I'm not sure if Houston can overcome injuries to key guys like maybe some other teams can. I'm talking about J. R., mainly. You just don't replace those kind of guys."
Yeah, but Gordon Pladson sure gave it a try.
NOTES: The return of Larry Christenson to the roster may be only about 10 days away. Green wants Christenson to throw batting practice or a simulated game first. "I just want him to at least face some hitters," Green said.... Joacquin Andujar, who pitches for the Astros tonight, hadn't won a game since last Aug. 14 until he beat the Expos in the second game of a doubleheader July 19. Andujar (1-4) hasn't won on the road since the 4th of July 1979.... Although the Astros were 13 games over. 500 going into last night, they had scored only 15 more runs than their opposition (364-249). But that's nothing compared to what they accomplished last year. They actually managed to finish 16 games over .500 in ‘79 (and missed winning the division by a game and a half) while being outscored by their opponents by a run.... Randy Lerch (3-12) goes for the Phils tonight.
Luzinski expected to be out 3-4 more weeks
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
There was good news and bad news on the Greg Luzinski front yesterday.
The bad news was, Luzinski is still going to be out of the Phillies lineup another three or four weeks. The good news was, it could have been a lot worse.
Team physician Phillip Marone opened Luzinski's inflamed right knee at Methodist Hospital yesterday. He was almost expecting to find cartilage that was "torn in half."
Instead, all Marone found were some fragments of floating joint cartilage and a small cartilage tear measuring about a quarter-inch by a half-inch. That might sound pretty gruesome, but "there are many athletes with the same kind of knee," Marone said.
The fragments are an arthritic condition, "a result of wear and tear on the knee," Marone said. The tear was not even a complete tear, he said.
Marone removed both the tear and the fragments. But he is still wondering why the knee puffed up the way it did after Luzinski merely slid into second July 5.
"What is strange to me," Marone said, "is that this had to be there for a long time. Why a slide into second – something which he had done many, many times – would start something like this is the strangest part of all.
"I thought maybe the knee cartilage had torn in half. That's what I was looking for."
So what he found was better than what he had feared. Had the cartilage been torn in half, Luzinski wouid have been lost for a minimum of six weeks and possibly for the season.
For the next week, Luzinski will be permitted to do only some "basic" exercising to maintain strength in the knee, Marone said. He also will take daily treatments on the Cyrotemp machine, which applies cold pressure to "milk fluid" out of the knee, the doctor said.
Marone said he then will re-examine the knee in a week, "and I'll know then how long he'll be out."
Should the knee progress normally, Luzinski should be running again in 10 days to two weeks. And he could be playing again in "3½-4 weeks," Marone said.
Phillies face Astros again
The Phillies' longest home stand of the season continues tonight (7:35) at Veterans Stadium with the second game of a three-game set with the Houston Astros.
Houston, despite ace pitcher J. R. Richard's arm trouble and disappointing performances from Nolan Ryan (5-7), still is in first place in the National League West.
Tonight it will be Randy Lerch (3-12) vs. Joacquin Andujar (1-4).
PHILLIES vs. Houston at Veterans Stadium (Radlo-KYW-1060, 7:35 p.m.)