Wilmington Evening Journal - July 29, 1980

Rookie Astro hurler cools off Phils’ bats


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – On nights like this, former Phillies' manager Danny Ozark would sit back in his chair, light up a cigarette and tell the media mob how he wished he could have taken a few swings at the opposing pitcher's deliveries.


Dallas Green didn't bite.


"And besides," said the current Phils' manager, "I wasn't a very good hitter, and neither was the other guy (Ozark)."


Green laughed and so did the reporters who were trying to get the manager to say there was no way for his Phillies to manage just two runs and four hits off a Houston rookie pitcher by the name of Gordy Pladson.


Pladson, who entered last night's game at Veterans Stadium with an 0-2 record and a 6.00 earned run average, completely stymied the Phils' bats, those same bats that erupted for 17 runs and 21 hits on Sunday.


Pladson left after eight innings of a 2-2 stalemate, but the Astros went on to beat the Phils and Ron Reed 3-2 in the 10th when Cesar Cedeno tripled home Jose Cruz from first base.


Reliever Joe Sambito improved his record to 6-1 by working the ninth and 10th, but it was the baffling slider and better-than-average fastball from Pladson that really choked off the Phils. In fact, had the Western Division leaders done a better job on defense, the Phils might not have scored.


After falling behind 1-0 in the third, the Phils tied when Pete Rose walked and Bake McBride followed with a fly ball to the warning track in right-center. Cedeno and Dave Bergman converged on the ball, but it dropped between them for a double.


"I thought he was going to take it and he thought I was going to take it," said Cedeno, the Astros' center fielder. "Normally, the right fielder takes that ball, but Dave has not been out there very much. It was my fault; we didn't communicate."


That gave the Phils one run and they scored their second to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Larry Bowa stole home on a messed-up suicide squeeze.


Bowa opened the fifth with a single to center, stole second and went to third on Bob Boone's fly to center. Nino Espinosa, the Phils' starter, tried the suicide-squeeze bunt on Pladson's first pitch, but fouled it off. A pitch-out was called on the next pitch and Bowa stayed put. But on the 1-1 delivery, the speedy shortstop started down the line. Espinosa swung and missed, with Bowa reversing his field. He appeared an easy out in the rundown, but when Pladson took a throw at home plate, Bowa slid under the tag and after missing the plate, lunged back and touched it. Umpire Doug Harvey signaled safe.


So, those two mistakes cost the Astros two runs. Earlier in the third when they scored their first run, Morgan's poor base running kept them from getting another run. One run was in, there was on out and the bases were loaded when Danny Heep lined out to Garry Maddox. Morgan had taken a long lead and was unable to get back to third and tag up.


After Alan Ashby walked to start the seventh, Espinosa fanned Pladson, but Bergman followed with a screaming single to right. Green immediately summoned reliever Tug McGraw, who gave up a run-scoring single to pinch-hitter Art Howe.


In the 10th, with Reed working his second inning, Morgan was safe on an infield single, but was gunned down by Boone trying to steal sec ond. Cruz, who looked at a 2-2 pitch that appeared to be a strike, walked on a full count and Cedeno followed with his game-winner.


"That walk to Cruz hurt us," said Green. "Reed had him struck out on the 2-2 pitch, but we didn't get the call again. I'll tell you one thing. The pitch to Cruz was as good as the one Schmidt was called out on in the ninth, but that got called a strike and the other one didn't."


Green, unlike Ozark, refused to say the Phillies should be embarrassed because they were unable to handle Pladson.


"You think just because the guy comes in here with a high ERA that we're supposed to bang him around," said Green. "Well, he's out there trying to earn his money, too. You have to be impressed with him. He had an excellent slider and a good fastball. His credentials in the minors were pretty good. Do people around the league say Bobby Walk has no business winning?"


On the other hand, Green said even though the Phillies have a history of losing to unknown pitchers in their first appearance against them, that facing somebody like Pladson is difficult.


"When you've never seen a pitcher before, it's hard." said Green. "You just don't feel comfortable facing somebody you've never seen before. I really think we played a pretty good baseball game. Let's see what happens the next two nights."


EXTRA POINTS - Joaquin Andujar (1-4) will go against Randy Lerch (3-12) tonight, with Nolan Ryan (5-7) facing Dick Ruthven (9-6) tomorrow... The Phils have a 4-6 record in extra-inning games and are 16-20 In one-run decisions. The Astros are 21-17 In the same category... McBride has hit in 17 of the last 18 games... The victory was the first for Houston at the Vet this year after three losses... The news on Greg Luzinski is only half as bad as the Phils expected. After operating on the Phillies' outfielder and removing "multiple loose cartilaginous bodies and a small portion of the knee cartilage" at Methodist Hospital yesterday, Dr. Phillip Marone estimated the Bull will only miss three more weeks. The Phillies had feared their slugging outfielder would be sidelined for six more weeks. While Luzinski is out. Green said he will use rookie Lonnie Smith in left field.