Allentown Morning Call - July 30, 1980

Another bad dream for Greg Luzinski


By John Kunda, Executive Sports Editor


It was midday and Greg Luzinski had spent close to W three hours running, throwing and hitting in the hot Florida sun. He was drenched in perspiration, but later he found out it was all worthwhile. He lost five-and-a-half pounds. 


Luzinski was feeling great – and looking just as great. 


That was in March, four days into spring training. The "new" Greg Luzinski was anxious to do his part for the 1980 Phillies. 


At the time, he spoke of the frustration of 1979. Frustration for the Phillies in general, and frustration for Luzinski, in particular. 


“We were picked to win our division and we finished fourth." Luzinski said on that hot day in March. "You can't blame the fans for getting on our case. We went down as a team and we hope we can win as a team. Look at the Pirates. They all had grQat seasons and they won. No one guy did it. They all did it. It can happen in Philadelphia, too." 


Luzinski spoke, too, about his weight loss, from 235 pounds to 217. He took a lot of heat about his weight when the Phils died in the stretch. 


"I decided on my own to lose the weight because people felt I didn't care. I guess my nature makes them think that. So I lost 25 pounds. I feel great. We'll just have to wait and see how much of a difference it'll make." 


Ah. the hopes of spring. They don't necessarily bring the joy of summer.


For Luzinski. the 1980 season is another bad dream. Things aren't going well for the Phillies, and things are even worse for him. 


On Monday, the big leftfielder, had his right knee opened in surgery. The doctor said it could have been worse, but right now, what could be worse for a player trying to erase the memories of a year ago? 


The doctor said Luzinski will miss at least three weeks. Add that to the days he's already spent on the disabled list and the season could be total disaster. 


Then, too, maybe there is a ray of hope. But for that ray to shine through, the Phillies are going to have to stay close. Stay competitive until the big gun returns.


A couple of Bull Blasts in late August could be a cure-all. 


The question, of course, is can the Phillies stay close without Luzinski. who with Mike Schmidt, gave the Phillies as solid a one-two punch as there is in baseball. 


Opposing pitchers must feel relieved. Facing one bomber is better than facing two.


"There were only two guys in the lineup that could hit the ball out of the ballpark before I got hurt," Luzinski said the other day. "and I was one of them. That's the whole key right now. Schmitty's getting the same thing I was getting earlier, the same type feeling. You get tough pitches to hit. Pitchers pitch around you. It's not easy." 


The funny thing about the Phillies season so far is that it was the pitching that was suspect. It was the old story : how can they win without pitching? 


What has happened, however, since Luzinski's been on the ailing list is that the pitchers are doing fairly decent, but the hitters have gone sour. You need a little bit of both Is there any better proof than how the Pirates are winning? 


"The Pirates," said Luzinski. "got that taste of winning last year. They did it with some great seasons from certain individuals. They're doing it again this year, even though some of those guys who had exceptional years last year are just average this year. Some of that rubs off. 


"You look at their lineup and you can see they are strong in every position. I'm not saying they can't be caught. I think we can do it. But. I'll tell you this, it's gonna take everything we got. They have that one edge, the psychological edge that they won last year." 


There is no doubt that the Phillies are playing with an enormous amount of pressure. Luzinski knows that as well as any one of them.


It's been said by Manager Dallas Green – before the season started – that anything short of a winning year would lead to a massive shakeup. The Phils cast their lot with the veterans. Schmidt. Luzinski, Larry Bowa, Pete Rose. Garry Maddox and Bob Boone and Green said he'd break this group up if he had to.


There is time, all right. Aug. 1 is still three days away. And then there is the grind of September. What the Phils can't do, however, is let the Pirates get out of sight.


Hang in there, and let September take care of itself. For the moment, that's what Luzinski's praying for.

Phillies beat the heat, bullpen and Astros, 9-6


By Marc Markowitz, Call Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA – Here's how to beat the heat on a humid summer night – Phillies' style. 


If you're Bake McBride, you cook up a five-hit game. If you're Lonnie Smith, you generate a little extra heat of your own by stealing everything but the opponents' uniforms. If you're Kevin Saucier, you swing your fists in the air at an imaginary opponent and then take out your frustration with some refreshing relief work. And if you're Dallas Green, you rant and rave at umpire Andy Olson until he sees things your way. If he doesn't, the worst you get is an early shower. 


Philadelphia beat the heat and the Houston Astros last night. 9-6, before 30.282 fans at Veterans Stadium, coming from behind at the expense of the Western Division leaders and the best bullpen in baseball. 


The ultimate hero was Smith, who's looking more like an outside candidate for rookie of the year honors and who's going to give Green a genuine headache when Greg Luzinski returns from the disabled list. 


Smith, who'd earlier stolen three bases and ignited three-run innings in the third and the seventh, jumped on a breaking ball by Frank LaCorte and lined a single to left in the eighth inning, breaking a 6-6 tie with his second hit. Larry Bowa, who'd opened the inning with a single and stole second, scored the tie-breaking run. 


"Herm (pitching coach Herm Starrette) told me he'd probably come at me with breaking balls," said Smith. I watched the first pitch, which was a breaking ball, and was ready for the second." 


The next move was for Bill Virdon to go to ace reliever Joe Sambito, a left-hander, to face the left-handed hitting McBride. But Virdon, who'd just walked a .250 hitter (Del Unser) to get to one hitting .350 (Smith), stuck with LaCorte, who came into the game with a 7-2 record and 1.59 ERA. 


McBride then grounded his fifth straight hit in the hole between first and second to score two runs with his 60th and 61st RBI, the latter tying his personal record set in 1977. 


Green wasn't around to enjoy the festivities. He and Olson had a disagreement about a triple by Jeff Leonard in the sixth, a hit which preceded Luis Pujols' sacrifice fly which put Houston ahead 6-3. Green claimed it hit the pole in right field, which is off the playing field, and should have been an automatic double. 


"It (the call) made us want to play harder," said Smith. "It seems when we're going bad the calls go against us and when we're playing good, so, too are the Pirates and Expos." 


The play may not have affected Saucier in the same way, but the results were positive for the lefthander who is quickly becoming the most dependable man in a troubled bullpen. 


Saucier entered the game in the eighth with the score tied at 6, one out and Alan Ashby at third. He induced pinch hitter Dennis Walling to bounce out weakly to first and, after intentionally walking hot-hitting Enos Cabell (three hits last night and a 10-game hitting streak, got Jose Cruz to ground out to second. 


This is when the act began. Saucier had an angry look on his face as he stalked off the mound, swinging his right fist at the air as if he was ready to give someone a piece of his mind. 


"It was just my way of winding down after getting out of the jam," said Saucier. "I hadn't been going that well at times and I was happy to pitch well in that situation." 


That's the way you beat the heat – Phillies' style. But if things were hot for McBride, Smith, Saucier and Green, they were downright overbearing for Randy Lerch and Mike Schmidt. 


Schmidt, who'd struck out with two men on and one man out in the first and then got picked off second in the fifth, got the boobirds off his back with one swing of the bat – his 27th homer in the seventh after a McBride single. 


For Lerch, there was relief but only after he was mercifully relieved after allowing four runs and seven hits in 2⅔ innings. Three of the hits in a three-run third inning which staked Houston to a 4-0 lead were nothing more than flares, but that more than made up for another potentially damaging first inning. 


Lerch, who'd given up runs in the first inning 12 of the 19 games he'd started before last night, was touched for singles by the first two batters Rafael Landestoy and Cabell. Landestoy was thrown out stealing by rookie catcher Keith Moreland and Cabell was picked off by Lerch. Jose Cruz then bounced out to third giving the Astros the dubious distinction of going three up, three down with two hits. 


And Houston wasn't done being charitable. After gaining a 4-0 lead, the Phils got three back in the third. 


Smith, who's now hitting .352, singled, stole second and scored when Pete Rose singled and the throw by Cruz sailed over not only the head of Pujols but pitcher Joaquin Andujar backing up. To prove it wasn't a fluke, Cruz did the same thing on McBride's base hit.