Philadelphia Inquirer - July 30, 1980

Phils face Astros, Ryan

 

Pitcher Dick Ruthven and the Phillies take on the Western Division-leading Houston Astros again tonight at the Vet (7:35) and are prepared to see some smoke.

 

Fireballer Nolan Ryan is scheduled to pitch for Houston.

 

Ryan, although he has been struggling this year (5-7, 3.30 ERA), is always a treat to watch, and always a threat to toss one of his patented no-hitters, if his fastball can hold out for nine innings.

 

BASEBALL

 

PHILLIES vs. Houston at Veterans Stadium, 7:35 p.m. (Radio-KYW-1060)

Phils rally to cool off Astros, 9-6

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

Dallas Green did some yelling and screaming at somebody oilier than his own players last night. It turned out to be so inspirational, he ought to try it again sometime.

 

Green directed that billion-decibel voice at his favorite umpires, Andy Olsen and Doug Harvey, last night. They're the two guys responsible for his first career ejection last September. Last night they were also responsible for the second.

 

Green got thumbed by Olsen in a sixth-inning beef over ground rules following a Jeff Leonard triple. By the time Olsen had ushered him from the premises, the Phils were trailing the Astros, 6-3. And let us not forget that Houston is a team that might not give up seven runs in a week, let alone one game.

 

But Dickie Noles got Cesar Cedeno with the bases loaded to escape the sixth. Then Mike Schmidt tied it in the seventh with his 27th homer. And the Phils put away a dramatic 9-6 win with a three-run eighth.

 

"Hell, I didn't fire anybody up," Green bellowed afterward. "The only people I fired up were the umpires."

 

The people who did the serious inspiration routines last night were Kevin Saucier (5-3), who got the win by worming out of a critical jam; the electrifying Lonnie Smith, who stole his 15th, 16th and 17th bases, then knocked in the winning run, and Bake McBride, who went 5-for-5 and tied his career high for RBls (61) with more than two months to go.

 

But it looked for a long time last night as if all the good stuff the Phillies did would be in vain.

 

Randy Lerch started and got out only six of the 15 hitters he faced. Lerch gave up a 410-foot homer to Art Howe, walked the pitcher when he was trying to bunt and lasted only 2-2/3 innings.

 

Fortunately for the Phillies, Astros starter Joaquin Andujar can't remember how to beat people any better than Lerch can. Andujar has won one game since last August. And even with a 4-0 lead last night, he couldn't get through the fifth.

 

The Phils got back to within 4-3 in the third, thanks to the arm of Houston leftfielder Jose Cruz, a man who clearly does not know his own strength.

 

Cruz heaved not one, but two, throws to the plate clear over the cutoff man, clear over the catcher, clear over the pitcher backing up and off the backstop. All in the same inning.

 

But the Astros nicked Noles for an unearned run in the fifth. Then Leonard thumped Noles' second pitch of the sixth into the right-field corner. The ball took a weird carom, weaved around the corner like a drunken driver, and Leonard steamed to third.

 

But hold on. Phillies relievers started jumping up and down. Pete Rose ran toward the dugout, pointing toward the foul pole. Out stormed Green, arguing the ball had hopped off the little green pole which has no apparent function other than to deflect baseballs next to the foul pole and thus should be a ground-rule double.

 

Olsen, the first-base ump, insisted the ball had hit the wall and refused to consult any other umpires. The fact that one of them is Fred Brocklander, a picket-line-crosser in the '79 strike, might have been one reason he wouldn't. The two have never spoken.

 

So Green marched over to Harvey, the man who overruled a Keith Moreland homer last Sept. 20, citing the magic slogan, "Let's get it right."

 

"Get-it-right might have made a helluva lot of difference in 79," Green said. "But it didn't seem to make much difference in 1980."

 

So Green trudged back to Olsen and tried one more time.

 

"I said all my players and my whole bullpen saw it hit the pole, so why can't we get the play right? He said, 'Because it's my call.'"

 

Green persisted, and we all know what that means – heave-ho. Except Green kind of forgot to leave. He watched from the tunnel as Luis Pujols made it 6-3 with a sacrifice fly. Then he charged back into the dugout for a final word. Olsen had to come over and usher him away again.

 

"I really don't know why he tossed me," Green said. "I didn't cuss him. That's why I didn't leave right away."

 

Once he did leave, the Phils immediately pumped back. Smith was hit by a pitch and wasn't hesitant to steal his third base even though his team was three runs down.

 

McBride singled him in. Then Schmidt crushed a high Bert Roberge forkball way up the lower deck to tie it.

 

Warren Brusstar got in trouble in the eighth, though. So Saucier had to stalk in with a man on third and one out. He got out of it, retiring left-handed hitters Denny Walling and Jose Cruz.

 

Then he discoed off to the dugout, pumping his fist, hurling his glove and generally carrying on like Reverend Ike or somebody.

 

"Excited? Hell, yeah," Saucier said, breathlessly. "It had been a while since I'd been out there, and it had been a while since I'd done the job I was supposed to do."

 

The whole thing didn't exactly go unnoticed by his normally stone-faced teammates, either.

 

"Sauce can be pretty funny when he's in one of those type of moods," said Smith. "But I think he kind of pumped up everybody, too."

 

Larry Bowa's single and stolen base ignited the winning rally off Astros reliever Frank LaCorte, who was 7-2, with a 1.59 earned-run average and nine saves when the night started.

 

Del Unser was walked on purpose after the steal. Then Smith stroked a 1-1 breaking ball into left for only his 11th big-league RBI, making the score 7-6.

 

"It was the first time I'd ever faced him," Smith said. "But before I went up there, Herm (Starrette, who once coached LaCorte) said he threw big breaking balls and a small one. And that's what he threw me – two big breaking balls."

 

Then McBride put the capper on a magnificent night with a two-run single. McBride has hit in 18 of his last 19 games, is 9-for-his-Iast-12 and his average is now .312.

 

He is having an extraordinary year, especially for a guy whose tender knees have taken away so much of his game.

 

"Bake's playing with a lot of pain," Green said, admiringly. "He's got both knees bothering him, and now he's got a hip problem on top of that. But that bat's smoking, and I'm gonna stay right with him.

 

 

"If I were going to choose a team MVP, he'd certainly be right up there with Schmitty, the way he's generated runs and done things for our ball club."

Will McGraw go free-agent?

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

Tug McGraw has a 2.31 earned-run average, a head without a single gray hair and a chance to be a free agent come October.

 

All that could translate into serious dollars in what could be the final year of no compensation for free agents.

 

But if McGraw is dreaming of the kind of riches that have been dumped down the chimneys of Don Stanhouse or Al Hrabosky, he is doing it very quietly.

 

"We agreed a long time ago it would be just as well for both of us if we wait until the end of the year to talk," McGraw said last night. "I don't have an agent, so I really don't want the distraction of doing it during the season."

 

McGraw said that waiting is to the Phillies' benefit, too, because "it gives them the opportunity to decide whether they want to go with me. It also gives them time to see how Sauce (fellow lefthander Kevin Saucier) develops."

 

McGraw said he has no present inclination, one way or the other, as to whether to go through the re-entry draft. He is aware that free agents could come out of this year's draft with incomes like J. Paul Getty.

 

"Yeah, but the Phillies usually go to market value, as they've shown in the past," he said. "So there's no major concern there."

 

What is of concern is McGraw regaining his groove of late May and early June. In that stretch he was scored on in only two of 11 appearances, saved four games and struck out 19 guys in 17-2/3 innings.

 

But he went on the disabled list with tendinitis shortly thereafter. His shoulder is OK again. But he has run a lot of deep counts lately. And that's concerned him.

 

"I think I've just been trying to be too careful," he said. "Still, I've been able to come back and make good pitches when I had to."

 

So only one issue remains. Will McGraw keep the beard he grew while he was on the DL?

 

"Hard to say," he shrugged. "I didn't even know I was going to grow one. So how should I know if I'm going to shave it off?"

 

 

NOTES: What do Dave Parker, Phil Niekro and Gordon Pladson have in common? They are the only people who have been struck out by Nino Espinosa in 34-1/3 innings this year.... The Phillies are 1-4, with three no-decisions this year against rookie starting pitchers they have never faced before. They beat the Cardinals' Jim Otten. They lost to Mark Bomback and John Pacella of the Mets, and Charlie Leibrandt and Bruce Berenyi of the Reds. San Diego's Juan Eichelberger, Montreal's Bill Gullickson and Houston's Pladson came away with no-decisions.... Nolan Ryan, who starts tonight against Dick Ruthven, has won only once on the road this year. And his four wins at home are all shutouts.