Reading Eagle - July 31, 1980
Phillies Strike It Rich With Moreland, Smith
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Most major league teams consider themselves extremely fortunate if they come up with one rookie a season.
The Philadelphia Phillies struck it rich in 1980. They’ve come up with two – Lonnie Smith and Keith Moreland.
Moreland, who helped the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-4 triumph over the Houston Astros Wednesday night, was the team’s No. 7 draft pick in the 1975 selection meeting.
After just five professional seasons, the 26-year-old player has matured into a major league receiver. He is hitting .333, throwing out runners, handling pitchers like a veteran, and has given the Phillies a solid backup to veteran Bob Boone.
If Boone doesn’t snap out of his protracted hitting slump, Moreland is liable to graduate into a first stringer.
Smith is the young outfielder who his hitting .349, and has stolen 17 bases. He’s filling the void left by the disablement of Greg Luzinski.
The Astros-Phillies contest was up for grabs in the fifth inning when Moreland lashed a bases-loaded single.
The single scored two and sent the Phillies ahead 4-3 and on their way to the 6-4 victory over the National League West Division leading Astros.
Garry Maddox followed with another two-run single and the game was in the bag for the Phillies and Dick Ruthven, who earned his 10th triumph in 17 decisions.
Ruthven only went seven innings in the intense heat, but reliever Tug McGraw came on to stifle the Astros and was credited with his ninth save.
Phillies’ manager Dallas Green wasn’t apologizing for sending Moreland out there against a flame thrower such as Houston’s Nolan Ryan.
“We’ll just go the way I feel,” said the Phillies field boss.
Green pointed out that Moreland was hitting .333, and Boone .223.
“I don’t think that needs an explanation. Moreland is swinging the bat better than the other guy. It’s that basic.”
Green said he as satisfied with Moreland’s defense, and the receiver’s handling of pitchers.
“His throwing is improved and I don’t think anybody I taking liberties with him on the bases. He’s in the game and he’s more comfortable now.”
Another star for the Phillies was right-fielder Bake McBride, who ran his string of hits to seven after singles on his first two at-bats. At that point he was 9 for 11 and 11 for 14. McBride is now hitting .314, despite playing on two bad knees and a damaged hip.
“He wants to play,” Green explained. “I’ve asked him a couple of times if he wanted to sit out and he said he wanted to play. It’s just super the way he’s doing the job on those knees and that hip.”
The Astros took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on a single by Craig Reynolds after a single, fielder’s choice and two walks had loaded the bases on Ruthven.
The Phillies came right back and tied it in the bottom of the inning on McBride’s second single, a walk to Mike Schmidt and a single by Maddox and double by Manny Trillo.
The Astros went ahead in the fifth on a single by Jeff Leonard, Ruthven’s two-base pickoff error, and a single by Joe Morgan.
Then came the Phillies’ big fifth that clinched the game.
Schmidt had to leave the game in the fifth with a pulled groin muscle and it wasn’t known how long the third baseman would be out, if at all.
The Astros got the real bad news after the game, when they learned that ace pitcher J.R. Richard had undergone an operation at a Houston hospital for removal of a blood clot in his neck.
Richard had collapsed Wednesday during a workout at the Astrodome.
The Phillies won the season series from the Astros, 9-3, their best record against Houston since an 11-7 year in 1967.
McBride’s seven straight hits were three shy of the club record of 10 by Ed Delehanty in 1897, and five short of the major league record (12).