Wilmington Morning News - July 31, 1980

Moreland boosts Phils past Astros


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent


PHILADELPHIA – Nobody would blame Keith Moreland if he stuck out his chest and announced he wanted to be the Phillies' No. 1 catcher.


After all, when you're spraying hits all over the ball yard, hitting .333 and handling pitchers with the poise of a veteran, it might be hard to stay in your place.


Moreland ripped last night's game open with a bases-loaded double in the fifth inning off Nolan Ryan and propelled the Phillies to a 6-4 victory over the reeling Houston Astros.


An hour after the Phils sent the 31,342 Veterans Stadium paying customers home happy, Moreland told reporters he has no thoughts of taking Bob Boone's job from him.


"I'm just the back-up catcher," said the red-headed Texan who has hit in six straight games, a .529 clip. "I know if we are going to win the National League East the catcher is going to be Bob Boone. When I get the chance, I just go out and play as hard as I can.”


Dick Ruthven, last night's winning pitcher who improved his record to 10-7 with relief help from Tug McGraw, was sitting near Moreland in the trainer's room.


"How many rookies have you seen with his poise?" asked Ruthven. "He goes up there with the bases loaded against one of the best pitchers in baseball and and rips a single. His talent is awesome."


The victory gave the Phils a final 9-3 record against the Astros this year and a 5-2 log on this important 13-game homestand.


For Ryan, the setback was the second in three decisions against the Phils and left him with a 5-8 record. He has not won since June 19.


Phils' Manager Dallas Green, who has started Moreland the past two games, says no justification is needed for his choice.


"One guy is hitting .333 and the other guy (Boone) is hitting .222," said Green. "I don't think an explanation is needed. One guy is swinging the bat better than the other."


Green, who used Boone in the late innings last night, says Moreland has improved greatly on defense.


"He has a tendency to get a little lazy with his throws," said Green, "but he seems much more comfortable behind the plate."


Green added that before Mike Schmidt suffered a strained right groin that may force him to miss tomorrow night's game against Cincinnati, Moreland was an ideal fifth-place hitter behind Schmidt.


Ruthven, who lasted until the Astros scored their fourth run with nobody out in eighth, said he was lucky to survive the night.


"I kept the ball down and hoped they would hit it," said Rufus. "I might have had trouble striking my wife out tonight. The ball was moving, but I didn't have much on it. It was what I call a basic Tommy John approach."


For the second straight night the Phillies stormed from behind to wipe out a Houston lead.


After falling behind 3-2 in the top of the fifth, the Phils scored four times in the bottom of the inning, sending Ryan to the showers.


Ruthven, who had to fail out of the way of inside Ryan pitches earlier, lined a doubled to right-center to start the fifth. After Lonnie Smith fanned, Pete Rose walked and Bake McBride, who had hit safely seven consecutive times, flied out to center. Ryan walked Schmidt to load the bases.


Keith Moreland followed with a single to right, Ruthven and Rose scoring.


The throw beat Rose to the plate, but home-plate umpire Fred Brock-lander ruled that catcher Alan Ashby missed the tag. Rose squirmed back to slap his hand on the plate and was ruled safe. Ashby became so incensed he had to be restrained by other umpires and his teammates.


On the play, Schmidt raced to third and was forced to leave the game because of what was thought to be a strained right groin.


After Garry Maddox ripped a single to left – moments after first baseman Danny Heep dropped his foul pop near the stands for an error – scoring pinch-runner John Vukovich and Moreland, Houston Manager Billy Virdon replaced Ryan with Bert Roberge. Roberge gave up a single to Manny Trillo, but got out of the jam when Larry Bowa flied to center field.


The Astros took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when .205 hitter Craig Reynolds stroked a bases-loaded single through the middle.


The Phils pulled even in the bottom of the inning when Maddox singled McBride home from second and Trillo doubled home Schmidt.


A Ruthven error on a pickoff attempt cost him a run in the fifth. Jeff Leonard opened with a single to right and dashed to third on Ruthven's wild throw. He scored on Joe Morgan's one-out single to right.


Doubles by Jose Cruz and Cesar Cedeno produced the Astros' fourth run with nobody out in the eighth, forcing Green to summon McGraw. McGraw got his ninth save and his second in two nights.


EXTRA POINTS – Moreland has hit in six straight games... The opposition began July with 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts... Since opponents have stolen 13 bases and been caught 16 times... Boone has gunned down eight of the last 11... Ryan has a 5-4 lifetime record in 17 appearances against the Phillies... Ruthven has a 7-11 lifetime record against Houston... The Phils take today off, then host Cincinnati in a three-game series beginning tomorrow night... Bob Walk will face Bill Bonham in the opener, with Steve Carlton going against Mike LaCoss on Saturday and Nino Espinosa vs. Bruce Berenyi on Sunday.

Richard collapses, undergoes surgery


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – Houston Astros' right-hander J. R. Richard, who collapsed while working out in the Astrodome yesterday, underwent emergency surgery at Houston's Methodist Hospital for removal of a blood clot which developed in an artery in his neck.


The Astros made the announcement here last night during their game with the Phillies.


An Astros spokesman said surgery was done by a team of vascular surgeons in Houston "immediately."


Tal Smith, Houston president and general manager, said after last night's game that he had heard Richard was in surgery at that time (10:20 p.m.).


"I have been in contact with the hospital and was told that before J.R. went into the operating room he was awake, alert and cooperative. All vital signs were good,'5 said Smith. "He was doing as well as could be expected."


Smith added that the urgent concern was the removal of the clot.


"If all goes well, we will be able to talk later about his availability as a pitcher this year," he said.


Richard, who has been on the 21-day disabled list since July 16 wjfh what was diagnosed as a blockage in an artery in his right shoulder, was working out in the Astrodome yesterday morning when he collapsed and was taken to Methodist Hospital. He remained conscious and was admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital where the clot was discovered.


Richard owns a 10-4 record with a 1.90 earned run average, tops among National League starters, and pitched the first two innings of the All-Star Game in Los Angeles on July 8.