Camden Courier-Post - July 6, 1980

Phils go under to Kaat, miss out on tie for lead


By Hal Bodley, Gannett News Service


ST. LOUIS – Don't let this get out, but, as the Phillies staggered to a 6-1 loss to St Louis last night, Dallas Green found himself rooting for the winning pitcher.


That's right, the skipper secretly turned traitor as craggy old Jim Kaat mowed down the Phillies with the expertise that only a competitor with his experience could muster on such a sweltering night.


While most 41-year-olds chose to sit by a fan or avoid the 100-degree heat some other way, Kaat marched to the mound in steamy Busch Memorial Stadium and promptly gave his former teammates a lesson in pitching. And while he was at it he might have dropped a subtle hint that the Phils made a drastic mistake last spring when they shipped him off to the New York Yankees.


Randy Lerch, the Phils' cocky young left-hander, wasn't around long enough to watch Kaat's entire show. Lerch, who fell back into what has become his 1980 pattern, gave up five runs on seven hits before Green replaced him with Lerrin LaGrow to start the sixth inning.


Lerch, now 3-11 with a 4.41 earned run average, obviously didn't have it from the beginning. The Cards, who fell behind, 1-0, in the first inning on an unearned run, quickly gave Kaat a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the inning and after that it was a breeze.


Kaat, who came here after being released by the Yankees in April, polished off the Phillies in an hour and 29 minutes. It was supposed to be a night game, but Kitty got Pete Rose to ground out with the final out before it got dark.


The setback kept the Phils from moving into a first-place tie with Montreal in the National League East. The Expos lost to New York, 7-5, last night and remain a full game ahead of Philadelphia.


"That old son-of-a-gun is a great competitor," said Green of Kaat. "I'll tell you the truth, he had me rooting for him at the end. He pitched a helluva baseball game tonight. Maybe some of our pitchers ought to take a lesson from the way Nino Espinosa, Bob Sykes and Kaat have pitched the last two days. They would realize you don't have to powder the damn ball all the time. If you don't walk people, you're going to stay in some games."


Green was referring to Lerch, who walked Cards' leadoff batter Bobby Bonds, twice. Bonds, who opened the bottom of the first with a walk on four pitches, easily scored on Keith Hernandez' single to left after Garry Templeton's ground-rule double to center.


"Bonds has been in a hitting slump and you know he is more selective up there," said Green. "But I'll tell you the truth. He couldn't have hit any of those pitches Randy threw him in the first inning if he tried."


Lerch had pitched well in three of his four previous starts and Green thought the left-hander was getting in a good groove. Last night, he reverted back to his old form.


Kaat, like Espinosa and Sykes in Friday's game, did not overpower anyone. He struck out just two batters, spaced six hit and was aided by three double plays en route to his 267th victory. He is 3-5 with St Louis.


"I was really pumped up for this start," said Kaat "In fact I think it probably hurt me, because I was so pumped up in the first inning I was working too fast and was trying to overthrow. It's kinda like when you have to run a mile and you sprint the first hundred yards. You run out of gas.


"I was fortunate because they hit a lot of first and second pitches, and they hit the ball at people. It was almost as if we were destined to win that game."


Kaat, in his 22nd major league season, says he seldom thinks about a specific start before he reports to the ballpark. But today I couldn't get the game off my mind," be admitted. "It was a long day for me to say the least I'm satisfied the way I pitched, but I think I pitched better in a couple of my starts against Pittsburgh. The Phillies hit a lot of balls on the nose tonight, but they were fly balls at people."


Knowing the Phillies so well, Kaat said, made his job even tougher.


"You think about personalities more, about the good friends and all that. Usually as a pitcher I try not to even look at the hitter, I just want to look at the catcher. Overall, I think it was probably an advantage they had not faced me under game conditions."

Walk conquers his nervousness, awe of majors


By Hal Bodley, Gannett News Service


ST. LOUIS – Dallas Green didn't march Bob Walk into his office and say, "pitch well tonight or you're on your way back to Oklahoma City."


Green didn't say anything. He knew the time had come for the young pitcher to produce, and Bob Walk knew it.


So, on June 25 the 21-year-old righthander bought some time with the Phillies' varsity with a superb effort against Montreal. He allowed just four hits over eight innings and just one unearned run. That run kept him from getting the decision in a 2-1, 10-inning Phils' victory.


Just to prove it wasn't a fluke, Walk followed up that start with a 5-2 victory over New York that raised his record to 3-0. Then, last Thursday night in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cardinals here, he pitched his first complete game in the majors, a five-hit, 8-1 victory.


"The start against Montreal was really make-or-break for him," Manager Green admitted the other day. "We just couldn't continue to send him out there."


In Walk's previous start, at San Diego on June 19, he didn't get past the third inning, allowing three runs on four hits as his earned run average zoomed to 7.96.


Newspaper headline writers were having a field day because the young Californian was walking so many batters. In his first six starts after being recalled in late May, he has issued 15 walks in 26 innings.


But in his saving performance against Montreal he walked just four batters and against New York only one while striking out seven as he lowered his ERA to 5.36. Walk now has a 4.59 ERA.


The problems the Phillies have bad: with their pitching staff this season have been mentioned here many times. Green's desperate need for a healthy arm forced him to promote Walk from Oklahoma City, even though the pitcher had just three years of professional experience.


"The first couple of starts out, I lost my composure," said Walk, who had a 12-7 record and 2.24 ERA at Reading of the Eastern League last year. "I think I lost my intensity. The hardest thing for a pitcher to deal with mentally when you get to the big leagues is making yourself realize that you're on the same level with the other guys. The tendency is to assume that they're better and you try to pitch up to them.


"In a sense, I was afraid to let the batters hit the ball. I guess in the back of my mind every hit was going to be a home run. So, I tried to make each pitch an exceptional one. When you do that the chances are you're either going to strike the guy out or walk him.


“I realize I'm not going to strike out everybody. So, I'm trying to make guys hit the ball. We've got all those Gold Gloves out there, right? So, why not let them catch it?"


In Walk's start at San Diego, Green was openly critical.


"He grew up near here (Van Nuys, Calif.) and lots of his family and friends were at the game, but I didn't like the way he pitched. I can understand why he would be nervous, but I think it is time he got over that."


Pitching coach Herm Starrette had always considered Walk a fast worker, but once he arrived in Philadelphia on May 26, the delivery seemed to have slowed down.


"We talked about it, and in those two good starts he pitched quickly," said Starrette, "I think when a pitcher works quickly it helps everyone on the team."


"I never pitched that slowly in the minors," said Walk. "I got op here and things went a little rocky and I started to think, ‘Oh, God, what do I have to do now?'" he explained. "In the minors, I was not too slow, I never took much time between pitches."


Green, a former pitcher himself, admits it is difficult for someone with no more experience than Walk has to jump from double-A to the majors without triple-A experience.


"Bobby Walk has done a great job," Green said as he prepared for the much-needed All-Star break. "He finally learned that major league pitching isn't as hard as it looks if you just get the ball over the plate and work more quickly. He has pitched within himself the last two times out."


The Phils picked Walk in the fifth round of the January 1976 draft, but he didn't sign. They drafted him again the following June and signed him.


"He was the most improved pitcher on our staff at Reading," said Manager Jim Snyder, who is now piloting Oklahoma City. "He has command of all his pitches. All he has to do is stay down with that fastball, because it is a good one."


"When the Phillies called me up, the enormity of the whole thing got to me." said Walk. "I had trouble sleeping. I couldn't think of anything but what I would do when I got to the mound. Now, when I am away from the ballpark, I can I think of other things. I feel I'm beginning to get a grip on my job."


"But nobody's position is cemented at my level. I'm still the low man here and if I got sent back to Oklahoma City tommorow, I wouldn't feel that bad. Anyway, those things are out of my control. All I can take care of is what's between the white lines. Someone else makes the decision."


When Walk was in the minors, he said he seldom thought about baseball when he was away from the park.


"That's the way it is here now," he said after his most recent victory. "The nervousness is gone now. I just go out and do my job, which is the way it should have been in the beginning."

A.L. banks on new look to snap jinx


LOS ANGELES (AP) – Battling a dry spell which has lasted 17 years, the American League takes a new-look team into the 1980 All-Star Game against the National League Tuesday night in Dodger Stadium.


Half of the players on the 28-man AL team will be making their All-Star debuts, hoping to snap a hex which has seen the Americans manage only one victory in this series since 1963. The Nationals have won eight straight games and 16 of the last 17 contests. The only AL victory over that stretch was a 6-4 decision in 1971 at Detroit. Overall, the NL holds a 31-18-1 edge.


Trying to break the NL strangle-i hold, the Americans will use some fresh faces. Only two pitchers on Manager Earl Weaver's eight-man All-Star staff have appeared in these games before. They are New York Yankee teammates Tommy John and Rich Gossage.


Weaver's other hurlers are all new to this midseason gathering of baseball's best players. They are starters Larry Gura of Kansas City, Steve Stone of Baltimore, Rick Honeycutt of Seattle and Dave Stieb of Toronto, and relievers Ed Farmer of Chicago and Tom Burgmeier of Boston.


The National League, on the other hand, has assembled a veteran All-Star pitching staff, headed by 13-game winner Steve Carlton of the Phillies, the top winner in either league. Carlton was the NL starter last season and was the starter and winner of the 1969 game.


Backing him are Jerry Reuss of Los Angeles, who started the 1975 game for the NL and has authored the season's only no-hitter, Jim Bibby of Pittsburgh, J.R. Richard of Houston and Bob Welch of Los Angeles, Bruce Sutter of Chicago, the winning pitcher in the last two All-Star games, and Kent Tekulve of Pittsburgh.


Bibby, Richard, Tekulve and Welch each were picked for the first time as was Ed Whitson of San Francisco, named to replace teammate Vida Blue.


Three of the eight AL starters elected in the fan vote will not be available because of injuries. They are left fielder Jim Rice of the Boston Red Sox, second baseman Paul Molitor of the Milwaukee Brewers and third baseman George Brett of the Kansas City Royals. All three will be with the club but have been replaced on the AL roster.


The other AL starters are Rod Carew of California at first base, New York's Bucky Dent at shortstop, Boston's Fred Lynn and Reggie Jackson of New York in the outfield, and Carlton Fisk of Boston catching.


Besides the six pitchers, other first-time AL stars are catcher Lance Parrish of Detroit, shortstops Alan Trammell of Detroit and Robin Yount of Milwaukee, and outfielders Ken Landreaux of Minnesota, Al Bumbry of Baltimore, Rickey Henderson of Oakland, Ben Oglivie of Milwaukee and Jorge Orta of Cleveland.


Completing the AL team are Kansas City catcher Darrell Porter, first baseman Cecil Cooper of Milwaukee, second basemen Bobby Grich of California and Willie Randolph of New York, third basemen Buddy Bell of Texas and Graig Nettles of New York, and outfielder Al Oliver of Texas.


The NL starting team includes four members of the host Los Angeles Dodgers. They are first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and outfielder Reggie Smith. Also elected to the starting eight were third baseman Mike Schmidt of Phillies, outfielders Dave Parker of Pittsburgh, the MVP in this game a year ago, and Dave Kingman of Chicago and catcher Johnny Bench of Cincinnati. Schmidt, out with a hamstring pull, was replaced on the NL squad by Cincinnati third baseman Ray Knight.


Phillies first baseman Pete Rose, appearing on his 14th All-Star squad, heads a list of 12 reserves added to the NL team.


Also picked for the squad were catchers Gary Carter of Montreal and John Stearns of the New York Mets, first baseman Keith Hernandez of St. Louis, second baseman Phil Garner of Pittsburgh, shortstop Dave Conception of Cincinnati, third baseman Ken Reitz of St Louis and outfielders Jose Cruz of Houston, Ken Griffey of Cincinnati, George Hendrick of St Louis, Dale Murphy of Atlanta and Dave Winfield of San Diego.


For the NL, Cruz, Murphy, Reitz and Knight will be making their All-Star debuts. The rest of the team has played in at least one of these games before.


This will be the third straight West Coast All-Star game following 1978 in San Diego and 1979 in Seattle. It marks the first time since 1959 that the Dodgers have hosted the All-Stars and they plan a colorful pre-game program to be presented by Walt Disney productions. The show includes 2,000 performers with fireworks, marching bands and a full cast of Disneyland characters.


The game will start at 5:40 p.m., PDT, to accommodate prime time television in the East and will be broadcast by ABC-TV (Channel 6) and CBS radio.