Oakland Tribune - June 11, 1980

Teammate blames Knepper for loss


By Nick Peters, Tribune Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – One teammate laid the blame for the Giants' latest loss at the feet of pitcher Bob Knepper.


But it 'wasn't all Knepper's fault. He had help Tuesday night in losing 4-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies before 32.635 spectators at Veterans Stadium.


With a 3-0, our pitcher should have been more aggressive, said a Giant regular, who asked to remain anonymous. If he had really gone after it, everyone else would have stayed on their toes.”


Knepper did indeed 'contribute to his own demise. Now 0-7 on the road, and 4-8 overall, the left-hander yielded home runs to Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox and hit pitcher Bob Walk with a pitch.


But then there was also Terry Whitfield.


On a night when he collected three hits, Whitfield cost the Giants dearly when he aborted a sixth-inning threat by being picked off second base.


The Giants were leading 3-2 entering the sixth end Whitfield led off the inning with a double to right-center. After Jack Clark walked, relief ace Kevin Saucier replaced Walk.


It was an obvious bunt situation, but the Giants didn't execute. The first pitch to Darrell Evans was high fastball for a ball, catcher Bob Boone's throw to second almost catching Whitfield napping.


The next pitch also was a ball unbuntable according to Evans, and this time Whitfield was leaning too far. Boone fired to shortstop Larry Bowa and the careless Giant was nailed on a throw to third baseman Mike Schmidt.


Saucier worked out of the inning unscathed, but Giant Manager Dave Bristol left Whitfield anything but unscathed after the game.


“Terry was caught in No Man's Land – it killed our momentum,” Bristol said. “That was the play of the game, Terry sometimes tries too hard and it ends up hurting him.


"I was anticipating a little too much,” Whitfield admitted. “I tried to get a good jump. I Was too careless, too tight. I haven't been relaxing like I should lately."


Bowa had a hunch the pickoff play would work because Whitfield was fidgety at second base. “When Saucier came in. I went to the mound and told Boonie (Boone) to keep his eyes open because Whitfield was really getting out there," Bowa explained.


Saucier, raising his record to 3-0 with the victory, did his part by making it difficult for Evans to bunt I knew he wanted to lay it down, so I was throwing high fastballs, he said.


Luzinski led off the bottom of the fateful sixth with-a walk and Maddox, virtually golfed a 0-1 pitch over the screen in left, turning a 3-2 Giants lead into a a 4-3 deficit.


“I really don’t know where the ball was, but when you come up enough times, you'll get some, of those," said Maddox. “I think it was a low-and-in fastball. He got it where he wanted and I happened to get the head of the bat on the ball.


What looked like a good pitch from the press box was not, according to Knepper. It was a mistake to Maddox because he's a lowball hitter," Knepper noted. I wanted it to be up-and-in and it was down and over the middle.”


Knepper said he wasn't comfortable with the 3-0, first-inning lead “because I felt lousy warming up and I didn't have good stuff.” It didn’t take long for him to prove it.


Luzinski, who had gone hitless against Knepper in 11 at bats last season, launched a 2:1 pitch into the left field seats for his 13th homer, making it 3-1 in the second. He didnt hit No. 13 until August last year.


I tried to get it up-and-in to Luzinski and I couldn’t,” Knepper said. “It was a fastball right over the plate. It was a struggle all the way, and against the Phillies you cant do that.”


Hitting Walk with a pitch was equally costly. Bowa opened the fifth with a single and Walk was struck with one out. Lonnie Smiths walk loaded the bases and Pete Rose’s sacrifice fly cut the Giant edge to 3-2.


After Maddox’s homer provided the winning run, Ron Reed held the Giants hitless.


GIANT NOTES: Ed Halicki, pitching for the first time in two weeks, retired the five Phillies he faced in what was regarded as a showcase appearance for Philadelphia management. “I hope that shows them (Phillies) that I don’t have a sore arm, which is what people think when you don't pitch,” said Hallcki.