Wilmington Evening Journal - June 11, 1980

Phillies’ bullpen spells r-e-l-i-e-f again


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Green has settled on a new formula for Phillies' success. "Give me six, then give me the ball" is the manager's advice to all his starting pitchers except Steve Carlton.


From the mere mortals, Green is happy to get a good six-inning effort before turning to a very effective bullpen.


Last night's 4-3 Phillies' victory over the San Francisco Giants at Veterans Stadium was the latest example of a maligned bullpen that has silenced the critics with one strong outing after another.


"The bullpen's done a super job the last three-four weeks," said Green after Kevin Saucier picked up his third victory and Ron Reed his third save, both in relief of rookie Bob Walk, who lasted five innings and left trailing 3-2.


"Kevin's been pitching super and Ronnie's done a heckuva job for us lately."


Underline the lately. Reed was horrendous his first few outings, rolling up a 5.73 earned run average that had both Reed and the coaching staff shaking their heads in bewilderment.


But Reed, who pitched three innings of hitless relief last night to lower his ERA to 2.57, has turned it around. He has a 1.13 ERA in his last 13 relief appearances, covering 24 innings. He's given up just 15 hits and struck out 17 in that span.


And he's also lost his tongue, a common malady among Phillies' plyers of late.


"Talk to Garry Maddox; he won the game, not me," said Reed of the hitting hero whose two-run homer proved the difference. "And Mr. Green is giving out the quotes. I just do the best job I can whenever I go out there. That's all I have to say.”


Reed went on to say that certain media types didn't like the way he was pitching when, in truth, those media types were merely reporting Green's words. It was the manager, not the press, who was concerned with Reed's early ineffectiveness.


"Ronnie wasn't throwing the ball well a month ago," Green said. "He knew it, I knew it and the hitters knew it."


As for his formula, which smacks of Chuck Tanner's winning ways with the world-champion Pittsburgh Pirates last year, Green nodded.


"A strong six innings from our starters, that's what we're aiming for," he said. "Give it all you've got for six innings. I can go to the bullpen quickly now because I've got enough guys doing the job. The bullpen's in good shape. Nobody's near the overworked stage."


That was a common Danny Ozark failing the past few seasons when "hot hands" overruled cool thinking, but that's ancient history.


Green says he's confident to hand the relievers the ball, whether it's a kid like Dickie Noles or Saucier or veterans like Tug McGraw or Reed.


"I've said all along that Kevin and Dickie could do the job," said Green. "Like everybody, they'll have their off days. But Sauce is not afraid to take the ball anytime you give it to him. He wants to get the Phillies a win more than anything."


Saucier is the Phils' left-handed short man. He's pitched 7 innings in his last eight appearances, allowing just three hits and no runs. His ERA is 2.05.


Last night Saucier was waved in after starter Walk had put two men on with nobody out via Terry Whitfield's double and a walk to Jack Clark in the sixth inning.


Giants Manager Dave Bristol then had cleanup hitter Darrell Evans bunting.


"That shows you how smart I am," said Green. "I told 'em, 'Don't worry about the bunt."


Particularly with Whitfield on second. Catcher Bob Boone called a pitchout, trying – and failing – to pick Whitfield off the base.


But Boone has heard the "If at first you don't succeed" adage a few times himself and tried again. This time Whitfield was caught so far off the bag on Boone's peg to Larry Bowa that Bowa's throw to third easily caught him for the first out.


"The key play of the game was the guy getting picked off," said Saucier, who then watched second baseman Manny Trillo make a fine pickup in the hole and force Clark at second. Milt May struck out to end the inning.


Saucier branded preseason reports that the bullpen would prove the Phillies' Achilles heel "a bunch of crap," then chimed in with Green's litany of praise.


"Everybody's doing their own thing," said Saucier, a resident flake who is murder on left-handed batters and thin-skinned teammates. "Dallas is doing a good job working us around and everybody is contributing in his own way.


"If the starters give us five-six strong innings and then give it to the bullpen, that's all we ask. Most of the time the bullpen's been doing the job. Not just one guy; everybody's doing their thing."


And Maddox, rarely considered a long-ball hitter, did his thing in the sixth against losing pitcher Bob Knepper, golfing an ankle-high pitch over the left-field fence with Greg Luzinski on board to put the Phils ahead to stay.


Luzinski, who had hit his first lifetime homer off Knepper in the second, walked his three other times up.


"I made a mistake to Maddox," said Knepper, who is 0-7 on the road (where the Giants are 8-24) and 4-8 overall. "He's a lowball hitter and I should've pitched him up and in. As for Luzinski, I've had pretty good luck with him before tonight."


Maddox agreed. "I just got the head of the bat on the ball," Maddox said of his fourth homer. "It was bad for him and good for us. With a pitch on my shoetops, I'm sure he was hoping to get a ground ball out of it or at least keep it in the park."


The Giants got three first-inning runs off Walk, keyed by rookie Rich Murray's two-run double. Those were the first two major-league runs batted in for the kid brother of the Orioles' Eddie Murray.


The Phils got their first run on Luzinski's 126th Vet homer and another on Pete Rose's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fifth. Maddox's homer iced the cake and made Saucier 3-0.


Reed's three innings of relief proved the wisdom, of Green's “give-me-six" philosophy, even if the manager and reliever might not be seeing eye-to-eye for a few more outings yet.


EXTRA INNINGS - Yes, Virginia, Mike Schmidt does have 1,000 career hits... The error on Schmidt's hot grounder in Monday night's rainathon was changed to a single by the official scorer, giving Schmidt one hit in his last 13 at-bats, but still good for an even 1,000... Knepper came in with a 1.90 ERA in seven career appearances vs. the Phils. He was 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA against them last season.