Allentown Morning Call - June 15, 1980

Schmidt chases Babe, Roger; Carlton chases Carlton


By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA – If all else fails this season at Veterans Stadium, we will still have The Great Chase. Or The Great Chases. As usual, Mike Schmidt is chasing Babe and Roger, and Steve Carlton is chasing Steve Carlton in a manner he hasn't done since 1977. 


Schmidt hit home run No. 20 last night and Carlton notched win No. 11 (against two losses) as the Phillies defeated San Diego 3-1. Check your calendars, sports fans; it's only June 15. 


To begin with the more noticeable, or at least the more-publicized chase, Schmidt is almost dead even with Ruth's 60-homer pace of 1927 and Maris' 61-homer pace of 1961. They both hit No. 20 on June 11. Schmidt is now five ahead of teammate Greg Luzinski – who hit No. 15 last night – in the National League derby. 


Schmidt's homer last night came as he led off the fifth, his first chance to get a real live at-bat. He had been walked by Steve Mura in his first two at-bats, a stratagem that Luzinski spoiled by homering to left-center after a Schmidt walk in the third. 


Schmidt is also ahead of the pace he set last year when talk of the Ruthian and Marisian pace was hot stuff, too; Schmidt didn't park No. 20 last year, until June 20. However, after clubbing 13 homers in July to reach 36, Schmidt fell off the last two months and finished with 45, still his best single-season total. 


Don't ask Schmidt to talk about it, though, because he doesn't want to and no one can blame him. Maris worried so much in '61 that his hair started falling out and Schmidt likes his hair. Besides, all Schmidt wanted to talk about last night was Carlton, whose chase has more chance of succeeding than Schmidt's.


"The thing about Steve Carlton is that he keeps himself in such good shape and avoids injury so well that almost anything is possible," said Schmidt of Carlton. 


What is possible is that a petition may soon be drawn up to have Carlton banned. Put Willie Montanez's name on it. Carlton fanned the former Phillie three times last night, each strikeout ending with the familiar bail-out, one-armed swing of the helpless. 


Silent Steve didn't get the chance to see Willie a fourth time because manager Dallas Green lifted him for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth with the Phils leading 3-1. We will never know what Carlton thought about the move, but Green said it was nothing unusual. He wanted to get an insurance run (he didn't because Keith Moreland grounded out and he saw the opportunity to "steal an inning or two of rest" for Carlton since he'll probably be getting only three days of rest between starts from now until the All-Star game. 


"What Steve Carlton is out there to do is win," agreed catcher Bob Boone. "Steve's like Pete Rose. He has great concentration. He's only going to worry about the things over which he has control, and he's not in control of changing pitchers.”


In his eight innings, Carlton had 13 strikeouts, just one short of his record as a Phillie. He got everyone in the Padre lineup at least once except Kurt Bevacqua and former teammate Dave Cash, whose single in the eighth drove in the only Padre run. 


Carlton is chasing, of course, his transcendent 1972 season, one of the best any pitcher ever had since Barney Rubble threw the first pebbleball to Fred Flintstone. Carlton was 27-10 with one of the worst teams in baseball that season but was only 8-6 at this point. However, he put together a 15-game winning streak to reach the 27. 


Carlton is a long way from that but he now has won six in a row. He leads the league in strikeouts (118 in 116 innings) and wins and is second in ERA to R. Richard (1.50) with a 1.77. 


More incredibly, Carlton has not had one bad outing this season, and there is probably no one in baseball who can make that claim. He has given up four earned runs only once and three earned runs three times, and the rest has been two, one, or zero (two shutouts). He has not gone less than six innings in any of his 15 starts.


"Cy Young had to look something like that, didn't he?" asked Green rhetorically. "And I didn't think his fastball was what it was in other games. It's that slider." 


It is that slider. 


"I've never seen anybody with that kind of stuff," said Boone. "I didn't catch him in '72 but it doesn't matter because no one has ever been pitching the way Steve is now." 


Just then, reliever Tug McGraw, who got the side out quickly in the ninth, called to Boone and laughed.


"I told Tug I wouldn't talk about Carlton anymore," said Boone with a rueful smiie. 


But it was hard not to. 


NOTES: With the trade deadline midnight tonight, it appears unlikely the Phils will make a deal. But general manager Paul Owens has shown in the past he can be a mean man in the 11th hour phone call department.

The Phils had their chance to stay close, but couldn’t


By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


With Larry Parrish (right wrist) and Ellis Valentine (fractured left cheekbone) of the Expos and Tim Foli of the Pirates (right leg) on the disabled list, and with Foli's teammate. Bill Madlock, ordered to stand in the corner and write "I Shall Not Stick My Glove In An Umpire's Face" a hundred times on the blackboard, it was obviously time for the Phillies to make hay in the National League East. Instead, the Phillies have spent the last two weeks making ca-ca. 


We heard, ad nauseum, how injuries and Dame Fate conspired to turn the Phillies' golden coach into a pumpkin last season, and how we should just wait to see how the Pirates and Expos handled adversity. Well, a glance at the Eastern standings furnishes at least an early-season answer to that question. Going into last night's games, Montreal is on top with the Pirates just two games back and the Phils another 2½ games behind the Bucs. 


During Foli's 15-day absence (he was 'taken off the D.L. on Friday) the Pirates played with either rookie Rudy Law or Dale Berra at shortstop. Though Law has promise and Berra's father was a good hitter, neither player is as solid as Foli. Also, Phil Garner missed a couple of games during that stretch and Law had to move over and play second. And now Madlock, the two-time National League batting champion whose acquisition, it can be argued, was the major reason the Pirates won it all last season, has been missing the last nine games with six more still to serve on his suspension. 


It would have been an excellent time for the Pirates to take a brief vacation from the divisional race, but they didn't. They hung in there and went 9-6 in the Foli-less stretch and show no signs of missing Madlock, either. 


The Pirates, in fact, would still be in first if not for any even more incredible streak by the Expos, who seem to forget that they're supposed to have a good enough regular eight but not much of a bench, certainly not a bench that could sub for a Parrish or a Valentine." But since May 11 Montreal has made up nine games in the standings on the Pirates with a 21-5 record, and Friday night's win over the Dodgers was its 10th in a row. 


What, in the meanwhile, have the Phillies been doing the last two weeks? Well, starting with the finale of a four-game series with the Pirates at home on May 29, the day that Foli went on the D.L., the Phillies have gone 6-9, getting only a split in eight games at home. It was the time to stay close, even with Montreal's hot streak over which they had no control, but the Phillies could not do it. And with the pitching staff they have this season, the Phils do not appear to be a club capable of going on a long winning streak, so they better not get too far behind. 


Well, what do the Pirates and Expos have that they can withstand the loss of a few regulars and the Phillies cannot? 


Ignoring the obvious – the starting pitching – both clubs have simply been outhitting everybody else. Going into Friday night's win over Houston, Pittsburgh's left-field was hitting .825. And neither Lee Lacy (.435) nor Mike Easier (.390) was considered an every-day player at the beginning of the season. Their offense has enabled manager Chuck Tanner to platoon another successful tandem at first base – Bill Robinson (.287) and Willie Stargell, who merely had a pair of two-run home runs, a double and an RBI single on Friday night. You put reliever Kent Tekulve back in the groove with this team and you have something. 


And it's been an underrated bench that's fueled the Expos recently, also. Parrish goes out but Ken Macha comes in and is hitting .328. Valentine goes out but Jerry White comes in and hits .326 and gets late-inning defensive help from Rowland Office. And Ron LeFlore, an offseason acquisition (like Office) by a team that refused to stand pat even though it came within two games of the Eastern Division title, has been one of the hittest hitters in baseball lately, raising his average to .254 from the low 200s it had been at two weeks ago. 


And then there's ancient Woodie Fryman who merely has a 1.50 ERA as the bullpen stopper. The Expos picked him up two years ago when he was either 37 or 39, depending on the source. Could you imagine the Phillies having the guts, of the foresight, to make a trade that would help them NOW instead of in 1990 presumably the year that Randy Lerch begins to "come around. 


Look, everyone knows about the Pirates, but the Expos must be stopped, too. It doesn't seem right to have a baseball champion from Canada before we even have a woman President. But it doesn't look like the Phillies have the bench or the pitching to do it.

Word on the East Side has Newhard replacing Trotter (excerpt)


By Gordon Smith, Call Sports Writer



WHY DOES EVERYBODY tell me I have to like the Phillies?  I like Mike Schmidt.  I like Tug McGraw.  I like Bob Boone.  The rest of them belong in hte moving – the bad-B variety.