Wilmington News Journal - June 15, 1980
‘Unhittable’ Carlton stuff overwhelms Padres 3-1
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – Steve Carlton struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced last night, finishing with a season-high 13 as he won his sixth straight game.
His slider was unhittable as usual, even if his fastball was in the mortal range. And after the Phillies beat the San Diego Padres 3-1 at Veterans Stadium to run Carlton's record to 11-2, people thought back to 1972, when Carlton won his first of two Cy Young Awards with a 27-10 record.
"I didn't catch him that year (John Bateman did)," said Bob Boone, who's caught him this season, "but I can't imagine him pitching any better in '72. He had a helluva slider tonight. That pitch looks like a fastball, then explodes down. It's an unhittable pitch."
As the Padres, who've lost six straight games and 15 of 18, tried to prove. They did manage six singles and a run off Carlton but spent more time chasing the slider than anything else.
"They talked about his slider in '72 and he's got a good one now, too," said Greg Luzinski, whose two-run homer was all the support Carlton needed. "He's turning the ball over more now, surprising people. I faced him in some squad games during the (spring training) strike and he was really putting the ball in spots."
Manager Dallas Green, who joined the litany of praise for the silent Carlton, smiled and said, "Lefty makes managing this team a helluva lot easier, I'll tell you that.
"Rate this game? He's had so many this season that I've lost count of 'em. His slider had a lot of spin tonight. You could tell because Boonie couldn't scoop 'em up tonight."
"I'll take my chances," smiled Boone. "Three or four got away tonight but I got a little lazy of some of them.”
The Padres got very lazy against Carlton, taking their cuts but accomplishing little.
"Pitchers like Carlton come along once in a decade, like Koufax, Gibson and Seaver," said Padre Manager Jerry Coleman. "He's one of the greats."
Carlton breezed through the Padres' lineup the first time up, then hit double figures for the 35th time in his Phillies' career when he got Jerry Mumphrey in the sixth.
"His fastball wasn't as good as it's been in the past, said Green, "but it's still a helluva pitch."
The Phillies loaded the bases on three walks by loser Steve Mura in the first inning but couldn't get a run across when Garry Maddox, impatient as usual, despite Mura's wildness, hit the first pitch and flew out to center.
"Garry's not a very selective hitter," said Green, "but I'm not worried about walks in the first inning. One run doesn't do much for me at that time."
One run's better than none, of course, and a fourth walk forces home a run.
"How about a double?" countered Green. "Garry's very capable of hitting one in that situation."
Luzinski, who narrowly missed a three-run homer in the first inning when he drove Ken Bevacqua to the left field wall, hit one out in the third after Mike Schmidt had walked.
The towering shot that arced about roof level and then came down to clatter off the tarps in left center was Luzinski's 15th homer.
"I just missed that breaking ball the first time up," said Luzinski. "I hit it off the end of my bat. I only saw about two fastballs all night but the one I hit out was a fastball, out over the plate."
Just to make sure, Schmidt smoked his 20th of the year on a line off the 1950 championship logo in the same area as Luzinski's homer, leading off the fifth.
The homer was Schmidt's 255th as a Phillie, just four behind Del Ennis' club high. And it was Schmidt's second homer in as many nights against Padre pitching.
"I'm not a great hard curveball hitter," said Schmidt, "but I hit that one. It was a hanging curve. But I'll tell you, he's a good pitcher. If they want to trade him, we'll take him."
That's all we need – another candidate in the beat-the-deadline trading sweepstakes. But that's another story.
Carlton lost a shot at his 45th career shutout when the Padres bunched three singles in the eighth for their only run.
Ex-Phil Dave Cash knocked it in with a sharp single to center after Carlton had struck out pinch-hitter Gene Tenace for his 13th strikeout, tying Houston's J R. Richard for the NL high. Richard has done it twice. Carlton had fanned 11 four times this season.
The Phils mounted a threat against left-hander Bob Shirley in the eighth when Boone and Maddox greeted him with singles. But Boone was picked off second and Larry Bowa popped out.
Manny Trillo was intentionally walked and Green lifted Carlton for pinch-hitter Keith Moreland, who forced Trillo at second.
Green was booed for pulling Carlton, but he did it to save Lefty for the two starts he'll get on the upcoming Coast trip.
“I'll try to steal an inning or two for him whenever I can," said Green. "He's pitching every four days now and he'll probably stay that way until the All-Star break at least."
Boone said Carlton wasn't worried about trivialities like complete games.
"Lefty has the same trait as this team – he plays to win," Boone said. "That's all that counts with him."
EXTRA INNINGS - As part of the "Salute to America" Night, Parachute Man, aka Pat Mulhern of Wilmington, was supposed to deliver the first ball to the mound, but wind currents gave Mulhern an unscheduled lift and carried the ball to a Vet parking lot. He landed safely, however, and the Phillie Phanatic rescued him, giving Parachute Man a cart ride into the park, where the 35,231 fans cheered... Phils are 9-1 on Saturdays, including five straight victories... Things don't look good for today's Cap Day festivities, however, since the Phils are 2-7 on Sundays... Rookie Bob Walk faces ex-Phil Rick Wise at 1:35 p.m.... Phils have drawn 980,374 fans, 217,492 behind last season, and will become the third club to top the million mark today.
No Green light given on swap talk
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA - Dallas Green had heard and read all the trade rumors. A dozen times. Somehow he didn't sound impressed.
"Got any new ones?" the Phillies manager said before last night's game with San Diego. "Whaddayahear?"
Zero. Which may be the Phillies' chances to acquire another starting pitcher before tonight's midnight trading deadline. And if that's the case, Green won't be disappointed. He has drawn his battle lines.
"Tell me who you're talking about," Green said when asked if he wants to make a move or stand pat. "Then I'll get excited. If you'll give me a (Bruce) Sutter or somebody like that, okay. But I'm not going to trade for any Tom, Dick or Harry. I'd rather go with what I've got."
What he has is a brilliant Steve Carlton, a sore-shouldered Dick Ruthven, a 2-8 Randy Lerch and rookie Bob Walk, who doesn’t look old enough to shave yet.
"I still think I can patch this thing together, if I can borrow some time," said Green, who's never been short on positive thinking, a Norman Vincent Peale of the dugout.
"In the back of my mind, I think Nino Espinosa, Bru (Warren Brusstar) and Jim Wright will say 'Let's go' and come through for us."
Espinosa and Brusstar will start 20-day minor-league sojourns at Class A stops Spartanburg and Peninsula tomorrow, trying to bounce back from sore arms that have sidelined them since last season. Wright pitched just five pro games since Aug. 3, 1977, and is trying to get his game back together at Oklahoma City after surgery.
Any help from that trio is up the road. And Green is willing to wait.
"I don't think it's worth breaking up the club to get somebody I don't know about or some other club is trying to get rid of," said Green. "Do you want Ed Halicki or Eric Rasmussen? They won't get us the pennant. They may be able to walk onto the mound better than some of our guys, but can they do any better once they get there?"
Green obviously doesn't think so.
Maybe the rest of the league is demanding too much, knowing the Phillies need another starter. But Green shrugs off that notion.
"Nobody's holding us up," he said. "I just think the game of baseball, as far as trading goes, is totally dead right now because there's one commodity that everybody wants – pitching – and nobody is giving anything up. I just don't see a lot of action (before the trading deadline). There may be a name change but nothing big."
Paul Owens, the Phils' suddenly stymied player personnel director, has talked to 20 clubs. He's got a cauliflower ear from cradling the phone, but no action.
"Everybody's looking for the same thing," said Green, himself an ex-pitcher. He might clean up if he could pull off a comeback. And he's probably considered it, too.
Almost all of the trades making the rounds of the rumor mills have involved rookies Lonnie Smith or Keith Moreland. And Green has steadfastly maintained that he does not want to peddle the club's future for a stopgap pitcher. The tune hadn't changed yesterday but the tempo was different.
"I don't want to trade the future for a questionable present," Green said. "If it's a quality present, okay. Maybe I owe an obligation to the fans to consider it."
But Smith, who went into last night's game with a .432 batting average and has shown more poise and skill with each game he's played, is still a favorite to Dallas Green, who nurtured the swift outfielder as the Phils' farm director and doesn't want to see him slip away like other prospects have in the past.
The fact that Smith is making believers out of past skeptics is, Green admits, satisfying.
"I've known Lonnie Smith can play," Green said. "I never doubted it. And I've never doubted my ability to judge talent. I've still got a few things to say about what will happen and I've said all along that Lonnie Smith is part of my plans – for the future and for 1980 as well. He has proved he can play."
Green says he always knew. The fans didn't get much of a chance to see anything but veterans under former manager Danny Ozark; so they've learned. And so have the Phillies' players themselves.
"Lonnie stayed on the bench a long time before he got in there," Green conceded. "Now he's gotten a chance to play and he feels part of the team because they're saying, ‘This guy has got ability.’ They weren't too sure, either."
Green's hopes of sticking with the current cast and rebuilding from within rest to great measure on the sore shoulders of Brusstar and Espinosa.
It was suggested that a lot of Green's problems could have been solved if the two pitchers had been farmed out earlier and were ready now for a sound return.
“No way," said Green. "We weren't ready to do what we're doing until right now. But if they spend 10-12 days down there, Nino should get about three starts in that time. I don't care if he goes nine. If he can go 3-4 innings the first time, then 4-5 the next two, I'd be happy.
"The big thing is to see how he reacts afterwards and how he can come back. I want to be able to put him in the rotation with 4-5 days rest and know he'll be able to go six innings. I can't afford to have him go three innings and have to use three pitchers every time Nino starts. That's why we can't just put him back on the roster and take a chance that he'll be ready."
Espinosa would have preferred that route. The right-handed starter balked at the minor-league demotion, even though no salary or major-league benefits would be lost, until Green spelled out the roster problems he could create by insisting to be activated prematurely.
"We have to be sure," said Green. "Nino hasn't pitched in six-seven months and Brusstar in over a year."
Which makes them risky bets on which to plan your immediate future. But Dallas Green likes his team and likes his chances to pull a pennant out of the current cast. As long as nobody else ends up in one before the race is over.
Ruthven X-rays prove negative
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA - Dick Ruthven fared a lot better in the Methodist Hospital X-ray room yesterday than he did on the Veterans Stadium mound Friday night, when he fell on his shoulder chasing a bunt and left the game in agony.
X-rays were taken yesterday and proved negative. Nothing is broken or sprained, just bruised.
Manager Dallas Green of the Phils got the word from Dr. Philip Marone before last night's game with the Padres.
"He's in good shape," said Marone of Ruthven, who's already coming back from off-season elbow surgery. "He doesn't hurt any more than he did last night, which is a good sign. He may miss a turn but that's all I can say. Basically it's a contusion, a bruise, not really a sprain."
At the moment, as Steve Carlton goes, so go the Phillies. Carlton went last night and Green plans to use him again Wednesday night in San Diego and then Sunday in San Francisco.
With Bob Walk and Randy Lerch available, Green just has to come up with somebody to pitch Tuesday night in Los Angeles, which would have been Ruthven's next turn.
That somebody won't be Dan Larson, who got several starts, then disappeared in the bullpen, never to be heard from since. And perhaps again.
"If Steve feels okay, I may get Dickie Noles or somebody to pitch in L.A.," said Green, who has tried to avoid pulling Noles out of the bullpen, though the hard-throwing right-hander was a starter when he came up last July 4.
"If I had my druthers, I'd leave Dickie in the bullpen. But if I have to do what I don't wanna do, I'll just have to do it."
That's easy for him to say.