Philadelphia Inquirer - June 20, 1980
Padres snap Phils’ streak with 4-3 win
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
SAN DIEGO – Juan Tyrone Eichelberger, of the St. Louis Eichelbergers, unfurled his first big-league warmup pitch of the '80s yesterday. Either Eichelberger was auditioning for NASA or it kind of got away from him.
The Columbia, space-shuttle-to-be, can't take off as straight and true as this ball did. Padres catcher Bill Fahey just stayed in his crouch and watched it soar overhead. It clanged off the backstop, about 120 feet from where Eichelberger launched it.
Proud of his work, the Padres rookie wound up and blasted off another one. Fahey leaped at this heave and grazed it, but it thunked off the backstop again, all the same.
As 16,712 people in San Diego Stadium buzzed with amazement, little did they know these UFOs were about to set the tone for the Padres' 4-3 victory over the Phillies yesterday.
It was three riveting hours of baseball, featuring eight pitchers, 19 Phillies, 16 Padres, two errors, 11 walks and a remarkable 20 three-ball counts.
So it was only appropriate that this game be decided on an off-the-fists pop-up. Tim Flannery thunked it into short left off loser Kevin Saucier (3-1) with two outs in the sixth. Larry Bowa just missed stabbing it over his shoulder. And Willie Montanez pumped home from first with the winning run.
"Flares," sighed Dallas Green, "win as many ball games as line drives do."
But pitchers who throw strikes win a lot more games than pitchers who throw balls. And that was a lesson learned by both Eichelberger and Phillies starter Bob Walk yesterday.
Eichelberger has led two minor leagues in walks. And before being called up from Hawaii this week, he had 49 of them in 77 innings, plus a spectacular 15 wild pitches and three hit batsmen.
Eichelberger may be wild, but he's also slow. People always thought Walk was a human rain delay, but compared to Eichelberger, Walk works like Jim Kaat.
Fortunately, for lovers of sub-six-hour ball games, Eichelberger and Walk lasted only 6 innings between them. Walk was the first to go, and it might have been partly Eichelberger's fault.
Eichelberger took more than 15 minutes to get through a first inning in which he allowed no hits and just one walk. But after a half-dozen moves to first, a lot of rubbed-up baseballs and 17 of the slowest wind-ups ever witnessed by mankind, he got through it.
"But I had to sit in the dugout about 20 minutes before I got to go out and warm up again," said Walk. "I think that's why it took me a couple hitters to find the strike zone."
By then, Gene Richards, who had walked on four pitches and stolen second, was on third after being advanced on a bunt single by Jerry Turner on a 3-and-0 count. Turner rested at second after stealing it. Walk then went 3-and-2 to Dave Winfield, threw a tough curveball away and Winfield still chopped it up the middle. Padres, 2-0.
Walk never got through the third. Richards crushed a single that Bowa did well to knock down. He fell behind Cash, 2-and-0, then gave up a hit-and-run single.
One walk to Turner later, Green decided his only hope to make his postgame plane to San Francisco was to get Walk out of there, there being nothing he could do about Eichelberger. So Lerrin LaGrow came on. But Winfield made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.
But meanwhile, Eichelberger was still plodding around out there, rubbing up baseballs and even pitching now and then.
The end for Eichelberger finally came in the fifth. Here's how it went: Manny Trillo single: Three-ball count to pinch-hitter George Vukovich. Line-drive out by Vukovich. Four-pitch walk to Pete Rose. Then 2-0 count to Bake McBride.
That was it. After four walks, eight three-ball counts and 74 pitches, Padres manager Jerry Coleman yanked Eichelberger, two outs away from going enough innings for his first win of the year. Lefthander Dennis Kinney came on and promptly served McBride's fourth homer, a game-tying shot into the football seats in right.
But Montanez drilled a two-out sixth-inning single off Saucier, the third of five Phillies pitchers. Then Flannery fisted a 3-2 pitch into just-deep-enough left-center. It ticked off Bowa's glove, bounced past Garry Maddox, and Montanez, running on the 3-2 pitch, scored.
Then the mustachioed one, Rollie Fingers, held the Phillies to save it for Kinney. Kinney's last hitter was McBride, who failed to bunt two runners over in the seventh and then struck out. Fingers entered, threw a wild pitch and walked Mike Schmidt semi-intentionally to fill the bases.
But he fanned Greg Luzinski (three strikeouts) and got Bob Boone to escape that mess. Then he pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the eighth and finished in style striking out McBride, Schmidt and Luzinski in the ninth.
NOTES: Green was trying to avoid using his bullpen much, but Walk gave him no choice. "I didn't want to use Tug (four games in four days) at all today," he said. "If I can just get to the fifth or sixth inning with my starters I'm OK."... Luzinski is 2-for-11 on the trip. "I get in a groove a little bit. Then we go on the road, and all I see is a lot of crap," the Bull said. "I'm getting to the point where I'm wondering what a fastball looks like."... Rose on Eichelberger's warm-up act: "I wouldn't be surprised if he did it on purpose. Ain't nobody who's that damn wild."... Dan Larson vs. Allen Ripley in San Francisco tonight. Sunday shapes up as Steve Carlton vs. Vida Blue.