Philadelphia Inquirer - June 22, 1980
Giants pummel Phillies
Drop 3d straight as Lerch rocked
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
SAN FRANCISCO – He has tried cotton in the ears. He has tried a week in the bullpen. He has tried making jokes. He has tried keeping silent.
But for Randy Lerch, the cure for losing is still buried someplace.
Lerch was the central character in yesterday's regularly scheduled Phillies episode of "Death By the Bay," officially noted as a 9-3 loss to the Giants. He followed his 10 strong innings against the Dodgers last Tuesday with six blah innings yesterday, replete with his usual catalogue of difficulties.
He walked a No. 8 hitter to set up one run. He walked a No. 6 hitter to set up the next. He got blitzed for a three-run, four-hit, game-turning rally in the fifth after he had two outs and nobody on. Bake McBride saved him another run in the fourth.
Lerch is now 2-9. Apparently, it is going to take more than cotton in the ears to turn him around. Lerch knows what his problems are. Dallas Green knows what his problems are. So why, they both wonder, does he make the same mistakes over and over?
"These walks and things will continually crop up and beat you," Green said. "He's been told that a thousand times. It's been repeated. It's been shown to him, in black and white, on paper. But it has to happen between the white lines.
"A lot of guys in baseball wouldn't have had the opportunities he's had to continually go out on the mound. He's just on a pitching staff that's not real sound right now. So he's blessed with the opportunity to go out there and not pitch well.
"He's got to take advantage of that. When the pitching staff gets well, we can't keep running out a man who keeps making mistakes."
Lerch reversed his normal story line in one sense yesterday. He got through the first two innings scoreless. Then he got burned.
After Manny Trillo had singled in a run for him in the second, he walked the No. 8 hitter, Ed Sadek, to start the third. A bunt and a wild pitch got Sadek to third. Then Darrell Evans, who is not exactly Omar Moreno, dropped a two-out bunt in the Bermuda Triangle between Lerch, Bob Boone and Mike Schmidt. And it was 1-1.
"Hard to believe," Lerch said. "Here's a guy lays down a perfect 'bunt. He can't run a lick. Two outs. Power hitter. Never strikes out. I don't know,"
But an inning later, the plot was similar. McBride saved Lerch from a possible huge inning with a sprinting, backhanded, shoetop catch on Jim Wohlford's rocket to right-center. That was only the first out, though.
Then Lerch turned around and walked the No. 6 hitter, Joe Strain. A hit-and-run single by Johnnie LeMaster and a sacrifice fly by Sadek got Strain home, and it was 2-1.
"I'd say the walks were the key," Lerch said. "Walking the seventh, eighth and ninth hitters, you've got to get burned. Those are the people you've got to get out."
"I even told myself last night, the fastball moves a lot more in the wind here," Lerch said. "So the thing to do is throw it down the middle of the plate and let it run. The wind will move it around. Instead, I'd throw the ball for the outside corner and it would tail even more outside. Just a basic matter of not adjusting."
Still tied, even so
Even with all that, he was still tied going into the bottom of the fifth.
Trillo manufactured a Green-esque grind-it-out run in the top of the fifth – walking, going to second on a hit-and-run grounder by Pete Rose and scoring all the way from second on an Ed Whitson wild pitch. The ball caromed away from the catcher, Sadek, who had no idea where it was. But the self-destruct came a half-inning later. Lerch got the first two outs. But Jack (Rogers Hornsby) Clark, who is 11-for-his-last-18, ripped a good outside changeup to right-center for a double.
"I couldn't make a more perfect pitch," Lerch said. "God, he's really swinging."
Then Rich Murray chopped one eight miles high off the plate. Lerch had no shot at him, even if he had fielded it. But he lost it in the sun. Single. First and third.
Hit ball four
Lerch struggled back from 3-and-0 to 3-and-2 to Wohlford, then threw him a fastball that might have been ball four. But Wohlford didn't wait ground to find out. He went out and got it, and stroked it just beyond a diving Rose for a base hit.
That made it 3-2. Then Strain stung a fastball off the top of the fence in left for a double and two more runs. And that was that. Four eighth-inning Giants runs off Ron Reed just made it official.
Green conceded some of the hits off Lerch weren't exactly ICBMs. But his patience for the things that happen around those hits is wearing thin.
"You've just got to pitch out of that." Green said. "The good signs I saw last time were that when he got into a jam it looked like he had a little more oomph, a little more enthusiasm to go after hitters. That's the thing good pitchers are able to maintain."
NOTES: The one real positive development for the Phillies was Greg Gross' three hits. Green sat down the slumping Greg Luzinski (0-for-13) and Garry Maddox (1-for-20) and replaced them with Gross and Del Unser. "It was time, I thought, that both those guys maybe needed a little breather," Green said. "And the other guys needed the four or five at bats. They've been sitting a long time. Gross was last seen going 2-for-May, his longest cold streak ever. "It's tough, when you only get to hit a couple times a week, to get things corrected," Gross said…. One of the all-time great pregame scenes: Bob Boone has a brother, Rod, living in the area whose looks and build are almost identical to Bob's. Brother Boone was hanging around the batting cage in uniform yesterday when a reporter came up and interviewed him as if he were Bob. Rod played along for a complete 10-minute interview, conversing seriously on subjects ranging from how Randy Lerch has pitched to how the Phillies have played lately.... Green was not pleased, naturally, with the reports on Warren Brusstar's Peninsula outing Friday (four batters, three hits, one walk). "It's not good," Green said. "He just couldn't get loose. He even threw 90-some pitches in The bullpen just trying to get loose. We're going to encourage him to try and throw through it this time. We tried shutting him down in spring training when he had problems, and that didn't work. So now we're going to try it the other way."... The San Francisco Chronicle reported the Giants have asked Willie McCovey to retire. McCovey has refused. So the Giants may release him today. McCovey, 42, is hitting .198.... The Giants sold pitcher Ed Halicki to the Angels, and released catcher Marc Hill, who was picked up by Seattle. Mike Ivie was activated.... Steve Carlton vs. Vida Blue today.
Sports in brief
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Phillies' Nino Espinosa, trying to shake off his shoulder ailment, had an unimpressive outing for the club's Class A Spartanburg team. In his second Spartanburg start, against the Shelby (N. C.) Pirates, Espinosa was allowed 70 to 75 pitches; he threw 72, six innings. He allowed seven hits, four earned runs, six strikeouts and no walks. He is Scheduled to start again Wednesday night against Shelby.