Philadelphia Daily News - June 23, 1980
Steve: 13 for Lucky Phils
By Bill Conlin
SAN FRANCISCO – Picture where Great Britain would have been in 1940 without the Royal Air Force and you have an idea of where the Phillies would be this season without Steve Carlton.
"The old franchise is back in action." Dallas Green roared yesterday after Carlton broke a three-game Pnillies losing streak with a 4-3 victory over Vida Blue and the resurgent Giants. "Boy, I'd hate to see where we'd be without him being close to where he's been."
The Phillies would be in the below.500 pits to be sure, instead of in second place within close striking distance of the Expos, who open a three-game series at the Vet tomorrow night.
CARLTON IS 13-2 with 101 games left in the season. At his best he has been almost unbeatable. And on days when he has been less than his best, his best has been more than enough. Surviving a shaky fourth inning, when the Giants scored all their runs on five hits, he allowed just two singles the rest of the way, both of them in the seventh inning. And he escaped from that first and third jam by picking off Jim Wohlford. Pete Rose saw Jack Clark, a one-man wrecking crew in this series, break from third and alertly threw to the plate. Bob Boone and Mike Schmidt ran Clark down and Carlton retired the final six hitters in order.
The awe for Carlton's season is starting to grow in the Phillies clubhouse.
"Everybody was saying he was off to a great start." Pete Rose said. "But it’s more than a start now. We're coming up on the All-Star break and he's so good he doesnt even have to have his super stuff to win.
"IT RUBS OFF. We always seem to play a little better for him. not that we don't play 100 percent for the other guys. But he pitches fast which keeps you in the game, battles his butt off and creates a real good atmosphere when he's on the mound."
Larry Bowa played shortstop behind Carlton in his watershed 1972 season. He sees a more mature pitcher who has more to fall back on when his stuff is less than overpowering.
"I didn’t think he had real good stuff today," said Bowa, who left the game with a bruised right thumb in the seventh, courtesy of the crushed brick Candlestick Park infield. "He's better than he was in 72 because he's got a better team behind him and he's more of an experienced pitcher. He can go out and win with his mediocre stuff."
Carlton's stuff couldn't have been that mediocre. He fired eight more strikeouts to run his major-league leading total to 13S in 133 innings pitched. But he's been pitching on a steady diet of three days' rest and Green will resist the temptation to bring him back Thursday night against the Expos.
THE WELL-INTENTIONED plan to give him an extra day's rest could go awry, though, if National League President Chub Feeney rules on the Dickie Noles bat-throwing incident before the righthander has a chance to pitch tomorrow night against Montreal. Dick Ruthven is not ready to pitch and it doesn't sound like Nino Espinosa is dazzling anybody in his Class A rehabilitation.
"Steve's the first guy to tell you when he's had it out there." said pitching coach Herm Starrette. "Some guys let you guess, but he shoots straight with you. When I went out to ask bow he felt in the seventh he said he was OK and I knew he meant it.
"Right now he's the best pitcher I've seen since I've been in baseball. I’ll take him at his very worst. Now he needs an extra day's rest and he’ll get it. He's just a tremendous competitor. I've seen some good ones but he's the best."
Lonnie Smith played right against Vida Blue and the exciting outfielder started the winning two-run rally in the seventh with a single and steal of second. Blue said he was trying to keep the ball away from Schmidt. But the third baseman, who singled home the Phils' second run in the fifth, bounced a triple off the fence in right to tie it 3-3.
Greg Luzinski drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to right.
"I FELT I SWUNG the bat good all day." said Luzinski, who was robbed on second baseman Joe Strain's brilliant play up the middle in the fifth. "I have to do just what I did today, have some discipline up there and take what they give me. Blue didn't want to give me anything to hit. They're doing the same thing to Schmitty. I just waited for a pitch I could get up in the air to right. Everything he threw me hard all day was a foot inside."
The Phillies started the trip with a trio of hard-fought victories in Los Angeles and San Diego. But in the three straight losses, they hardly had the look of eagles.
Carlton's performance made the difference between a team limping home from the Coast with a 34 record and four straight losses and one with an acceptable 4-3 mark, a team which passed the faltering Pirates in the past week and closed to within a game and a half of the Expos.
On days when Carlton didn't pitch, the Phils are 21-25. And three of those days are coming up. Somebody asked Green if there was a lot of pressure on Carlton the way he's been carrying the pitching load.
It would seem as if the pressure is on everybody but Carlton. He's doing his job.
PHILUPS: Lonnie Smith made a fine diving catch in shallow right on Joe Strain and a difficult catch in the rightfield corner on Darrell Evans in the fourth. He's starting to look like he can play the position. "I'm getting more used to breaking to my left on everything instead of breaking to my right" he said... Jack Clark had a homer, triple, four doubles and a single in the series and looks like the best hitter in the league right now. He started the three-run salvo off Carlton with a one out triple in the fourth... Gate sale for the Carlton-Blue matchup was excellent and the game drew 27,315.... Giants resurfaced their infield with crushed brick so it wouldn't blow so much in the wind. "It's actually got big pebbles in it," Dallas Green said. Larry Bowa got a terrible hop on Jim Wohlford's bouncer in the seventh... Phils are off today. Pitching for the Expos series: Dickie Noles vs. Dave Palmer, Bob Walk vs. Bill Gullikson and Randy Lerch vs. Scott Sanderson... Willie McCovey acknowledged a standing ovation when his retirement was flashed on the message board with a hat and bat held aloft.
9 Weekend Winners
There were nine winners over the weekend in the Daily News Home Run Payoff Contest. In the third inning of yesterday's Phillies-Giants game, C H. Beecher of Wilmington, Del., Myrtle Buyers of Willingboro, N.J., Kenneth E. Stumpf of Doylestown and Bobby Armstrong of Turnersville, N.J., each won tickets to a Phillies game.
On Saturday, Harriet Brockway of Philadelphia won $10 and four tickets on a single by Bake McBride. Philip Semanchuk of Springfield, Dan Woodward of Ogden, T. Williams of Wilmington, Del, and Bob Rhine of Claymont, Del., each won tickets.
So far the Daily News has paid out $6,410.
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