Philadelphia Inquirer - June 26, 1980

Aching Bake puts arm on Expos


By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer


In the fourth inning, the Montreal Expos' Brad Mills, one of the reserves keeping the Expos at the top of the National League East, crushed a fly ball that the Phillies' Bake McBride caught against the wall in right field.


The drive brought in the Expos' only run last night. It also brought pain to McBride's right elbow, the kind of throbbing pain.that can make a bruise feel like the worst thing in the world. And the type you can't hide when you're playing the outfield in front of 31,416 people, especially when you've already made one error during that inning – only one batter before, in fact.


"I was cussing my head off," McBride said. "I was thinking that I had one throw left in me."


He made that throw, a great one, and he also threw in a home run for good measure at the Vet. And so, on the night that Dallas Green said was "make or break" for Bob Walk, it was fortunate for the Phillies that Bake stayed on the field.


Later, after the Phillies' 2-1 victory, McBride had his right arm stretched out on a training table, his right elbow – bruised and swollen – encased in the sheath of a machine that circulates cold water around the joint.


"I hit the wall on that sacrifice fly," he said. "It hurt, I'll tell you that. It felt better because I made the play. But it (the elbow) was stiff after that. It was numb."


McBride said he felt more than pure pain; he said he felt a little bit like leaving the game. But he hung on long enough to have a hand in this Phillies' win.


In the sixth inning, with two out and nobody on, he muscled a low 0-1 slider from Bill Gullickson over the right-field wall. And then, with one out in the eighth, he reached back and produced the throw that saved a run. He scooted into shallow right-center to catch Gary Carter's liner, and then fired a dart on one hop just up the third-base line to nail Rodney Scott at the plate. End of inning; end of the Expos for the night, tor that matter.


"He hung back and charged in," Green said, "and even with a sore elbow, he made a heck of a throw. He just made a heck of a play on that ball."


"If I had to make another one like that," McBride said, "I couldn't have made it. I couldn't bend my elbow far enough to touch my shoulder."


The throw and the homer helped McBride forget his error, which led to the Expos' run. He had turned Warren Cromartie's ground single past first base into a two-base error the ball skipping off and over him. Then Mills got the RBI with his fly to the wall.


"I bent down to pick up the ball, thinking I'd get a true hop," McBride said, "but the ball stayed down. It hit my foot and went to the wall. I mean, that ball didn't come up until it hit my foot. Then it came up."


A problem like that here, a seemingly blase effort there – such has often been the life of Bake McBride in Philadelphia. It's almost as if he has been a magnet for criticism.


"I haven't thought about it," he said. "I just go out and do the best I can, and whatever happens – well, it happens. This year, I'm very quietly having a good year. I don't think too many people think about it. Since I've hit .300 so often, I'm supposed to hit .300 (.307 with 41 RBIs now).


"It (criticism) bothers me to a certain degree, but I don't think about it on the field. I'd be lying, though, if I didn't say it bothers me. Here and in St. Louis, I haven't talked to the press that much. That probably has a lot to do with it. Still, I don't let it affect how I play."


The fact that he has hit .269 and .280 in two full seasons with the Phillies after always hitting .300 with the Cardinals hasn't helped, either.


"If I don't hit .300, then I'm not hustling and I don't want to play and all that, which isn't the case," he said. "Last year, I feel I hit the ball as well as I can hit it, and I didn't hit .300. Plus, every time a trade was mentioned, my name was always part of it. But I can't let any of that stuff bother me."


Or a bruised elbow, either.

Phils edge Expos, 2-1, in 10


Schmidt’s 56th RBI breaks tie


By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer


Bob Walk watched the Expos spray 18 hits the other night. And never blinked.


Huh? A lot of guys in Walk's situation would be less-easily horrified by Humanoids from Outer Space than by a long, gory 18-hitter. Against a team they had to pitch to one night later, no less.


But Bob Walk, 23-year-old struggling rookie pitcher that he is, thought it through rationally. He knew the Expos were good. But hey, he decided, they can't be that good.


"If they got 18 hits every night they'd have a 30-game lead now," said Walk after his eight-inning four-hitter got the Phillies started toward a 2-1, 10th-inning victory over Montreal. "Any time anybody gets 18 hits, it's got to be a fluke."


Of course, some flukes are more fluky than others. A few people probably watched Walk's six previous big-league starts and concluded his 5-1 record in Oklahoma City was a fluke, too.


They were six starts full of slow work, quick exits and what seemed like thousands and thousands of Walk walks. His record was 2-0, but that was more a testament to the Phillies getting him 5.2 runs a start than anything else.


So Walk headed for the mound last night for what Dallas Green bluntly called a "make-or-break" start. When it was over, Walk didn't have a third win to call his own. But at least he had a notch in the "make" column.


"He needed a game like this to prove he can pitch up here," Green said, after Mike Schmidt's bases-loaded single had moved the Phils back to within a game and a half of the first-place Expos. "Tonight was closer to what I expect out of him.


"He got the ball over the plate. And he was in two or three tough situations and he made pitches, which he hadn't done before."


Walk got Warren Cromartie with men on first and third in the first. He retired Ron LeFlore with two on in the seventh. He got Andre Dawson With a man on third, nobody out in the eighth. None of those guys is exactly Luis Pujols up there.


So this was the one game in all of them that Walk deserved to win. But he didn't because he ran into another tough rookie pitcher, Montreal's Bill Gullickson.


Gullickson, a righthander who can fire, was the second pick in the country in the June 1977 amateur draft (the White Sox' Harold Baines was first). He averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings in an impressive tear through the minors. And his only major league loss was a 1-0 three-hitter to the Dodgers' Bob Welch.


He worked 7 innings last night, and all the Phillies got off him was five hits. But one of them was Bake McBride's game-tying homer into the rightfield bullpen in the sixth.


Walk was just as good, though. The only run he allowed was an unearned number in the fourth, set up by a McBride error in right.


Warren Cromartie's leadoff single rolled off McBride's foot instead of into his glove. So Cromartie sauntered to third, and scored on rookie Brad Mills' seventh RBI in 12 games, a sacrifice fly caught by McBride as he crashed into the wall.


But McBride made up for the error with his homer and a game-saving throw to nail Rodney Scott after Scott's leadoff triple in the eighth.


That kept the game even as they headed into extra innings. As did Montreal reliever Woodrow Thompson Fryman, age 40, who fanned Lonnie Smith on three pitches after the Phillies had loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth.


But in the 10th, Montreal righthander Stan Bahnsen stalked in and promptly walked pinch-hitter Greg Gross on four pitches. Pete Rose took a fifth straight ball, then lined a double into the rightfield corner. Rowland Office fell down while chasing it, but recovered in a hurry. Office can really throw, so coach Lee Elia stopped Gross at third.


"I hit that ball as hard as any ball I've hit all year," Rose said. "But the funny thing is, I missed the sign on that pitch. I was supposed to fake the bunt and swing away, but I didn't know the sign for it. It's a good play because they have to think I'm bunting in that situation, with Bake and Schmitty coming up."


Instead, it was second and third, nobody out. At that point, the Expos had a lot of options, all of them bad. The one they chose was to walk McBride (2-for-4) and pitch to Schmidt, who only had more RBIs than anybody in baseball (55 at the time).


They also faced the delightful prospect of having to do this with their infielders way in and their outfielders close enough behind to deal a decent poker game. So all Schmidt had to do was stroke the ball about 250 feet, and this game was over.


Which is exactly what he did. He fouled off a pair of 1-and-2 pitches, then lofted one just beyond the backtracking Dawson in left-center. Ball game.


"I just tried to hit the ball. That's all I'm trying to do," said Schmidt, searching his brain futilely for clever ways to explain this. "I'm not trying to hit it far. I'm just trying to hit it. Hey, sometimes just hitting it can be pretty tough, you know.


"I don’t know what to say other than I'm just trying to hit the ball. It wasn't hit sharp. It wasn't hit long. It wasn't hit on the line. It was just hit."


OK, we get the idea. Schmidt might have gotten the game-winning RBI. And Ron Reed (6-1) might have gotten the win. But the most significant development on this night was Bob Walk.


Walk changed from a sailing to a straight fastball last night. He sacrificed some strikeouts for control. "But it was worth it," he said. After running three-ball counts on five of the first eight hitters, he ran only two more all night.


He was still going strong when Green pinch-hit for him. But Walk was all for it. "I wanted to get my bat (12 at-bats, eight strikeouts) out of the lineup," he said.


Had he left under more inglorious circumstances, he might not have taken it that well. But now, even if he does wind up back in Okie City at least he will know he can do it up here.


"You know," Walk said, "I think I found that out the very first night. I found out that when I did throw strikes I was able to get people out."


It just took until last night for him to prove it.


NOTES: Dallas Green made a couple of changes in his batting order last night, four days after saying he didn't think a change was necessary. The first switch, Del Unser starting in left in place of Greg Luzinski, was made because the Bull was ill. The second was more interesting. Green flip-flopped Bob Boone and Manny Trillo, meaning Trillo hit No. 5 and Boone No. 8. Saturday in San Francisco, Green had said, "I don't know that a change in the batting order is going to do much. We've scored runs. We've been able to do things with the batting order we've had. There aren't many ways I can go to change it." But when Boone stranded runners all five times up Tuesday, he apparently decided to give it a try.... Green is hoping Dick Ruthven can start one game of Saturday's doubleheader with the Mets.