Allentown Morning Call - June 27, 1980

It was a complete disaster for Phils


By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA – Scoring opportunities were not too rare for the Phillies last night against Scott Sanderson. Only so rare that Mike Schmidt – whose worth to the Philadelphia franchise approximates Carson's worth to late-night television – tried to steal home, an activity normally limited to third-string pinch-runners or crazed men of old with names like Cobb and Robinson. 


Well, he make it. And neither did the Phillies. And neither did Randy Lerch.


Montreal took last night's series finale at Veterans Stadium 1-0 and put its lead over the Phillies in the Eastern Division back at 2½ games, exactly one game better than when the Expos came into town on Tuesday night. 


And Randy Lerch is one game poorer. His record after last night's loss goes to 2-10 and his psyche goes God knows where. Lerch remained sequestered in the player lounge after the game, but people from both teams were stumbling over themselves to commiserate with Lerch after his five-hit performance went to waste. Of all the comments this one by manager Dallas Green sums it up best: 


"Randy Lerch pitched like hell. But the other guy was 10 times better." 


Just to make the night a complete disaster, shortstop Larry Bowa strained a hamstring muscle that was already tenuous in the first inning. Team officials say he'll be out a week but Bowa says he'll be back sooner. 


The Phils hope, however, that Sanderson won't. He turned in one of the better pitched games against the Phillies in years. After Pete Rose led off the game with a single, Sanderson pitched to only three batters per inning until the eighth when Manny Trillo led off with a single. There was only one double play in that string – in the second – and there was a runner on base Garry Maddox only because of third baseman Ken Macha's error. 


After Maddox got on, Sanderson retired the next 13 hitters in a row until Schmidt walked in the top of the seventh with one out. Del Unser flew deep to right for the second out and Schmidt, perched on first base, must've suddenly made the decision to try and tie the game by himself… and he almost pulled it off. 


He stole second and picked himself up and went to third when Gary Carter's throw went into centerfield. Manny Trillo was at bat in the unfamiliar No. 5 spot because an intestinal virus kept Greg Luzinski out of the starting lineup for the second night in a row.


With a 1-1 count on Trillo, Schmidt lit out for home and had a tremendous jump on Sanderson who takes a slow, high windup. But the pitch was down and in – the only place it could 've been to get Schmidt – and Carter tagged him on a close play. Schmidt did argue with umpire Dutch Rennert but not too vehemently. 


"There was two out. it took a base hit to score, not just a groundball or something and he (Sanderson takes a big windup," said Schmidt, ticking off his reasons for his first major league attempt at stealing home. "He doesn't throw it where he does, I'm safe. He throws a curveball or a high fastball or a changeup or anything else and we're still playing. 


"As it was I thought I might've had the front edge of the plate. The replays showed I might've been out but it could've gone either way." 


Catcher Carter admitted that Schmidt's move surprised him. 


"Trillo has been swinging a pretty good bat so I figured they'd just let him hit." said Carter. "I saw Schmitty coming in the corner of my eye and I was just trying to remind myself to stay low and get myself in front of the plate. It was a perfect pitch for the situation. No. Scott didn't have to change anything. I had called for a fastball and he gave it to me. I don't know why Schmitty argued. He never got to the plate." 


Though Trillo singled to lead off the eighth for the Phils' second and last hit, the consensus was that Schmidt's play was a good one. He told third base coach Lee Elia he was going to try it and Elia didn't say no. Only Sanderson and Carter did. 


The Expos' lone run off Lerch in the fifth was a matter of inches, too. It was scored by Chris Speier on a single to right by Andre Dawson. Bake McBride, who threw out Rodney Scott at home to save Wednesday night's 7-6 win, made another good throw to Bob Boone at home though it was a little on the first-base side. Boone picked it up in time to get Speier but lost it when he applied the tag. 


“He Speier never got to the plate." said Boone, "but the ball hit his toes when I went to put the tag on. He hit right on the ball or we would've had him. It was a freak thing." 


The big question, of course, is whether an outing like this will help Lerch even though the “L” column beside his name has now reached double figures. 


"If his record were closer to where a normal Randy Lerch record would be, I'd say it would be encouraging for him." said Green. "But now? I honestly don't know. I supposed it could just get him more discouraged.”


NOTES: To the surprise of no one, Dickie Noles has dropped his appeal to National League president Chub Feeney and began his three-day suspension for a bat-throwing incident in Los Angeles today. Noles pitched in Tuesday night's series opener after appealing the suspension and $500 fine. 


Noles was due to pitch in tomorrow's twi-night doubleheader at the Vet against the Mets. If Dick Ruthven (shoulder injury) is available, he and Dan Larson will start. If Ruthven isn't ready, it's anybody's guess…


Steve Carlton goes for his ninth straight win and 14th overall in the series opener tonight.