Philadelphia Daily News - June 27, 1980

Bowa:  I’ll Be Back Sooner

 

By Thom Greer

 

The Phillies medical staff tells Larry Bowa he should be able to return to the lineup in about a week after going down with a strained hamstring muscle last night. Right. And a trainer at Churchill Downs told Secretariat he would need about an hour to cover the mile-and-a-quarter course in the Kentucky Derby.

 

"They say about a week," Bowa was saying after nearly two hours of treatment on the injury last night while the Phils were being shut out by the Montreal Expos, 1-0, at the Vet. "I say let's wait and see. But it (his return) will be before a week."

 

Put your money on Bowa's assessment. You will recall they told the Phils' fiery shortstop he would be out of action eight weeks after he broke a thumb last year. He returned in five.

 

"Nothing popped," Bowa explained of the strain that occurred when he went deep in the hole to his right to field Andre Dawson's single to left in the first inning. "It was more like a grab. If it was that bad, I wouldn't be able to walk."

 

Bowa initially aggravated the muscle in Los Angeles 10 days ago. He played, despite the pain. It had been little more than an annoyance until Wednesday night when he felt a sharp twinge as he stretched to field a shot off the bat of Chris Speier.

 

"Bowa's been gutsing it out since he aggravated it before," explained Manager Dallas Green. "So it may be four or five days or whatever it takes before he can withstand the pain again."

 

Ramon Aviles replaced Bowa last night. He committed an error on a routine double-play ball on his first chance in the second inning and followed that up by short-hopping a throw that pulled Pete Rose off the bag at first base on his second chance.

 

 

Dallas Green is surely hoping Bowa's reading on the injury is more accurate than that of his medical staff.

Phils Can’t Steal One

 

By Thom Greer

 

By the time Montreal's Scott Sanderson completed his unusually slow windup, kicked and followed through with release of his final warm up pitch of the evening, the lanky righthander was flat on his back in the dirt searching frantically to make sure his left leg was still attached. The leg. he discovered, was still there but as numb as a frozen mackerel.

 

"The heel of my left foot landed in the rut my shoe had made during my warm up throws." Sanderson said later. "My knee locked and I fell like a bowling pin. I was really scared at first."

 

However, examination of the leg by the Expos' trainer concluded there was no serious damage. So they dusted him off and sent him to the mound to face the Phillies. The numbness, which passed, was the result of a pinched nerve. No cause for alarm.

 

ONCE ON THE mound. Scott Sanderson proceeded to pinch a few nerves of his own. The entire Phillies hitting attack, to be exact. And it was critical... for the Phils, anyway.

 

Sanderson paralyzed the Phillies, limiting them to but two hits as he paved the way for the Expos' 1-0 shutout at Veterans Stadium last night. All told. Sanderson threw 94 pitches, of which 65 were strikes. He fell behind in the count to only three Phillies.

 

"That's probably the best pitched game we've had against us all year," insisted Manager Dallas Green, wholly mindful that the outstanding effort resulted in his club dropping the second of three home games against the division-leading Expos and falling 2½ games behind them in the standings.

 

But perhaps the greatest tragedy of the evening was that losing pitcher Randy Lerch also pitched his best game of the year. The struggling southpaw scattered only five hits as he bedeviled the Expos with an assortment of white heat and good breaking stuff that made his obscene slider as effective as at any time during his past years of success. Lerch's reward for his sterling effort was to see his record drop yet another notch to an embarrassing 2-10.

 

"He pitched like hell." Green said, "no question about it. But that other guy (Sanderson) was 10 times better."

 

Isn't that always the case with Lerch? Either the other guy is 10 times better or his teammates don’t get him any runs or both. It was the third shutout in which Lerch has been the loser. He also lost a 3-1 game.

 

"SURE. HE WOULD like the W after pitching that intently." Green said. "He made damn good pitches all night.

 

"I'm not real sure how this is going to affect him. To pitch this well and come out with nothing but an 'L' is not very encouraging. It's pretty frustrating. If his record was closer to where Randy Lerch should be, this might be encouraging. What worries me is that this might be very frustrating to him. I would hope, though, that he gained something from it. I gained something from it and I count for something around here." Of course, what no one could challenge was that Scott Sanderson completely destroyed the Phillies... least of all the Phillies themselves.

 

"I thought we should have hit him better." explained catcher Bob Boone. "But he had great command of his pitches all night. He spotted his fastball ahead of the hitters all night."

 

Mike Schmidt knew coming in that the former Vanderbilt star was a good pitcher. "He pitched a hell of a game," Schmidt conceded. "But very cut and dried. When you get beat. 1-0, you deserve to lose."

 

So it was Schmidt, obviously convinced neither he nor his teammates would beat Sanderson with their bats, who conceived and pulled off the play that seemed to defy all the percentages of the game, not to mention simple logic. The play almost worked.

 

IN THE SEVENTH inning, Schmidt drew the only walk allowed by Sanderson. He stole second base and moved to third when Gary Carter's throw went wild and into the outfield.

 

The major leagues home-run leader was standing on third base with two outs when he was struck with the notion. He would steal home. He told third base coach Lee Elia, who flashed the sign to Green in the dugout, who surely closed his eyes and began to pray.

 

Manny Trillo was at the plate, which is perhaps the only reason Schmidt's decision to steal home may well have been ill-timed. Trillo is batting.300 and swinging a hot bat these days. Regardless. Schmidt, who explained he had only tried to steal home once before in his life, had made up his mind.

 

"Out of the corner of your eye, you can see what he (the runner on third) is doing," Sanderson said. "Runners try to fake (stealing) a lot to get a pitcher to balk. His first two steps. I thought that was what he was doing. But then I knew he was not faking.

 

"I put as much as I could on my fastball and kept it inside to get Trillo off the plate. I never broke my motion. I might have taken a little more time to make sure I wouldn't balk."

 

Carter also caught Schmidt out of the corner of his eye as he rumbled down the line attempting an outright steal of home for the first time in the memory of veterans who have covered the Phils.

 

"ALL I COULD think – I knew Trillo was not going to swing because he would have killed the guy (Schmidt) – was stay low and get in front of the plate." the catcher explained. "He (Schmidt) never got there. It wasn't even close. I don't know why he said anything (to umpire Dutch Rennert, who hesitated long enough to make sure Carter had not dropped the ball and then called Schmidt out)."

 

Green thought it was a good move, even though Trillo stepped up to the plate to open the eighth inning and cracked a single to left field. "He got a good jump," Green said. "He had a good shot at it. Lee thought he had a better jump the first time. It didn't look like we were going to get any hits, that's for sure. It was a good effort."

 

Montreal's run came in the fifth, when Chris Speier scored from second on a single by Andre Dawson. Bake McBride fielded Dawson's ball in right and fired a strike to Bob Boone, who caught the ball on the short hop and had the plate well sealed off from the sliding Speier. However, Boone lost the ball as he wheeled to make the tag.

 

 

PHILUPS: Dickie Noles yesterday dropped his appeal of a $500 fine and three-day suspension for throwing a bat and helmet at umpire Joe West in Los Angeles last week. "I was upset when I heard about the suspension," explained Noles, who appealed shortly after NL President Chub Feeney levied the penalty Tuesday. "After talking to several people the last two days, I decided to drop the appeal and get the entire thing over with." It will mean Dallas Green will have to scrounge up a starting pitcher for Saturday's doubleheader against the New York Mets. It will probably be rookie Dan Larson. The injured Dick Ruthven remains a question mark... Greg Luzinski, out of action Wednesday with an intestinal disorder, returned last night as a pinch hitter... Steve Carlton goes for win No. 14 tonight when the Phils open a four-game series against the Mets. Carlton, 13-2. has won eight straight games. He will face John Pacella (0-0).

Phils Will Have to Grind It Out

 

By Tom Cushman

 

Playing against an opponent that features the sprint relay as a keynote to its offense, the Phillies last evening responded by flashing two examples of their own mobility. The Phillies, remember, also have speed and quickness, assets which tend to have been either dormant, or unnoticed, since the back-to-back home run returned to the Vet.

 

Neither of last night's incidents had a happy result but they are replayed here because both could have a significant effect on a season that is closing in on the half-mile pole.

 

As Montreal's Andre Dawson slashed a pitch toward left field in the first inning. Larry Bowa came off the mark with his usual smooth explosion, then switched to the overstride necessary if he was to intercept the ball. Anyone who has watched sprinters leave the blocks, begin to stretch out then suddenly pull up, will have a reasonable mental image of what happened next.

 

BOWAS INJURY has been reported as a hamstring strain, not a pulL and his absence estimated at no more than a week. Larry later assured us that he already could feel it healing and would be ready to take infield anytime after midnight. Bowa, of course, would try to play in a cast... but the simple fact is that a team with a pitching staff held together by prayer and baling wire cannot long endure without Larry Bowa to help plug the dike.

 

The other incident will no doubt provide a valuable source of material for talk-show hosts and bartenders, even though its controversy potential was diminished during post-game discussions in the clubhouse.

 

Possibly inspired by the scoreboard notation that Grover Cleveland Alexander had pitched a one-hitter on this same date 65 years ago, the Expos' Scott Sanderson was doing likewise when Mike Schmidt drew a walk with one out in the seventh. Using a stolen base and throwing error by the catcher to reach third, the major leagues' leading home-run hitter then hitched up his trousers and took off for home.

 

Dallas Green says that Schmidt had asked permission to run. "We flashed the OK sign," the manager said.

 

Mike Schmidt smiled when this version was relayed. "I said to Lee (third base coach Lee Elia), 'I'm gonna steal home," " he recalled. "And Lee said, 'Do you think you can make it?"

 

"Hey. what do I tell him? 'No. I dont think so, but I'm gonna go anyhow? "

 

MIKE SCHMIDT laughed, and those surrounding his locker laughed with him. "There were two out, we needed a base hit to score, the guy was throwing the ball great, but I could see how slow he was winding up," Schmidt added. "It was a good time for it... something that happens once in a lifetime.

 

"If he throws a curve, a high fastball, I'm safe and we're still playing. He got the pitch in a perfect spot, and I thought the call still could have gone either way."

 

Manny Trillo, the hitter at the time, was one of the more surprised folks in the ballyard. "I didn't know Mike was coming until somebody yelled," Manny recalled. "If I swung at the pitch, I might have hit him in the head."

 

"I'd have gotten down under his bat," Schmidt said, but, then, in attempting to evaluate the expertise here you should know that it was Mike's first attempt at a steal of home as a major leaguer.

 

Nor was Manny experienced in reacting to a teammate arriving at home plate unannounced. "I dont remember it ever happening to me before," Trillo said. "In this league, when a guy is coming it's usually a squeeze play. Back home they thought of me as a good hitter, and didn't try to steal home."

 

"I saw Schmidt coming out of the corner of my eye," said Gary Carter, the Montreal catcher. "I knew Trillo wasn't gonna swing, or he'd kill the guy. I tried to stay low and get in front of the plate."

 

Mike Schmidt had a sprinter's jump; looked every bit the anchorman as he drove for home, but Dutch Rennert, the plate umpire, said he was tagged short of the tape, a ruling which caused both Schmidt and the fans to offer protest that seemed more routine than based on conviction. Whatever, it was a fascinating intrusion into an evening that otherwise belonged to the pitchers, and it was the perfect lead-in to a theme Dallas Green obviously had been wanting to introduce.

 

"I ACCEPT WHAT Smitty did without reservation," the manager was to say later. "I like aggressive thought... it's the way I want this club to play. It's what I've been preaching since spring training."

 

Dallas Green was seated behind the desk in his office at the hour this statement was reissued. The Expos, having won twice here, head back across the border with a 2½-game lead, and if there was any doubt previously we now know they have pitching.

 

"I've said time and again, and I'll say it again, the team that has the four best starters and the two best relievers will win this division," Mike Schmidt bad pointed out during the discussion, with journalists who called at his locker. "It's that simple."

 

Defining the status of his team as we approach July, Dallas Green was less specific, but a similar thought was ever-present. "Our club has done very well to be where we are with the pitching we have," he said. "I've low-keyed the pitching thing and I don't think you guys know half of the problems with our staff. But we'll have to pitch better if we're gonna win."

 

Dallas Green had been asked to evaluate his own peformance as manager at this point in history, and the above is a portion of what was a thoughtful, and realistic, evaluation. "I've been very fortunate to have a Steve Carlton in a year like we're having," he said, "but I think, managing-wise, I've hung in there.

 

"I GUESS MY background as a pitcher and my understanding of the pitching problems have helped somewhat. I havent panicked, so to speak, and I think some guy sitting in this seat would have been screaming at Paul Owens for help. I also feel I've been accepted by the other guys on the team... that any doubts I could do the job have disappeared.

 

"The only disappointing thing to me is that I don't think we've played as aggressively as we can. A lot of that may be because Smitty and Bull have hit so well, and thereby created a tendency to sit back and wait for the home run. I don't say we've been bad, but I want to see more oomph. Or to use a word I've probably overused, more grinding."

 

Last evening's unusual, and ultimately unsatisfactory, proceedings apparently provided, then, a definition for which many of have been groping. In discussing the memorable items of the 1980 season the soaring howitzer shots of Schmidt and Luzinski, the awesome proficiency of Steve Carlton – there are words which come to mind, but grinding is not among them.

 

You probably did not realize it at the time, but when Mike Schmidt bolted down the third-base line last night, he was not sprinting, or soaring, or trying to organize a relay team of his own. He was grinding.

 

He also was called out at home, but Dallas Green liked the idea. Grinding, he says, cannot be evaluated on the basis of daily results, only in late October.

3 Winners

 

There were three winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the fourth inning of the Phillies-Expos game, winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game were Frank J. Dedics of Bethlehem and Jim O'Connell and Charles Cofield, both of Philadelphia.

 

So far the Daily News has paid out $8,675.

 

 

Today's entry coupon appears on Page 95.