Philadelphia Inquirer - June 27, 1980
Expos’ Sanderson two-hits Phils, 1-0
Bowa is out for a week
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Mike Schmidt stood on third base in the seventh inning of a 1-0 ball game. And what Mike Schmidt was trying to figure out was all the possible ways the Phillies might be able to score a run off Scott Sanderson.
There was, uh, er, um ... not a whole lot Mike Schmidt could think of. The guy was, after all, throwing a one-hitter at the time. And the one hit was by Pete Rose leading off the game.
"Heck, in a situation like that," said Schmidt, "you've got to try something" So Schmidt went to Plan 87, the old-steal-of-home trick. He had done it only once in his life, in the minors. But on a 1-1 pitch to Manny Trillo, he broke for the plate.
Sanderson made the pitch he had to make – fastball inside. So Schmidt was out. And Sanderson went on to two-hit the Phils, 1-0, dealing the consummately luckless Randy Lerch yet another way to get beat.
Larry Bowa hurt a hamstring and will miss about a week. But it was Schmidt's Omar Moreno impression that everyone was talking about.
"When I got on third, I didn't really have any idea I was going to try it until he threw the first pitch and I saw how slow he winds up," said Schmidt, who had gotten to third via Sanderson's only walk of the night, a steal of second and Gary Carter's throwing error.
"So I said to (coach) Lee Elia, 'I'm gonna steal home.' He said, 'Think you can make it?' I said, 'No, I don't think I'm gonna make it, but I'm gonna steal anyway.' I guess if he'd said no, I wouldn't have gone. But he didn't say 'don't.'"
So Schmidt went, got a great jump and would have been safe had Sanderson thrown any other pitch. "It's very simple," Schmidt said. "If the guy speeds up his windup he might balk. If he tries to throw it too hard he might throw it in the dirt. If he throws it just outside I'm safe. If he throws a curveball I'm safe. The only thing he can do is throw a down-and-in fastball. And that's what he did."
The play, of course, can be easily second-guessed. Trillo is hitting .293. And he also lined the first pitch Sanderson threw the next inning for a single. But that doesn't take away the fact that Schmidt almost pulled off a great play. Just remember: You don't see Dave Kingman stealing home.
Dallas Green never had a chance to veto the idea (though he claimed he had). But afterward, he defended it like a regular Edward Bennett Williams. "That's the type of baseball we want to play," Green said. "I've had enough trouble convincing people that can run to run. I'd like to keep the aggressive thought in our minds.
"Mike, to me, is a very instinctive, good, baserunner. And he knows his own abilities. And he usually stays within them....
"A steal of home is always a surprise thing. And it's usually a thing that will turn this type of big game around. I've seen an awful lot of games like this turned around with something no one expects to happen, just something to break the ice of 1-2-3s."
And the Phillies certainly saw enough of them. They had only four baserunners all night – Rose in the first, Garry Maddox (error) in the second, Schmidt in the seventh and Trillo in the eighth.
Sanderson sawed through 14 straight hitters at one point and ran only one three-ball count until he walked Schmidt. In fact, he didn't throw his first ball in the first inning until his 10th pitch.
Rose's hit came on an 0-2 change-up that Sanderson would like to take back to the drawing board.
"It seemed like a pretty dumb pitch leading off the game," Rose said. "You don't throw a guy like me a high change-up, 0-and-2, not after you just threw two fastballs pretty much right by me."
But Rose never left first. Maddox was wiped out in a double play. And though Maddox bunted Trillo to second in the eighth, Sanderson unleashed a fastball parade to pop up Greg Gross and Bob Boone.
The loss dropped the Phillies 2ֿ½ games behind Montreal in. the National League East. But it also dropped Lerch to 2-10, the worst start of his life – or practically anybody else's life, for that matter.
Lerch may have a 4.45 earned-run average. But he also has been the pitcher in three of the five games the Phillies have been shut out this year. Plus, he has a 3-1 loss and 10-innings worth of no-decision in a 3-2 game in Los Angeles last week.
"I'm not real sure how this is going to affect him," said Green. "If his record was closer to where a Randy Lerch record ought to be, this might be encouraging. What worries me is that it might be frustrating to him. I would hope, though, that he Would gain something from it. I gained something from it."
Lerch went the whole nine innings, gave up five hits (four ground-ball singles and a bunt) and walked just two, both early. He had a chance to get hurt by a Ramon Aviles error in the second, but got Chris Speier and Sanderson with two on.
He had another chance to get burned in the third, when Aviles couldn't make a charge play from short quick enough to get Ron LeFlore. LeFlore then stole second and third, giving him 40 steals in 63 games, a 98-steal pace. But Lerch set down Rodney Scott, Andre Dawson and Carter to get out of it.
The jam he couldn't wriggle out of came in the fifth. Speier five-bopped one up the middle for a leadoff single. Sanderson bunted him over. Lerch got LeFlore to hit a broken-bat chopper to Schmidt for the second out. But Dawson fouled off four in a row before stroking a curveball away through the right side.
Bake McBride, who had thrown out Scott at the plate with a sore elbow Wednesday night, almost nailed Speier, too. His two-hop throw got there in time, but Boone lost the ball making the sweep tag and it was 1-0.
"I had the ball pretty good. when I caught it," Boone said. "The throw was off to the side, but I'd blocked off the plate, so he never got to the plate. But the toe of his foot hit right in the web, right on the ball, and kicked it out. It was kind of fluky, really."
What was not fluky was Scott Sanderson. He is 4-1 against the Phillies lifetime. And two of the wins are shutouts. He's not too shabby defending the steal of home, either.
NOTES: Bowa strained his right hamstring chasing Andre Dawson's single in the first inning and had to exit. Team doctor Phillip Marone says he will be out a week. Bowa, who could walk on it afterward, says it will be four days.... Dick Ruthven should be able to pitch one game of tomorrow night's twinighter, with Dan Larson working the other. Mark Bomback (5-1) and Ray Burris (4-4) will go for the Mets. Dickie Noles will make his first start of the post-suspension era Sunday against Pat Zachry (2-4). Which means the Phils miss Craig Swan for the third straight series.
Noles drops plea, starts suspension
Pitcher Dickie Noles yesterday began a three-day suspension after dropping his appeal to National League president Charles Feeney, the Phillies announced.
Noles is being disciplined for tossing a bat and helmet onto the playing field in Los Angeles on June 17. The player was angered over a first base umpire's decision that preceded a Dodgers' home run for which Noles was pulled from the game.
Feeney announced a $500 fine and three-day suspension Tuesday and Noles appealed through the Major League Baseball Players Association.
"I was upset when I heard about the suspension," Noles said. "But after talking to several people the last two days, I decided to drop the appeal and get the entire thing over with."
Manager Dallas Green said the suspension means he will have to juggle his pitching plans for the weekend series with the New York Mets.
"With the availability of Dick Ruthven still up in the air, I had penciled in Dickie and Dan Larson for Saturday night's doubleheader," Green said.
"Now I'm hoping Ruthven will be able to go in one of those two games. If he can't, we'll have to work out something else."
Ruthven bruised his shoulder fielding a bunt June 13 in a game against San Diego.
Green also said he was dropping a $250 fine he had levied against Noles for the same incident.
"I simply feel the penalty he has received is enough," Green said. "I don't condone that type of activity, and he knows it."
Sanderson: Don’t look for finesse
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
Scott Sanderson, the Montreal Expos' erudite pitcher, was talking about confidence, the kind that lets a guy pump a stream of fastballs past the Phillies for two hours and live to joke about the whole thing.
"Last year," said Sanderson, remembering a game with the Pirates, "I threw Willie Stargell a fastball in the first inning, and he hit it out. In the third inning, I threw him another fastball, and he hit that one out. The next time he came up, I started with a curveball, and (Jim) Brewer came running out to the mound and said, 'I don't believe you're afraid of this guy! Challenge him with your best stuff.'"
Sanderson didn't exactly mow down Stargell after Brewer stormed back to the dugout. "1 could say I don't know what happened," he said, smiling. "But, to be honest, I think he walked."
Whatever, the message hit home: Don't let up against anybody. Last night, for instance, Sanderson threw a tight two-hitter at the Phillies, a 1-0 game, 95 pitches, 65 strikes, a lot of steaming, sailing fastballs. The Phillies are supposed to hit fastballs.
"Well," Sanderson said, "I gave 'em a chance."
True. There was no messing around on his part, not much finesse or the usual wasting of pitches, just fastballs for strikes. "The fastball, oh yeah, he had an excellent fastball," said catcher Gary Carter.
"I think the most important thing was the location of the fastballs," Sanderson said. "Gary Carter does a good job of setting up, inside and outside, and I have all the confidence in the world in him."
And himself. At 23, Sanderson is a fine example of the front-running Club de Baseball Montreal. The Expos like to draft college players because, as manager Dick Williams says, "they will advance quicker." So the Expos got Sanderson after three years at Vanderbilt University, watched him blow into Montreal last year after just 28 minor-league starts, and now they have a 7-4 starter.
Sanderson missed a start after pulling a groin muscle June 10, and came back with a bad outing against the Padres – who don't hit much of anything. "I couldn't push off the rubber," he said. "I was all arm, out of the groove."
He almost missed his chance to regain the groove against the Phils. On his last warmup pitch in the left-field bullpen last night, he stepped into a dirt ridge built up through constant use of the area, twisted his left knee and fell on his back.
"It was like stepping into a curb instead of over it," he said, "and I fell over like a bowling pin."
He stood up, but the knee was stiff and numb. No serious damage was discovered, and Sanderson was allowed to pitch. "The whole knee locked up for about three minutes," he said. "The numbness went away about midway through my warmups in the first inning. The trainers said I ; might have pinched a nerve for a moment."
Then Sanderson made the Phillies' bats quite numb, so much so, in fact. that the Phils really had to scratch – they thought. So there was Schmidt trying to steal home in the seventh with two out and a 1-1 count on Manny Trillo, a .300 hitter. Sanderson calmly, with no change in his delivery, fired another low fastball, and Carter made the tag.
But then, Sanderson figures his job is to throw hard. To everyone.
"I lost a game to (Atlanta's Phil) Niekro," he was saying last night, "on a curveball to the No. 8 hitter. I think his name was Chico Ruiz. Why let a hitter like that beat you like that? I didn't sleep that night."
Thanks to the Phillies, however, he can rest easy now for a few days.
Today’s sports calendar
Super Steve goes for 14th
Who is 13-2, has 135 strikeouts, and doesn't talk to reporters? Why, it's Steve Carlton, and he'll be pursuing victory No. 14 tonight when the Phillies host the Mets at 8:05.
PHILLIES vs. New York Mets at Veterans Stadium, 8:05 p.m. (Radio-KYW-1060)