Reading Eagle - June 27, 1980

Tags Tell the Tale in 1-0 Phils Loss


By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA It was a tale of two home-plate tags at the Vet Thursday night.


As in "A Tale of Two Cities," the guys who speak French chopped up their enemies.


The Philadelphia Phillies came out losers on both tags, and thus losers by 1-0 to the Montreal Expos in the rubber game of their key three-game series, all of which were settled by a run.


Scott Sanderson and Randy Lerch, as unlikely nominations for a 1-0 duel as Louis XVI for a pardon by the Republic, pitched their best games of the season.


Lerch allowed only five hits (all ground singles), while Sanderson allowed but two hits (both singles). However, had the tag results been exchanged, it would -have been Lerch with the "W." Indeed, the Phils had the better chance of getting the defensive out call than the Expos.


The first tag came in the fifth, with Chris Speier trying to score from second for Montreal on Andre Dawson's single to right. Bob Boone, who made a big tag on a Bake McBride throw Wednesday, grabbed Bake's heave on the short hop and swept at Speier. But the ball flew loose.


"He hadn't gotten to the plate," Boone said later. "I had pretty good control, but I hit him right on the toe with the web, just where the ball was. And it came loose. It was kind of a freak."


The second tag came in the seventh. Mike Schmidt tried to tie the game by stealing home on a 1-1 pitch to Manny Trillo with two out. Gary Carter got the high in- side pitch down just in time to tag Schmidt on the lower leg before the foot got in.


"I thought I got the front edge of the plate," said Schmidt. "But then you always think you're safe when it's close. It could have been called either way." (The replay indicated the ump was probably right.)


"I thought it was the perfect time to do it," said Schmidt, who didn't think about it till he reach third on a steal-overthrow on the first pitch to Trillo. Then he saw how slow Sanderson was at winding up.


"We had to do something. Maybe he balks when he sees me coming. If he throws a curve, or a fastball in a different place, I make it. I thought it was a great play." Schmidt insisted.


Green Agrees


Dallas Green agreed, after giving his consent to the steal by not negating Schmidt's request through Coach Lee Elia. "It didn't look like we were gonna get any hits, and he darn near made it," said Dallas.


"That's the type of baseball we want to play; we want to keep the aggressive thought in mind. We have enough trouble trying to convince the people who can run to run."


There was a mistake made, but it was by Trillo in not swinging to slow Carter's reaction. Of course, Manny didn't know what was happening till the last instant.. He'd never had anyone do that to him before.


Did he consider swinging, when he realized what was happening? "No way I swing when he's coming," said Manny.


Schmidt didn't agree. "If he swings it doesn't matter, I'll be under him. If he'd swung he'd have probably hit the catcher and gone to first, but I'd have had to go back to third and that wouldn't have helped us."


Wrong, Mike. On catcher's interference you are awarded the base, if you're trying to steal it. Presumably you can be pardoned since you never tried to steal home in the bigs before.


Trillo Singles Too Late


Schmidt, who had walked with one out, was the only Phil to see third base all night. The only other one to see second was Trillo, who naturally led off the eighth after Schmidt ended the seventh. He lined a single, of course the game's most solid hit.


He was sacrificed to second and died there.


Sanderson faced only two batters over the 27 minimum. Pete Rose singled to start the first, but got no farther. 


The only other runner was Garry Maddox, safe on a second-inning error but rubbed out on a double play.


Sanderson came in with a 6-4, 3.16 ERA, so his fine effort wouldn't ordinarily be such a surprise. But he was coming off a groin injury which forced him out after three innings June 10 and limited him to four innings in his only start since then.


What's more, he suffered a hyperextension of the knee while warming up in the pen and it was numb when he took the mound to start. But the only numbing during the game was of the Phillies' bats. He needed just 95 pitches, 65 of them strikes.


Lauded by Green


"He pitched super," said Green. "Randy pitched good, but he was 10 times better."


Boone summed up Sanderson's effort: "He spotted the fastball well, he was consistently ahead, he had good changes and curves." What else is there?


Meanwhile, Lerch was throwing far better than a guy with a 2-9 record (now 2-10) should. Losing in these circumstances surely hurt like the Dickens.


Randy faced seven over the minimum – only 12 in the last four innings, the sole runner being caught stealing. The Expos did leave two on third in the early going.


"Randy threw really fine," said Boone. "He had command of all his pitches. His ball was sinking well."


"He was good intensity-wise," said Green, who has felt Randy doesn't have enough of that quality. "I saw some real good things. He made good pitches all night."


Yes, it was a far, far better game than he had pitched all season. But unlike the hero in "Two Cities," Randy Lerch presumably was not able to go Thursday night to a far, far better rest than he had known. The worst of times is still far from becoming the best of times.


PHIL-PHILLERS – Larry Bowa strained a hamstring in his right leg going for a first-inning hit and had to leave. He'll be out about five days; he had been bothered by the leg for over a week.... Montreal's Dick Williams, whose team is now 2½ games ahead of the Phils, was satisfied with the 5-5 road trip. Now the Expos play the next seven games against the Pirates and Phils in Montreal.... Speier got in scoring position on a single and sacrifice.... The Expos have now won 14 consecutive decisions against a left-hander, not losing to one since April 27. Since May 11, Montreal is 27-12.... Dawson's game-winning RBI was his ninth, tops in the league. . . . Dickie Noles withdrew his suspension appeal and so started the the three-day sit-out Thursday: he had been slated to pitch Saturday.

SportopicS:  Lerch’s Luck Holds Again


By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – "I've said all along," Mike Schmidt was saying Thursday night, the team that wins the National League East is going to be the team with the best four start- Fing pitchers and the best two relief pitchers."


At that rate, the favorite ought to be the Montreal Expos, who can currently boast three starters with a combined record of 20-10 and combined ERA of 2.72 (Steve Rogers, Dave Palmer, Scott Sanderson), plus two newcomers who've started seven times between them and have a combined ERA of 2.73 (Bill -Gullickson and Charley Lea).


And that's not counting veteran Bill Lee, due back soon from the disabled list. Relievers? Woody Fryman has a 1.80 ERA and Elias Sosa has five wins and five saves.


But things are a little brighter in that re- spect for the Phillies today than a couple of days ago. Bob Walk Wednesday and Randy Lerch Thursday gave indications that things will be better for them than they have been.


Dick Ruthven, who's won six games, may be back by Saturday. Of course, there's no question about who's No. 1. Steve Carlton goes for No. 14 tonight; in 1972, when he won 27 games, he won No. 14 July 23. And the bullpen has been satisfactory.


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An Old Story


For Randy Lerch to get a lack of bat support is nothing new. But Thursday's two-hit attack was especially bitter in that he held the opposition to less than two runs for the first time in his 15 starts this season, with nothing to show for it.


The Phillies have now been shut out five times this year; Lerch has been the starter three times. The 1-0 loss joins 2-0 and 3-0 set-backs; in those three games the Phillies totaled eight hits.


In Randy's 15 starts, the Phillies have scored a total of 48 runs, or 3.2 per game. Only four times have they scored four or more for him. For all the other starters put together, they've averaged 5.3 runs per game.


Yes, that's nothing new. Last year Lerch was 10-13. Figures aren't readily available for all his starts, but in the 23 in which he figured in the decision, the Phils averaged 3.7 runs per game, scoring less than four in 10 of the losses and three of the wins.


For all other games last year, the Phils Caveraged 4.2 per game.


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Encouraging or Frustrating?


What would a game like Thursday do to Randy?


Lerch didn't meet the press to give his view of the situation. (One guy suggested that Lerch, who is nicknamed "Blade," better not have one around.)


Green wasn't sure, but he was hoping for the best, of course. "If his record were closer to what would be normal for Randy Lerch, tonight would be encouraging," he said. "But this might be frustrating. I hope it won't be."


Said Bob Boone, "If he throws like that the rest of the year, he'll win a lot of games."


"I hope he gained something from it," added Green. "I know I gained something from it, and I'm one of the guys who counts around here."


What Dallas would like to count is victories from Lerch and Walk. That's a must, if Schmidt is as good a seer as a slugger.