Wilmington Evening Journal - June 27, 1980

Phils’ Schmidt finds stealing doesn’t pay


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – Chico Ruiz of the Cincinnati Reds stole home in 1964 and ruined a whole decade for the Phillies.


Mike Schmidt was just a fresh-faced freshman at Dayton's Fairview High when that happened, so he probably wasn't paying much attention.


But last night Schmidt, now the Phils' third baseman, decided to make the Montreal Expos and the 31,696 Veterans Stadium fans sit up and take notice with an attempted steal of home.


It didn't work and the Expos hung on to a 1-0 victory , behind Scott Sanderson to move 2½ games ahead of the Phils In the National League East. Three more games between the teams begin Monday night in Montreal, the first of which will be beamed to a national TV audience.


Last night a national cable audience saw Schmidt dash for the plate in the seventh inning with Manny Trillo batting. And they saw the poised Sanderson nail Schmidt with a fastball that catcher Gary Carter caught in time to slap a tag on Schmidt.


Schmidt, not a noted basestealer but a fine baserunner nonetheless, liked his chances on what he later called a "once-in-a-lifetime" play.


"If he throws the ball In the dirt, I'm safe," said Schmidt. "If he throws a curve, I'm safe. If he throws it high, I'm safe.


"All he can do to get me is throw it down and in, and that's what he did."


As we noticed.


And so did Sanderson, who picked up his second shutout of the season to go with a pair of combined shutouts with the venerable Woodie Fryman over Houston. The right hander made the Expos' lone run stand up with a brilliant two-hitter.


He also outdueled the Phils hard-luck left-hander. Randy Lerch, now 2-10 after pitching a four-hitter. The Phils have been blanked five times and Lerch was the loser in three of them.


One of those four hits Lerch allowed was Andre Dawson's opposite-field single to right. It scored Chris Speier, who kicked the ball out of Bob Boone's mitt to record the run.


The Phils had only one hit, Pete Rose's first-inning single, off Sanderson before Schmidt walked with one out in the seventh. After Del Unser's towering drive died at the right-field wall for the second out, Schmidt decided to steal a page from the Expos' running manual and stole second.


When Carter's throw glanced off his back and caromed into shallow center, Schmidt got up and raced to third. Then, on a 1-1 pitch to Trillo, Schmidt broke for the plate.  


Instead of getting flustered and rushing his throw, which usually results in either a wild pitch or a balk call, Sanderson calmly delivered a belt high fastball that brushed Trillo off the plate and enabled Carter to make the tag.


It was a close play, regardless, with Schmidt feeling he got a foot on the plate before Carter made the tag. But umpire Dutch Rennert didn't hesitate with his out call.


"He could've called me safe," said Schmidt. "I thought I got the front of the plate with my foot. The replay showed I might have been out. But you've got to try something when it's 1-0 and the guy's throwing a one-hitter."


Sanderson's sentiments exactly. ' "I was surprised they tried it in a 1-0 game," said the pitcher. "But you have to do something, I guess."


As for the steal, Sanderson said he saw it coming.


"A lot of runners try to fake stealing home, trying to make the pitcher balk," Sanderson said, "but I knew he was going after the second or third step. I kept the same easy, smooth motion and threw a fastball up and in to get Trillo out of the way. Gary was able to make the tag.


"The important thing is not to alter your motion. Sometimes just speeding up your motion makes it look like a balk. I took a little extra time, in fact."


Sanderson almost ran out of time before the game even began. On his last warmup pitch in the bullpen, Sanderson overstrided and his knee locked.


"It hyperextended and I fell down," Sanderson said. "My leg was numb for about two minutes."


Sanderson admits he was a bit concerned.


"It went away while I was warming up on the mound," he said, "but it was a freakish sort of thing. The trainer said I momentarily pinched the nerve That's why it was numb."


But Sanderson quickly went out and numbed the Phillies' bats.


"Anytime you pitch a shutout, it's one of your better outings," he said. "But this was one of the team's better defensive efforts, too. A shutout is truly a team effort."


Lerch has to be wondering when he is going to get some support.


Of Lerch's nerve-rattling, Jekyll-and-Hyde performances from game to game – he was bombed in San Francisco after pitching 10 strong innings in a no-decision in Los Angeles – Green said he was encouraged.


"I'm sure Randy would like to come up with a win after pitching that intensely," Green said. "This was a good game for him, intensity-wise and everything else.


"If his record was near normal, he might be encouraged. But this has to be frustrating for him. I hope he got something from it. I got something from it. Randy made good pitches all night."


Lerch found it hard to be dejected.


"There's a long way to go and anything can happen," he said. "I'm not gonna give up on myself or the team. We just ran into a buzzsaw tonight."


EXTRA INNINGS - Larry Bowa, who aggravated his right hamstring Wednesday night, strained it tracking down Dawson's first-inning single last night and left the game. He will be out for about a week... Expos' string of 17 straight steals against Phils was snapped in the ninth when Warren Cromartie was called out at second. Replays showed he was safe... Expos have won 14 straight decisions against left-handers... Steve Carlton goes for his ninth straight victory tonight against the Mets' John Pacella at 8 05... Dan Larson and probably Dick Ruthven will get the starts in tomorrow s 5 35 p.m. twi-nighter vs. Mets' Ray Burris and Mark Bomback.