Philadelphia Inquirer - June 28, 1980
Mets beat Carlton and Phillies, 3-2
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
He has scissored through the National league like a machine. Win followed win followed win.
But somewhere out there the Mets were lurking. And last night they struck.
The team that is 27-24 lifetime against Steve Carlton did him in again. They beat him, 3-2, stopping an eight-game Carlton winning streak and lowering Lefty's record to 13-3. Of the three losses, those omnipotent Mets are responsible for two of them. Only one other team, Cincinnati, has a winning record against him.
Carlton still has as many wins as Denny McLain had on this date in his 31-win season in 1968. He also passed Robin Roberts and moved into first on the all-time Phillies strikeout list. Carlton fanned six, giving him 1,873 as a Phillie, two more than Roberts in 1,400 fewer innings.
But also, for the third straight start, he was not the unhittable monster he was in June.
"He was up more than I've seen him this year," said Dallas Green, who has watched Carlton go 18-3 since he took over as manager. "And the Mets, historically, have handled him pretty well for some reason."
Part of that reason in recent years is that the Mets short-stroke him to death. And it was a short-stroke blooper by Lee Mazzilli in the sixth inning last night that turned the game around.
It was a 0-0 game at the time. Mazzilli, he of the .172 average righthanded this year, was leading off the inning.
He thunked the first pitch down the line in short right. Bake McBride came steaming in after it, going for the out instead of playing safe. But as McBride discovered too late, he had no shot. Suddenly he was there, the ball was hopping by and there was nothing left for Bake to do but swipe at it futilely.
As the ball headed thataway, McBride gave up on it completely. So Manny Trillo had to chase it all the way into the corner in right. And Mazzilli circled the bases for the first homer off Carlton in 72-2/3 innings. Johnny Bench hit the last one on May 1. At least that one left the park.
"If Bake thinks he can catch it, I don't want him holding back." said Green, circling the wagons around his rightfielder. "It's just one of those freak things. On a play like that, either you go all-out to catch it or you try and smother it with your body. The way it bounced, he couldn't do either."
But Green was not allowed to let it rest at that. It had been, after all, a 0-0 game. The guy McBride was playing behind was the best pitcher in baseball. The worst thing that could have happened had McBride played it safe was a double. And then Carlton still would have had the chance to protect his shutout the way he has closed out 200 wins.
"Why?" Green demanded. "Why should he play it safe? Every out counts. Suppose it was a nothing-nothing no-hitter. Then what are you gonna do? From where I stood, I thought he might have had a shot at it. If I was out there, I'd have wanted to catch the ball, too.
"I don't try to protect Bake when I think Bake has done something I can't live with. But I can live with stuff like that."
Only a rightfielder knows for sure. And Mets rightfielder Joel Youngblood had to deal with a similar looper by Greg Luzinski two innings earlier. Youngblood played it conservatively, and Luzinski barely beat Youngblood's machine-gun arm for a leadoff double. But he didn't score.
"I think Bake could have tried to keep it to a single," Youngblood said. "But I
play right field, and I know. You don't really know what to do until the ball is right on you, until the last minute. But then again, in a tight ball game, nothing-nothing...."
Green protested that Mazzilli's homer "was only one run." And the fact remains that Carlton then did allow the Mets to score two more in the inning.
Carlton may be the master of the concentration, but even he has lapses. After a similar blooper fell in front of McBride in San Francisco last July, he threw back-to-back homers. This time the Mets just stroked the ball in the right places.
Two pitches after the homer, Frank Taveras lined a hard single to right. Then Carlton got the first out. But John Stearns bounced one into left for another single.
Youngblood, who was 2-for-2 at the time, was next. He simply slapped at an outside breaking ball, and knocked it into right. When McBride overthrew the cutoff man trying to get Taveras at the plate, Youngblood moved up and it was second and third for Alex Trevino (.318).
Trevino towered a fastball that Garry Maddox ran down at the track in center. But Stearns jogged home, and it was 3-0.
The Phillies never quite made it back against Mets rookie John Pacella, who, fittingly, was stalking his first major league win.
Pacella, who has averaged nearly seven walks and seven strikeouts per nine innings this year, got through six innings with a three-hitter. That meant it had been 16 innings since the Phils had last scored as Maddox opened the seventh with an infield single.
Bob Boone ended the scoring drought by ripping his fifth homer way up the lower deck in left. Pacella then drilled Greg Gross in the heel, and Mets manager Joe Torre got the righthander out of there while it was still 3-2. Tom Hausman came on and saved it for him with three hitless innings.
Before Pacella gets immortalized in the Phillie-killer Hall of Fame, it ought to be noted that the Phillies have been taking a lot of killings lately. They have lost six of eight and have scored four runs in their last three games.
"I'm a little worried we're starting to slip back into the old talent-will-take-over-any-day type of attitude," Green said. "I think maybe I might have to have a little talk about that. The old talent's catching up quick."
NOTES: Larry Bowa hit, played pepper and walked around without so much as a decent limp yesterday after straining his right hamstring Thursday. Trainer Don Seger said he can play as soon as he can run, which should be less than a week. Seger is wary, however, of Bowa rushing back and reaggravating it, a la Greg Luzinski last year.... Nino Espinosa was back from Spartanburg yesterday. Pitching coach Herm Starrette said he and Dallas Green wanted to watch Espinosa throw on the side, then they would make a decision about activating him.... A 1964 Herm Starrette baseball card was going for 14 cents at the baseball memorabilia show at the Vet last night.... Dick Ruthven (Game 1) and Dan Larson (Game 2) start vs. Ray Burris (9-4 lifetime against the Phillies) and Mark Bomback (2-0 lifetime against the Phils) in today's twi-nighter(5:35 p.m.).
Phils take on Mets twice
It’s two for the price of one this afternoon and tonight.
Fans who go out to Veterans Stadium will enjoy one of their few breaks from inflation as the Phils entertain the Mets in a doubleheader beginning at 5:35 p.m.
There is only one other doubleheader scheduled at the Vet this season.
PHILLIES vs. New York Mets at Veterans Stadium, twinight doubleheader, 5:35 p.m. (Radio-KYW-1060)