Wilmington Evening Journal - June 3, 1980
Phillies’ errors help Pirates steal game
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH – The Pirates got some help, but they stole a 9-3 game from the Phillies last night.
The Bucs got help from three Phils' errors in one inning, good for five unearned runs. They got help from seven hits off Randy Lerch, who showed little of that Pirate-killing magic he is supposed to have.
But the Pirates also stole five bases, four by Omar Moreno, before 19,990 Three Rivers Stadium fans.
The errors, two by Mike Schmidt and another by Bake McBride, didn't rankle Phillies Manager Dallas Green that much, although he did rank the game among the team's defensive stinkers.
"The only time defense hurts you is when it adds up on the scoreboard," said Green, ''and tonight it did."
Lerch, now 1-7, knows all about it, since the five unearned runs erased a 3-2 Phils' lead off winner Don Robinson and contributed to Lerch's own dizzying tailspin into a whirlpool of self-doubt and self-pity.
"One and seven," Lerch said, shaking his head. "For me it's impossible to get that out of my head. If you have any pride at all, you can't forget it. I've pitched a lot of good games this year, but I guess that's how the cookie crumbles, the way it goes.
"I thought I threw the ball all right tonight. If I'd have survived that inning, it might have been different."
But it wasn't. The Pirates got four hits in that inning, but it was the errors – Schmidt bobbling Don Robinson's hot grounder for one run, then throwing Bill Robinson's easy out past first for two more, and McBride letting Dave Parker's single bounce past his glove for an extra base – that sabotaged Lerch's effort.
"Randy was laboring with his breaking ball," said Green, who wasn't that impressed with Lerch's repertoire, even before the defensive gaffes put things out of reach. "His breaking ball was too slow, too deliberate.
"Randy wants to win so bad he can taste it. Pitching against the Pirates isn't easy, I know. He's pitched well against them historically. We have to get him on key."
Lerch knows that tune. "I've always been a winner," Lerch said. "I've only had one losing season. Hopefully I can turn this one around. One thing's for sure, if you don't believe you can, you won't."
The Phillies are full of true believers. But they've still lost four of their last five games to fall three games behind the Pirates and banish any of that momentum they picked up in a 7-3 homestand.
What the Phils have are a few pitchers who can't hold a runner on first, which is one reason the Bucs swiped five bases last night and a good reason why catcher Bob Boone has caught only seven of the 45 runners who have made easy pickings of Boone's arm.
Unless the ghost of Abner Doubleday appeared in the off-season and moved second base about five feet further back than it was last year, there must be a simple reason for Boone's one-hop throws that don't come close to nailing basestealers like Moreno and have resulted in Boone's eight errors so far.
Boone's arm or chronically ailing back must be acting up or else the pitchers aren't paying close enough attention to the man on first base.
"Bob hasn't indicated that it's a physical problem," said Green. "Sure, he's thinking about it (the steals). He knows they'll run and there's a tendency to rush. When you do, you do things that are mechanically unsound for throwing. You can't call for a pitchout every five seconds."
But it's a thought.
Green said he knew that there were fundamental problems with the pitchers holding runners on base when the team left spring training.
"It's up to the pitchers to handle it now," said the manager. "I can't do it for them. I've talked to them individually. Herm (Starrette) has made some suggestions. "But it's up to them between the white lines. They know who's capable of stealing. They've been in the league long enough."
Last night's sixth inning, when the Pirates added two runs off reliever Lerrin LaGrow, was a perfect example of the Phils' problem with stolen-base artists.
Lee Lacy singled and stole second. Omar Moreno, who had already stolen two bases on Boone's one-hop relays, reached base on a fielder's choice and, with two men out, stole second (one-hop throw) and third (no throw).
It was Moreno's single-game season high (he has 25 stolen bases overall) and a team high. Green said he didn't think the Pirates were rubbing the Phils' noses in the loss, just showing how the game would be played.
"As long as I know that's how they want to play, if we get the chance, we'll do our thing." said Green. "I guess the Pirates feel we're capable of scoring six runs on them, just as I’d feel they'd be capable of scoring six on them.
"Listen, Moreno's gonna steal four off a lot of guys. Our objective is to keep him off base. We did it pretty well in Philadelphia and he didn't steal too many bases on us there."
Boone drove in the Phils' two first-inning runs with a bloop double over first. McBride's infield chopper off Bill Madlock's glove made it 3-2 in the second after the Bucs had tied the game on Moreno's single, a triple by rookie Vance Law and Parker's groundout.
But Don Robinson, tipped off by Manager Chuck Tanner that he was tipping off his pitches, put the ball in his glove between pitches and gave up two hits the rest of the way.
"They were picking up my pitches, said Robinson. "They laid off a few good curve balls I threw and were right on the fast balls.
"Chuck (Manager Tanner) noticed it after the first inning and mentioned it. After the second inning, he said to put the ball in my glove, instead of holding it in my hand, and go from there."
And Robinson went in style, racking up his first complete game in more than a year and convincing himself he may be recovered from off-season shoulder surgery that seemed to be playing tricks with his mind.
"The complete game was the big thing tonight," said Robinson, now 2-1. "I needed it for my confidence. ! hadn't had one in so long, I wanted to know for myself that I could go nine. I was starting to believe that I was a six-inning pitcher."
The Phillies will get another shot at the Bucs tonight at 7 35 (Channel 17). Dick Ruthven will pitch for the Phillies. Everybody steals off Dick Ruthven this season.
Bob Boone may order a bazooka.
Madlock loses first appeal, files another
PITTSBURGH – National League President Chub Feeney has ruled Bill Madlock's 15-day suspension must stand, but the Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman won't take that lying down.
And it remains to be seen how future developments in the month-old case sit with the major league umpires' union.
Through the players association, Madlock lodged another appeal with Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn hours after Feeney made his final decision yesterday.
So Madlock remains in the lineup while Kuhn considers a matter that began May 1 with a jab of Madlock's glove at the face of umpire Jerry Crawford and escalated to arguments and affidavits from lawyers for the players' and the umpires' unions.
"I find the penalties originally leveled to be appropriate," Feeney said yesterday in New York in upholding his penalty, including a $5,000 fine.
"The major league umpires association is gratified that the endless delays in the Madlock appeal have now come to an end," said umpire Paul Runge, vice president of the umpires' union, which had threatened to eject Madlock from every game to speed up Feeney's ruling.
There were other views.
"Feeney upholds Feeney. That's no surprise," said Marvin Miller, executive director of the players' association. "This represents a mockery of due process."
"I'm disappointed the suspensions and fine were not reduced based on comparison of this incident with similar past incidents," said Pete Peterson, Pirate vice president.
Madlock, who helped the Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-3 last night, said he only wanted to talk baseball.
"Let's stick stricly to the game," he said.
"The suspension? That's the last thing I'm worried about. I'm thinking about pitchers like Steve Carlton."
It was during a game against Montreal that Madlock clashed with Crawford. At issue was Madlock's contention he had checked his swing on a called third strike with the bases loaded.
Feeney's suspension came May 5. Three days later Feeney heard an an appeal in which Madlock said he was only gesturing with his glove.
Yesterday Feeney said, "Even if contact was not intended, the forceful shoving of his glove in the face of an umpire... was so reckless and unacceptable to merit a severe penalty."
Last Saturday, umpires' attorney Richie Phillips announced the umpires would eject Madlock from every game, beginning June 6, unless Feeney made a decision.
What if Kuhn delays his ruling beyond June 6, this Friday, the night the Pirates will be playing the Mets in New York?
Phillips, contacted in San Diego, said more undue delay could result in "serious and grave action."
"I intend to contact the commissioner and apprise him of the situation and request a swift decision on his part," Phillips said. "It doesn't take Justices Frankfurter and Cardoza to decide this case."
Madlock's attorney, Steve Greenberg, said that if the matter remains unsettled through June 6, he would see to it that Madlock's every move on the field is photographed and recorded.
"If Bill Madlock is thrown out of that game for no good reason, the individual who took the action, Richie Phillips and the whole organization will have a major problem," Greenberg said.
The umpiring crew that handled last night game here was headed by John Kibler. He was asked before the game whether the umpires might take action Friday night if Madlock remained active.
"That's up to our attorney (Phillips)," he said. "I can't answer that until I talk to him."
Another member of the crew here, Bruce Froemming, summed up his feelings about the matter.
"We had an umpire that was physically abused," said Froemming.