Wilmington Evening Journal - June 30, 1980

Bob Walk makes Met ‘magic’ disappear


By Rod Beaton, Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – The New York Mets aren't exactly awe-Inspiring. Last year they were so atrocious they were more like the New York Mutts, such dogs the American Kennel Club should have placed an all-points bulletin on them.


This year the Mets "Magic Is Back," according to their advertising. They tried to make the Phillies believers by winning six of the teams' first eight meetings.


But rookie right-hander Bob Walk wove his own magic last night at Veterans Stadium, going 7 strong innings to deny the Mets a seventh victory. Walk scattered eight hits, struck out seven and walked one to record a 5-2 victory that ended the Phils' season-high, four-game losing streak.


Game in hand, impotent bats again productive, but not booming, Phillies Manager Dallas Green was quick to crow about the difference.


"We finally played like the Phillies and the Mets finally played like the Mets," he said after the Phils avoided being swept in a four-game series for the first time since May of 1972.


That assessment did not suit Mets Manager Joe Torre. When he heard it, Torre got green at the gills and implied that the Phils' skipper will not be joining him for pasta any time soon.


"Green has a tendency to have his butt overload his mouth, if that's what he said," Torre bristled. "I wouldn't say they blew us out."


They didn't, but Walk blew them away. Getting his first serves over the plate, Walk was a formidable mound presence. He lifted his record to 3-0, further burying the notion he will be sent back to Oklahoma City when or if Nino Espinosa is reactivated.


"I think he's finally settling down, realizing he can pitch and win in the major leagues," said Green. "It's not as tough as it looks if he gets the ball over the plate."


It's tough on the opposition when he does. Walk, 23, stayed ahead in the count and no-hit the Mets until two were out in the fourth. He began to fade in the seventh, loading the bases with two out but blowing a third strike past pinch-hitter Ron Hodges.


"I'm not aiming the ball like I was," said the exuberant youngster, whose challenging pitching is mirrored by his kamikaze hitting and baserunning. "It's difficult to throw thinking, 'God, I hope it's a strike." Before, I'd have to take something off so I didn't walk the guy. Now I'm throwing natural."


The all-natural pitcher's 100 percent organic fastball provided a source of optimism as the Phils salvaged a second victory from the seven-game homestand. Tonight it's first-place Montreal and the start of eight contests on the road. The popgun offense was productive enough last night, but hardly the kind of inspiration Walk provided.


Green served as the Phils' farm director until the last month of last season. Last night's lineup, with Ramon Aviles at shortstop and John Vukovich at third subbing for the injured Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt, respectively, and Keith Moreland catching Walk, was a tribute to the farms, but no murderers' row. Particularly with Greg Luzinski striking out in all three official at-bats.


Nonetheless, Green was satisfied.


"We played hit-and-run, didn't miss a sign for a change," he said. "We did what we have to do and got a pretty good game from the kid (Walk)."


"The kid" benefitted from loads of leather thrown at the Mets by Aviles, Vukovich and Garry Maddox.


"I've got all those Golden Gloves out there," said Walk. "Why not let them hit the ball?"


Aviles and Vukovich were subbing for Gold Glovers, actually, but each made a play worthy of the first stringer. Aviles roamed far behind second to make an eighth-inning force play. Vukovich kept Elliott Maddox' two-on, two-out single in the infield in the seventh. Both plays prevented runs.


Shoddy defense gave the Phils the first of their tallies. Manny Trillo's fourth-inning single skipped past right fielder Claudell Washington for a two-base error. He scored on a throwing error by first baseman Lee Mazzilli, who missed starter Pat Zachry, 2-5, covering first.


In the sixth, the Phils mounted their first three-run inning in six games. The film has not been reserved for Cooperstown.


After a Zachry brushback, Walk singled. He reached third on Pete Rose's hit-and-run single. Trillo scored Walk with a base hit. With two more hits as soft as a sea breeze, the Phils scored twice more.


Bake McBride blooped a single to right for one run and Moreland's swinging bunt added another.


Walk, however, was tiring and the Mets tallied twice in the eighth. Washington doubled in one run and scored on Joel Youngblood's single.


Lerrin LaGrow came on to earn his second save, but not before he excited the 41,113 fans by walking the first two men he faced. Vukovich gobbled up Maddox' grounder to end the threat.


Pete Falcone walked three Phils In the bottom half and pinch-runner Lonnie Smith scored an insurance run. The promised post-game fireworks were postponed by a downpour, but Green and Torre did their best to provide a substitute.


PHILS FACTS - Tonight is an 8:35 start. ABC-TV, Channel 6 in Philadelphia, will carry it as the Game of the Week... Montreal throws Bill Gullikson against Dickie Noles. Scott Sanderson, author of Friday's two-hit shutout of the Phils, goes against Randy Lerch tomorrow night and Steve Rogers faces Steve Carlton Wednesday... A twi-nighter Thursday opens a five-game series in St. Louis. Games from Tuesday through Sunday will be carried on Channel 17... A pre-game deluge delayed the start 26 minutes... Because the post-game fireworks' display was rained out, fans at the game get a f 1 reduction on box or reserved seats to a future game by sending their stub to the Phils' offices. The fireworks are rescheduled for July 11.