Chicago Tribune - June 7, 1980

Cubs can’t shake their early failures


By Richard Dozer, Chicago Tribune Press Service


PHILADELPHIA – Another failed opening, another bad show for the Cubs.


Friday, for the second straight night, the Chicagoans sowed the seeds of defeat (6-5 to the Phillies) by letting a potential big first inning fall flat.


After rain delayed the start of the game for 41 minutes, the Cubs presented a new lineup that had Ivan DeJesus back in the leadoff spot and Mike Tyson starting at second base for the first time in a month.


And just like that, DeJesus opened with a double followed by a Tyson single.  Beautiful.


But just as Lenny Randle’s leadoff triple had been wasted 24 hours earlier, the Cubs couldn’t score.  The Phillies also had something going in their half of the first, which was interrupted by 37 minutes more of rain.


UNLIKE THE CUBS, the Phils cashed in with three runs in the first off Mike Krukow.  They later build a four-run lead, and though the Cubs finally came within a run, rookie pitcher Bob Walk managed to get credit for a victory in his first major-league decision.


In fact, Cub Manager Preston Gomez felt that a walk to Walk was what ultimately beat his club.


When Walk was walked with two out in the sixth, it hardly seemed the Phils would need more runs.  Their first inning, in which Krukow said, “I didn’t feel real loose,” featured doubles by Pete Rose (before the rain) and Greg Luzinski and Larry Bowa.  Dave Kingman had singled in two Chicago runs in the third, but the Phils made it 4-2 in the fourth on a double by rookie Lonnie Smith and Mike Schmidt’s sacrifice fly.


WALK, MEANTIME, retired seven Cubs in a row without a ball reaching the outfield.


“He had a better approach, attitude, demeanor – whatever you want to call it – tonight,” said Dallas Green, his manager.  “Whether this game buys him a ticket with us until October, I don’t know.  But we found out he’s capable of pitching up here tonight.”


In the Phils’ fifth, Krukow brushed aside two hitters quickly.  But the rest of the inning was a nightmare for Mike Vail, who had to chase down two triples, and for Krukow, who couldn’t retire Walk before the second triple knocked in two runs.


Manny Trillo drove the first triple toward the right-field corner, and Vail couldn’t put on the brakes quickly enough to keep the ball from bounding away from him – and behind him – off of the wall.


EARLIER, KRUKOW had walked four, but none had hurt him – one winding up as an out at the plate.  But Walk, who had fanned twice and was one strike from doing it again, drew his pass on a full count.


“Mike was throwing with good velocity and better pitches after his bad start, but walking the pitcher is what hurt him the most,” Gomez said.


Krukow could have offered such excuses as the rain delay and a nasty bruise inside his left thigh from having been hit by a batted ball in Montreal.  But he didn’t.


“No excuses,” he said.  “I just lost him.  But my teammates showed me something tonight the way they came back.  It’s a good sign.”


And they did come back.  Larry Biittner’s second double of the night triggered a three-run sixth and brought a parade of relief pitchers, the last of whom, Tug McGraw, fanned two in a perfect ninth to record his fourth save.


THE CUBS’ SIXTH, which was to be their last gasp, continued with a single by Mike Vail on which Biittner wisely held up at third.  Jerry Martin, who had fanned twice, drilled a run-scoring single to left, and with two out, Tim Blackwell hit the fifth triple of his major-league career into right center for two runs – the Cubs’ last of the game in their third straight loss.


Kevin Saucier retired pinch hitter Ken Henderson to end the Cub threat.  Ron Reed pitched the next two innings, stung only by DeJesus’ third hit but helped by Tyson’s sacrifice at a time the Cubs were not in a position to trade outs for one-base advances.


Then, in the ninth, McGraw fanned Blackwell and pinch hitter Steve Dillard on six pitches.


“I wanted those two guys bad,” said Tug.  “Ivan’s going to put the ball in play somewhere.  He’s got more extra-base hits in the alleys off me than anybody I know.”


This time, he could only hit a soft fly to right field.