Philadelphia Daily News - June 9, 1980
No Help for Ruthven
By Thom Greer
It was. not bad enough that the surgeons cut open Dick Ruthven's elbow last off season to exorcise the miseries which halted what started as his best campaign ever, but the scoundrels insulted the injury by ordering him to abandon his off-season strengthening program of lifting weights.
Hell, Ruthven discovered years back that an off season without weights was like being sentenced to a lifetime of Kitty Kaat's 45-mile-an-hour fastballs. The speed records yon set working on the mound are exceeded only by the time it takes the opposition to catch up with your junk and the manager to send you to an early shower.
After three starts this season, Ruthven knew he had to start mainlining spinach or something because he had no strength. His record was 1-1. but bis ERA was an obese 8.73 and seemingly adding numbers even on the days he did not pitch. After four starts, Ruthven's ERA hit a rotund 9.77.
"I wasn't having any pain (in the elbow), but I wasn’t getting any pop on my fastball," Ruthven explained yesterday, "so the only thing it could have been was no strength.
"SO I STARTED a strength program with Gus Hoefling. I've been on it since my third start I've been going through a portion of (Steve) Carlton's workouts (daily stretching, karate-type exercises) for strength. I've really felt good since Houston (a 3-0 win over the Astros to beat J.R. Richard on May 16)."
Against the Chicago Cubs yesterday. Ruthven not only felt good, he looked great in seven innings of work. His fastball was smoking and popping. His location was near perfection. And he kept the ball down all the way.
Only problem was the South Philadelphia Hit Men took the day off. Produced zero runs. And Ruthven got shot down in the bargain, suffering his fifth loss in 10 decisions as the Cubs and journeyman Lynn McGlothen shut out the Phils, 2-0,. in front of 40.206 disbelieving fans at Veterans Stadium.
“I thought this was the best game I've pitched all year." he explained. "For what (catcher Bob) Boone and I are looking for, this definitely was the best."
Indeed, Ruthven's performance strongly supported Manager Dallas Green's contention that the Phils pitching staff will claw and scratch itself out of harm's way without need of a trade that would cost the club either an established member of the regular eight or one of its prize youngsters like Lonnie Smith or Keith Moreland. With the trade deadline seven days away, it's obvious Green is prepared to stand pat.
OF COURSE, AS FAR as Ruthven's effort yesterday went, "It comes up an L," Green said, "so I'm sure Dick's not happy about it. But the thing that was encouraging to me was his fastball. He gave us enough innings without runs to win. Usually, with the offense we have, we'll get a win for him when he pitches like today."
By Ruthven's thinking, even the runs he gave up came off good pitches. McGlothen, whose hex on the Phils has conjured up four wins in his last five starts, jumped on a good fastball in the fourth inning and slashed it up the alley in left-center for a double. Ivan DeJesus unloaded a shot up the middle that Manny Trillo's stabbed with a diving back-handed grab to save a run by holding McGlothen on third. But Mike Tyson, not exactly killing the ball with a.244 average this year, somehow pulled an excellent curve that was low and away down the third base line under the glove of Mike Schmidt to score the pitcher.
"It was spinning away from him." Green said of the screaming grounder past Schmidt "Plus, he's not looking for Tyson to pull a good breaking ball, anyway."
Schmidt still had a shot at the ball. But when it hit the dirt where the turf is cut out around third base, it skidded instead of bounced. "Mike said he could have dived in front of it if he'd known the ball wasn't going to bounce." Ruthven said.
The Cubs' second run was similar, in that it would have taken a great play to prevent it. Catcher Tim Blackwell got on with a single in the seventh inning and was moved to second by McGlothen's sacrifice bunt. DeJesus. who had two of the seven hits Ruthven allowed, cracked a single to center field that Garry Maddox fielded and came up throwing on the run. The throw short-hopped Boone at the plate and bounced off his chest, allowing Blackwell to score.
"BOONE HAD NO chance unless he makes a great play." explained Green. "There was nothing he could do when the ball short-hopped him."
The Phils, despite eight hits, never caught a whiff of a run until the ninth inning. By then. Bruce Sutter was on the mound and you knew the Phillies would not come back. They came close, however.
Greg Luzinski opened the inning with a double. Boone and Maddox. apparently oblivious to the fact that patience is the only salvation against Sutter, jumped after his split-fingered fastball and the Phils had two quick outs. Larry Bowa got on on a questionable infield single. It seemed that first-base umpire Andy Olsen blew another call when he ruled Larry Biittner was not on the bag with the throw.
Still, after Trillo walked, the Phils had the bases loaded and young George Vukovich at the plate. Green already had warned Vukovich that patience is essential against Sutter. So he waited until he found his pitch, crushed it up the middle right into DeJesus' glove to end the game.
THE LOSS SNAPPED the Phillies three-game winning streak and dropped them two games behind the division-leading Montreal Expos. But it was not the fault of the pitching staff, which seemed to cement Green's firm conviction that the club can win with the pitchers it has.
"I still have faith in the guys we have on the staff now." Green said. "If I didn't, I'd try to change them.
"It really hurt us when Larry (Christenson) went down because we were not getting enough out of (Randy) Lerch and Ruthven. If Lerch and Ruthven continue pitching consistently, we walk away with it (the N.L. Eastern Division). Maybe we don't have enough pitching. But with what we have, it will go right down to the wire.
"I know pitching is the name of the game down the line. But we've done pretty well picking it up so far. And I know we'll get better and not worse."
And that does not apply simply to the Phils' starters. With a qualified "No," Green said he would not trade any of his bullpen staff. Qualification recognized, the skipper said under no condition would he trade Dickie Noles, who has been nothing short of superb and has an ERA of 1.80.
The problem, for sure, is that there are not quality starters available.
I've always said I would (work up a trade) if we get a better player," Green said. "But if it's just a case of changing a face, to hell with that. Why should I take one of their struggling pitchers? I got struggling pitchers of my own."
PHILUPS: Steve Carlton will go after his 11th win when he makes his 14th start tonight against John Montefusco as the San Francisco Giants open a three-game series at the Vet. Bob Walk (1-0) is scheduled to go against Bob Knepper tomorrow night and Randy Lerch (2-7) is set to face Ed Whitson Wednesday night... Mike Schmidt went 0-4 yesterday, failing to get the hit that will be the 1,000th of his career.
Phils Aid McGlothen’s Rebirth
By Gary Smith
Hard as this may be for the Wrigley family to swallow, fatherhood is stronger than Cubhood. So nine weeks ago. with his wife's belly fatter than a hanging curve, Chicago pitcher Lynn McGlothen went home.
The owners had just locked up the clubhouses for the final week of spring training and his wife was due in three days. Most players stayed in camp and conducted informal workouts. Lynn believes in team loyalty as much as the next Cubbie, but he believes in loyalty to Mrs. McGlothen even more.
One week later Lynn McGlothen rejoined his team empty handed. His starting job was gone and the baby had asked for a postponement. A pregnant woman gets sympathy when the baby is overdue. An absent pitcher does not. No baby means no cigars and when your manager was born near Havana, that is a critical mistake.
So Preston Gomez shuffled McGlothen to the bottom of the deck and this caused a second problem. Lynn McGlothen started looking more pregnant than his wife.
"IF I GET STEADY WORK," McGlothen was saying yesterday "I don't worry about my weight If I don't, then I gain weight. I'm just a normal guy. I'm not a big boozer and not a big eater, but it shows on my mid-section when I'm not pitching much. If I'm to stay healthy, I gotta eat and if I don't work I'm still gonna eat."
So he sat and ate and ate and sat and finally, when Preston Gomez remembered his name, he ripped up his groin on his second start. Before yesterday he had a 6.98 ERA and had served 11 home runs in 40 scattered innings and Chicago writers were fondly referring to him as Lynn McGopher. No question about it, it looked like one of those years when Lynn would have been better off staying home changing diapers.
And then yesterday the Phillies came back into his life. Like Phil Niekro,. Ray Burns and Mark Bomback – other Phillies' parasites of note – Lynn McGlothen is one of the pitchers who finds he can crawl into a warm, moist place on Dallas Green's roster and grow fat on its blood.
He shut them down yesterday with six hits and no runs in eight innings, his fourth win in his last five decisions against the Phillies. He gagged them in their own den, where they have won 13 of their last 17, hit :293 as a team and generated 5.73 runs per game.
LAST YEAR HE ALLOWED THEM a total of three runs in beating them three times. Yesterday he sent the first four hitters home a collective 2-for-15, handed white-hot Mike Schmidt two strikeouts and four barren at-bats, and even slid across home with the game-winning run in the third. What secret sedative dogs he have for this row of gnashing teeth that has minced the rest of the league?
"My secret against the Phillies is throw as much junk as I can." said McGlothen after Bruce Sutter's ninth-inning help had finished off the 2-0 shutout. Throw it whether I'm behind or ahead (in the count). I might walk the bases full but I’ll keep throwing breaking balls.
"Whenever I've challenged Greg Luzinski with a fastball, he's hurt me. So I'll give him a steady diet of breaking stuff until he proves me wrong. Even at the risk of walking him.
"I just pitch to this team like I have an extra base open. I found out the formula two years ago and if I follow it, I'll beat them. (That's why) I got a little moody last week when the Phillies were in Chicago and they didn’t start me against them."
The Phillies were pleased with Preston Gomez' oversight. Dallas Green knows McGlothen is one of the ticks that feeds at will on his team and he knows no tweezers that will pull him off.
"If you research the history of the league," said Green, "you'll find there's always one pitcher who could beat the hell out of one club. I can't explain it. Usually a spot pitcher will eventually put the ball where you can hit it. But we didn't."
WHILE THE PHILLIES' batting averages were losing weight, Lynn McGlothen's waistline was doing the same. He figures he drops 10-12 pounds on a humid day like yesterday and, as long as he can do that once every four or five days, there will be no side glances from Preston Gomez.
"I think we emphasized his weight too much," admitted the Cubs' manager, who is now trying to use reverse psychology instead.
"Preston's a disciplinarian," said McGlothen. "He likes to see guys fit and trim. But baseball is baseball. You don't need a perfect physique. Greg Luzinski had some good years when he was heavy. Did you know there is only one pitcher on this staff faster than (230-pound) Rick Reuschel?
"I weigh 220 right now. My best years were when I was 210, 212. The other day. Preston said, 'Oh, you look fit and trim.' He can use reverse psychology, but it wont reverse me. I'll do the same, thing tonight I always do. I'll have a few beers, kid with the guys and go to sleep."
Gomez insists McGlothen is not in the doghouse and never was. He says he didn't use him the first month of the season because the schedule was pockmarked with too many off days and rainouts.
Mike Vail, Dick Tidrow, Mike Tyson and Larry Biittner all went home that week, too, and none of their wives were even a little pregnant. McGlothen believes he was the only walk-out punished because he was the only walkout Gomez could afford to punish.
"NO DOUBT ABOUT IT – I didn't pitch at all the month of April," he said. "He pitched four guys in front of me and I know we don't have three starters better than me. Vail and Biittner and those other guys all played. Somehow, because of all the off days, I was treated differently.
"My decision to leave was evidently a bad one. I paid for it. I pouted over what happened. It was the perfect opportunity for Preston Gomez to show Lynn McGlothen who's boss."
The baby, by the way, finally showed up two weeks late. Which means 1980 will go down as the year Mr. and Mrs. McGlothen both learned the same hard fact of life:
It's hard as all hell just sitting around waiting for the chance to deliver.
There were nine winners in the Daily News Home Run Payoff over the weekend.
In the fifth inning of yesterday's Phillies-Cubs game, Simon Nevrick of Philadelphia won $10 and four tickets on a Manny Trillo single. Robert Wilson, Thomas P. English and Deborah Clark, all of Philadelphia, won tickets.
In Saturday's third inning, Nancy A. Sawa and Theresa O'Malley, both of Philadelphia, each won $10 and four tickets on singles by Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski. Marvin L. Jones, R.J. Lewis and Lorraine O'Neill, all of Philadelphia, won tickets.
So far the Daily News Home Run Payoff has paid out $5,200. To enter, send the coupon that appears on Page 58.