Philadelphia Inquirer - May 1, 1980

Mets’ Bomback tosses 2-hitter, tops Phils again


By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer


NEW YORK - The Mets got him from the Brewers in exchange for the immortal Dwight Bernard.


The Brewers got him from a factory in Fall River, Mass., in exchange for a phone call.


The factory got him from the Red Sox, who were tired of waiting for him.


They should have waited. Mark Bomback can pitch.


The Mets righthander shut out the Phillies, 2-0, on two hits last night. A ground-ball single by Mike Schmidt in the second inning and another by Garry Maddox in the seventh were all that separated him from a no-hitter.


He saw his share of trouble, thanks to six walks. But he pitched out of all of it. And so he has two wins in the big leagues. Both came against a certain troubled team from 100 miles down the turnpike.


"He must be for real. That's twice he beat us," said Larry Bowa. "Either that or we're that bad. But I can't say anything bad about him. He's done a good job twice against us.


"He moves the ball around. He makes good pitches. He throws strikes."


He threw them when he had to, anyhow. In the sixth, with a 1-0 lead, he walked Luis Aguayo and Randy Lerch, the No. 8 and 9 hitters, with nobody out. Anybody else but Pete Rose hitting next, and maybe the Phillies bunt. But instead, Rose swung away and bounced into a double play.


"I was going to fake a bunt," Rose said. "It would have been the perfect opportunity to do that. But heck, he threw me a fastball right down the middle."


So that chance died. Then in the seventh, Maddox singled and stole second with nobody out. So it was Bomback vs. the heart of the Phillies order.


Score it Bomback 1, Heart of the Order 0. Schmidt chopped to third. Greg Luzinski popped to short. Bob Boone fouled off a couple, then fanned on a changeup.


And again in the eighth, Bomback walked Del Unser and Rose back-to-back with two outs. But Bake McBride bounced to second. And so this Mark Bomback rolled on.


The Phillies left five guys on against him in the last four innings last night. A week ago, at the Vet, they stranded 10 in seven innings against him.


He doesn't strike anybody out. He doesn't overwhelm anybody with his fastball. But he has perfected the art of escape. And a little Houdini in the blood never hurt any pitcher.


"That's the way I pitched all last year," said Bomback. who was released by Boston in 1977 and came back to be the Sporting News minor league player of the year (22-7) in Spokane last season. "I'd give up 15 hits, and I'd only give up one run. I pitched 240 innings and gave up like 250 hits."


Bomback's off-speed, keep-them-off-balance approach has been known to do the Phillies in before. But try to explain that to Randy Lerch, who is 0-3 and should be 3-1. Something always does the Phillies in when Lerch pitches.


"People don't remember whether you pitch good or bad," said Lerch, who gave up just four hits and one run in seven innings. "They just remember whether you win or lose. And (bleeping) losing is getting old for me, whether I lose, 1-0, or 10-0."


The Mets' only run off Lerch came in the fourth. John Stearns lined a hit to left that Luzinski had to hustle to cut off. He did, but Stearns turned first and never stopped. If Luzinski had Dave Parker's arm, he would have nailed Stearns at second. Instead, Stearns had an important, no-out double.


Jerry Morales moved him to third with a right-side grounder. But Lerch had the No. 7, 8 and 9 hitters coming up. He got ahead of No. 7, Dan Norman (batting average at the time: .125). But he hung a slider at the letters, Norman roped it to center for a run, and the Phils never got it back.


"That was the only mistake I made," Lerch said. "It was a mental mistake and a physical mistake. I hadn't been throwing the slider good all night. But I had a good fastball and a good changeup. So I try to throw the slider with two strikes on the hitter. I hang it up there, and he gets a base hit."


It stayed 1-0 until two outs in the eighth, when Morales chopped a ball toward Schmidt, who misread the hop and booted it for an error. Morales then stole second. He scored when Norman bounced one to short that kicked off the edge of the infield grass and skidded through Bowa's legs for another error.


So the Phillies are 6-9 for the year, 1-3 against the Mets and 0-2 against Mark Bomback. Dallas Green still says it's too early to worry. But he looks worried when he says it.


NOTES: Nino Espinosa pitched batting practice. He threw reasonably hard and mixed in a number of breaking balls. "I don't think I'm too far away," Espinosa said. "I don't think the doctor thinks I'm too far, either." Trainer Don Seger listened to this and said: "I wonder what Dave Parker thinks." Espinosa threw 104 pitches in the bullpen and 51 more in batting practice. The important thing, the pitcher said, is that he is now able to work out the stiffness. Before, he said, he would reach a point and then "it was like someone saying, 'Stop there. You can't throw no more.'" Despite his progress, Espinosa still is at least two weeks from being activated, said pitching coach Herm Starrette.