Camden Courier-Post - May 11, 1980
Bowa’s error decisive as Reds topple Phillies
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
CINCINNATI – In the Phillies’ library of National League baseball, there is a corner reserved for the subject of "Strange and Unusual Ways to Lose a Ballgames." Yesterday's 5-3 loss to the Reds in Riverfront Stadium is their newest addition to that collection.
The oddity that separates this loss – the Phils' second straight here – from the other 11 this season was an error by shortstop Larry Bowa, who dropped a popup in shallow left-center field to allow the deciding run to score in the sixth inning.
Errors are nothing unusual in baseball, but they are a rarity for Bowa, who set a major league record by fielding .991 last season. There are no records kept for the number of popups Bowa has dropped during his career. But it's safe to say they've been few and far between. It was simply his misfortune that yesterday a ball hit by Ray Knight would become one of the few.
"I just missed it," Bowa said. "It's my fault. It Garry Maddox is playing center, I don't even go out there. Greg Gross plays deeper, but it's my fault. I got to the ball and I dropped it. I don't have any excuses... I wish I had one."
Maddox, who returned to the lineup on Friday night after spraining his ankle a week ago, was not in center field because Manager Dallas Green wanted to give Maddox more healing time. The fact that Gross could not have gotten to Knight's popup is not an indictment of his ability to play the outfield. It's just that Maddoz has the kind of speed that enables him to play shallow enough to run under most any ball hit deeper than the pitcher's mound.
"That," said Green, "was Larry's play all the way. He just dropped the ball, that's all. (Cincinnati center fielder Cesar) Geronimo doesn't get there, Maddox might."
That might have been had little relevance to Steve Carlton, who started for the Phillies against Tom Seaver in the glamor matchup of the young season. Carlton was leading, 3-2, thanks to home runs by Bake McBride, Bowa (inside-the-park) and Mike Schmidt, when he opened the sixth by walking none other than Seaver.
Dave Collins followed by botching a bunt that turned into pure gold for the Reds. The left fielder, who collided with center fielder Sam Mejias on Bowa 's homer, bunted directly in front of the plate. Catcher Bob Boone pounced on the ball, tagged Collins out, then untangled himself and threw to second for what could have been a double play. But Seaver hustled to the bag and Boone's throw was wide enough to pull second baseman Ramon Aviles off the bag.
"Give Seaver credit. He's the one who won his own ballgame by hustling to second on the bunt," said Green. “That's a double play if he doesn't. (Boone's throw) was off line because there was some jostling there."
Carlton, who permitted only four hits and struck out 11 in seven innings, gave up a game-tying double to Junior Kennedy before inducing Dave Concepcion to bounce out and set the stage for Knight's fateful popup.
To complete the odd set of circumstances surrounding this game, it was learned umpire Bruce Froemming had fined both Bowa and Concepcion for fraternizing prior to the games Friday and yesterday. The two shortstops have been rivals for years and both make it a point to do some pre-game needling.
Concepcion and Bowa traded one-liners around the batting cage yesterday, Concepcion bringing out the Gold Glove he won a year ago for Bowa to try on. Froemming, apparently, was not amused by the scenerio, and the fines will amount to $100 for each player.
The fines aside, network television couldn't have asked for a bigger one-two ratings punch than Carlton-Seaver. And, for the most part, TV got what it wanted.
Carlton was overpowering through the first four innings, displaying the same kind of stuff that had gotten him off to a 5-1 start with a league-leading 1.84 earned run average. The Reds could do nothing with the lefthander until the fifth, when Cartlon issued an ill-advised two-out walk to Mejias and a two-run homer to lefthander Dan Driessen that tied the score.
Maybe Seaver is not the Tom Terrific of old, but the righthander always seems to find a way to beat the Phils. Despite allowing the three home runs, including Schmidt's league-leading ninth of the year, Seaver managed to whip the Phils for the 26th time in his career. No active pitcher has beaten Philadelphia more often.
"I've seen him a lot better," said Green. "That's why we thought we should've gotten to him. He's changed his style of pitching. He no longer tries to overpower anybody."
Seaver left after seven for a pinchhitter, and Tom Hume, the ace of the Cincinnati bullpen, came in to retire the six batters he faced. Tug McGraw was not as efficient for the Phillies, giving up a one-out triple to Concepcion and, an out later, wild pitching him home in the eighth.
PHIL UPS – Carlton has lost six straight to the Reds since beating them on May 11, 1978... He was 0-3 against them last year... Seaver is 26-11 against the Phils, including 1-0 last year... Reds have won four in a row, six of their last seven... Phils had won five of six before arriving here.