Philadelphia Daily News - May 12, 1980
A Good Win For Ruthven
By Bill Conlin
CINCINNATI – If an early season theme has emerged in the Phillies' clubhouse, it is best articulated by the 100 decibel voice of Dallas Green.
Dallas, is that you bellowing, "It's too early?"
It was too early to worry during spring training when Dick Ruthven, Larry Christenson and Randy Lerch were slow coming around, too early for panic when Ruthven looked like a candidate for a ticket to Oklahoma City in April. It was too early to worry about a team scuffling along at .500 or just below while the Pirates began to put daylight between them and the rest of the division.
When does too early become too late? People started to wonder when the Reds beat Lerch Friday night, then had enough Saturday to beat Steve Carlton's 11-strikeout stuff.
All games in the long 162-game season may be created equal, but some are more equal than others. Yesterday's was one.
DICK RUTHVEN'S 7-3 victory over a team that had beaten him 11 times in a row since 1973 had multiple levels of importance.
"It's got to rank as one of our bigger wins of the year," Green said. "Obviously, we didn't want to leave here getting swept and keep the deal alive that the Phillies can't win in Riverfront Stadium. But just as big in my mind, this was more like Dick Ruthven. His fastball was very good today, he didn't have any of that three or four-batter wildness like he had in some earlier games. I'm more confident in saying Dick Ruthven is the guy we've seen in the past."
He gave up a lot of hits – 10 in seven innings – and he threw more high strikes than he likes to throw. But for the first time since his arm went south last season, Ruthven was throwing fastballs by hitters. He fired eight strikeouts and didn't walk anybody.
"I felt like it didn't take as much effort to get as good a result," Dick said after running his career record against the Reds to 2-11. "It seemed kind of effortless compared to the way I was struggling before. I had a good fastball, but I gave up quite a few base hits on strikes I got up in the strike zone. I also threw quite a few fastballs by them."
It was good Ruthven, but not vintage. What yesterday's strong seven-inning effort left was room for improvement.
"GOOD IS BETTER than this for me," he said. "When I'm good I'm low in the strike zone and on either side of the plate."
Ruthven tries to screen out thoughts of what a particular game he pitches means logistically to the Phillies.
"One of the things that helped me to be consistent when I learned how to pitch in Atlanta was taking the approach that no game was more important than another. When I think, 'Hey, this is really an important game,' I tend to screw up," he said. "I used to pitch against the Reds all pumped up. I'd strike out 10 guys against this team and get my doors blown off around the fifth or sixth inning. I tried that 11 straight times and it didn't work very well."
With George Foster injured, the Reds would have trouble blowing the doors off a Model T. They beat you these days with pitching and defense. The Big Red Machine has become a Little Red Scooter.
The Phillies didn't exactly leave Riverfront Stadium a smoking ruin. Saturday the three home runs they hit off Tom Seaver represented all the runs they got. Green will take seven wet-washrag runs on any given Sunday.
A JUNIOR KENNEDY error set up two unearned runs in the second. Ruthven drove them in with a two-out single. A three run third inning was so underwhelming that two of the runs scored on infield outs by Bob Boone and Greg Gross. The third was driven in by Manny Trillo, who had a single, double and two RBI in his first start since coming off the disabled list last week.
"We got a good day by Pete Rose and a good day by Manny considering he just got back in there. What this game did was give us back some flow, as Schmitty likes to call it."
If a one-game winning streak qualifies as "flow," the Phillies will be a raging torrent if they ever string together a half dozen victories or so. Which is something they had better start thinking about before they look up and Pittsburgh is out there with a 10-game lead.
Rose Steals 3 Bases in One Inning
By Bill Conlin
CINCINNATI – Pete Rose walked leading off the seventh inning. Mario Soto was pitching for the Reds, Don Werner was catching.
With the hit-and-run on, Rose broke for second. Bake McBride swung and missed. Pete belly-flopped into second ahead of the throw for his first steal of the season.
Bake bounced out to short and while Mike Schmidt was in the process of drawing a walk. Rose stole third.
Now, Schmidt took off for second with Greg Luzinski hitting. Junior Kennedy went down for Werner's short-hop throw and when he failed to come up with the ball cleanly, Rose charged home to score the sixth run of the Phillies 7-3 victory.
History will record that at the age of 39, Peter Edward Rose stole three bases in one inning, which is all you can do. Maury Wills, Lou Brock or Ty Cobb never stole more than three bases in an inning. Never mind that the official scorer probably used too much leeway in awarding Rose a steal of home on a play where the continuity appeared to be disrupted when Kennedy failed to handle the throw cleanly at second. Rose didn’t break for the plate until the ball was on the ground. The play probably should have been scored a stolen base for Schmidt, with Rose scoring on a fielder's choice.
IN THE FADING agate type of history; however, Rose's first career steal of home will appear as swift and brazen as a Jackie Robinson dash.
"I don't think I ever stole three bases in one game before," said Rose, who had a career high 20 steals last season. He could give you pitch by pitch of his at-bats on May 11, 1965, but he doesn't keep track of his steals.
"The only time I ever tried to steal home was against the Phillies," he said. "And this was a little different with Schmitty running from first. They didn't try to cut the ball off or anything like teams sometimes will do with a real fast runner on third. They ain't gonna concede the steal to Mike with me on third.
"The first steal was on the hit-and-run and Bake just missed the ball. Dallas likes to give Bake the hit-and-run with me on base. It seems like when I run. Bake runs, too. Soto wasn't paying no attention to me, so I took off for third on my own. I've always said stealing third is easier than stealing second. You can get a better lead and a better jump."
That seems to be the consensus opinion of baseball's other great base stealers. Move over, Omar Moreno.
PHILUPS: Miracle of miracles: Phils won't face Phil Niekro during the two-game series which opens in Atlanta tomorrow night. Braves pitchers will be Doyle Alexander and Larry McWilliams. Phils will face J.R. Richard in Houston Friday night, which is why Manager Dallas Green will probably pitch Steve Carlton against the Braves Wednesday night. If he holds his ace back until Friday, Lefty would be pitching with six days rest... Bake McBride drilled a line drive off the fence in right with such velocity he made a wide turn and settled for a single... Reds attendance is way off. The Carlton-Tom Seaver matchup Saturday drew under 30,000 paid. Gas prices are probably hurting attendance more than strike talk. Reds rely heavily on fans who drive long distances to games.
6 Weekend Ticket Winners
There were six winners in the Daily News Home Run Payoff over the weekend.
In the fifth inning of yesterday's Phillies-Reds game, S.A. Smith. Barry M. Gallagher and Joseph T. Rogers, all of Philadelphia, each won four tickets to a Phillies game.
In Saturday's third inning, Sandra Alsop, E. McCabe and Lorenzo Jones Jr., all of Philadelphia, each won four tickets.
So far the Daily News has paid out $3,385. To enter, just mail the coupon that appears on Page 68.