Reading Eagle - May 17, 1980

Ruthven’s Arm Sound Again


HOUSTON (AP) – Philadelphia pitcher Dick Ruthven realized Friday night after he had shutout the Houston Astros 3-0 that he made the right decision to have arm surgery last winter.


“I would have hated to start the way I did last year (6-0) and then have my arm go south,” Ruthven said. 
I decided that I could survive the mental side of surgery.”


Ruthven, 4-2, also apparently survived the physical side of his off-season surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.  He yielded five hits and beat Houston’s J.R. Richard in his first complete game in recent history.


“That must be the first time I’ve gone nine in about a year – since I started having arm trouble last year,” Ruthven said.  “I never feared going nine, just getting the strength to be effective in the ninth inning.”


The Astros, who have now gone 22 innings without scoring a run, would offer testimonials that Ruthven is fully recovered.  So would Phils Manager Dallas Green.


“I kept running him in there because he is a big part of our pitching staff,” Green said.  “He finally built up his arm strength to go nine innings.  He’s back to where Dick Ruthven should be.”


The Phils got the only run they needed to beat the slumping Astros in the fourth inning when Del Unser clubbed a triple just out of the reach of center fielder Cesar Cedeno and scored on Mike Schmidt’s sacrifice fly to Cedeno.


After Richard, 4-2, loaded the bases with two out in the eighth inning, Bake McBride blased a two-run single that extended the Astros’ losing streak to four, their longest of the season.


Green said Richard, who dropped to a 4-2 record after winning his first four starts, appeared to tire after the fourth inning.


“We knew he’d been having some issues with tightening up,” Green said.  “We tried to make him throw as many pitches as possible.  He was up to the challenge for the first four innings.”


The Astros lived up to their preseason billing of strong pitching and weak hitting.  Their most serious threat came in the third inning when Craig Reynolds, breaking out of an 0 for 12 slump, tripled to the right field corner to open the inning.


But Richard grounded out and Reynolds was thrown out by Phils left fielder Greg Gross, who made a perfect throw to home plate after Denny Walling flew out.


Despite their recent ineffectiveness, Reynolds says the Astros aren’t panicking so early in the season.


“I don’t see anyone in here breaking earth,” he said.  “Everybody is calm and confident.  We all know there are going to be stretches like this.  We’ll be breaking out soon enough.”