Wilmington Morning News - May 19, 1980

Lerch again just lukewarm; Ryan heater cools Phillies


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


HOUSTON – If the Phillies could figure out a way to let Randy Lerch bypass the first, and maybe even the second innings, the young lefthander might get out of his doldrums.


Of course, when Nolan Ryan is in the groove, there's not much hope for any team no matter what its pitcher does.


Ryan, making his first start against the Phillies since he signed a million-dollar-a-year contract with Houston after playing out his option with California, was awesome in the Astrodome yesterday.


The flame-throwing right-hander allowed the Phils just four hits – three by Pete Rose – and the Astros roughed up Lerch in the first two innings to win 3-0.


The setback ended the Phils' three-game winning streak, gave them a 4-4 record on their third road trip of the spring and left Lerch with an 0-6 record.


Ryan, who struck out a season-high 10, was facing the Phils for the first time since Sept. 5, 1971 when as a member of the Mets he lost 7-3.


Ryan was never in serious trouble until the eighth when he walked inch-hitter Greg Gross and Rose followed with his third single of the day.


Here, with the bullpen active, pitching coach Mel Wright went to the mound. After he left, Ryan proceeded to strike out Bake McBride, Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski. A radar gun timed Ryan's strikeout pitch in each instance at 96 miles per hour. Earlier, on three occasions, the velocity of his fastball reached 98 and was 97 mph nine times.


He struck out McBride and Luzinski three times and Schmidt twice.


"It's obviously the best he's pitched this year," said Houston manager Billy Virdon. "Even when he was not winning (Ryan is now 2-3) he threw hard. Today, he was more consistent. He stayed ahead of the batters and his velocity was the best it has been.


"He apparently has a history of starting slowly, but each time out he has improved. It has taken him some time to get his act together."


"He was consistent with his velocity today," said catcher Luis Pujols. "He stayed ahead of the hitters. He threw some good curves and had a few change-ups."


"We got three runs and then he shut them out," added Virdon, whose Astros has lost five in a row and were scuffling for runs."


"I went out there today with the idea of throwing a shutout," said Ryan, who had 42 previous careers shutouts. "I thought that was what I would have to do considering the problems we have been having scoring runs. Today, however, was the first time I have been able to consistently throw strikes with all three of my pitches."


“He got me once with a change-up and I didn't even know he had one, said Luzinski. "He's the best pitcher we have seen all year."


"They know I am a fastball hitter," said McBride. "So, he came at me with breaking pitches early, then in the eighth he struck me out with a change. I wasn't expecting it. He's tough.”


Rafael Landestoy opened the game with a single to center, was sacrificed to second and scored on Jeff Leonard's single to left.


In the second, with one down, Pujols doubled to right and Ryan walked. Landestoy then singled to center, with Pujols scoring and Terry Puhl delivered a single to center to bring in the third run.


 After that, Lerch retired the next seven batters in a row before he left for a pinch hitter. Ron Reed pitched three scoreless innings and although he gave up two hits, Tug McGraw blanked the Astros in the eighth.


"Same old story," sighed Lerch, who allowed five hits. "Today, they changed my warm-up routine. I threw and sat down, threw some more and sat down. It didn't work. When we get back to Philadelphia, they are going to do something different, something to get me out of this slump."


EXTRA POINTS - Bake McBride's 12-game hitting streak came to an end, the longest by a Phillies' player this year... With the possibility of a players' strike reaching the 11th hour, the joke in the press was whether or not Pittsburgh would clinch the National League East with a victory over Los Angeles yesterday... Many people feel if the strike does come about, the season may never be resumed... The Phils are now 8-5 vs. Western Division teams... They left immediately after the game for. Philadelphia where they open a three-game set with the Reds tonight... Steve Carlton will go against Frank Pastore in the opener, with Dick Ruthven facing Charlie Leibrandt on Tuesday and Larry Christenson against Tom Seaver on Wednesday... A year ago after 29 games the Phils were 21-8, in first place by a game and a half.

Contract pitch still looks like strike


NEW YORK (AP) - Negotiations in the stalemated baseball contract talks abruptly broke off yesterday, four days before the Thursday strike deadline.


Representatives of the owners and players attended two bargaining sessions with federal mediator Kenneth Moffett but met together for only two or three minutes before the talks ended.


Moffett declared a recess and returned to Washington, D.C. with his counsel, David Vaughn. The mediator said he and Vaughn would remain in touch with both sides and that he expected to call them back into session before the deadline of midnight Thursday.


"I can't see any light at the end of this tunnel," Moffett said dejectedly. "The chances for averting a strike are not good."


He said there would be not be any talks today.


The atmosphere in these talks turned decidedly frigid Friday when both sides rejected proposals from the other.


The owners turned down a suggestion that the rest of the contract be settled while the difficult free agent compensation question is placed on hold for two years and a study committee examines the question.


The players dismissed an owners' bid to continue all terms of the expired 1976 agreement through the start of the 1981 season while bargaining continues.


At yesterday's meeting, Moffett asked the player association representatives a single question on behalf of the club owners.


"The question was 'What is deficient in the owners' proposal as it relates to impasse and retroactivity?'" the mediator said.


Marvin Miller, executive director of the union, called it "a nothing proposal, one which would have the players work throughout the season under terms of a four-year-old agreement."


On retroactive elements, Miller said, "If I give you zero, retroactively, it's still zero."