Camden Courier-Post - May 2, 1980
Carlton saves Phils from Met sweep
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
NEW YORK – What has saved the Phillies from a potentially-disastrous start this season can be summed up in two words: Steve Carlton.
With him, they are 7-9 and floating close enough to the surface to see light in the National League East Division standings. Without him, there's no telling how deep the Phils would be under right now.
The Phillies last night were able to avert a sweep by the New York Mets because Carlton gave them 6⅔ strong innings, because Tug McGraw gave them 2⅔ perfect innings and because rookie Luis Aguayo managed his first major league home run.
Those three ingredients added up to a much-needed 2-1 victory going into tonight's Veterans Stadium encounter with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have won 10 in a row.
CARLTON, WHO talks to the press about as often as Jimmy Carter quits the confines of the White House, raised his record to 4-1 by shutting out the Mets until the seventh. In fact, the lefthander retired the first two batters of the inning, but allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases before walking Elliott Maddox on four pitches to force in the Mets' only run.
The run ended a string of scoreless innings for Carlton at 17⅔ and brought McGraw in from the bullpen.
With the bases still full, McGraw induced Lee Mazzilli to ground to third baseman Mike Schmidt, who threw to Aguayo at second just in time to force Maddox. McGraw then breezed through the eighth and ninth to earn his second save of the season.
LATER, McGRAW held court at his lockerroom stall discussing such topics as his pitches, his relationship with Carlton and the idea of returning to New York to finish his career where it began.
"I used to have a (sports) column and he (Carlton) quit talking to me," smiled McGraw. "I quit writing my column and he's just starting to talk to me again – nothing heavy, you understand."
McGraw has not been particularly pleased with Manager Dallas Green's preference for the younger relievers. Green has made righthanded Dickie Noles his short man and rookie Scott Munninghoff his long reliever, putting McGraw and veteran Ron Reed in the position of having to earn their jobs back.
IT SHOULD be noted that Green was well within his rights to do so, because the younger relievers were gettting people out McGraw and Reed were not.
"I went from fireman to janitor," said McGraw. "The fireman comes in and puts out the fire and the janitor comes in and cleans up. I'm auditioning for fireman again.
"Dallas is trying to organize his staff. He has a lot of fondness for the young guys. But I learned a long time ago my job is to be ready whenever they want me. I might not always be pleased, but it's not up to me how to use the staff."
McGRAW SEEMED displeased when the team arrived here Tuesday, telling a New York writer as much. McGraw's remarks were interpreted as a wish to be traded to the Mets, which, McGraw said last night, is not the case,
"I said if I wasn't in Philadelphia for any reason at the end of the year (when his four-year contract expires), I'd like to be in New York, because it's where I started and it would be a nice place to finish my career," McGraw said.
It was not important last night where McGraw will be six months – or even six weeks – hence. It was quite enough that he saved a win for Carlton with a pitch McGraw described as his "Peggy Lee fast ball. You know, the hitter swings at it, misses it and says, 'Is that all there is?"
FORTUNATELY for both Carlton and McGraw, Aguayo did not miss a low inside fast ball from lefthander Pete Falcone with two out in the fifth and Larry Bowa on first. Aguayo sent the 2-0 pitch into the left field bullpen for what proved to be a game-deciding homer.
Falcone opened up the game disguised as Sandy Koufax, tying a modern major league record by striking out the first six batters he faced. He is the fifth pitcher since 1900 to turn the trick, following John Hiller, who did it in 1968, Ray Culp (1970), Bert Blyleven (1970) and Andy Messersmith (1973).
The string of strikeouts served notice that the top of the Phillies lineup would continue upholding the non-aggression treaty it signed with the National League pitchers five games ago. Since scoring a 14-8 win over the Mets April 22, the top five Phillie batters have hit under .200.
Schmidt was the only one among a group including Pete Rose, who was moved from first to second in the lineup with Lonnie Smith getting his first start in right field, Garry Maddox, Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone to get a hit last night. It was just the sixth hit in the last six games for the group, which has exactly three RBIs – all by Maddox – since the 14-8 game.