Allentown Morning Call - May 28, 1980
Pirates learn the wrist is mightier than the fist
By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – On Memorial Day, the fist was prominent. Last night it was the wrist.
That is the weapon Phil Garner used last night to help the Pirates regain first place in the Eastern Division with a 3-2, 13-inning victory over the Phillies.
The victory ended a five-game Philadelphia winning streak and gave the Phillies their second extra-inning defeat of the season.
For you fans eager for fight news-there wasn't any. About the only things violent about last night's game was the break on Jim Bibby's curveball and the dip in Steve Carlton's slider. No knockdowns, only one inside pitch, only one ejection… and that was a personal matter between home plate umpire Andy Olsen and bench jockey John Candelaria, who wasn't even in the game.
But had the play involving Garner happened in Monday's game, it would've been enough to set tempers flaring.
The Pirates led 1-0 in the fourth when, with runners on the corners, Steve Nicosia sent a sure double play grounder to Mike Schmidt at third. He threw to Manny Trillo for one out but baserunner Garner appeared to throw up his wrist and Trillo's throw went into the outfield as a run scored.
"I slid the same way I always do," said Garner after the game, holding an ice pack to the wrist in question his left "I'll tell you, I'm lucky I didn't get it in the face. It's a pretty common play in baseball. I know myself I've hit Bill Buckner and Mike Ivie on plays like that."
Phillie manager Dallas Green complained to second base ump Fred Brocklander that Garner's slide was not natural but Brocklander said he was not "out of his normal sliding position.”
"Manny throws from down there, said shortstop Larry Bowa indicating the low arc of Trillo's throw. "I guess if he doesn't do that, he gets it in the face."
Anyway, the Phillies didn't tie it up until the ninth inning on a two-run home run by Schmidt after a walk to Bake McBride.
And they didn't lose it until the 13th when Green lost a battle of strategy.
Bill Madlock led off the inning with a sharp groundball back to the mound which reliever Dickie Noles gloved, lost, then lost again. It was scored a hit. A sacrifice by Lee Lacy and an intentional walk to Ed Ott after a strikeout brought pinch-hitter Mike Easier to the plate, and he responded with a sharp single to right that score Madlock.
The Pirates did little with Carlton in his eight innings. He had 11 strikeouts, fanning Omar Moreno and Madlock three times each and Dave Parker twice.
Madlock knocked in the other Pirate run with a first inning single that scored Tim Foli, but Bowa had allowed Foli to reach first on an error, so the run was unearned.
Besides Schmidt's home run, the Phils did next to nothing against Bibby. Before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 12th, Bibby had struck out everyone in the Phillie lineup at least once except Garry Maddox and Trillo.
NOTES: Larry Christenson goes under the knife this morning at Methodist Hospital for bone spurs in his pitching elbow. It's anybody's guess if he'll be back at all but it won't be for at least two months.
Strange, and not so strange, twists
By John Kunda, Executive Sports Editor
First, look at the National League East standings. Circle the team with the poorest record.
Now, look at the National League (individual) leaders. Circle the team with the most players among the top 10 hitters.
Both circles belong to the St. Louis Cardinals.
A strange twist, indeed, for the Cardinals as major league baseball hit Check Point No. 1, the Memorial Day Weekend. It shows that pitching's still the name of the game.
While the St. Louis development has a strange twist for so early in the season, perhaps the strangest twist of all is that major league baseball was played on the season's first holiday weekend. Wasn't a strike supposed to interrupt the season?
Nonetheless, a close check can be revealing. For instance:
Playing poorly, but not expected to play poorly: The Cardinals, of course, but they have company with the high-salaried California Angels.
Playing poorly, but expected to play poorly: The Braves and, I guess, the Mets.
Playing well, but expected to play well: The Yankees and the Dodgers, a familiar pair, to be sure.
Playing well, but not expected to play well: Oakland, led so superbly by Peck's Bad Boy, Billy Martin.
The most competitive division: The National League East, as usual.
The most interesting division: The American League East. Not that the Yankees aren't doing what was expected, but look at the teams making the most serious bids, Toronto and Milwaukee. What happened to the Orioles and Red Sox?
The most exciting player, so far: A handful qualify, but from here, Mike Schmidt gets the nod. He's hitting a shade under .300; he has 12 home runs and 32 RBI. He's been the hero at the Vet.
The least exciting player: Bert Blyleven. Then, maybe not. He caused some excitement the other night. However, he's winless in eight starts, and just as bad, he's been a pain in Chuck Tanner's happy family.
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The St. Louis situation warrants a closer look.
What do Ken Reitz, Keith Hernandez, Ted Simmons, Gary Templeton and George Hendrick have in common, other than that they wear the Cardinal uniform?
All are in the top six in hitting, all well over .300. Reitz is the National League leader at .371; Hernandez is second at .351; Simmons is third at .339; Templeton fifth at .327, and Hendrick is sixth at .318.
Don't look for any St. Louis pitcher among the tops in the pitching statistics. And don't look for those high-average Cardinals in any of the power statistics. They're all singles hitters.
Perhaps by the time Check Point No. 2 (Fourth of July rolls around, the Cards will be competitive. They were expected to be part of the highly-competitive National League East, the division that commands most of the attention around here.
How are the champions doing?
Pittsburgh says, "Fine, thanks." After Monday night's loss to the Phillies, the Pirates were a few percentage points out of first place. They are holding their own.
Over in the American League, the Orioles, league champions of 1979, are beginning to show some life. They started slowly, mainly because their starting pitchers have had all kinds of control problems.
Mike Flanagan, Jim Palmer and Scott McGregor, the heroes of the championship season a year ago, have been rattled around and neither has an ERA under four. The relief pitching hasn't been strong either as Tippy Martinez and Tim Stoddard are a combined 0-3.
Ken Singleton has been in a slump, thus a good part of the Oriole power is missing. However, Al Bumbry, bad leg and all, is doing more than his share.
One consolation, the season's less than 40 games old. Check Points two and three will tell more.