Camden Courier-Post - May 28, 1980

Pirates tip Phils in 13th


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


PHILADELPHIA – Apparently, there's no end to the length the Pirates will go to avenge a loss. In fact, beating the Bucs – especially the way the Phillies did Monday night – may be tantamount to using a hornets' nest as a punching bag. Last night, Pittsburgh needed three hours, 26 minutes, 13 innings and three pitchers, but it finally brought the Phils' winning streak to an end, 3-2, before 35,489 witnesses in Veterans Stadium.


They used their personal "hit man," lefthander Mike Easier, to deny the Phils a sixth straight win and make their stay in first place a brief one. Easier, a card-carrying member of the Pirate "Fam-i-lee," drove in Bill Madlock with a two-out single to right in the top of the 13th off reliever Dickie Noles.


"Easler's a good hitter," said Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner, in a much better frame of mind than after the Phils had come from behind to beat his club in Monday's fight-marred game. "They (the other players) call him 'Hit Man.' Last year, they called him 'Easy,' but he said he didn't like that."


EASLER HIMSELF offered further explanation: "Last year I went in a lot as a pinchhitter, so I had to keep ready and I thought 'Hit Man' sounded good. Tonight was the kind of situation I like. I really enjoy coming in like that."


The single, Easler's third hit in nine pinchhitting appearances (his two other pinchhits are home runs), came after Mike Schmidt had sent the game into extra innings with a dramatic one-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth off Pirate starter Jim Bibby.


Madlock opened the 13th by hitting a ball back to the box that Noles managed to knock down. But the Phils' righthander couldn't find the ball, which never left the mound, and Madlock legged out a single. A sacrifice and strikeout later, Phillies Manager Dallas Green ordered pinchhitter Ed Ott intentionally walked, setting up a force. Easier, however, hit for reliever Enrique Romo and sent a Noles slider into right field for the game-winner.


"I'D STILL rather pitch to Easier than Ott," said Green. "You look at Ott's record over the years – he kills us. They got the break to win the game when Dickie couldn't find the ball Madlock hit. If he finds that ball, Madlock's not on base to come around and score.


"These kind of (extra-inning) games are usually won on breaks or home runs and they got the breaks tonight."


It was, the Bucs felt, fitting retribution for the sins visited upon them the previous night.


"AFTER THINGS go bad we kind of kick in and go to work," said Pirate second baseman Phil Garner. "I guess we can't stand prosperity. I really don't know why. Maybe we get complacent when things are going good."


It was Garner who had, you might say, a hand in breaking up a potential double play that allowed the Bucs' second run to score in the fourth inning. Steve Carlton, who pitched eight superb innings and deserved a better fate than his first no-decision of the year, set up a possible double play by intentionally walking Garner with one out and Lee Lacy already at second.


Catcher Steve Nicosia obliged Carlton by rifling a shot at Schmidt, who rapidly threw to second baseman Manny Trillo for the force. But Trillo's relay hit Garner, who was sliding with both hands in the air, on the left wrist and the ball bounced into right field as Lacy crossed the plate.


TRILLO, SHORTSTOP Larry Bowa and Green argued with second base umpire Fred Brocklander that Garner had interfered. But their argument fell on deaf ears and the run stood.


"I'm this far from Manny," said Garner, standing within three feet of reporters. "There's no way I could intentionally get in the way of that ball. It was just one of those things that happen when you're trying to break up the double play. Nobody's fast enough to put their hands in the air and hit the ball"

Small miracles help Phils defeat troubles


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


PHILADELPHIA – Family Feud, starring the Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates, is not going to be baseball's entry into the daily television game shows. At least, not unless your host, Richard Dawson, can pitch as well as he puckers.


Both teams had better things to do last night than listen for the bell for Round Two of their 21-punch salute to Memorial Day. The Bucs, for instance, spent their evening groaning like the Gong Show panel. There was nothing they liked about the performance of the umpires, and they said so.


As for the Phils, they proved that it's quite possible for a team that rumbles together to stumble together and that it was presumptuous for people to expect that a trip to Knuckle City would somehow weld the team into something super-human.


The truth is, the Dallas Green Machine was behaving above and beyond the call of duty long before the fur flew at Veterans Stadium. Prior to dropping a 13-inning, 3-2 decision to the Pirates last night, they had put together a five-game winning streak and won 10 of their last 13 games.


Considering the team's general health, that's like some old reruns of Leave It To Beaver gaining a nomination for an Emmy. How can a club with two guys in the starting rotation named "Undecided" be battling for first place in the National League East?


Once he gets past Steve Carlton and Dick Ruthven, the manager has got to feel like he just heard Don Pardo yell, "Mr. Dallas Green, come on down!"


Curtain Number One... no. Two... no. One… three... two... Oh, Monty.


Righthander Larry Christenson will enter Methodist hospital today for arm surgery. Nino Espinosa remains on the disabled list. And reliever Warren Brusstar reappeared like some long-lost husband on All My Children who was suffering from amnesia. In Brusstar's case, however, the only thing he can't remember is what it's like to wake up without pain the day after using his pitching arm.


A month ago, the entire bullpen was being depicted as the losers in the $1.98 Beauty Contest. And it appeared as if the only thing that would finish behind the Phils was A Thought for Today.


Which brings us to a passage in the Old Testament of Baseball, which says that if a team can combine a hitting streak with solid relief pitching, hustle, determination, Carlton, Ruthven and defense, it can rise above the temptation to falter. Amen, brother. Amen.


Small miracles have a way of finding those with faith in themselves. And if three victories involving a game-losing error by Cincinnati's Dave Collins, a game-winning homer by Christenson in the Astrodome and Pete Rose scoring from first base on a routine single to right field don't constitute something very lofty, then Mr. Rogers doesn't want kids for neighbors.


It happened again last night, when Pirate pitcher Jim Bibby did his Incredible Hulk routine after a pitch to Mike Schmidt with one away in the ninth inning was called a ball. Schmidt parked the next offering for a two-run homer to send the affair into extra innings.


Unfortunately, small miracles are not vitamins. One a day isn't always enough. And it is only a matter of time before the Phils are going to need some ready-for-prime-time pitching.


New arrivals Dan Larson and Bob Walk (5-1 at Oklahoma City) will get a chance to fill the void in the coming weeks. If they falter, plans are already being formulated to perhaps bring Gene Garber back from Atlanta and move reliever Ron Reed into the starting rotation.


If there ever was a time to be a minor league pitcher yearning for that big break, this is it. Young Marty Bystrom, top prospect before he began his current series of injuries, probably wished he never learned to water ski.


But Jim Wright is down on the farm working on getting ahead of the hitters. And there's a kid named Mark Davis, who turned some heads with a 15-strike-out performance at Reading the other week.


Every alternative will be tried before General Manager Paul Owens reluctantly gathers Keith Moreland's records together and calls up the catcher-hungry Houston Astros, who are shopping pitcher Juaquin Andujar around the league.


The price isn't right, but, sometimes, you've got no choice than to make a deal. In real life, you can't just switch channels.