Philadelphia Inquirer - May 30, 1980
Phils fall short against Pirates
Ruthven tagged, 5-4, to end series in split
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Every day the question came up and Dallas Green just shrugged.
He had to pitch somebody against the Pirates yesterday afternoon. But until a couple of days ago, the only arm in the organization Green had managed to eliminate was Larry Christenson's. And that was' just because Christenson has never had a history of throwing shutouts a day after elbow surgery.
Finally, Dick Ruthven came to him the other day and raised his hand. And the next thing he knew, Green was sticking a baseball in it.
So Ruthven was Green's starter yesterday, even though going on three days' rest probably isn't good for him over the long haul.
"Yeah, but we're not in the long haul now," Ruthven said after the Pirates' 5-4 win that moved them back into first place. "We're in Philadelphia, and in a series with the Pirates. And if I feel I can throw and pitch, I'd rather beat the Pirates than the Cubs."
Nobody asked the Pirates how they felt about it. But the favorite team of the Stereo Manufacturers of America answered that by ripping four straight one-out singles in the first off Ruthven. That was worth two runs. A bases-loaded walk to Dale Berra was worth a third.
The Phillies did come back to tie it in the bottom of the first off the infamous Buddy Jay ("Don't Call Me Eddie This Week") Solomon. But the Bucs resumed the assault on Ruthven and finally turned their ninth, 10th and 11th hits into a two-run fifth that decided the ball game.
Ruthven (5-4) said he felt better yesterday than he did when he went eight innings and beat Houston Sunday.
"I felt great," he announced. "I felt fine physically. I can't blame what happened on the three days' rest."
But Green wasn't necessarily seconding that opinion.
"I didn't like what I saw in the first inning," the manager said. "If that's going to be an indication (of how Ruthven pitches on three days' rest), I'm going to have to think this out pretty thoroughly."
Green's dilemma is that he has Steve Carlton tearing up baseball pitching every fourth day. Carlton is 12-3 the last two seasons when he has pitched with three-day intermissions. But the rest of the starting cast he isn't too sure about.
"I may have to do some juggling with this thing until I get some consistency," Green said, "until I get some idea of a rotation I can live with. I know pitchers don't like to get jumped around. They like (to have) an idea (of) what they're doing. But in the situation I'm in, starting-pitching-wise, I'm going to have to play it by ear from now on. And they're going to have to understand that."
Green said he felt Ruthven pitched well after the first inning. In fact, Ruthven had given up all 11 of his hits, and there was still only one out in the fifth, before Green got the bullpen up.
Once he got that bullpen in the game, it pitched well. That old Cyrus Vance of baseball himself, Kevin Saucier, combined with Lerrin LaGrow and Tug McGraw to work four scoreless innings. But the National League's leading run-scorers couldn't quite get back into it.
The Phillies sent 16 men to the plate against Solomon with men in scoring position. Only three of them got hits. And two came in the three-run first, including Bob Boone's two-run double.
There also was a run-scoring fielder's choice by George Vukovich in the first. But aside from that, Vukovich might wish his first big-league start had never happened. He and Greg Gross replaced the resting Bake McBride and Garry Maddox in right . and center fields, respectively.
In the top of the first, Vukovich overthrew a cutoff man after Mike Easler's RBI single. That enabled Easier to take second and indirectly set up Ruthven's bases-loaded walk of Berra.
In the fifth, the Phils were in the midst of a stretch in which they got a runner to second with nobody out in four straight innings (fourth through seventh) and scored only once. Vukovich came to the plate against Solomon with men on first and third and one out, but ended the inning by hitting into a double play.
He also fanned twice and did not make an Ellis Valentine-vintage throw while Ott was scoring the eventual winning run on Berra's single in the fifth.
"I don't think there's any reason not to rest guys just because it's the Pirates," Green said. "Bake has trouble with his knees. And a day-night situation is not a real good thing for him. Garry still has some physical ailments now and then (that) I'd like to clear up as best I can. If I want to rest him, I'll rest him.
"I had faith in the guys I put in there. Unfortunately, one of the guys didn't have a real good day. But that happens in baseball."
Another thing that happens in baseball is that guys sometimes take chances at the wrong time. In the sixth, with Pittsburgh up by two, the Phils had Boone on third, Larry Bowa on first and nobody out. The Pirates infield was back, looking double play and conceding the run.
But Bowa took off trying to steal second as Manny Trillo was ripping a shot at second baseman Phil Garner. Had Bowa not been going, it would have been a double play and a run. Instead, Garner gave up on Bowa, saw Boone break for the plate and threw him out. Had that run scored, Mike Schmidt's sacrifice fly in the seventh would have tied the game.
"Garner made a real good play," said Bowa. "He saw he didn't have me. And he saw Boonie had a late jump. I'm sure if it was a faster man on third, he would have gone to first. But you can't blame Boonie because he's not faster. Of course, the worst we could have been if he'd stayed was second and third, one out and Bake up (pinch-hitting)."
Instead, McBride bounced into a double play.
NOTES: Phils were 7-3 during the home stand. They trail Pittsburgh by a game.... Green says he sees "no hope" now for Nino Espinosa's return – "no encouraging hope, I should say. We're just about at the stage where we've got to reevaluate what we're doing with Espinosa and (Warren) Brusstar. I think we'll give him one more shot to get it all together. But apparently, we're not doing something right, right now."... Averages on the home stand: Rose .342, McBride .333, Schmidt .243, Luzinski .421, Boone .212, Maddox .342, Bowa .225, Trillo .263. Schmidt and Luzinski each hit five homers.... Dan Larson vs. Rick Reuschel at Wrigley Field this afternoon.
Solomon enjoying the beat
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
Dave Parker went to the corner of the Pittsburgh Pirates' dressing room and unplugged the television set so he could use the outlet for his tape machine. Soon, the din of disco was coming from the corner, and, for some reason, nobody complained.
"In Atlanta," said Eddie (Call him "Buddy Jay") Solomon, standing one locker away, "we played the tapes, but not nearly as loud."
The Pirates' clubhouse is, of course, usually as loud and full of song as the Phillies' clubhouse is quiet, win or lose. And the disco, Sister Sledge or otherwise, is music to Solomon's ears. "I was 7-14 last year," he said, "and I easily could have been 14-7."
Solomon pitched for the Atlanta Braves for nearly three seasons, including a 7-14 1979. Atlanta is his hometown, but you'd be crazy to want to pitch with Ted Turner's leaking ship behind you. So Solomon had the regular reaction when a month ago the Braves sent him to Pittsburgh for cash and the proverbial player to be named later.
"When I learned that they'd traded me," he said, "I said, 'Give me some time to pack my bags – like five minutes.' I have a lot of friends in Atlanta. But these guys (the Pirates) are thinking World Series again."
Solomon is 2-0 for the Pirates now, including yesterday's win over the Phillies at the Vet. He started and went seven innings, allowing eight hits and four unearned runs. Enrique Romo then provided two perfect innings of relief to finish a listless, 5-4 victory.
It gave the Pirates a split in this four-game series, a nudge back into first place in the National League East, and it gave Solomon – a guy with a road map for a resume – a shot in the arm. "As of this moment," manager Chuck Tanner said later, "he's in the rotation."
Solomon is being pressed at the moment to produce or give way to Rick Rhoden, who is looking good for the Pirates in the minors. So Solomon, a spare part, must look good, too. But he says he doesn't feel the pressure.
"If the Pirates are interested in (calling up) Rhoden, that's fine," he said. "First, there's no rule that says they have to send me down. And, second, I'm sure some team can take care of me. My goal is to pitch for a contending big-league club. Yeah, I'd like to find a home. But I'm 2-0 now, and it doesn't look like I'll be leaving next week. or anything."
Solomon, 29, hasn't distinguished himself during stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Atlanta. He has also spent minor-league time in Albuquerque, Wichita, Tulsa and Richmond, when the big clubs didn't need him. But he has come up with three wins over the Phillies, including yesterday's effort, in the last three seasons.
"On June 12, 1978, the day my little boy was born, (Greg) Luzinski took me deep (home runs) twice, and I lost," he said. "But then I came back and beat them (the Phillies) later in the season."
Last year, he allowed just two hits in seven innings before leaving with a pulled leg muscle in a win at the Vet on Aug. 22. And that win was with the Braves, remember, a team that often owns the Phillies but nobody else.
"I feel if I can pitch half as well now as I did with Atlanta, I can win 15 games," Solomon said. ''Like that play (Phil) Garner made on (Bob) Boone – I haven't seen any of those in over two years."
That play came in the sixth inning with nobody out after Boone had hit his second double of the day, and moved to third on Larry Bowa's bunt single. Garner, the Pirates' second baseman, fielded Manny Trillo's hard grounder as Bowa dug for second and threw Boone out at the plate – "out," Ott said, "by five feet. And when I have five feet to work with, he can't knock the ball away."
Solomon then got a double-play ball from pinch-hitter Bake McBride to end the inning. He climbed out of another hole in the fifth with runners on first and second, by getting George Vukovich, in a starting role, to hit into a double play. And – an item that shouldn't be overlooked – he held Mike Schmidt, who is tied for the National League lead in RBls, to a sacrifice fly in four times at bat.
"I came right at him with fast-balls," Solomon said. "I think I threw Schmitty two breaking balls all day. I started off in the bullpen here, and I realized out there that my fastball is my best pitch. Or maybe I'm just more confident with it here.
"Like today, I threw 95 percent fast-balls. I came right at 'em (the Phillies) because I know I've got a good defensive club behind me and I know I'm on a club that will score runs. I have an entirely different outlook here.
"This club," he said amid the usual sound of music, "is loose. I mean, check it out. This club doesn't get down on itself or anything. There's a big difference between knowing you can win and wondering if you can win."
Today’s sports calendar
Horse sense? What else?
The Phillies have left for a six-game road trip to Chicago and Pittsburgh, so the local action is left pretty much to the horse set, standardbred and thoroughbred.
The thoroughbreds are running at Keystone, the trotters and pacers at Liberty Bell and Brandy-wine, and the jumpers at Devon.
PHILLIES at Chicago (Radlo-KYW-1060, 2:30 p.m.)
Unhappy exile for Eastwick
By Frank Dolson, Sports Editor
A pitching career is a fragile thing – as fragile as a human shoulder or forearm or elbow, as fleeting as the whims of such big-league managers as Billy Martin and Danny Ozark and Dallas Green.
Ask Rawly Eastwick.
His shoulder didn't begin to hurt the way Warren Brusstar's did. His forearm didn't develop a bone spur and eventually crack the way Jim Wright's did. His elbow didn't blow up, the way Larry Christenson's did. Rawly Eastwick suffered from the most frustrating problem of all: Involuntary inactivity.
Five years ago, at age 24, he was a World Series hero, winning two games and saving another for the Cincinnati Reds. Four years ago, he was the No. 1 relief pitcher in the National League, appearing in 71 games, winning 11, saving 22.
Two years ago, he signed a guaranteed, million-dollar-plus contract with the Yankees, a contract that doesn't run out until the end of the 1982 season.
Phils paying off
The Phillies, who obtained Eastwick in June of 78, are paying off on that contract now, to the tune of more than $150,000 a vear. Not a bad tune, if you're on the receiving end... but Rawly Eastwick is earning his money the hard way. After achieving big-league stardom, he's back in the minors, pitching for Kansas City's Omaha farm club in the American Association.
It wasn't easy for Eastwick to accept a minor-league job after the Phillies jolted him this spring by handing him his release just before the club broke camp. He could have forgotten baseball, embarked on a new career, or done absolutely nothing and collected those Phillies pay checks.
"I told him, 'You're too young to quit," Phillies' director of player personnel Paul Owens said. "I told him, 'If you have to take a Triple-A job, do it. Don't be proud.' I said, 'Rawly, eat your pride. Go down there and battle back. Keep yourself in the game.' "
And Eastwick did.
After nearly five years in the majors, after 28 big-league victories and 65 big-league saves, he went to Omaha and began battling back.
The biggest battle occurred a week and a half ago. It wasn't the kind of battle either Owens or Eastwick had in mind.
"After a game (in Omaha) I went to this restaurant," Rawly said. "I was walking down the street, and these two guys jumped me. One of them sprayed Mace in my face. The other one, a big guy, grabbed me...."
Eastwick was by himself. "There wasn't much I could do," he said. "I tried to fight my way out of it, but this one guy was too big. He got behind me and overpowered me. He knocked me down on the sidewalk; I fell on my left shoulder. Somehow, he ended up behind me on the pavement. I got to my knees and jammed him in the face with my right elbow, and then the other guy sprayed me with Mace again, and the big guy had me around the throat with his arm, had me pinned against a car."
Eastwick was lucky. Neither of the attackers pulled a knife. They merely worked him over, grabbed his watch, his wedding ring, his wallet and left him there, his shoulder and elbow battered and scraped. Eastwick had been hit hard on other occasions in these last few, difficult years, but this was ridiculous.
He sticks with it
Still, he's hanging in there, still waging his battle to return to the bright lights, the big parks, the big crowds, the nice hotels. You've got to give him something for that. It would have been easy to quit, easy to collect the last three years on his guaranteed contract without going through this hell.
"I can't stand it here," Rawly said yesterday, "because I don't think I belong here. It's not very much fun. I'm just getting through it the best I can. Some of these cities are brutal...."
Rawly Eastwick isn't alone in his misery. Mark Fidrych is in the same league. And Buddy Schultz. And some others who, not that long ago, were sailing along, playing in the big parks in front of the big crowds until, for one reason or another, all that was snatched away.
"I'm just out to prove all those people (who said he couldn't pitch any more) wrone." Omaha's Rawly Eastwick said. "I've got a lot of good years left. I'm going to turn this year into something good before it's over. But it's funny, isn't it, the way fortunes change."
He's recovered from the beating. He's pitched 10 straight scoreless innings. His split-fingered fastball is diving across the plate again. Suddenly, Kansas City doesn't seem so far away.
For Rawly Eastick, the battle goes on.