Philadelphia Inquirer - May 6, 1980
Carlton gets three-hitter as Phils win
By Don McKee, Inquirer Staff Writer
Steve Carlton tantalized Philadelphia last night, holding out the long-promised pitchers' Holy Grail until nearly the last possible batter.
The overpowering lefthander, who is perhaps the most difficult to hit in baseball when he's strong, stalked a no-hitter until two were out in the eighth inning against Atlanta.
Then, having carried a no-hitter deeper into a game than any time in his career, the National League record holder for career one-hitters gave a Braves reserve his first hit of the season.
Bill Nahorodny, a former Phillies reserve, grounded a solid single to center on Carlton's first pitch with two out in the eighth.
That still left Carlton with a chance at his seventh career one-hitter.
But Dale Murphy, who had struck out three straight times, hit a high fly ball to the opposite (right) field for a home run leading off the ninth, and, suddenly, the shutout was gone, too.
Carlton wound up with an 11-strikeout three-hitter in the 7-1 win that got the Phils back to even .500 at 10-10.
The Phillies had made the outcome a foregone conclusion by riding Mike Schmidt's two home runs and some aggressive baserunning to a seven-run lead after four innings.
But Carlton's pursuit of his first no-hitter had mesmerized the crowd of 26,165 and, said catcher Bob Boone, changed the lefthander's approach to the game.
"When you get into the late innings, especially with the big lead, you're catching to prevent the hit," Boone said. "You want to be very careful. You'll almost give up the walk (Carlton walked five Braves) rather than give in to the hitter.
"But in the late innings, he's definitely going after the no-hitter. You're protecting against the hit. You want to make a real nasty pitch every time."
We'd like to give you Carlton's thoughts on his approach to a no-hitter, and why he threw a fastball to Nahorodny after striking him out on curves and sliders in the sixth.
But, as is his custom, Carlton walked through the clubhouse and into the players' private lounge without speaking to any representatives of the news media. He didn't speak to anyone else, for that matter, and no Phillies as much as said "Good game" to him.
For the record, he was smiling.
"He's had command of at least two pitches every time out since Day One of spring training," Boone said. "At times he's had three. He's really in a good groove."
Carlton now is 5-1 and has given up a total of four hits in his last two Veterans Stadium starts. His sole loss was a 3-0 shutout by the Mets' Ray Burris. He now leads the league in wins.
And in yet another demonstration of what makes baseball so open to analyzing in retrospect, there was a "What If?" play in the eighth.
As in "What If Boone had been able to get to Luis Gomez' pop foul?"
Gomez, batting with " two out, popped a foul toward the Atlanta dugout. Boone, rushing all out from behind the plate, came within an eyelash of catching it before falling into the Braves dugout.
If Boone had managed to get to the ball, that would have been the third out of the eighth, and Carlton might have pitched differently to Nahorodny leading off the ninth. But Boone couldn't get to the ball, and Gomez became Carlton's third walk.
"I messed with my glasses so much I didn't know where I was," said Boone, who is among baseball's best defensive catchers. "I thought I was nearly in the dugout, and I had another foot and half."
The ball dropped inside the dug out, inches from Boone's glove.
The Phillies had first nicked, then kicked Braves starter Rick Matula, whose record dropped to 2-2. Greg Luzinski's double drove in Schmidt in the first, and Carlton followed Larry Bowa's second-inning triple with an RBI single.
Schmidt's first homer made the score 3-0 in the third, and his second homer ended a four-run fourth that made the score 7-0.
The two home runs gave Schmidt the league lead, with eight, one more than Luzinski. It was the 22d time the third baseman has hit two in one game, one short of Chuck Klein's Phillies record, which was established in 1921. It also tied Schmidt with Klein for second on the all-time Phillies homer list, with 243. Del Ennis has 259, and, if last night's two stinging, line-drive homers were any indication, Schmidt may pass him by the All-Star break.
"I'm hitting the ball further – when I hit it – than at any time in my career," Schmidt allowed. "I used to hit a lot of long fly balls. Now I'm hitting line drives. I don't know if it's a sign of a better swing or strength.
"But I don't really feel that fundamentally sound. Sooner or later I'm gonna get in a good groove.
"I'm not right now. It's just that simple. The guy (Matula) made me look like an idiot on five pitches and I got lucky on a couple."
The "luck" carried more than 400 feet each time.
But we'll take Schmitty's word for it – he's not on a tear.
The hottest Phillies act right now is Steve Carlton.
Ex-Phillie wasn’t aware he broke up a no-hitter
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
Bill Nahorodny, busy in the Atlanta Braves' bullpen, did not know that Steve Carlton was pitching a no-hitter. And he may have been the only guy at the Vet last night who did not care.
He was mainly interested in himself.
He had appeared in only two games for the Braves this season. He hadn't gotten a hit in three trips to the plate. No one had to remind him that he was closing in on 27 and warming up Atlanta's mop-up men. No one had to tell him where that put him in the scope of major league baseball.
So when he went in to pinch hit, and stay in to catch, he wasn't aware that Carlton stood on the verge of his first no-hitter. "I tell you," Nahorodny said later, "when I got in, it was the sixth inning, and it wasn't important yet. I haven't been catching much, and the innings just flew by."
To the eighth, when Bill Nahorodny broke up Carlton's no-hit attempt with a two-out single up the middle. It was the first pitch, a fastball.
"I was looking for a curve," Nahorodny said after the Phils' 7-1 victory, "and it happened to be a fastball. It was a pretty good fastball, and I don't know how I happened to get around on it."
And, he kept saying, he didn't know he had wrecked the no-hitter until he had reached first base. "I got the hit, looked up, saw everybody clapping and figured something was going on," he said.
It was the Steve Carlton Show again on a night when every pitch had snap to it, when the idea of a no-hitter added energy to an unexciting game at the Vet.
"Everything (Carlton threw) was excellent," Dallas Green said. "I don't think the curve was as good as he's had it, but the slider was outstanding and so was the fastball."
"He threw great tonight, everything hard, even to first," Pete Rose said.
"I agree," said the Braves' Dale Murphy, who struck out three times before floating a home run just inside the right-field foul pole in the ninth, "about the fastball. I haven't been around that much. But my first time up, he threw me one of the best fastballs I've ever seen from him."
A couple of lockers away, Chris Chambliss, the Braves' first baseman and former Yankees' standout, saw Carlton a little differently. "He wasn't throwing that hard. He was just throwing so many breaking balls that when his fastball came, it seemed like it was a little harder," he said. "When the breaking ball is so good, it's tough, you know."
But with the Phillies sitting on their 7-0 lead, with Carlton just four outs away from the no-hitter and the energy building, Nahorodny broke the ice that is, after all, the silent Steve Carlton. It was an ironic moment because Nahorodny was signed by the Phillies in 1972 and remained in the organization until 1977, when he was sold to the Chicago White Sox.
He spent most of his time with the Phils in places such as Toledo and Oklahoma City, but he was up for a cup of coffee (five at-bats, one hit) in 1976. And he spent a lot of time catching Steve Carlton in Clearwater, of course, where Nahorodny met his' wife and where he still lives.
"I used to warm him up all the time," Nahorodny said later, "in spring training. I've never seen him that good, but I guess there's a difference between spring training and the regular season."
True. Steve Carlton is battling for no-hitters, and Bill Nahorodny is battling for a job. Breaking up no-hitters is merely a sidelight.
"I haven't been playing at all," he said, "and just getting in the game is more exciting than anything else."
More exciting than hurting the team you once tried to play for? "It doesn't matter," he said in a weary tone. "It's just hardball now. I'm just trying to play some hardball."