Camden Courier-Post - May 7, 1980
Phils hitters throttle Braves
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Just as hitters must bear a measure of responsibility for losses, so they should be given credit for contributing to wins.
While the Phillies were recently losing five of eight games, the top five hitters in their lineup were in a collective slump, batting less than .200 as a group and producing little in the way of runs.
Now after pummeling the Atlanta Braves, 10-5, last night before 25,302 mostly damp fans in Veterans Stadium, it should be noted that the same portion of the lineup is on fire.
IT PRODUCED nine of the team's 14 hits – which included seven doubles and a triple – and drove in eight of the runs. Indeed, the Phils have won five of their last six games and are 4-1 on this home stand largely because the big bats in the lineup are blazing.
Since returning home to face the Dodgers Friday, the top five guys in the Phillie lineup are hitting a sizzling .323 with 19 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs. That kind of hitting makes 9-0 deficits look like one-run ballgames.
Last night they made Atlanta starter Doyle Alexander who, according to Manager Bobby Cox had "his best stuff of the year," look like a batting practice pitcher.
Pete Rose, who stumbled into the game with a .203 average, ran off a 3-for-4, scoring three times. Bake McBride went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and raised his average with runners in scoring position to an astonishing .465. Mike Schmidt drove in four runs with a double in the third and a bases-loaded triple in the eighth and Greg Luzinski added a run-scoring single.
"THEY ARE JUST a hot hitting team," said Cox. "It seemed like they knew what was coming."
And the hottest of them all is Schmidt, who is leading the National League in home runs (eight), RBIs (22) and runs (20), and riding the crest of an eight-game hitting streak.
The tear, Schmidt says, can be attributed to three things: improved technique, an off-season weightlifting program that added bulk to an already muscular frame, and having a sizzling Luzinski follow him in the lineup.
"I've been very hot this time of year before, and I've been cold this time of year," said Schmidt. "I've been up and down the spectrum of hitting.
"I AM HITTING the ball hard. The balls I've hit out of the ballpark are the hardest I've hit in my life."
Schmidt's home runs have traditionally been of the fly ball variety. But the four he has hit during this home stand have been line shots that menaced the folks who sit in the left field seats.
"The line drives are a result of better technique, of not trying to force the ball," said Schmidt. "It's been a combination of that and Greg being behind me in the lineup. A healthy Greg Luzinski is as important to me as anything in the batting order.
"As long as one of us is swinging that bat good we have a chance. If any four hitters in the lineup get two hits, you'll win most ballgames. I don't care who it is."
AFTER BEING victimized by Schmidt and Co., Cox had this to say about the Phillies' third baseman: "I think he's one of the greatest third basemen I've ever seen. He's in a class with Brooks Robinson and he has a better arm than Robinson."
Fans of the Oriole great might debate that point. But it is interesting that the opposing manager would make such an observation on a night when Schmidt – although flawless at third with a couple difficult chances – was not involved in the key defensive play.
That came in the fifth, when second baseman Ramon Aviles and shortstop Larry Bowa conspired to turn a double play on Chris Chambliss, bailing starter Dick Ruthven out of a first-and-third, one-out jam.
"The key to the whole ballgame was Aviles and Bowa turning the double play in the fifth," said Phillies Manager Dallas Green. "That took the heart out of them and kept us where we wanted to be."
Aviles, the third player the Phillies have used at second this year (regular Manny Trillo and rookie Luis Aguayo are injured), had opened the door to four unearned Atlanta runs when he permitted a routine ground ball by Dale Murphy to skip through his legs in the first inning.
But, right now, 4-0 deficits barely offer a challenge to the Phillie bats.
PHIL UPS – The injury situation is, according, to Green, "improving daily. Garry Maddox (sprained ankle) is close to being ready as is Manny Trillo (sprained ankle). Aguayo (pulled thigh muscle) still needs a day or two."... Ruthven got the win, allowing five kits and one earned run in six innings... Righthander Nino Espinosa will pitch in a simulated game tomorrow prior to the club's departure on a. 10-day road swing... Larry Christenson opposes the dreaded Phil Niekro (23-13 lifetime against the Phils) in the series finale tonight.
Noles handles relief without using tricks
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Dickie Noles may not have the "trick pitch" of most National League relief pitchers, but he sure has the right temperament.
With just 23 games of pitching for the Phillies under his belt, the 23-year-old righthander has all the swagger and aggressiveness of a veteran combat soldier. Next to him, Clint Eastwood looks like Pat Boone.
"That man there is a whole lot of raw meat," said a member of the Phils after Noles had literally stopped the Atlanta Braves in their tracks, thus paving the way for a 10-5 rout of the visitors at Veterans Stadium.
There's no doubt that Noles, a former starting pitcher in the minors, is a little raw around the edges. And the Phillies suspect that's why opposing batters aren't exactly thrilled with the prospect of facing him.
"You looked like you really took charge out there tonight," a writer said to Noles, thinking a compliment was a ' nice way to begin an interview.
"Are you saying I don't do it all the time?" snapped Noles, his lips tightening in anger.
"No, no... it's just that you went out there like General Patton and looked in total control."
"You mean I don't do that all the time?" Noles asked in an even more hostile manner.
Time out. I've heard of loaded questions, but never a loaded answer. Does he take total command all the time?
He doesn't, of course. No one does it all the time and can't reasonably expect to be in total command of a game every time he takes the field. If a batter fails seven put of ten times, he's a .300 hitter. Relief pitchers have it even rougher.
"A reliever has to have a totally different type of arm and psyche," explained Manager Dallas Green. "He's got to be able to get over both the good things and the negative things quickly. He's got to, because chances are, he's - going to be right back out there the next night.
"Dickie Noles couldn't dwell on what happened with the Dodgers the other night. He couldn't dwell on it because, if he did, then I wouldn't know if I had a pitcher ready to go or not."
The Dodgers gave Dickie some problems Sunday afternoon. Yet, he came right back last night, storming out of the bullpen in the seventh inning with the tying run on third and corking the bottle by getting Atlanta's Chris Chambliss on a flyball to short center field and buzzing a third strike past Jeff Burroughs.
Atlanta also had the tying run on third base in the eighth inning. Again, Noles responded with impressive poise and dazzling pitches as he struck out both the dangerous Garry Mathews and Jerry Royster.
For a youngster, who was used in relief just one in his minor league career, that's impressive. Especially when you consider the big league pressures involved.
"Oh, he can handle pressure," said Green with a smile. "He made the switch from starter to bullpen – which I told you all winter he'd do. And he did it because he's the kind of athlete who will listen to what you want done and then go out and do it."
Noteworthy is the fact that, unlike numerous relievers who rely on a specialized pitch or deceiving delivery to gain an edge on the hitters, Noles is what ' Green likes to think of as a throwback to the days when power pitchers like former Phillies flamethrower Turk Farrell ruled the bullpens of baseball.
"He's what you call a hard-baller," said Green with a wink.
He is also what you'd call an unsolved problem, when he is standing in front of his locker glaring like you'd just hit a grand slam off him. And all because of a compliment gone wrong.
What was the question? Oh yes, is the writer saying Dickie doesn't take command all the time.
"Well," said the writer to Noles, preparing to duck. "You didn't against the Dodgers."
Please pass the dynamite.
"You're saying I'm not doing the job!" said Noles in a voice that was controlled, but white hot. Then, he stormed away.
Like I said, the man may not have a trick pitch but if the right kind of temperament makes a reliever more effective, then Dickie Noles is leaving a lot of hitters wishing they'd gone to law school instead.
Harrelson signed by Texas Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Veteran shortstop Bud Harrelson will join the Texas Rangers tonight, replacing 21-year-old Nelson Norman, who has been told to report to the Rangers' Class AAA Charleston, W. Va., farm team.
Harrelson, a 35-year-old switch hitter, broke into the major leagues with the New York Mets in 1966 and played with them until 1978, when the Philadelphia Phillies signed him.
He played with the Phillies for part of 1978 and 1979 and went through spring training with them this year..
Rangers president Eddie Robinson, in announcing the acquisition of Harrelson, said Tuesday night he still considers Norman "our future shortstop."