Pacific Stars & Stripes - October 12, 1980
Astros Go Ahead In Playoffs
Morgan's triples sets stage for win in 11th
By The Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston second baseman Joe Morgan, the inspirational leader throughout the season, tripled off the right field wall in the llth inning and Denny Walling delivered a sacrifice fly, giving the Astros a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies Friday in the third game of the National League playoffs.
The dramatic triumph gave Houston a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series and put them within one game of their first World Series berth in the.team's 19-year history.
Morgan, given credit for keeping the Astros together this season, led off the llth inning with a triple off loser Tug McGraw. Morgan, hobbled by a knee injury, then gave way to pinch-runner Rafael Landestoy, who trotted home on Waiting's fly ball to left fielder Greg Luzinski.
The run completed the second straight extra-inning playoff game and set a National League record for the most scoreless innings in playoff competition.
Following Morgan's triple, Philadelphia Manager Dallas Green elected to intentionally walk Jose Cruz and pinch-hitter Art Howe in order to face the left-handed hitting Walling.
Joe Niekro, the hero of Houston's division-clinching playoff victory over Los Angeles on Monday, kept the Phils at bay. through most of the game except for the third inning.
Pete Rose and Bake McBride hit consecutive singles after starting pitcher Larry Christenson had led off the third with a strikeout.
With Rose at third base and McBride at second, major league runs batted in leader Mike Schmidt bounced a hopper to Enos Cabell at third base and Cabell's throw caught.Rose at the plate.
Phils left fielder Luzinski then flied out to deep left field, ending the threat.
While Niekro was holding Philadelphia in check, the Astros were wasting scoring opportunities in the first, fourth, sixth and" eighth innings.
Terry Puhl led off Houston's first inning with a double down the right field line. Cabell grounded out and Morgan walked before Jose Cruz hit into a double play, killing the threat.
The Astros stranded Cruz in the fourth inning following a one-out triple to right field.
Puhl gave Houston another scoring chanqe in the eighth inning when he singled and was sacrificed to second by Cabell. But a run-saving catch by Garry Maddox in center field and first baseman Dave Bergman's fly ball ended the inning.
Houston center fielder Cesar Cedeno hit into a double play, ending the sixth inning with runners on first and second, and suffered a broken right ankle while crossing first base. Cedeno was scheduled for surgery later Friday to repair ligament damage.
Cedeno hit .309 with 10 homers and 73 runs batted in during Houston's drive to the N.L. West title. In the first two games of the playoffs, Cedeno had two hits in 10 at-bats.
Niekro, 20-12 during the regular season, allowed six hits during his 10 innings of work but suffered from the futile run production that has plagued the Astros all season. He was replaced in the llth by Dave Smith.
Smith, one of Houston's top relief aces all season, responded to the challenge in the llth inning when he struck out Luzinski to open the inning. Then, after Manny Trillo filed out, Maddox doubled and Larry Bowa was walked intentionally. Smith, the winning pitcher, ended the inning by fanning pinch hitter Del Unser.
Both teams missed early scoring opportunities with the Phils nullifying the best chance in the third inning when they got runners to second and third with one out against Niekro.
After Christenson struck out to start the inning, Rose got his 36th playoff hit to extend his N.L. record, a single to shallow left field. Rose went to third base on a perfectly executed hit-and-run play when McBride singled to right field.
McBride went to second base on a passed ball by Luis Pujols to set the stage for Schmidt.
But Schmidt, also the major league home run champion, hit a tapper back to Cabell at third base and Cabell's throw to the plate caught Rose sliding.
The Astros survived another scare in the inning when Greg Luzinski hit a fly ball to the 390-foot marker in left field for the third out with two runners still aboard.
Trillo doubled to lead off Philadelphia's second inning on a ground ball down the third base line that fell just out of the grasp of the diving Cabell. Maddox and Bowa followed with popouts and Bob Boone field out to Cruz to end the inning.
Houston continued to throw away scoring chances in the fourth inning when Cruz boomed a one-out triple to deep right field. But after Cedeno grounded out and Walling was walked intentionally, Pujols grounded out to Schmidt.
Schmidt and first baseman Rose combined for an outstanding defensive play to prevent a run from scoring on Pujols' grounder. Schmidt shorthopped Pujols' high bouncer and Rose dug Schmidt's throw out of the dirt for the final out.
Luzinski went 0-for-5, ending a string of 13 consecutive playoff games in which he had collected at least one hit.
In Saturday's fourth game of the series, Houston's Vern Ruhle was scheduled to face Philadelphia's ace, Steve Carlton, who beat the Astros 3-1 in the opening game of the series Tuesday night.
Joe Was Going To Run Until He Was Stopped
By The Associated Press
HOUSTON (AP) — "I thought it might be an inside-the-park home run," said Joe Morgan Friday after his llth-inning triple set up the only run in third game of the National League playoffs against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pinch-runner Rafael Landestoy scored moments later on a sacrifice fly by Denny Walling that gave the Astros a 1-0 victory.
Morgan got the big hit off Phillies' ace reliever Tug McGraw.
"He threw me every pitch in the book the two times I faced him," said Morgan of McGraw.
Morgan wasn't sure what he hit for the triple.
"I think it was either a fastball tailing in or a slider," Morgan said.
"I'm swinging good now and I don't try to detect what the pitch is — I just swing.
"When I saw the ball bounce away (from right fielder Bake McBride) I was headed for home plate which is the way you have to run bases in this ballpark. I felt if I got a shot at it I'd better take it. But the coach stopped me."
Morgan explained his thinking.
"Just because you've got a man on third base with nobody out is no sign you're going to score." Morgan said. "I was going to keep running until somebody stopped me.".
Walling said of his game-winning sacrifice fly, "I didn't hit it really well. I thought there might be a play at the plate."
Houston Manager Bill Virdon, of course, was upset by the loss of center fielder Caesar Cedeno who suffered a fractured right ankle while running in the sixth inning.
"But this club has more intestinal fortitude than a lot of people give us credit for," said Virdon."They'll keep it together for the next one or two days."
"It will hurt us a lot, but this team has overcome .so much adversity already," said Morgan about the loss of Cedeno. "I think we're strong enough to go the rest of the way without him but it will hurt us not to have him. We had a saying when we were a run down this year — Cesar go score a run.
"It seemed like 90 percent of the time he'd do it. Personally, I feel bad about it. Cesar and I were very close this season and I know he wanted to play in the World Series so badly."
Virdon said he plans to stack his lineup with right-handed hitters Saturday as the Phillies try .to stay alive by pitching their ace Steve Carlton, whose 24 victories were the most in the National League this year. He will be working with three days rest for the 15th time this season.
"If I had Carlton and had to win one game to stay in it, I'd pitch Carlton too," said Virdon.
The Phillies' Mike Schmidt, N.L. home run and RBI champion, summed it best. for his team.
"They got to beat the best pitcher (in baseball) Saturday," said Schmidt. "If they can do that they deserve to go to the World Series.
McBride said of Morgan's triple, "I came closer than I thought I would. I just kept running and running and finally I ran out of room. I thought I had a shot at it."
McBride said he sprained his wrist, and suffered a hip pointer when he banged into the wall trying for the ball. He said he would have it X-rayed Friday night.
'We should be drinking it,' Rose Feels
By The United Press International
HOUSTON (UPI) — These are sobering times for the Philadelphia Phillies.
"We should be drunk right now," said Philadelphia's Pete Rose. "We should be drunk with champagne. All we got to do is hit fly balls."
On Friday, the Phillies dropped their second straight-game to the Houston Astros in the National League Championship Series. Houston, leading the best-of-five series 2-1, can secure its first pennant in its 19-year-history with a victory Saturday.
For the second straight game, the Phillies outhit the Astros. But Houston, which won the 11-inning tension-filled game 1-0 on a sacrifice fly by Denny Walling, once again got the key hit.
The Phillies left 11 runners stranded with Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone twice wasting opportunities with runners in scoring position.
Rose, who included himself in the criticism, had one hit and is 5-for-13 in the three games thus far.
"If you don't execute you don't win. I'm not blaming anybody in particular. When you get a man on third base, you get him. We all did," he said.
Luzinski hit a towering fly ball to deep left-center field in the third inning with two runners on base but Jose Cruz caught the ball with his back against the 390-foot sign.
"Anywhere but here, it's out, Luzinski said.
Many nail-biting innings later, Luzinski's off-line throw from left field allowed pinch-runner Rafeal Landestoy to score the winning run on Walling's medium flyball.
"I knew he was going to run. With him running it was going to take a perfect throw. I tried to rush and get it in," Luzinski said.
Manager Dallas Green gave his team no credit for hitting a handful of line drives which were caught.
"The little things mean a lot," said Green. "It doesn't matter how hard you hit it but where you hit it and when you hit it."
Green said on Saturday he would go with first-game winner Steve Carlton and then come back Sunday with rookie Marty Bystrom if a fifth game were needed.
Rose said the Phillies were still capable of winning the series.
"Even though we're 1-2, I'm not worried," Rose said. "What have I got to be worried about? They're not exactly tearing the cover off the ball."
Phillies starter Larry Christenson came away with nothing despite stopping the Astros on three hits over the first six innings.
"It's a big disappointment. I'm not out for me to win personal glory. I'm here to do what I can for this team," said Christenson.
"It's too bad. It's a shame because I feel we should have won this in three games."