Allentown Morning Call - October 13, 1980

Phillies win N.L. crown


By Ted Meixell, Call Sports Writer


HOUSTON – The Phillies may have won last night's fifth game of the National League playoffs to the Houston Astros. And they may have lost. But, as of the time this was written one thing is certain – we can forget all that business about folding under pressure. 


Philadelphia fell behind the Astros and fireballing righthander Nolan Ryan 5-2 after seven innings last night. If ever a team had Its back to the wall, the Phils did then.


But, after scrambling like the dickens to score runs through four games, they exploded in the clutch for five eighth-inning runs and assumed a 7-5 lead over the Astros after 7½. And "The Tugger," Tug McGraw was on the mound trying to nail down Philly's first pennant since 1950. 


The Astros rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game, 7-7 but the Phillies scored once in the 10th to win 8-7. 


Larry Bowa started the Phils' eighth with a single to left. Bob Boone lined a single off Ryan's glove and Greg Gross, in the game as a defensive replacement, dropped a gorgeous bunt single down the third base line to load the bases.


Ryan walked Pete Rose to force in a run and Joe Sambito came on in relief to get pinch hitter Keith Moreland on a fielder's choice, but the Phils' fourth run scored on the play. 


Starter Ken Forsch came on to face Mike Schmidt, and he fanned the flames of hope in Houston hearts by ripping a fastball past the slugger for a strikeout. 


But Del Unser, who's labored for years in relative obscurity, bounced off the bench to swing for Ron Reed and singled to right to tie the game. And when Manny Trillo followed with a two-run triple down the leftfield line, it was suddenly 7-5 Philadelphia. 


The Astros had scored three runs off starter-turned-reliever Larry Christenson in the seventh to temporarily take command. Terry Puhl, who had four hits and broke the record for most hits in a playoff series (10), singled to lead off and was sacrificed to second by Enos Cabell. 


After Joe Morgan bounced out to third and Jose Cruz was walked, intentionally, Denny Walling, who was 0-for-7 to that point in the series, rifled a single to right to give Houston a 3-2 lead. After Christenson wild pitched Cruz home, Art Howe singled in what looked like the final nail in the Phils' coffin. 


It was not to be, however, because the Phils' fought back like a cornered rattlesnake. 


The Astros, as they had done in all four earlier games in this series, took the early lead, jumping on the nervous Bystrom for a run in the bottom of the first inning.


Terry Puhl smacked a leadoff single to left, stole second and scored when Jose Cruz lined a low slider into right for a double. 


Ryan, meanwhile, was throwing tracers right from the start. Every pitch he threw in the first inning was clocked at between 96 and 98 mph on a radar gun, and the 3-2 pitch he poured past Pete Rose and another on which Mike Schmidt popped up were in the 98 range.


But the Phils, realizing this wasn't the day to stand around in awe, flailed away at Ryan's heaters in the second and – thanks to a questionable bit of strategy on the part of Astros' manager Bill Virdon – grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second. 


With one out, Manny Trillo interrupted the 98-mph flight of one fastball and sent it even more rapidly into center field for a single. Ryan then walked Garry Maddox on four pitches and retired Larry Bowa on a come-backer to the mound, but both runners advanced. 


Virdon then decided to let Ryan pitch to Bob Boone with a base open, two out and Bystrom due to hit next. Boone made Houston pay by stroking an 0-1 fastball (a 99 mph job) to center for the two runs.


In the bottom of the second Houston made a bid to even things up again, but Bake McBride, Trillo and Boone teamed up for the defensive gem of the game and probably the entire series to bail young Bystrom out of trouble. 


Astro catcher Luis Pujols, playing despite a sore ankle (he was hit by a Schmidt foul tip Saturday), drew a one-out walk and light-hitting (.226) shortstop Craig Reynolds lined a sharp double-into the rightfield corner. 


But McBride threw a perfect relay to Trillo who in turn uncorked a gorgeous throw to Boone to nip the hobbled Pujols at the plate and preserve Philadelphia's 2-1 lead. 


Rose led off the third with a single to stretch his League Championship Series hitting streak to a record 14 straight games – one better than teammate Greg Luzinski, but he was thrown out stealing one out later. 


Bystrom, although he seemed to have fair stuff, wasn't nearly as sharp as he'd been in his five-win month of September. And when the Astros got good pitches to hit – they hit. Fortunately for the Phils, two long shots to center by Joe Morgan stayed in the park and were caught by Maddox on the warning track and another by Denny Walling was flagged down by McBride in right. 


Bystrom needed help from Trillo and Rose again in the fifth to get out of trouble. Enos Cabell singled with one out and was running with the pitch as Morgan ripped a wicked grounder toward the hole between first and second. But Rose made a diving stab of the ball and outraced Morgan to the bag.


That play was significant in that it prevented Cabell from reaching third, since he would have scored when Trillo erred on Cruz' grounder. 


Manny, by the way, saved a run with his error, if that can be believed. Cruz' smash was deep in the hole and basehit bound, but he flagged it down. The error came when his throw pulled Rose off the bag, but Pete alertly saw Cabell heading for the plate and gunned him down easily. 


Bystrom repeatedly showed his grit by squirming out of jam after jam, but the Astros finally reached him in the sixth to tie the game.

As Phils claw path to NL’s pennant, L.V. fans agonize


By Paul Lowe, Of The Morning Call


Sometime last night my boss asked me to go on an odyssey: 


Get fan reaction to the Phillies-Astros game. 


Sure, but somebody forgot to tell the two National League combatants that the newspaper has a deadline. 


The original premise was that a reporter could talk to some people who were gathered in someone's living room over a few cold ones to give our readers a view from the spectating area. 


Apparently, the game generated the number of fans that would go to Leather Corner Post on a Saturday to watch the grass grow. 


Try to find someone who invited even the relatives over, much less the fellow office workers or a friend.


So I decided the only alternative was to hit a few bars. 


The first stop was the Americus Hotel in Allentown, where at the bottom of the third inning, bartender Blanche said, "Just keep praying." The score: Phils 2, Astros 1. 


Honestly, it was difficult finding anybody out drinking. Particularly on a Sunday night, even though there is a hypothetical holiday today to honor someone who supposedly found this nuthouse we call America. 


So from the eight or so people at the Americus, I ventured to Marky's Office on the city's South Side where I found more souls on board in the 6th inning.


Catherine and Madeline were there with Tammie. 


Tammie's comment was, "I'm a sports fanatic except for boxing and wrestling. I can't stand those two." 


"It's going to get more interesting." she clairvoyantly predicted with the tally still 2-1.


Madeline's comment was, "I like their shirts (Astros). My son is going to get one for $65." 


Todd, the bartender at Marky's, confessed, "I'm a Phillies fan out of necessity." 


At the end of the Phillies' seventh, Tammie cried, "Double play; Oh, rots!" 


And boss Marky pronounced, "They're going to go home losers, it looks like to me." 


By the bottom of the seventh, Tammie declared, "Give the Phillies a chance. They're going to make a comeback." 


Shortly thereafter, she added, "The Phillies are playing like my sister was bowling tonight." 


Another patron asserted that the Phils would come back like their football counterparts did earlier in the day.


A bunt single in the eighth resulted in Tammie telling her newly arrived friend Linda, "I told you so." 


Pete Rose comes to the plate and walks. The crowd in Marky's Office cheers approvingly. 


Linda says, "Boy, Schmidt's going to be up, too." 


The score becomes 5-4 and Ken Forsch enters the fray for the Astros. 


Schmidt whiffs and Tammie shouts, "You fool." Another patron at Marky's exclaims, "Hang it up, Schmidt." 


Del Unser then singles and the bar goes wild. 


Marky tells his patrons, if Manny Trillo gets a hit, the drinks are on the house. Trillo singles and Marky puts up a round.


When the score gets to 7-5 in favor of the Phils, the bar goes absolutely insane. 


That prompts Tammie to say, "We're going to win tonight." 


Her friend Linda adds, "Once they (the Phils) get started, they don't stop." 


My impression was who cares about this playoff. Forget the fact that the Phils had not advanced to the World Series since 1950 – three decades ago. 


The Whiz Kids are now grandfathers and I was in elementary school. 


As I write this, I finally find out that "we" won. Too bad it couldn't have been a total rerun against the Yankees.