Wilmington Morning News - October 17, 1980
Phils go West
Ruthven scouts Royals his way
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
KANSAS CITY – Dick Ruthven is not your classic company man. Oh, he's dedicated to his employers, the Philadelphia Phillies, but that doesn't stop him from doing things the Dick Ruthven way.
The Phils spent a ton of money and weeks of energy preparing detailed scouting reports on their World Series opponent, the Kansas City Royals. There's so much information in the dossier, the men who run the war room are guarding it like the Valachi Papers.
Dick Ruthven could care less.
"I have nothing against the work Hugh Alexander and the other scouts have done, but I prefer to get my information from other sources," Ruthven said on the eve of his pitching assignment tonight against the Royals Rich Gale in the third game of the Series. "Know what I did? I called Jim Kaat."
Jim Kaat spent most of his career baffling American League batters with one pitch or another. And after he left the Phillies in the spring of 1979, he went to the Yankees.
From a pure convenience standpoint, Ruthven didn't even have to make a long-distance call. He and Kaat are neighbors in the countryside near Glen Mills, Pa. "Kitty should know a little something about the Royals, especially after pitching against them in 1979," said Ruthven. "The reason I wanted to talk to him was because he's a pitcher. We speak the same language."
Ruthven, who's bothered by a deep chest cold, would not reveal any of the secrets, but said he and Kaat talked about individual batters.
"We skipped the philosophical approaches to the World Series and all that... I'll tell you how much I know about the Royals. It was just the other day I found out Rich Gale wasn't a left-lander. I always thought he was."
Most 29-year-old right-handers would have trouble sleeping the night before their first start in a World Series. Talking to the steel-nerved Rufus, you get the idea he's not that choked up about tonight.
"I'm trying to approach this just like any other game;" he said. "Sure, every pitcher wants to get in the playoffs and win a playoff game. And every pitcher wants to get in a World Series and win a World Series game. But to tell you the truth, the Series hasn't been the only thing on my mind. I've tried to live a normal life this week. If anything, it's much more relaxed than the playoffs were. The only difference is (with the clubhouse filled with reporters) it's hard to get to the shower."
No matter what happens tonight, Ruthven will find life easier in Royals Stadium than it was last Sunday in the Astrodome.
He wanted to start the fifth game in the best-of-five, heart-wrenching series, but rookie Marty Bystrom got the call. Rufus, however, was in the bullpen in the early innings warming up, then sat down when Larry Christenson came on in relief. In the end, though, Dick Ruthven came in, retired six Astros in a row and was the winner in the 10-inning, 8-7 triumph.
"I have a pattern I like to follow as a starter," said Ruthven. "After Saturday's game, I stopped Dallas Green in the hotel lobby and asked him what his plans were. He said he wanted me for early relief and if I wasn't needed by the fifth, to get on an airplane and go to Kansas City. I guess he thought the World Series would open here rather than in Philadelphia.
"Now, the Astros tie the game against Tug in the ninth eighth and I'm told to warm up again. The first time I warmed up, I thought I would try Steve Carlton's approach. I stuffed cotton in my ears and pretended I was preparing for a regular start. Funny thing happened. With that cotton in my ears, I couldn't even hear the ball hitting the catcher's glove. I gave up on that."
Most of Ruthven's teammates say he Was ticked at Green for not letting him start the final game in the Astrodome.
Ruthven says that's not entirely true. "I was disappointed I did not get to go in that game," he explained. "Then, when he brought Larry Christenson in in relief, I guess I was ticked. I thought I should have gotten a shot. While I was warming up in the bullpen, I had excellent stuff. I didn't think there was any way they would be able to score on me. But they chose Christenson over me, so I figured my stuff must not have been good enough. When I finally got in there, though, my stuff was still good and I can't knock Dallas Green because we won. That is the important thing and makes everything else possible."
Ruthven didn't come right out and say it, but after the nerve-racking run to the National League Eastern Division title, plus the struggle to win the playoffs against Houston, the World Series has to be anti-climactic.
"And Gale really is a right-hander, uh?" Ruthven asked, appearing about as concerned as somebody reading an unimportant item in a paper.
Frey prays Brett ready
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
KANSAS CITY – Kansas City Manager Jim Frey feels George Brett will be back in the Royals' lineup tonight against the Phillies in Game Three of the World Series. Maybe hopes is a better word.
"I'll talk to him before the game and see how he feels," Frey said. "If he's ready to go, he'll play."
Brett underwent hemorrhoidal surgery at St. Luke's Hospital here yesterday and Dr. John Heryer, a proctologist, removed a small blood clot from the hemorrhoid that forced Brett from the lineup in Game Two after the third baseman singled twice and walked, but experienced pain running the bases and playing in the field.
"The pain is considerably less and we plan that George will be able to play Friday," said Dr. Paul Meyer, the Royals' team physician. "I'm sure he won't be up to peak performance. Running and sliding will irritate him."
Heryer described the 20-minute, noontime surgery as a "fairly common operation under a light, general anesthetic. Heryer lanced a blood clot in the external portion of a hemorrhoid, "removing, hopefully, his pain."
Brett won’t be released from the hospital until sometime today. In the meantime, he is being kept off his feet, in hot tubs and under close observation.
In the 44 games Brett missed with various ailments this season, the Royals were only 22-22.
The Phillies, too, had medical news at yesterday's workout.
Greg Luzinski remained at his New Jersey home with a 101-degree temperature yesterday but is expected to arrive in Kansas City today.
However, Manager Dallas Green said he expects to use Keith Moreland as tonight's designated hitter while Luzinski regains his strength.
Home seen as haven for weary 0-2 Royals
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
KANSAS CITY – There were about 500 diehard fans at the airport when the Kansas City Royals arrived, tired and beaten, at 3 a.m. yesterday. The homecoming was hardly royal, however, as the weary players marched past the fans with minimal small talk and concentrated on the job at hand – staying alive in the World Series.
The Royals are down 2-0 to the Phillies after blowing two leads in Veterans Stadium. The KC players all feel the home fans will make a difference, but there's an air of desperation in their optimistic forecasts. They all know that 26 of the 33 teams that won the first two games went on to win the World Series.
But they also know that the Yankees lost the first two games to the Dodgers in 1978, only to win the next four. Now THAT'S their idea of history.
But the Royals know that they have to have better pitching if they're to duplicate the Yankees' comeback. Dennis Leonard had a 4-0 lead in Game One and ace reliever Dan Quisenberry blew a 4-2 lead Wednesday night.
"We've got to hold a lead," said designated hitter Hal McRae, Who doesn't get a chance to hold down the defenses when the Phils start to counterattack. "We can score runs, but we've got to hold them when we get in front.
"The pressure's on us right now but if we win Friday, the pressure will be on them because they won't want to see us even it up."
McRae feels a Royals "Stadium selldut will spark the players.
"We need a bit lift emotionally," he said, "and I hope our crowds can give us a shot in the arm like the fans helped the Phillies in Philadelphia."
Quisenberry, the American League Fireman of the Year with 33 saves and another in the playoff clincher against the Yankees, tried to joke about his four-run nightmare Wednesday but other Royals seemed concerned.
"The Phillies came back on us with our best reliever in there," said Willie Wilson, who has his own offensive deficiencies on his mind, too. "That makes you wonder – what can you do to beat 'em? You gotta wonder if maybe our crowd will help us out. Maybe we've gotta do some more stuff, like hitting and running, or stealing. Do something."
Wilson, the KC leadoff hitter, hopes to do something himself about a horrendous start that saw him go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts before walking and singling in the second game.
"I'm not pleased with what I've done by any means," Wilson said. "I know it's my job to get on base and I haven't been doing that. I know I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself. I was 0-for-5 the first game, then worried about that in the second one. Then I struck out my first three times up against Steve Carlton and that didn't help things any. But I walked and got a single in the eighth, so maybe that will get me going."
And the entire Royals' ensemble will face Dick Ruthven tonight. Ruthven's two shutout innings in Houston Sunday night clinched the NL pennant and Ruthven would like to register his first World Series victory tonight.
Royals Manager Jim Frey is trying to take the load off Wilson's back, particularly when writers suggest Wilson's failure to reach base has led to the Royals' failure to win games.
"You can't expect one guy to generate a whole offense and get 2-3 hits a game," Frey said yesterday. "Willie had 230 hits this season and he gets our thing going with his excellent speed and ability to steal bases. But I've read about a lot of guys with 'character' on their club and they don't have a lot of hits, either."
McRae feels – or maybe it's wishful thinking – that the Phillies may be running out of comeback miracles. All five games they've won in postseason play saw them overtake a Houston or Kansas City lead.
"They're a good ball club, there's no doubt about that," McRae said, "but we were ahead 4-2 in the eighth inning, just where we wanted to be. We're not going to lose any more leads.
"We feel their last charge was Wednesday night. We're gonna jump out on them in our park and shut them down. Listen, we're a good ball club, too. I just don't think they're going to do that to us again."
Another Phillies encore could crush whatever spirit the Royals have left and set the stage for a sweep, though the most optimistic of Phillies or most pessimistic of Royals would never entertain such thoughts – not for print, anyway.
The Royals still insist this is going to be a heckuva World Series and that they're going to win it, with the impetus of a strong, vocal crowd in Royals Stadium tonight.
"We've won a championship, we've done what our fans wanted more than anything in the world and we haven't heard one cheer yet," said catcher Darrell Porter of the Royals road heroics that saw them clinch the AL playoffs in New York and play the first two World Series games at the Vet.
"We should be happy coming home. We need to hear some cheers from our side. We need that more than anything."
Except, perhaps, for holding a lead now and then.