Reading Eagle - October 18, 1980
15 Phillies Left Hanging
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
KANSAS CITY – As if there weren’t enough official World Series records, Frank Edwin McGraw set an unofficial one Friday night which may stand till after the Series includes the Japanese champion:
Most games involved in a decision with 15 or more left on base by your team, 2.
The Philadelphia Phillies stranded 15 runners – and saw two others knocked off as part of double plays – in their 4-3, 10-inning loss to Kansas City. Even Abscam didn’t leave that many Philadelphians hanging.
Fifteen left on base! Only once before in World Series history did a team leave 15 on base. The Mets did it against the A’s in the second game in 1973.
There were some differences. The Mets needed 12 innings to strand that many. They won the game. The winning pitcher was Tug McGraw, Friday’s loser.
14 in Nine
The Phils stranded 14 in the first nine innings Friday. That would have been enough to equal the record for a nine-inning game.
When you strand 15 and lose by one run, it is not the pitcher’s fault. Nevertheless, McGraw was blaming himself for his defeat when he finally emerged from a lengthy session with the trainer, after all but eight writers had departed.
“Some losses are easier to take than others,” he said. “If a guy hits a good pitch you can say, ‘O.K., he beat me.’ But Aikens hit a pitch in a bad spot.
“I wanted to get the fastball up and in, but it was out over the plate. It was the right choice of pitches; if I’d done what I’d had in mind, we’d still be out there.”
Presumable, with a chance to break all records for left on bases.
By innings, the Phillies left 2, 3, 2, 0, 1, 2, 0, 2, 2, 1, with DPs in the fifth and 10th. Hitting with men in scoring position, the Phillies were a pathetic 1-for-13 Friday. Even Bob Walk hits better than that.
Rose The Exception
The “one” was Pete Rose’s single with two on and two out in the eighth, chasing home the run which tied at 3-3 and keeping the Phillies’ eighth-inning reputation intact. It also ended Pete’s Series slump at 0-for-10.
Chief offender was the guy who’s best at driving in runs, Mike Schmidt. He went out four times to end innings, leaving a total of eight mates hanging. It would have been nine, if he hadn’t hit into a DP the last time.
But that is not nearly as bad as it sounds. He flied deep to center on his first failure. The runner was forced by just a hair on the second. On the third, before flying out, he was barely foul with a bunt which would have scored the winning run. On the fourth, he drilled one on which Frank White at second made a lunging grab and doubled the runner off second.
Oh, yes, he walked the first time he came up with somebody on. And the one time he was up with nobody on, leading off the fifth, he homered into the bullpen in left.
“White was cheating me up the middle a bit,” said Schmidt about the last ball. But that’s the way to play me.
“I had so much time to think about that bunt (in the eighth, after Rose’s tying single had inspired the arrival of Dan Quisenberry). I did just what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to give the pitcher a chance to get hold of it. I bunted it perfectly – and six inches foul.”
Of the 15 strandees, three were left on third and six on second.
Larry Bowa saw one encouraging note. “If we’d left them on base with one out, it would be a different story. But that total is misleading. We were getting them on with two out.”
Indeed, the Phillies got only one runner to third all night with less than two out, and that one scored. However, they also got five to second with one out and none of them scored. Five leadoff singles were wasted.
View From Rose
Pete Rose saw another encouraging note. “They had to struggle to beat us tonight. A team that blows you out, you got to get concerned about. And we didn’t give any runs away. We’re not gonna walk the streets, or throw rocks at cars, because of this one.”
“Luck evens out,” Schmidt was saying about the Royals’ luck with him in this game.
The Royals could say the same thing, pointing to their 11 LOBs of Wednesday, with four knocked off in DPs. “It was their turn tonight,” said Jim Frey, the Royals’ manager.
But the Phillies could look back just a little further, to the second and third games of the Houston series. They stranded 14 in the 10-inning loss last Wednesday, 11 in the 11-inning shutout loss Friday (McGraw the loser). In one stretch, they were 0-for-20 with men in scoring position.
“Yes, this one tonight was similar to the first one in Houston,” said Dallas Green. “But that turned out all right, didn’t it?”
Aikens Fueled By Anderson
KANSAS CITY (AP) – It was a tough break for the Phillies when Willie Aikens ducked into the Royals’ clubhouse Friday night and heard Sparky Anderson say on the radio that Pete Rose gives them the edge at first base.
Nobody had to remind him that it was Sparky Anderson who once ordered his Detroit pitcher to walk Hal McRae and pitch to Aikens, and who said later, “I’d walk Hal McRae a thousand times to get to Willie Aikens.”
And it irritated the soft-spoken first baseman even more to think that Rose at that point was hitless in the World Series while Aikens had two home runs and a triple.
Anderson, it turns out, provided even more incentive when Aikens walked to the plate in the 10th inning with Game Three of the World Series tied at 3-3, Willie Wilson on second base, and two out.
Tug McGraw, Philadelphia’s left-handed relief ace, served the left-handed swinging Aikens a fastball that he drilled into left-centerfield just out of reach of a lunging Garry Maddox. So much for the Phillies in Game Three, who came to the park with a 2-0 advantage but went back to the hotel with a 2-1 lead. So much for Rose, who has one hit and one RBI in eleven World Series at-bats. Aikens, who has five hits, was asked who he believes is the best first baseman in this World Series.
“I think I am,” he answered, staring the questioner directly in the eye. “I have confidence in myself. I’m not the fastest guy in the world, but I feel like I’m a better hitter than Rose. He hits doubles and singles. I can hit doubles and singles and drive in runs, too. But it really doesn’t matter what anybody says.”
Aikens’ 10th-inning heroics would have been unnecessary if not for an apparent boo-boo by starting pitcher Rich Gale. The Phillies had the bases loaded with one out in the second when Lonnie Smith hit a smash up the middle that Gale knocked to his feet. He appeared confused as he picked the ball up, checked second base, then threw to first while Manny Trillo scored Philadelphia’s first run. A throw to the plate would have been an easy forceout and might have been turned into a double play.
“I didn’t field the ball cleanly,” said Gale defensively. “We’re taught if you don’t field the ball cleanly you go to first base for a sure out. That’s what we’re taught.”
U.L. Washington was on second base with none out in the 10th when he was thrown out by catcher Bob Boone at third base. Frank White was at the plate with none out trying to bunt, but Washington was thrown out after White bunted threw a McGraw pitch.
“I was just going on instinct,” he said. “I thought I had a chance to make it. If we had lost, the world wouldn’t have come to an end. I would do the same thing again. You can’t go hide the rest of your life because you lose a World Series.”
Aikens, Brett Inflict Pain on Phillies
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
KANSAS CITY – Aikens and the aching hurt the baseball Friday night, and so the Philadelphia Phillies are in a bit of pain.
Willie Mays Aikens singled home the winning run with two out in the 10th inning – after tripling and scoring in the fourth – as the Kansas City Royals beat the Phillies 4-3 and cut their World Series advantage to 2-1.
The aching is of course George Brett, whose hemorrhoids have taken on a significance rivaling those of Napoleon at Waterloo.
On this first time at bat since the offending hemorrhoid was lanced, he hit the third pitch into the seats in right to give the Royals the first of three one-run leads which would not hold up.
Brett also cracked a wasted double, and was on base with an intentional walk when Aikens ended the game.
The only Royal run in which the two left sluggers did not figure came from “AO” – Amos Otis homered to right in the seventh.
Aikens had been caught looking at a third strike by Dick Ruthven after Brett doubled in the eighth. But in the 10th he ripped a 2-1 fastball from Tug McGraw into the left-center gap, a drive which would have been extra bases if needed.
His triple was past a stumbling Lonnie Smith in the fourth; Tuesday he hit a couple of homers to right. Wednesday he singled to center.
“We’ll have to look at what we’ve got written down about Aikens,” Dallas Green had said Tuesday. Presumably the Phils’ manager will take another look.
Overswung to Start
“I overswung at the one pitch in the 10th,” said baseball’s only player who’s named for a casino employee. “Then I told myself to calm down and hit it where it’s pitched. I knew Maddox didn’t have a chance on it.”
Most balls hit to left or right center have a chance of being caught by Garry Maddox, but not this one. “When I picked it up I knew right away I wouldn’t get to it,” said Garry. “Those kind of hard line drives by left-handers always tail away.”
That capped an inning of mistake and counter-mistake, the last mistake being McGraw’s inability to put the fastball where he wanted it.
U.L. Washington began by stinging a single Larry Bowa couldn’t handle at short. Then McGraw walked speedster Willie Wilson on four pitches.
Washington was hung up when Frank White missed a bunt try, and was thrown out by Bob Boone trying to make it to third. “He did it out of eagerness, but you still have to blame the runner,” said Manager Jim Frey.
Now there’s one out and one on. And when White struck out, things looked good even with Brett coming up.
After a strike, Boone called for two pitchouts, and Wilson took off on the second. Bob had time to get the Royal thief, but bounced the throw and Wilson was safe.
“I was glad he was going,” sighed Bob. “I didn’t rush it, I was right in normal rhythm. I just didn’t execute it. I threw it five feet lower than I should have.”
Naturally, the strategy called for Brett to be walked. Then Aikens delivered.
Some wondered if Wilson had erred by stealing and taking the bat out of Brett’s hands (he runs on his own). “I have a ‘no steal’ sign, but I didn’t give it then,” said Frey. “I think I have a better chance of getting a single from Aikens than a double from Brett.” Brett said he agreed with the steal “because we won.”
Aikens’ fourth-inning triple was the first of his major-league career, as he definitely is no Willie Mays with his feet. “I was excited about it – and amazed,” said Willie.
Brett was naturally the center of media attention. He was ready with his opening line: “The pain is all behind me.”
George said that when he stepped up on his way to the first-inning homer, he felt “a lot of eyes staring at me – and they weren’t staring at my head or my legs. It was just a great satisfaction to play – and to hit the homer was fantastic. I wasn’t bothered at all.”
Brett paid tribute to the doctor who lanced the hemorrhoid, who may be invited to join the civic organization which supports the team. Its name is the Royal Lancers.
Aikens’ clutch hit made a winner of reliever Dan Quisenberry, Wednesday’s loser, who got the last out in the eighth and survived leadoff singles in the ninth and 10th. Renie Martin had replaced starter Rich Gale in the fifth.
McGraw came on to start the 10th for Ruthven who pitched well in surrendering nine hits and walking nobody.
The Phillies, who amassed 14 hits, showed a big plus by scoring in the next half inning after each of the three K.C. scores in regulation.
They showed a big minus by stranding a record-tying 15 runners. They got hits to lead off six different innings, and the only one of the six who scored was Mike Schmidt in homering in the fifth.
“We had uncomfortable moments all night,” said Frey. “It was no contest if we plated them,” said Green.
It took a Royal mistake for the Phils to score in the second. With the bases loaded on two hits and a walk, and one out, Lonnie Smith hit back to the box. Gale fumbled it, but still had time for a force at home. Instead, he threw to first.
“An example of a young guy getting flustered,” said Frey. “But I was just glad he got the out.”
Pete Rose, who was 0-for-10, singled home the run which tied at 3-3 and brought on Quisenberry in the eighth.
Green lauded the job done by Ruthven. “He pitched a super game and hung tough. I thought he still had fine stuff the last inning (when he gave up two hits), but how long can you let him go?”
PHIL-PHILLERS – Larry Christenson was opposing first-game loser Dennis Leonard in today’s fourth game…. The Phils might have scored in the ninth if Manny Trillo hadn’t lost a race with Quisenberry by a hair on his one-out, two-on chopper…. Otis in center set a record for most putouts by an outfielder in a Series game, 9 (all in regulation)…. Schmidt’s homer was his first in 19 postseason games…. Brett has hit safely in 17 of the 20 postseason games he’s played, with seven homers and 15 RBIs…. Otis has hit in all six postseason games this year… Greg Luzinski was feeling good, but unhappy he wasn’t playing…. Frey isn’t starting lefty Paul Splittorff, a 14-game winner, because he fears the Phils’ right-handed power…. Aikens batted .199 against lefties during the regular season…. The Phillies planned to pitch around Brett even if Wilson hadn’t stolen.