Reading Eagle - October 20, 1980
Brett Loser in Guessing Game
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
KANSAS CITY – George Brett may be a Superman as a baseball player and a person, but Sunday night he proved to be a Clark Kent guesser.
Brett tried to outguess both Mike Schmidt and Tug McGraw in the ninth inning, and failed both times. As a result, the Kansas City Royals failed in their bid to take the World Series lead back with them to Philadelphia.
Schmidt stepped to the plate to lead off the top of the ninth with the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead. Mike had bunted just foul in trying to score the winning run Friday, and had bunted for a basehit Saturday.
Brett edged even with the bag, fearing a third bunt. “Don’t give ‘em the bunt,” Manager Jim Frey had cautioned him. Instead, Mike ripped a 1-0 pitch to Brett’s left, which he knocked down but couldn’t make a play on. Maybe if he’s back, he has time to get it.
“There ain’t nothing in my mind about bunting in that situation,” said Schmidt. “Not at all. That would be like Babe Ruth bunting.”
Mike caught himself. “Not that I’m Babe Ruth, but anybody on the team leading off the inning has a chance to hit the ball out of the ball park. It might be me. I got to look for a ball I can drive. I got to get me three swings in that situation.”
Del Unser’s double and Manny Trillo’s single tied the game and put the Phillies ahead 4-3. Frank White walked to start the last of the ninth. Now it’s Tug McGraw, baseball’s best reliever in the last three months vs. George Brett, baseball’s best hitter in the last year.
“It wasn’t a physical thing between us,” said Tug. “I think we were trying to out-guess each other.”
McGraw jumped ahead 0-2 with a good slider on the black and a fastball which sailed away (“my ‘Cutty Sark’ fastball”).
No Noles Copler
“I thought about trying to come inside, following the Dickie Noles school. But then Mr. Frey would get excited, and I’m tired already. So we just decided to keep the ball away,” Tug explained.
“I think he was looking for me to waste a pitch. So I gave him my ‘John Jameson’ (I drink it straight) on the outside, and he took it.”
Said Brett: “With the game situation as it was, he’d waste a pitch 99 percent of the time. I was trying to pull the ball because Rose was holding White. With the pitch being outside, I simply couldn’t pull the trigger. It was just a good pitch.”
McGraw had also struck out Brett with a Cutty Sark on 1-2 as the first man Tug faced when he entered to start the seventh. George would have preferred the ‘Frank Sinatra’ – “Fly Me to the Moon.”
McGraw said that of all his strikeouts, the Brett ones were the highlight of his career. “The one that finished off the game was a big one, but it didn’t surprise me as much as the ones with Brett. I was really surprised with those. I’m glad I don’t have to face him all summer.”
Cardenal Goes Down
The finishing stroke on Jose Cardenal with three on and two out was also the result of some right guesswork.
“We had Jose set up for the screwball (on 1-2), so we jammed him real good. The Cutty Sark came in almost like a slider. Boonie even set up a little bit away, like it was going to be a screwball; sometimes the runner on second can pick that up.”
Speaking of guessing, there was some second guessing about Frey’s decision to send up Cardenal to hit for Clint Hurdle with two on and two out in the seventh (he flied out routinely) and to stay with him in the ninth.
Some wanted John Wathan, a .305 hitter in 453 at bats this year. (Cardenal hit .340 in 53 after being dropped by the Mets.)
Counting on Knowledge
“I thought Jose might know McGraw better,” said Frey, cognizant of course that Cardenal spent 2½ years with the Phillies.
“Jose’s one of the best pinch-hitters with men on base,” said McGraw. “But I figured I knew him as a hitter better than Otis (who had walked to load the bases). I felt I had a little bit of experience going my way.”
So who has the edge when batter and pitcher know each other? “The pitcher, without a doubt,” said Bob Boone.
Oh, well. Frey had picked Wathan over Cardenal to bat for Hurdle against McGraw Tuesday with the tying run on in the eighth and one out. And John had bounced into a double play.
Frey had a third option, of course. He could use a lefty hitter (Hurdle, Jamie Quirk or Pete LaCock), since McGraw’s screwball makes him tougher on righties than lefties. Perhaps Frey will have another chance to try that guess.
Gura Peeved At Manager
KANSAS CITY (AP) – Larry Gura made only a feeble effort to hid his Anger at Kansas City Manager Jim Frey.
The Royals’ left-hander was upset he was relieved in the seventh inning by Dan Quisenberry in Sunday’s fifth World Series game, which the Phillies won 4-3 with a ninth-inning rally.
Gura had given up four hits and one earned run when Frey removed him in the seventh.
Asked if he was tired in the seventh, Gura snapped, “I wasn’t one bit tired.”
Asked if he tried to argue with the first-year manager, he said, “I didn’t have a chance to argue. He signaled (for Quisenberry) before he got to the mound.:
“What do you have to do, pitch a perfect game?” Gura was asked.
“That would solve a lot of problems,” Gura answered.
Gura said he made one mistake, the towering two-run home run Mike Schmidt unloaded over the 410-mark in center field in the fourth.
“I made one bad pitch. He hit it good, but not good enough to hit it out there. The wind carried it.”
Frey defended his pitching change.
“I took him out for the same reason I’ve taken others out all year,” he said. “We have Quisenberry down there, and he’s don’t he job all year. He keeps the ball down, gets groundballs and possibly a double play.
Going back to Philadelphia, where the Royals blew a 4-0 lead in the first game and a 4-2 advantage in the second, weighed heavily on their minds.
“They’ll have 65,000 maniacs out there in the seats,” said Amos Otis, who’s been one of the hottest hitters in the Series. “In my opinion, that makes a difference.”
“We’ve got to get hot for two days,” said Clint Hurdle. “If we play our best baseball, we’ll win. If we don’t, we’re second best, that’s all there is to it.”
Frank White, who has staged a brilliant defensive show at second base throughout the Series, said Sunday’s effort was wasted by losing.
“Personal achievements don’t mean a thing if you lose. All I was thinking about was winning.”
Phils Rise From Depths – Once More
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
For most ballplayers, the World Series is like Christmas.
For the Philadelphia Phillies, it’s like Groundhog Day, too. They climbed out of the hole yet again Sunday afternoon.
If they do it once more, winter in Philadelphia will seem at least six weeks shorter for every baseball fan.
On Sunday, Del Unser found the little hole instead of the big one; Manny Trillo succeeded even though he couldn’t find a hole; and Tug McGraw escaped the biggest hole.
And so it’s the Phillies who stand looking over their foes, in the hole as the 77th World Series – once of the all-time greats – heads back to Philadelphia.
The Phillies ended a lengthy hibernation by scoring two in the top of the ninth, and survived a bases-loaded jam in the bottom, to shade the Kansas City Royals 4-3 in the fifth game of the Series.
Carlton vs. Gale
That puts them up 3-2 with the sixth game coming up Tuesday night in Philadelphia (8:20). Baseball’s best pitcher, Steve Carlton, will go against Rich Gale, who hasn’t won a game since Aug. 23, and will have one less day of rest than Steve.
The Phillies have now won six postseason games, and they’ve come from behind in all six. They erased bigger deficits than Sunday’s one run in four of the previous five, but this was the first time they waited till the ninth for the erasing.
(In the final regular-season win, they also erased a one-run deficit in the ninth before winning in the 11th.)
Mike Schmidt who’d hammered a two-run homer in the fourth smoked a single off George Brett’s glove to start the ninth. It came against Dan Quisenberry, who’s pitched in all five Series games, plus the last two games with the Yankees. Even groundhogs don’t work that hard in the fall.
Unser For Smith
Up came Del Unser to bat for Lonnie Smith, who’d run for Greg Luzinski in the seventh.
Unser, who’d doubled to left center off Quisenberry as a pinch-hitter in the four-run eighth which won Wednesday’s game, drilled a double into the narrow space between Willie Aikens and the first-base bag. That chased home Schmidt with the run which tied at 3-3.
“I was trying to pull it into the big hole because Aikens was holding Schmidt,” Unser explained. Instead, he pulled the vicious hopper so much that he got a two-baser rather than a one-baser. “I hit is as good as I can hit it,” said Del. “The sinker was a little up and in.”
Keith Moreland moved him to third with a perfect bunt. Garry Maddox bounced out to third, Unser holding.
That brought up Trillo, who smacked a 1-2 pitch right back at Quisenberry – too fast for him to react properly. It darted off his leg toward third, and Trillo beat it out for the game-winning single.
“With two strikes, I was just trying to make contact and hit the ball through the middle,” said Manny, who called it the most important hit of his career.
McGraw, pitching in his eighth postseason game (he missed the second and fourth Series games), had worked a 1-2-3 eighth after surviving a two out double by Hal McRae in the seventh.
“I was thinking about a 1-2-3 ninth,” said Tug. “But I kept getting deeper and deeper into trouble. Why do I have to make it so hard?”
Walk to Start
He dug the hole right from the start by walking Frank White on five pitches. The next four hitters in the Royals’ lineup were hitting in the Series, at that moment, .368, .444, .414 and .550. “A mortal sin,” said McGraw.
First was George Brett, the .390 regular-season sticker who has hit in 19 off the 22 postseason games he’s played in his career. Tug caught him looking at an 0-2 fastball.
But then he walked Willie Aikens on four pitches. “It was a combination of nerves, overthrowing, and trying to be too careful,” he said in explaining his wildness.
Then Tug got McRae to hit into a force at second on a nice play by Bowa, but not before Hal had lofted one into the seats just foul in the left-field corner. “If that had been fair, I’d have needed one of those CRP people (actually cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) they’re talking about here.” (Royals’ owner Ewing Kauffman sponsors the training program.
Loading the Bases
That brought up Amos Otis, and Tug issued what looked like a semi-intentional walk on four pitches to load the bases.
“I was just trying to be too fine with him,” said Tug, “and throw him perfect pitches.” He did admit that he’d rather face next hitter Jose Cardenal than Otis.
“I didn’t necessarily want the winning run moved to second,” said Manager Dallas Green. “But Boonie and Tug were thinking along with me. They didn’t want to give Otis a shot at driving in the tying run. Cardenal has not been as hot as Amos Otis.”
Meanwhile, Boone had visited the mound and suggested that the game had been exciting enough. Cardenal also visited it when losing his bat in fouling off a pitch. “He was cursing me in Spanish,” McGraw laughed.
Finally, McGraw got Jose to miss a fastball inside and the Royals’ dream of a home sweep was shattered. The fans crept away like a groundhog who’d seen his shadow.
Memories of Sunday
The Unser-Trillo connection of course brought to mind last Sunday in Houston, when Trillo tripled home the go-ahead runs in the eighth of the deciding playoff game, right after Unser had tied the game as a pinch-hitter for Smith. And then Unser stayed in the game and doubled in the 10th, scoring the winning run on a double by Maddox.
That double, too, was between the first baseman and the bag, and also took a wicked hop past the fielder. Both may have hit the seam. “Just imperfect swinging,” Del laughed. “I’d rather be lucky than good.”
But Del also talks about his constant work in batting practice and “doing the homework.” Said Schmidt: “He deserves to be rewarded. He’s worked too long, and too hard, and put in too much time not to be.”
Aikens Misses Bag
Aikens may not have played Unser’s ball well, but he made a much more embarrassing mistake to give the Phillies their first run. He missed the bag with his foot after taking Larry Gura’s throw on Bake McBride’s bunt in the fourth, then was just too late with the second tag.
“The umpire was very, very alert,” said Ruben Amaro (it was Nick Bremigan). “Aikens knew he was off the bag.”
Schmidt hit a 2-2 fastball as the next batter over two fences in center at the 410 mark.
That put the Phils up 2-0 behind Marty Bystrom, who watched the Royals leave men on second base in four of the first five innings, scoring only in the fifth on Brett’s groundout.
K.C. wound up stranding 13 runners to four for the Phils, which would be the game’s second most significant number. The most significant, closely aligned, would be K.C.’s going 0-for-12 with men in scoring position.
A 12-7 hit bugle and a 5-1 walk edge did the Royals no more good than sun on Feb. 2 does a groundhog.
Otis tied the game leading off the sixth with a homer to left. Two singles followed, finishing Bystrom. U.L. Washington greeted Ron Reed with a sacrifice fly which put K.C. ahead 3-2.
Then came Trillo’s other great contribution. Willie Wilson doubled off the right-field fence. But Trillo took a quick relay from McBride and gunned down Darrell Porter, trying to score from first, with a superb one-bounce throw that had Boone waiting for Darrell.
“If he doesn’t make that play, they could have taken us right out of the game,” said Pete Rose. Porter had also been thrown out by Smith trying to score on a single in the first game, also a Phils one-run victory.
“I was very satisfied with Bystrom,” said Green, hitting the writers who thought Dallas was “chucking this one away” with his choice of the September call-up. “In the sixth he lost about a foot on his fastball,” Green explained.
The Phils had only three hits, and nobody past first but the two who scored, in six innings off Larry Gura, who also started well on Wednesday. They hadn’t left anybody on base. A couple of DPs on hit-and-runs had helped Larry.
But Frey lifted Gura for Quisenberry, despite Dan’s going 2-1/3 Friday and 2 Saturday, after Luzinski walked with one out in the seventh and Moreland got an infield hit. “Gura wasn’t tired,” said Frey; “Dan’s done the job all year.”
Quisenberry had his groundball sinker, all right, though White st second had to make two fine plays behind him. He was still throwing the grounders in the ninth, but on those the worm – or the groundhog – had turned.
PHIL-PHILLERS – “When you only got four hits up there (till the three in the ninth), you got to start to wonder,” said Green. “But this team (with emphasis) does not quit”…. Otis has hit safely in all eight post-season games…. The players’ pool totals $3,915,870, beating the record by $614,837…. Moreland replaced Smith in the starting lineup because Smith jammed a finger in batting practice Saturday… The TV replay indicated McBride probably trapped McRae’s foul fly he caught with two on base to end the fifth.