Montreal Gazette - October 3, 1980
Phils down Cubs, hit Montreal tied for NL East lead
By Michael Farber of The Gazette
PHILADELPHIA – Okay, Expos, the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs, 4-2, last night so now it's best two-of-three, your serve.
"This is how it should be," said Phillie manager Dallas Green. "At least we won't have to look at a scoreboard. If anything happens in the National League East, we'll know pretty quick."
Indeed. With three games remaining, the Expos and Phillies are tied for the divisional lead. When something does happen, rest assured they'll be the first to know.
Or, as Tug McGraw – who gained his 19th save in relief of Bob (Whirly-birdj Walk – said:
"Whoever wants dinner better eat the fastest."
For the Phillies – or at least for the Schmidt-Bowa-Maddox-Luzinski-Carlton Phillies we have come to know and respect – it may be the last time at the table.
Five days ago at Veterans Stadium, Expo reliever Woodie Fryman was expounding on his theory of life cycles.
Near end of cycle
"Sooner or later, a team, no matter how dominant it may be, loses it," said Fryman. "You can be at the top for five or six years, then you go down. The Phillies (winners of the National League East in 1976-77-78) are near the end of their cycle.
"If the Phillies had just gotten past LA. in '76, they might have two or three World Series by now; You have to make the most out of your good years, and the Phils never did (not winning the pennant). You have to win that once to know how good you are. If the Expos, who are in the second year of a cycle, win it, our club is going to be around for a lot of years."
So if Fryman's theory is correct – and the 1966-71 Orioles, the 1970-76 Reds and the 1975-80 Red Sox are all classic examples – these 72 hours at the Olympic Stadium may not only be hysteric but historic.
The Phillies certainly won't be the same next year, not after the purge which the organization has promised.
Considering that and all the other extra-curricular activity which has swirled around the team this week – the revolving-door lineup, the Phillie-gate story of Garry Maddox, the boos of Bowa – their winning four straight from the Cubs is stupendous.
"We're very confident going into the series," said Green. "We've been going pretty darn good. We've played some great baseball with our backs to the wall. We've certainly gotten the job done."
About the only question remaining – other than is Mike Schmidt (46th home run, 117th run-batted-in last night) – is for real – is which Phillies will have a chance to get the job done in Montreal.
Maddox missed his fourth consecutive game, and although the Phillies led 2-1 and later 4-1 in the late innings – he was not used as a defensive replacement despite his claim the sore left pinky does not affect his defence. Del Unser, the ex-Expo, played centre again, doubling and scoring the go- ahead run in the seventh against loser Bill Caudill (4-5).
Keith Moreland – who singled in Unser – caught for the third time in four nights and certainly didn't play himself out of the lineup. In games the rookie has caught, the Phillies are 21-10. In games veteran Bob Boone has started, the Phillies are 68-60.
"Personally, I don't care that the final three games are in Montreal," Pete Rose was saying. "In fact, it might help us. We're an offensive team and any time you get Bake McBride and Schmidt up in an inning, you have a chance to score. Those early runs help and pitcher.
"Say we get two runs in the first. That takes away a lot of things the Expos can do with their speed. Being on the road probably is an advantage."
The Phillies certainly haven't hurt themselves, winning 19 of their past 25 away games. But in an irresistable force/immoveable object number, the Expos are 50-27 at the Olympic Stadium.
Expects standing ovation
"I'm sure there'll be 55,000 people there and the Expos will get a standing ovation when they take the field,” said Rose. "But the key is, Montreal fans are quiet. They'll get riled up if something's going on, but basically they're pretty quiet."
Anyway, you can speculate all you want for the next few hours; speed vs. power, Scott Sanderson and all his stuff going at night rather than the daylight shadows of the 6, Maddox or Unser, Boone or Moreland.
This is what 159 games have been all about.
Phillies face pressure against loose Expos
By Tim Burke
David Palmer, the pitcher, was sitting alone at the long table in the Expos clubhouse Wednesday, an hour or so before he was to start against the Cardinals. As he dealt from a pack of cards to pass the time, a guy passing by asked him if he were up for the game.
Putting on his best straight face, David shook his head slowly and said, "It's tough to get up for games at this stage of the season." Then he looked skyward, and broke out with a big grin.
With all that turmoil coming out of Philadelphia, did he think that the historic weekend series with the Phillies here would be merely a matter of mopping up a clubhouse divided against itself?"
“Uh, uh,” he demurred, quite serious now. "Those guys might just all pull together and try to win it to spite everybody. Did you see (Larry) Bowa's quote about how he'd like to be an Expo and be reading about all the trouble down there? I wouldn't be surprised if he were trying to lull us to sleep for the weekend."
Judging by the way Palmer smote the Cardinals later that night, it is unlikely that he or any of the other young – and old – lions on the Expos will be burdened with excessive optimism going into this nutcracker. Collectively, they have yet to win anything and memories are still vivid with what happened on the last game of the '79 season when Steve Carlton paralyzed their batters with a two-hitter and eliminated them.
But this time around, the Expos have everything going in their favor. So much so, that only a walkout by Le Societe des Alcools will prevent them from cracking open the champagne – Sunday, at the latest. There was no pressure on the Phillies last year on that final weekend in '79.
Expos hold cards
This year, it's their backs against the Expos' wall.
At long last. Nos Amours have got it all together – or almost all together – just in time for the showdown. Even the inexplicable turnabouts in this most bewildering of all games cannot derail the momentum the club has gathered in the last two weeks.
Their pitching over that period has probably been the best in base-ball, and against the Phillies they'll start three of their four best, Scott Sanderson, Steve Rogers, and either Bill Gullickson (if his leg has healed) or Palmer. Their defence has been tighter than it has been all season, and Andre Dawson and Gary Carter and Chris Speier are on tears with the bat.
Unlike last season, when the tension of the pennant race was all new to most of them, this club lately has become impervious to adversity. They can commit back-to-back errors, they can get picked off base, they can make stupendous baserunning gaffes, they can get stung by flukey doubles and debatable calls.
But they refuse to let it disturb them, with the result that the advantage to the opposition is held to the minimum.
"The big thing on this club is that there is always somebody there to pick up the other guy when he sags." says Bill Lee, without a trace of cynicism."
On Monday night, they had Jerry White, replacing Ron LeFlore in left field, making one of the great catches of the season, stealing a triple off Ken Reitz in the ninth that would have scored the go-ahead run for the Cards. Then in the bottom of the ninth, seldom-used John Tamargo comes off the bench to win the game with a three-run homer, his first of the season. And Bill Lee, the almost forgotten man of the pitching staff, muddles gallantly through eight innings.
Scott opens gates
On Tuesday, they're behind 2-1 in the sixth. Bob Forsch pitching brilliantly, when Rodney Scott opens the floodgates with one of the best base-running exhibitions of the year, converting a bloop single behind shortstop into a triple. Before the inning is over, the Expos have five runs and Forsch has been lifted.
If they needed any further in spiration, it was provided Tuesday by Bill Gullickson, their brilliant rookie righthander, in the eighth. Ken Oberkfell hit him in the leg (just above the knee) with a line drive so hard that several physicians watching said that if it had struck his kneecap he would have been crippled for life. Yet, after he toppled to the ground, he somehow managed to scramble for the ball and throw Oberkfell out at first.
"I saw the ball coming at me. I could even see the seams," Gullick son recalls. "But it was just like in a dream, when something's far away and then suddenly it's on top of you. The only thing I can remember after I hit the ground was, hey, the ball's still in play, I better get it.
On Wednesday, it was Palmer's turn, white-washing the best hitting team in the league with a surprisingly resilient "sore" right arm while Dawson and Carter and Parrish and Speier and Scott baptized by immersion Andy Rincon, the Cards' fine young rookie callup.
But it was plavs like White's, Scott's and Gullickson's and Tamargo's that convince one that the Expos can't be beaten, at least in the National League East.
They'll beat Philadelphia because they want it a lot more.
• • •
CBC called yesterday to clarify item in this column about network’s missing out on World Series. They never had a chance to bid, they say, because O'Keefe's brewery, which bought Canadian rights from NBC, took it directly to CTV. Anyway, CBC has obtained permission to carry CTV’s World Series into any part of Canada not covered Dy CTV.
Expos’ series against Phils a battle of pitching staffs
By Wayne Parrish of The Gazette
Scott Sanderson vs. Dick Ruthven, Steve Rogers vs. Larry Christenson, Bill Gullickson vs. Steve Carlton.
The arms race.
That's what it's come down to, and there won't be any limitations talks. Beginning tonight at 7:35 p.m., and continuing tomorrow and Sunday afternoons, the Expos and the Philadelphia Phillies go one-on-one, pitch against pitch for the National League East title.
One year ago, it was the same teams, same time, same place. Except the Expos were fighting the Pirates for the pennant then and lost it when the Phillies beat them two out of three. Last weekend, needing to win two of three in Philadelphia to regain their half-game lead, the Expos did.
So here it is, Close Encounters For The Third Time, the Expos' season dangling in the crooks of three right arms.
Starting pitching hasn't put the Expos where they are at this moment any more than has clutch hitting, speed on the basepaths or nerveless performances out of the bullpen.
"If I've ever seen a team effort," says Rogers, "this has been a team effort. Where the starting pitching has maybe had an impact is where you put together five or six solid starts. We put together eight in a row in early September. That takes the pressure off the guys who might be struggling as hitters."
There are no Expos struggling these days. Catcher Gary Carter, yesterday named the September player-of-the-month for both the Expos and the National League, has hit .359 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs since Sept. 1.
Centrefielder Andre Dawson has a slugging percentage of .593 over the same period and has raised his average to .310, fourth in the NL, while shortstop Chris Speier has gone on a .348 tear, hiking his overall average 36 points to .264.
But even more prominent down the stretch have been the guys who go into a stretch. Through the end of August, the team earned run average was 3.67. Over the 29 games since, it's been 2.36.
Arm on opposition
Sanderson, Rogers and Gullickson have been primarily responsible for putting the arm on the opposition. They've each won four games. They've each pitched 40-plus innings. And, heading into the most important series of their lives, they all say: pressure, what pressure?
"There have been so many big games lately, we're used to it – last year, we hoped we could win, this year we expect ourselves to do it," says Sanderson.
"This is the most fun part of the year. The pressure part is created by external forces," says Rogers. "It's so much easier to bear down when things are on the line. It becomes more of a team sport because you stop worrying about everybody else's job and worry about your own."
And the Phillies, even with the bloom off the Rose, the Bull no longer the terror of the china shop, Garry Maddox playing centre field like a mad ox and the Philadelphia fans slinging verbal bows at Bowa, are no half-Baked bunch.
Power is right-handed
Right-fielder Bake McBride – the only lefty in the starting lineup, although both first baseman Pete Rose and shortstop Larry Bowa are switch-hitters – is hitting .352 against Montreal with 13 RBIs and Mike Schmidt has four home runs and 11 RBIs. "If they haven't been quite as tough on me as the Pirates, it's only because their power is right-handed and I'm a right-handed pitcher," says Rogers.
Sanderson has been the Phillies' nemesis, with a 3-0 record against them in five starts and a 2.83 ERA. Rogers is 2-2, Gullickson 0-1. Ruthven, meanwhile, is 1-1 against Montreal, Christenson 1-0 and Carlton 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA.
The only potential alteration to the Phillie rotation would be if they were a game up going into Sunday, a situation that might prompt them to throw rookie Marty Bystrom (5-0 and yesterday named NL pitcher of the month for September) and save Carlton for a possible playoff Monday, Gullickson, struck above the right knee by a sharp grounder Tuesday, could barely walk yesterday, but is still slated to go Sunday. In the unlikelihood he can't, it could be David (Palmer) against Goliath (You got a better nickname for the 6'5", 24-game-winning Carlton?) and the Phillie-stines.
Palmer was superb in a 2-1 loss a week ago in Philadelphia, but he doesn't have the numbers the Expo relievers do against the Phillies. Stan Bahnsen has a 0.64 ERA in eight appearances, Woody Fryman is at 1.50 in six and Elias Sosa has three victories and a 2.25 ERA.
The rest of the tip sheet is routine. The Expos have won eight of the 15 meetings between the two clubs (they've split the previous six at Olympic Stadium) but the Phils have scored more runs, 68 to 64. In the end, there's not much to choose. If the Expos win two of three, the NL East is theirs. It's that simple.
"We don't want to wait until Sunday either," says Dawson. "We want' to win the first two. We don't want to prolong it."
Over to you, Scott and Steve.