Syracuse Herald-Journal - October 3, 1980
NL 'Playoffs' Start Tonight
By the Associated Press
The National League playoffs are supposed to start next Tuesday, but essentially they begin tonight in Montreal and Los Angeles.
The schedule often has top contenders for division titles meeting for the last time long before the end of the season — witness Baltimore and the New York Yankees this year. However, the luck of the draw for the last three days of the NL season has the only division hopefuls playing each other.
Montreal and Philadelphia, which beat the Chicago Cubs 4-2 Thursday night, are in a tie for first in the East, and the Expos play host to the Phillies for a three-game series starting tonight. It's strictly best-ofthree, winner-take-all.
It's not so close in the West Division, where the Dodgers' only advantage in their season-ending three-game series with Houston is the home field, since the Astros lead by three games in the standings. If the Dodgers can capture all three games, they also would have to win for a fourth time in a one-game playoff on Monday afternoon, also at Dodger Stadium.
The Astros, who have no division or league titles in their 19-year history, beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 and the Dodgers lost by the same score to the San Francisco Giants Thursday night. There were no other NL games.
Phillies Manager Dallas Green admitted his team has a tough task to win two-of-three from the Expos in Montreal, but felt confident they could do it.
"We have to do to them what they did to us" he said, referring to Montreal's winning two in a three-game series at Philadelphia last weekend. "But nothing has come easy for us this year."
He added, "Pitching will decide the series. We got decent pitching last weekend, but no offense. I'm more worried about our offense than our pitching. We've got to score runs."
Some dissension has surfaced among the Phillies this week after Green benched veterans like Garry Maddox. Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone.
"I don't think that really matters," Green said. "But I don't think they're ready to put things aside. But they know what they have to do. They have three games to play and they have to win two."
The rookie replacement for Boone, catcher Keith Moreland, had a key run-scoring single in the seventh inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead over Chicago. Mike Schmidt had his 46th homer for their first run and they got two more in the eighth on a hit by Pete Rose, a three-base error and a single by Greg Gross.
Bob Walk, 11-7, was replaced in the eighth by Tug McGraw, who earned his 19th save although he gave up a run in the ninth.
Giants 3, Dodgers 2
"We have to win four in a row now," said Dodgers Manager Tom Lasorda after Darrell Evans' two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning gave San Francisco a victory over Los Angeles.
"But if we win the first one, we have a chance to win the second" added the Dodgers skipper.
Evans' hit, a blooper to short right field off reliever Steve Howe, made a loser of Dave Goltz, 7-10, who started the eighth inning with a five-hitter, gave up two more hits and left with two outs when he developed leg cramps.
"I've seen a lot of their hits do the same thing," said Evans. "It usually happens to us when we play the Dodgers."
Astros 3, Braves 2
Former Syracuse Chief Gary Woods hit a solo homer and Joe Morgan a two-run single in Houston's three-run fourth inning that was enough to beat Atlanta.
Joe Niekro, who pitched a six-hitter for 8% innings before getting last-out relief help from Frank LaCorte, won his 19th game in 31 decisions.
"I came here to help Houston win the championship and to find the Joe Morgan that had been lost for the last couple of years," said Morgan, who won two Most Valuable Player awards for the Cincinnati Reds. "I have corrected my swing and I know I will be a good hitter the rest of the way."