Philadelphia Daily News - October 4, 1980
Awesome Tug Plays It Cool
By Ray Didinger
MONTREAL – Tug McGraw buzzed a called third strike past Jerry Manuel and the Phillies came streaming from their dugout, like miners fleeing a collapsing shaft.
They had just defeated the Montreal Expos, 2-1. to climb onto the threshold of the Eastern Division title. McGraw pitched the last two innings and struck out five of the six Expos he faced, including the torrid Andre Dawson and Gary Carter.
Normally, you would expect Tug McGraw to celebrate such a moment with a world-class high jump off the pitcher's mound, followed by a triple-axle spin, a series of cartwheels and a jackknife dive into the nearest bottle of John Jameson's Irish whisky.
BUT TUG HANDLED last night's bravura performance with surprising restraint. He just saved the biggest win of the year, yet he walked away as stiffly as a drill sergeant counting cadence. He walked through his happy teammates, shaking hands but never once losing his cool.
He walked back through the concrete corridor under Olympic Stadium, back through the doorway leading to the visitors clubhouse. Once inside, he sported several players embracing, he spotted a few cans of beer poised over people's heads.
For the first time in his life. Tug McGraw put a damper on a party.
"Key down, key down," McGraw shouted. "We've got one more to win... then we'll go nuts."
Hearing Tug McGraw holler "Key down" is like hearing Richard Nixon holler "Let's boogey," like hearing Woody Hayes holler "Ban the bomb." It just doesn't fit somehow. Tug McGraw key down in a pennant race? Does Mick Jagger key down in the middle of a concert?
Well, believe it or not. Tug is serious. He thinks it is very important that no one start calling for the corkscrews before the second game of this series is safely tucked away. You see. Tug remembers what happened last weekend at Veterans Stadium.
YOU REMEMBER that three-game series, don’t you? The Phillies won the opener on Friday night, 2-1, when Bake McBride golfed a David Palmer curve ball over the right field fence. The Phillies went a game-and-half up on the Expos that night. The clubhouse reeked of playoff money.
The Phillies toppled from that emotional high and lost the next two games to the Expos, falling back into second place. McGraw reminded everyone of that last night as he walked through the happy locker room, ripping the party hats off his teammates' heads.
"Last Friday, we went bananas," McGraw said. "Bake hit that home run and the entire team just erupted. We were so high... too high. We just couldn’t crank it up the next two days. It was there but it wasn't there, if you know what I mean.
"Tonight, I decided we would be much better off if we changed our program and stayed cool. We came up here to win two games, so winning the first one isn’t the whole ball of wax. We have to keep our heads and look ahead to (winning) number two. That's the big one."
McGRAW SLOWLY PULLED his sweatshirt over his head. By the time his face reappeared, that solemn "key-down" expression had been replaced by the familiar leprechaun smile.
"I'll tell you the truth," McGraw said. 'That (staying cool) was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. When I threw that third strike to Manuel, everything inside me wanted to explode. I mean, I wanted to go crazy.
"But I just stiffened up. I said, 'No, I'm not gonna do it I'm not gonna jump around.' I slapped my glove on my thigh but I always do that, that's my way of saying 'Hi' to my wife and kids. The other stuff, I kept it all bottled up inside."
"What are you gonna do tomorrow," someone asked, "If you throw the third strike that wins the pennant?"
McGraw grinned. "I'm glad they dont have a roof on this place," he said "because I might just jump right out of here."
It seems almost certain that if the Phillies are in a position to clinch the pennant. Tug McGraw will be the guy holding onto the baseball. He has been bailing the water out of the Phillies' leaky pitching staff for the past six weeks.
SINCE SEPT. 1, TUG has not allowed an earned run in 23 innings. He has four wins and four saves in his last 12 appearances. Since coming off the disabled list on July 17, his earned run average is 0.S1. He has snuffed out more fires than Smokey the Bear.
The Phillies are 12-3 in one-run games since Sept. 1 and McGraw is the key to that success. Everytime things get sticky in the late innings, Dallas Green just waves in his 36-year-old lefthander.
"This means so much to our ballclub," said Mike Schmidt, whose 47th home run was the difference in the game. "He's an experienced guy, he's been in these (pennant race) situations before, he knows what he's doing. He comes in and gives everybody a sense of confidence.
"This is the time of year when a relief pitcher carries a team. Kent Tekulve did it for Pittsburgh last year. (Goose) Gossage is doing it now for the Yankees. Tug is doing it for us.
"Hey, I've never seen a left-handed pitcher catch so many right-handed hitters looking at third strikes." Schmidt said. "The way Tug's throwing now, he looks darn near unhittable."
LAST NIGHT, McGraw New away the Expos in the eighth, catching three righthanders Bob Pate, Dawson and Carter on called third strikes. In the ninth, he retired Warren Cromartie on a line drive to left, then struck out Larry Parrish and Manuel Tug looked, well...
"Awesome," Dallas Green said.
"I had good success with my fastball," McGraw said later. "That's been my strikeout pitch all year. What I do is use my screwball to set up the hitter. I did that tonight. I started Dawson, Carter and Parrish off with screwballs.
"You do that and the guy thinks, 'OK, the scroogie's his ace tonight.' Then you get two strikes on him and he's sitting on the scroogie, waiting for it. You come in with the fastball, it's past him before he can react.
"I didn't feel that strong tonight." McGraw said. "I was more surprised than anybody with the way I pitched. I pitched last night, then we flew up here and I didn’t get much sleep. I didn't think I'd have much pop on the ball.
"I took three Tylenol before the game. I usually take two before each game, just to kill the ache in my arm. Tonight, I took three figuring it would be cold out here and my arm might be tighter than usual."
"Why Tylenol?" someone sked.
"BECAUSE ITS EASIER to get them across the (Canadian) border," McGraw replied, straight-faced.
"It felt good, going out there for the ninth inning," McGraw said. The (Montreal) fans-were all excited because they knew it was their last chance, but when Cromartie lined out, they went silent like all the air went out.
"I looked around the stands, to pick out one person to focus on. I Like to do that, it helps me break the tension. I picked out this one guy... he was yawning. I thought to myself. 'You'd better not go to sleep now 'cause you ain't seen nothin' yet.’”
One more game like this and Tug McGraw will put all of Montreal to sleep. At least until the next Stanley Cup playoffs.
Phils Need One More
By Bill Conlin
MONTREAL – Bake McBride was in the clubhouse minutes before the game listening to a pair of local broadcasters discussing what it would take for the Expos to beat the Phillies.
"One cat said the key was keeping Pete Rose and me off base," Bake said. "Now it starts and bang, Pete leads it off with a single and, bam, I hit a double. If you saw me laughing out there, that's what I was laughing about. The thing that was really funny, though, Pete blew the hit-and-run sign, so I had to hit a double to get him to third."
Hey, it wasn't all that relaxed and giggly, the splendid 2-1 victory the Phillies hacked, gouged and dragged away from the Expos, thanks to Mike Schmidt's offense and defense, a resourceful, scuffing start by Dick Ruthven, excellent relief pitching by Sparky Lyle and an Outer Limits performance by Tug McGraw, a five-strikeout, two perfect inning effort that ranks with the finest of his career.
NOW THE TIGHT shoe is on the Expos' foot. Now they wear the size 16 collar on the size 17 neck. They must beat Larry Christenson today and Steve Carlton tomorrow in the marginal visibility mid-afternoon baseball provides in this enormous, incomplete saucer near the East branch of the mighty St. Lawrence.
The Phillies could have thrown a big first inning at righthander Scott Sanderson. They settled for Schmidt's sacrifice fly and a 1-0 lead. And that was a big factor because it silenced a festive throng of 57,121 in Olympic Stadium.
"They just sit silent if things ain't going right for them. It ain't like Philadelphia," said Larry Bowa, an authority on the subject. "We can't let up tomorrow, we can't do what we did against the Expos last weekend. They're down now, we got the hammer and we got to keep 'em down."
Schmidt drove in what held up as the winning run in the sixth, ripping a 2-0 pitch for his 47th homer, third in three games, fourth in seven and fifth in 11, a stretch performance which will make the third baseman a runaway MVP winner, the Phils first since Jim Konstanty in 1950.
BEFORE THAT, the offense was an adventure. Dallas Green says the way to beat the Expos is to take the game to them, make them make some plays. "We felt we had to be more aggressive than we were last weekend," Dallas said.
It was tough because the Expos have been playing marvelous baseball lately, doing more than just score runs.
Rose slashed his second single in the third and stole second. McBride struck out, but Schmidt topped a ball up the middle. Rodney Scott had no play on Schmidt, but he saved the run with a sprawling stop. With Greg Luzinski batting, Schmidt broke for second on a semi-delayed steal. Nobody was covering, a mistake which proved to be in the Expos favor. Rose, anticipating a throw by Gary Carter and an easy dash to the plate, broke for home. But the Expos catcher tiad nowhere to throw the ball and he hung up Rose in a third-out rundown.
"Schmitty did his job too well," Green said. "He caught them so off-guard that Carter had no place to throw the ball. Even if he double-hitches, Pete probably has time to scramble back, but he was coming and so was Carter."
The next run-that-wasn't came in the fifth, when Bowa inside-outed a single to left and scooted all the way to third when Jerry White's throw to the infield got past a picket line consisting of Chris Speier, Scott and first baseman Warren Cromartie. and clattered off the box seats next to the Expos' dugout. Bob Boone failed to get the gift-run home; the slump-ridden catcher, who was in the lineup at Ruthven's request, bounced out to third.
WHEN SANDERSON fell behind 2-0 to Ruthven. Green flashed the suicide squeeze sign.
"The setup was perfect," Dallas said. "I knew Dick would get a fastball around the strike zone."
One trouble: Sanderson unfurled a fastball so wicked Ruthven never saw it. He squared, missed and Bowa, in full flight, became the second Phil erased in a rundown between third and home.
"I squared late, so I didn’t tip off the squeeze," Rufus said after his 17th victory. "I can’t remember the last time I had a squeeze and didn't at least get a piece of the ball. It must have been a helluva pitch because I never saw it. A perfect pitch? Well, only a 700 MPH fastball on the knees and right down the middle."
The next crucial play was also a bunt and it helped keep the Expos out of a big inning.
White led off the sixth with a double to right and Ruthven outraged himself by walking Scott, the feeblest-hitting Expo regular, on four pitches. "Not being able to throw strikes to Scott was the story of my game." said Ruthven. a perfectionist, an old-schooler who feels a starting pitcher should go nine innings.
Rowland Office, a close friend of Ruthven's from their Atlanta days, worked a 2-0 count Dick had the advantage of knowing how Office's mind works. He felt he would still be bunting 2-0 and that he would try to drop one good enough to leg into a hit. Which is what Rowland did. "It wasn’t a sacrifice, it was a base hit because I had no shot at the ball," Dick said. "I knew when I couldn’t get close to it, the only hope was a bare-hand play by Schmitty. Fortunately, he makes that play better than anybody."
SCHMIDT CHARGED, barehanded, and threw it into the dirt. But Manny Trillo, covering first, scooped the short-hopper with the artistry of a Keith Hernandez. "Good play by me," Schmidt dead-panned afterwards, "great play by Manny.”
The rest of the inning proved that Green can do more than read the riot act to this team.
Andre Dawson lofted a flyball to defensive replacement Garry Maddox and White raced home with the Expos run. The next hitter was Carter, more dangerous than a cobra this month, and Ruthven found himself standing on the mound playing manager.
"I figured he'd want me to walk Carter," Ruthven said, "but I didn’t think he'd take me out, even though Cromartie's hit me pretty good. Then I said to myself. 'Hey, who am I kidding? Dallas has got to bring Sparky in."'
Even if it meant putting the lead run on first.
"That don’t bother me when the odds are the way they were," Green said. "I'm putting a hot hitter on first to pitch to a guy who's not going so hot, left against left. I liked my chances a lot better than pitching to Carter and having him juice one. Besides, I thought Dick was laboring at that point and in these games I'm not gonna hesitate going to the pen."
LYLE THREW ONE pitch and Cromartie check-swung it to second for the final out. "Slider," Sparky said. "Broke down real good. He was gonna take a full rip at it changed his mind and couldn’t get the bat out of the way. Seventh inning was more of a typical inning for me – get in a jam and pitch out of it Excited? Hey. like I've been telling you guys since I got here, I've been excited about getting back into a pennant race since I stepped off the plane."
The Expos could have scored a bundle. They settled for one run. "The key to the inning was Mike making that play," Ruthven said.
I have a gut feeling Dallas Green will be playing the rookies tomorrow afternoon. Steve Carlton will be resting for Tuesday's start at the Vet against the Astros and Dallas Green will be nursing one helluva hangover.
What If Schmidt Had Been Healthy?
By Bill Conlin
MONTREAL – Mike Schmidt didn't take antihistamines before the game. He didn't take antibiotics.
"I don't take nothin' before a game around here," Schmidt grinned. "You never know when they're gonna run a pee test on you."
Schmidt didn't let Don Seger take his temperature, even though he knew he was running a high fever, felt weak as an overcooked noodle and achy all over.
"I'm not taking anything until this thing is over," he said after his bat and his glove left the Phillies one victory from their fourth Eastern Division title in the last five years.
SCHMIDT WAS 2-for-2 with a first-inning sacrifice fly, his 47th homer in the sixth, a walk and stolen base in the ninth. In the field, his barehanded grab and throw on a Rowland Office bunt helped keep the Expos out of a big inning in the sixth.
Maybe you can chalk up another virtuoso performance in Schmidt's MVP season to a lucky ball. Lucky ball?
He was discussing how the homer, which tied him with Eddie Mathews as the most prolific one-season, home-run hitting third baseman in baseball history, was no big deal.
"Maybe I'll look back on it a few years from now and wish I had the ball," Mike said.
Somebody pointed to a ball in the top of his locker.
"Nah." he said. "That's my lucky ball. I came out about three o'clock to play a little pepper and see how the field was and when I reached into my back pocket there was a baseball in there. I said to myself, 'That'll be my lucky ball, you know, like a pet rock or something. Maybe if we win the World Series I'll auction it off."
AND IF THE lucky ball didn't make him loose as a goose, maybe it was the illness when hit him yesterday morning.
"I got a bad temperature," he said. "No big deal, might have been the best thing that happened to me. I had butterflies before the game, but I wasn't jumping at the ball. Hey, I didn't have enough energy to get keyed up. I was real loose out there, just trying to stay within myself an put a nice, easy stroke on the ball. That's what I did on the sacrifice fly, that's what I did on the homer. I didn't have all that much choice in the matter. I didn’t have enough strength to be up there trying to crush the ball."
He crushed it anyway. And the man with the big game, no-hit, small game, big-hit reputation made it three homers in three days, four in seven and five in 11, a stretch run Frank Merriwell would be proud of.
The bunt play didn't particularly stand out in his mind. He wasn’t that thrilled with it because Manny Trillo had to make a brilliant scoop of his short-hop throw.
"Now that you mention it, yeah, yeah, I don't know what that would have changed…”
He coughed, sniffled and laughed.
"Except," he said, "it would have been bases loaded and nobody out."
And what's such a big deal about that?
Montreal Praises Phillies’ Bullpen
By Ian McDonald, Special to the Daily News
MONTREAL – The Expos are one game away from elimination for this season and while they bravely spoke differently, that's precisely how they acted last night.
Understandably, there were no rock waves blaring in the dressing room – the place was like a morgue. If it weren't that the fellows were in various degrees of undress, this might have been a wake – and a sad one at that after the Phillies beat the Expos, 2-1.
"When I first came into the room," said Expos' Manager Dick Williams, "I heard them say, 'Let's bounce back. We'll get 'em tomorrow.”
Gary Carter had a tremendous defensive game and one superb, if fruitless, time at bat. The catcher spoke positively but not with the usual enthusiasm.
"We now have our backs to the wall," Carter said. "They were tough tonight. They got great pitching from their bullpen. We let Ruthven (starter and winner Dick) get away from us. That's the best that I've seen McGraw pitch."
With two on and two out in the first. Carter hooked up in a tremendous battle with Ruthven, with the latter winning when Carter lofted the 12th pitch to him on a high arc to center-fielder Del Unser.
“THAT'S PROBABLY one of the best at-bats I've had," said Carter, who had plenty of home-run mileage on a couple shots he just pulled foul.
"We know we have to come out their smoking tomorrow (today). We've lost the first game in a series before and come back to win. We couldn’t have a better guy on the mound for us than Steve Rogers."
Rogers attempted to belittle the pressure aspect of today's competition, which will be the last meaningful outing if it isn't a win.
"I don't feel any pressure," said the team's long-time ace. I'll be game-day nervous but that's all. If the difference between $1,700 and $1,000 meant whether my wife and children were going to eat differently, then that would be pressure.
"I DONT WANT to minimize the importance of the game, but pressure is an outside force, something which makes good copy for you guys."
Third baseman Larry Parrish, another of McGraw's strikeout victims in a 0-for-4 night, said, "It's just like in Philly. We had our backs to the wall there last weekend after losing the first game. Then we won the next two."
About McGraw, Parrish said, "He got us out every kind of way tonight. He got some guys on the screwball but he got me with a fastball."
"That was a good game," Williams said. "But there's no tomorrow now. We have to get them."
Phils Playofff Ticket Plan… IF
If the Phillies win the Eastern Division title today in Montreal, tickets for the playoff games will tw on sale following the game at the Advance Windows at Veterans Stadium. It may create a crunch at the stadium since Temple faces Boston U. in a 7:30 p.m. football game.
Ten thousand reserved tickets priced at $10 each are available for the two playoff games at the Vet Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8:15.
The ticket office windows will be open until 11 p.m. tonight, tomorrow and Monday. The windows will open at 9 a.m. Sunday and Monday. Tickets will also be available in the Girard Bank Lobby at Broad and Chestnut from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., Monday and Tuesday.
3 Winners In Payoff
There were three winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the eighth inning of the Phillies-Expos game, Walter Motyka of Williamstown, N.J., Robert Jankauskas and Joseph J. Tomaszewski, both of Philadelphia, each won four tickets to a 1981 Phillies game.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $19,225. Today's entry coupon appears on page 35.