Philadelphia Inquirer - October 4, 1980
Backs to wall, Expos are singing a different tune
By Al Morganti, Inquirer Staff Writer
MONTREAL – This wasn't what they had anticipated. Not at all.
When you took the first step into the Expos' locker room last night, you were supposed to hear Queen's symbolic "Another One Bites The Dust" cranking out of stereos, and Gary Carter was supposed to be humming Meatloaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad,"
Two out of three still ain't bad, but when you lose the first one, as the Expos did last night, the locker room quiets down. There was no music last night, and the only noise was the sound of somber voices all spewing out variations of Yogi Berra's classic line "It ain't over till it's over."
After their 8-0 win over the Cardinals Wednesday night, the Expos professed great faith that they would take the first two from the Phils this weekend and not have to face Steve Carlton in a must game this Sunday.
Now, they'd like nothing better than to face Lefty in a meaningful game tomorrow afternoon. If Carlton's not there tomorrow, it means the Phils won today and the game is meaningless. The Expos would be through.
Their backs are up against it, but they are still clinging to a belief in Steve Rogers and a hope that recent history will repeat itself.
Carter, one of the many who felt the Expos would have this thing wrapped up by tomorrow, said what all the Expos hope will occur.
"Let's have a little deja vu, huh?" he said. "Maybe this'll be just like last weekend."
It was just a week ago that the Expos sat in a Veterans Stadium locker room after a ninth-inning, 2-1, defeat because of a Bake McBride home run.
Again, last night, it was a home run that proved the difference (Mike Schmidt's 47th, in the sixth), but there was also the matter of Tug McGraw, who struck out five of six in his two innings. He got the last three looking, including Carter.
"That's the best I've ever seen Tug McGraw pitch," said Carter, "and I've been around this league awhile. I think he pitched better than when he was with the Mets.
"But let's have a little deja vu here. We know what we have to do tomorrow, and we couldn't have a better guy out there (pitching) to help us do it "
The man who will be pitching against Larry Christenson today is the Expos' ace, Rogers (16-11), who at 4-1 was their best pitcher in September.
He is looking forward to the challenge and not admitting to any butterflies.
"The numbers say that this is a pressure game," said Rogers, "but pressure is an outside force.
"You come to play as hard as you can every day, but when you get yourself in a position like this you just narrow your margin of error.
"I can't worry about that margin of s error. If I did that I would be worrying about my team scoring runs and everything else. I can't do that.
"I don't want to downplay the importance of the game, or the pressure... but I don't think we should equate pressure with importance.
"The external forces say there is pressure; it makes good copy. But within me there is no pressure.
"If the difference between $17,000 (playoff share) and $10,000 meant my family wouldn't eat, then there would be internal pressure. But it is nothing of that magnitude."
Rogers took the long route to say he wouldn't be bothered by the situation. Maybe that comes from playing alongside and listening to Bill Lee, but he did spend nearly a quarter of an hour explaining why he wouldn't be nervous and finally finished by saying he'd prepare for this afternoon's game by "going through the same routine I have for 7½ years."
And if they do manage to win today, they are already preparing the same defense against Carlton as they did for today's game. More deja vu.
"That doesn't concern us right now," said Williams. "We beat him (last Saturday) down there.
"Now they have to beat our ace."
One way or another, history will repeat itself.
Either the Phils clinch the divisional pennant against the Expos in Montreal as they did in 1976, or the Expos, after losing the first one, as they did. last weekend in Philadelphia, win the next two.
The history lesson will start today with Steve Rogers.
Cool-Hand Tug saves the cheers
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
MONTREAL – Tug McGraw said it was "one of the hardest things" he ever had to do.
No. Not striking out Bob Pate, Andre Dawson, and Gary Carter in order in the eighth inning. Not firing fastballs past Larry Parrish and Jerry Manuel for called third strikes to end the ninth inning. Tug has pulled off those kind of heroics before.
The real test came after the final pitch, when plate umpire Tery Tata's right hand shot up and Phillies came stampeding out of the third base dugout.
Normally, Frank Edwin McGraw would have been airborne along about then, waving his arms, kicking his legs, shouting at the top of his lungs, doing all the wonderfully wacky things that he's been doing to celebrate big baseball moments for years.
Uh-uh. Not last night. It didn't matter that the game he had just saved for Dick Ruthven left the Phillies one victory away from the National League championship with two games to go. Tug remembered the excitement that followed last Friday nights dramatic, 2-1 win over the Expos at the Vet, and what the Expos did to the Phillies the next two afternoons.
"That was my concern," he said. "Last Friday we got all keyed up and then we went out and lost Saturday and Sunday. So I thought maybe we should change our program a little bit – not get too emotional about winning tonight and it'll be easier getting it together tomorrow."
So, in a remarkable demonstration of self control, McGraw didn't do what he practically always does, didn't do what he surely felt like doing after a relief job that was simply sensational.
"Usually," he said, "I jump up and down and go crazy and do all that stuff. But I said 'no' and I just stiffened up and said, 'I'm not doing anything.'"
Oh, there was the token hitting of the glove against the thigh, but that was it. The lesson the Expos taught the Phillies last weekend was too fresh, too painful. Tug was prepared to wait one more day and then, should he happen to come in and slam the door on the Montreal Expos....
"They better put a roof on this place," he said. "I'll be out of here."
So it was last night that a team that has frequently been accused of lacking emotion had to collectively clench its teeth, hold its breath, count to 10 and keep the emotions it felt from getting out.
It was a night when Dick Ruthven knew his toughest job was to keep the excitement he felt from affecting his pitching.
He succeeded, working what he called "probably the most satisfying five and two-thirds I ever pitched."
"We're in the driver's seat now," Ruthven said when it was over. "We'll see what Montreal's made of."
But he said it calmly, still holding buck the emotions he felt after a victory that had to rate at the very top of his all-time list in importance.
"Tug made a good point when he came in here (immediately after that final strikeout)," Ruthven said. '"Key down. Key down,' he said. 'There's one more to win. then we'll go nuts.'"
Ruthven grinned. "I guarantee you I will."
But for now they were savoring this precious victory quietly, even if the adrenaline was pumping overtime.
"This is really tougher than the playoffs," general manager Paul Owens said. "Here, you're playing for your life. At least in the playoffs you know you're there."
Suddenly, these Phillies have the look of a team that is going to be there. The starters are doing the job. The bullpen – with McGraw and Sparky Lyle leading the way – is at peak form. And then there's Mike Schmidt.
He felt lousy yesterday, awakening at about noon with a bad cold, maybe the flu.
"Oh yeah," he said, "I got a temperature. I don't know what. I didn't take it before the game. I figured I'd have to be dead before I didn't play."
Suffice it to say, the Phillies would have been dead if Schmidt hadn't played. Not only did he knock in both runs for Ruthven – with a first-inning sacrifice fly and a sixth-inning home run – but he made the play of the game in the home sixth, bare-handing Rowland Office's bunt and nipping the Expos outfielder at first. All in all, not a bad night for a guy who said he was feeling "blah."
Asked if he had taken any medication to help get him through the game, Schmidt showed that the fever hadn't affected his sense of humor. "I ain't taking nothing before the game around here," he said, pointing out that when you play for the 1980 Phillies you never know when you're going to have to take a dope test.
But for all the low-key talk, for all the friendly banter, you could sense the excitement building in the Phillies clubhouse. Owens, dressed in black and yellow – very close to Pittsburgh Pirate colors, for crying out loud – was talking about going with the same wardrobe today. And Schmidt, between breathing germs on the writers who pressed around his locker, displayed a "lucky baseball" that he said he'd "found" in his pocket about mid-afternoon.
What made it lucky?
"I just decided to call it lucky," the major league home run king explained.
When a man hits 47 home runs in one season, he can do whatever he wants.
Ruthven was lucky, too – lucky he made it to Montreal in time to get some rest for perhaps the biggest start of his life. He had left ahead of the team, at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday. It seemed like a dandy idea, but there was fog in Boston, his connecting flight was canceled and Ruthven wound up cooling his heels in the Boston airport for five hours.
Even when he finally boarded a plane for Montreal, the pitcher wasn't home free. "We got here (over Montreal) about midnight," he said, "and the stewardess said, 'We're going to try to land."'
They made it down through the haze and Ruthven finally made it to the hotel for a night's sleep.
If all goes well, he and the rest of the 1980 Phillies will be getting very little sleep tonight.
Nitty-gritty in Montreal
Today, or tomorrow, the lengthening shadows of a winter of discontent will descend over either the Phillies or the Expos. The classic nitty-gritty is at hand. They're down to it. Today or tomorrow.
PHILLIES at Montreal (TV-Ch. 17; Radio-KYW-1060, 2:15 p.m.)
Detroit at New York and Cleveland at Baltimore (TV-Ch. 3, 2:15 p.m.)
Houston at Los Angeles (TV-Ch. 3, 5 p.m.)
One to go: Phillies within a game of title
The Phillies moved to within one victory of a National League East championship last night as Mike Schmidt drove in both runs with a sacrifice fly and a homer and the Phillies beat the Montreal Expos, 2-1.
Righthander Dick Ruthven (17-10) pitched 5 innings and gave up the Expos' only run before veteran lefthanders Sparky Lyle and Tug McGraw relieved. Lyle worked l'a innings, and McGraw worked the final two to earn his 20th save of the season. McGraw struck out five of six batters he faced.
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the first when Pete Rose led off with a single and Bake McBride doubled against Scott Sanderson. Schmidt then drove a sacrifice fly to right to score Rose.
In the sixth, Schmidt lined one over the left-field fence for his 47th homer and 119th RBI of the season. The blow tied the major league record for home runs by a third baseman set by Eddie Mathews of the Milwaukee Braves in 1957.
The Expos scored in the sixth. Jerry White opened with a double, Rodney Scott walked and Rowland Office sacrificed the runners along. Andre Dawson then lofted a sacrifice fly to center.
The Phillies, who started the night tied for first place, must win either this afternoon's game or the season finale tomorrow afternoon.
Phils need just one more
Schmidt’s HR tops Expos, 2-1
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
MONTREAL – When you are a Phillie, you never tread too confidently, you never act too sure. You have seen too much. You know how quickly things can slip away.
The Phillies took the National League East firmly within their grasp last night. They beat the Expos, 2-1, in Stade Olympique. They lead by a game with two to play.
They can win today or tomorrow, and a fourth division title in five years is theirs. They can taste that now, but they are realistic after all the crazy, unhappy endings of the past. They know they still have to finish it off.
"When something like this happens, the first thing I do is say there's a lot of baseball still to play," said Mike Schmidt. "I was nervous tonight. The Expos said they were relaxed, but I admit it I was nervous.
"I like being nervous. I like to feel butterflies in my stomach. I like to get the adrenaline pumping."
But it will still be pumping today. He won't be taking anything for granted. A weekend ago, the Phillies won a dramatic Friday night game by the same score. The rest of the weekend didn't turn out so hot. So, however huge this win was, this time around the words are a little more cautious.
"I just want to play them one at a time," said Pete Rose. "We've still got to beat one helluva pitcher tomorrow (Steve Rogers)."
"Winning the first one was important," said Dallas Green. "But it's not overly important."
That was the way it went. No gloating, no gushing. Maybe all the scars from the past will turn out to be what makes this finish different from all the others.
Last night was virtually the season in microcosm. Winner Dick Ruthven (17-10) was very solid, very dependable. Both runs were knocked in by Schmidt (119 RBIs). And somebody was there to shut down the Expos when they made their run. Sparky Lyle was there first. But Tug McGraw was, of course, there at the end.
Ruthven gave the Phils five innings of two-hit shutout baseball. He wasn't spectacular in a Carltonesque way. But after Bake McBride doubled in the first, Schmidt eventually knocked Rose in with a sacrifice fly.
Then in the sixth, after squeezes and double-steals and other assorted tricks from the Grind-It-Out Play-book didn't get them more runs, Schmidt got them one with a single swing.
He crushed a Scott Sanderson fastball a dozen rows up the lower deck in left center for his third homer in three days, eighth in 14 games and 47th overall. He now has tied Eddie Mathews' one-season record for homers by a third baseman.
"I'm not trying to give myself credit," Schmidt said. "But it's a pitch you shouldn't pull to left for a home run. It was a pretty good pitch, fastball down and away. I was just fortunate enough to keep my shoulder closed long enough to get it out."
So it was 2-0 after 5½. But Ruthven was running deep counts, the Expos had been hot and you just knew an eruption was coming. Jerry White led off the bottom of the sixth with a double, and 51,121 people exploded with a din that probably rattled buildings in Quebec City. This was it.
Rodney Scott walked on four pitches, and the volume went up another notch. Ruthven threw two more balls before Rowland Office bunted the runners to second and third. Schmidt had to make a tough charge play and Manny Trillo a Gold Glove scoop just to get the out at first.
The hitter was Andre Dawson, who came in batting.475 in a 14-game hitting streak. Dawson lined a sacrifice fly to Del Unser's new defensive caddy in center, Garry Maddox, and it was 2-1.
The manager then made a decision the traditionalists don't make. He chose to walk Gary Carter (a.407 hitter in his previous 16 games), put the go-ahead run on and pitch to Warren Cromartie.
"I might not have done it," said Green, "if the guy hitting had not been as hot as a firecracker."
Another reason Green did it was that he had Lyle out there to deal with the lefthanded-hitting Cromartie. And he could do that and still save McGraw. Lyle came on and got a force at second with one pitch.
Then in the seventh he survived a walk, a hit and the sight of sprint-champ pinch-runners Ron LeFlore and Tim Raines on the bases. So since his ominous first inning as a Phillie, Lyle now has introduced the National League to his legendary slider with eight straight scoreless outings and 12⅓ scoreless innings.
"A pitcher always has the advantage, whether guys have seen him or not," Lyle said. "It's always been that way. That's why I'm not a hitter."
Another good thing about not being a hitter is that you don't have to face McGraw. McGraw has made 14 straight scoreless outings, totaling 23 innings, since Sept. 2. But few rival his two innings last night.
He fanned Bob Pate, Dawson and Carter in the eighth. He got two more strikeouts in the ninth. He has 20 saves now, two short of the club record shared by Jim Konstanty and Dick Selma.
"You know, you look at this game tonight," said Schmidt, "and we didn't hit the ball that well. We fouled up a couple other plays. To win a 2-1 game like this, that's what Tug McGraw has meant.
"Tekulve did it for Pittsburgh last year. Gossage does it all the time. In a short series, that's the guy that usually makes the difference."
The Phils need to win one game out of two in these mini-playoffs now. You can't get much shorter than that.
NOTES: There was a chance a couple days ago that Bill Gullickson wouldn't be able to start tomorrow against Steve Carlton. Gullickson was hit above the knee by a line drive Tuesday. But Dick Williams said last night that Gullickson definitely will be ready.... Ellis Valentine injured his wrist two weeks ago tomorrow and says he still can't play. In fact, the way Williams talked last night, he isn't even sure Valentine plans on showing up to watch this weekend.... John Vukovich says the one thing he has observed about the Phillies and Expos is that they seem glad they are battling each other this weekend and not the Pirates.... Steve Rogers (4-1, 2.16 since Sept. 1) vs. Larry Christenson today.
Playoff tickets go on sale today – if…
If the Phillies win the Eastern Division title today, tickets for the two National League Championship Series games to be placed in Philadelphia Tuesday and Wednesday nights will go on sale at Veterans Stadium immediately after today's game in Montreal, the Phillies announced.
Ticket windows will be open until 11 tonight, and from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. tomorrow and Monday. Tickets also will be on sale in the Girard Bank lobby, Broad and Chestnut Streets, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
Both games will begin at 8:15 p.m. The Phillies said 10,000 reserved tickets at $10 each will be on sale for each of the games.