Wilmington News Journal - October 4, 1980
Schmidt HR puts Phils near title
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
MONTREAL – Mike Schmidt crawled out of bed yesterday morning coughing and wheezing and suffering from the flu.
"I was afraid to take my temperature," said Schmidt, "but I knew it was up there pretty good."
Michael Jack Schmidt shrugged off the flu long enough last night to blast a home run and drive in another with a sacrifice fly as the Phillies stunned Montreal 2-1 in the opening round of the three-game battle for the National League Eastern Division championship.
The Phils now must win just one of the two remaining games in Olympic Stadium to clinch their fourth division title in five years.
People have been looking ahead to this season-ending series for weeks and, if Game One was any indication, it will be even more dramatic, more exciting than expected.
Schmidt's sacrifice fly in the first inning gave the Phils a 1-0 lead against loser Scott Sanderson, while his sixth-inning homer made it 2-0 and enabled him to tie Eddie Mathews at 47 for the most ever hit by a National League third baseman.
The Expos, cheered on by a loud crowd of 57,121, turned the duel into a nail-biter when they closed the gap to 2-1 in the sixth. But brilliant relief pitching by Sparky Lyle and Tug McGraw stymied the Expos the rest of the cold night.
Lyle snuffed Montreal's biggest threat moments after the Expos scored their run, worked out of trouble in the seventh, then turned it over to the remarkable McGraw, who retired the last six Expos in a row, striking out five of them.
The air-tight relief enabled Dick Ruthven to record his 17th victory in 27 decisions. The right-hander allowed just three hits before leaving with two out in the sixth.
"This might be the most gratifying 5⅔ innings I have ever pitched," said Ruthven.
"This weekend has started off very much like last weekend," said McGraw, who has allowed just one earned run in the last 13 games, while gaining four victories and five saves. "I tried to contain myself because I want to put it away tomorrow. I don't want last weekend to repeat itself."
Last weekend the Expos lost the first game of a threesome at the Vet 2-1, then whipped the Phils in the, next two to leave town with a half-game lead.
"We had the opportunities tonight, but were unable to cash in," said Montreal Manager Dick Williams in the Expos' quiet clubhouse. "How vital are the next two games? Well, we have to win both of them, that's how vital they are, but we did it last week.
"Somebody said they have good pitching going for them now. Well, we have good pitching going for us, too. Our ace, Steve Rogers, is going Saturday. Tonight, it boiled down to pitching and defense. We had both and they had both, but they had a little more."
Schmidt, who said he refused to take any antibiotics because he was fearful they might have made him light-headed, also chipped in with a single and a walk. He has hit three homers in three days and eight in his last 14 games.
"Maybe it was better I had the flu tonight," he said, matter-of-factly. "I didn't get all tensed up like I usually do for big games like this. Oh, I had butterflies, but I wasn't all tense like I usually am. Maybe that is good because I stayed within myself. I didn't try to go out there and do something superhuman."
The count went 2-0 to Schmidt in the sixth with one out.
"I have been on a pretty good home-run streak lately, so I thought I would try to keep my shoulder in and give it a good swing," Schmidt said. "It turned out to be a good guess."
Phils' Manager Dallas Green was ecstatic. "The team has been playing great baseball the last week," he said. "I am very proud of the guys. They have risen to the occasion. They're all pulling for each other. There is a lot of spirit in the dugout."
Pete Rose, who got the Phils off to a fast start with a leadoff single and another single in the third, said last night's game was the most important of the series.
"I felt it was important to score early on them," he said. "We could have had a big inning in the first, but didn't. Tonight, pitching dominated the game. Still, they have to win two in a row from us."
Ruthven, who flew here Thursday ahead of the team, had not pitched since last Friday night in Philadelphia.
"Getting here early really didn't help because I had to wait in the Boston airport four hours," he said. "But the big thing was that since I had not pitched in a week, I was worried that I might be too strong.
"I kept telling myself it was just another game and tried not to throw the ball 800 miles an hour. I went at them with my fastball and it was successful."
The Phils has a chance for a big inning against Sanderson in the first but had to settle for just one run.
Rose opened the game with a single to center and raced to third on Bake McBride's double to left. Rose came home on Schmidt's fly to right, but Sanderson then fanned Greg Luzinski and Del Unser to escape further damage.
The Expos threatened in the bottom of the first, but Ruthven won a battle with Carter, getting the catcher to fly out to center with runners on first and second.
Carter, however, gave Ruthven fits before the right-hander finally got the out on a 3-2 pitch. It took 12 pitches to get it, with Carter hitting six fouls, including one that just missed being a heme run to left.
"As far as I am concerned, the key to my game was getting Carter in the first inning," Ruthven said. "It was a tough out, I gave him every pitch I knew and he kept fouling them off. If I hadn't gotten him, it might have been a long night."
The Phils had runners on first and third two out in the third, but Rose was caught off third base seconds after Schmidt had stolen second on a double steal.
Then the Phils blew another golden opportunity to pad their lead in the fifth when Larry Bowa led off with a single to left and raced to third as Jerry White's throw sailed through the infield for a two-base error.
Bob Boone, however, hit a weak grounder to third for the first out. Then, with Ruthven batting, Bowa was caught coming down the line on an attempted suicide squeeze. Ruthven was unable to get his bat on a low pitch.
Ironically, Ruthven followed with a single to right before Rose lined out to the shortstop.
With one down in the sixth, Schmidt lined his homer to the seats above the left-field fence and it was 2-0.
Ruthven had allowed the Expos just two singles through five innings before White led off the Montreal sixth with a booming double to right. Ruthven walked Rodney Scott on four pitches before Rowland Office advanced the runners with a sacrifice.
Andre Dawson hit a sacrifice fly to center, where Garry Maddox had gone for defense moments earlier. After Carter was walked intentionally, Green summoned reliever Lyle.
Sparky, who has given the Phils eight straight scoreless innings, needed just one pitch to get the final out for Ruthven in the sixth, getting Warren Cromartie to force Carter at second.
"That's the way I have always pitched," Lyle said. "I was lucky enough to hit the bat with the ball. No, I am really enjoying this. The adrenalin is flowing."
Tension mounted in the seventh when, with one out, Lyle walked Chris Speier and the flashy Ron LeFlore was sent in to run. John Tamargo, whose pinch, three-run homer helped the Expos beat St. Louis Monday night, followed with a sharp single to left and Tim Raines was sent in to run.
Lyle, however, got White to fly to left and Scott to pop out to Bowa.
The Phils staged a mini-threat in the eighth when Greg Gross, batting for Lyle, waited out a walk at the expense of Stan Bahnsen. With Jay Loviglio running, Rose tried a hit-and-run but popped out to third base. Loviglio was then caught stealing and the right-handed reliever got McBride to fly to left.
EXTRA POINTS – Over 200 media types were on hand for the series, filling the baseball and football press boxes... The Phillies, have won 18 of their last 25 games and 21 of 30 since Sept. 1.
Phillies ready sale of playoff tickets
PHILADELPHIA – If the Phillies clinch the NL East title today in Montreal, tickets for the two League Championship Series games at Veterans Stadium will go on sale at Vet ticket windows immediately after today's 2:15 p.m. game is concluded.
A total of 10,000 tickets, priced at $10 each, are available for the games to be played Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8:15. Ticket windows will open at 9 a.m. tomorrow and Monday and close at 11 p.m. each night.