Corpus Christi Caller - October 8, 1980
Bull’s shot beats Astros
Homer by Luzinski lifts Phillies, 3-1
From Caller Wire Services
PHILADELPHIA – It was a minor adjustment, really, but it has made a world of difference to Greg Luzinski and to the team he plays for and to the team he beat Tuesday night with a two-run home run.
Luzinski’s homer with Pete Rose on base in the bottom of the sixth inning broke open a tight pitching duel and sent the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom Luzinski plays, past the Houston Astros, 3-1, in the first game of the National League Championship Series.
Luzinski, built more like a linebacker than a left fielder, looks strong enough to squeeze the stitches right off a baseball. But his bat has been silent much of the season and now he thinks he's figured out why.
"We had a long rain delay in Montreal last week," said the man they call 'The Bull' in Philadelphia, "and I made some adjustments with my hands on the bat. I have a habit of going with too much right hand.”
That's Luzinski's top hand on the bat and the result was beating the ball into the ground. So he tried to change the pattern.
"I tried to make my approach to the ball a little shorter and quicker," he said. "So far it’s worked out pretty well."
The short, quick approach produced a two-run homer that turned this opening game around and gave the Phillies their first-ever playoff victory at home.
"It's not only at home," said Luzinski. "We've had trouble in the playoffs, period. This was a big game for us for just that reason. These two at home are important and jumping out in front is especially good."
The Phillies were beaten in the NL playoffs in 1976-77-78 with Luzinski one of their better post-season hitters. The homer was his fifth in playoff action, tying him for second place behind Steve Garvey of Los Angeles, who has six.
Houston had left Garvey and the Dodgers behind, beating Los Angeles in a West Division playoff Monday and then flying all night from the West Coast to the East. But until the homer, it was the Phillies who looked bleary-eyed, not the Astros.
Luzinski's sixth-inning shot off Ken Forsch erased a 1-0 Astro lead and set off fireworks over Veterans' Stadium as a playoff-record crowd of 65,277 howled. It made Forsch a loser and Steve Carlton, whom Forsch out-pitched most of the way, the winner.
The second game in the best-of-five series will be played Wednesday night with Nolan Ryan of the Astros expected to pitch against Dick Ruthven of the Phillies.
Forsch had been locked in a tight duel with Carlton, ace of the Phillies' staff, but after Luzinski's homer gave Philadelphia the lead, it fell to relief ace Tug McGraw to nail down the victory. Which he did.
Ex-Astro Greg Gross, batting for Carlton, singled home an insurance run in the seventh inning. The Astros took the lead in the third on singles by Jose Cruz, Cesar Cedeno and Gary Woods.
The Astros harassed Carlton again in the fourth inning after Craig Reynolds led off with a walk and Forsch bunted past the mound. But the two-time winner of the Cy Young Award escaped on two dazzling infield plays.
Pete Rose chased the bunt along the artificial turf and nipped Forsch with a strong throw to first, which was covered by Manny Trillo, the second baseman. And then Trillo made a fine backhand stop on Enos Cabell's slam up the middle and threw him out.
But at bat, the Phillies had less success. Forsch retired eight batters in a row until Rose singled to open the sixth.
For a while, it looked as though the Astros would survive again. Bake McBride struck out and Mike Schmidt flied deep to center. But the lead disappeared in a flash when Luzinski drove the 3-2 pitch high into the left-field seats.
After Carlton struggled through the seventh, helped by catcher Bob Boone’s pickoff of Forsch, Manager Dallas Green turned his lead over to McGraw, the ace of his bullpen, who had not yielded a run in 26 innings in his last 15 appearances.
McGraw, pitching with a small golden leprechaun on a pendant around his neck, retired six of the seven batters he faced to wrap it up.
Phillies quiet, serious after playoff win
By the Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia’s Nstionsl League East champions captured their first post-season victory at home in 65 years Tuesday night, and most of the Phillies felt it was about time.
"We have had trouble here in the playoffa in the past — this was a big game for that reason,” said left fielder Greg Lusinski, whose two-run homer n the sixth inning turned around a 1-0 Philadelphia deficit.
The Phillies added another run in the seventh on Greg Gross’ RBI pinch single for a 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros in the opener of the National League playoffs. It was the identical score posted by Grover Cleveland Alexander when he beat the Boston Red Sox in the 1915 World Series for the Phillies.
The locker room of the East Division champs was quiet — and serious.
"It's nice to have the first one under our belt, but we're taking them one at a time," said catcher Bob Boone, whose pitchout caught Astro pitcher Ken Forsch off first in the seventh inning.
Meanwhile, Forsch was outdueling Phillies ace Steve Carlton, who had control problems after six days’ rest.
"I just felt he was a little sluggish," said Manager Dallas Green, who took Carlton out to pinch-hit Gross in the seventh.
"Steve wasn't really on his game,” said Pete Rose, "but he allowed only one run. That a why he's so great."
Carlton, 24-9 in the regular season with a 2.34 earned run average, walked three and gave up seven hits in seven innings. But the Astros left eight men on base in the first seven innings and reliever Tug McGraw finished up for the Phillies.
Forsch went the distance for the Astros, giving up eight hits.
"He was moving the ball around, changing speeds," said Philadelphia slugger Mike Schmidt. "I'm glad he dropped down to Greg. It was a big hit.”
Luzinski powered a low fastball into the left field stands.
"Almost all my home runs (20, including this one) have been with two strikes – it shows l am quick," said Luzinski, who has now hit in all 12 post-season games the Phillies have played in and has five home runs.
Sports in Brief (excerpt)
Would-be Chicago White Sox owner Edward De-Bartolo wants Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda to manage for him next season if he can get approval to buy the Sox. Lasorda meets with Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley this week to discuss a new contract. Lasorda has made no secret of the fact he would like a multi-year contract. The Dodgers have traditionally given one-year contracts to their managers.
…Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and National League President Chub Feeney decided Philadelphia Phillies' pitcher Marty Bystrom is eligible for post-season play through the World Series. Special permission for the move was needed because Bystrom is a rookie added Sept. 1, when team rosters are allowed to increase to 40 players from the usual 25. Bystrom, 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA, will be allowed to remain on the roster to replace the injured Nino Espinso.
…Preston Gomez, who has managed three different major league clubs and was fired as the Chicago Cubs skipper at mid-season, was hired as a coach by the California Angels.
…Joe Pepitone, a veteran of 12 major league seasona who was New York's regular first baseman through most of the 1960s, was hired by the Yankees as a minor league batting instructor.