Doylestown Daily Intelligencer - October 8, 1980
Bull's Homer Could Mean End Of Season-Long Slump
By Milton Richman, United Press International
PHILADELPHIA (UPI) - Greg Luzinski is one of those fellows who rarely lets his emotions run away with him. seldom getting up on a soapbox to lead the cheering. And although he wasn't about to begin now. he did have something he wanted to say.
"I think I'm gonna be all right." he confided to Larry Bowa. "I'm really beginning to feel good up there at the plate, much better than I have in a long time."
He had just walked into the trainer's room after powering the Philadelphia Phillies to a 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros with a booming two-run homer on Ken Forsch in the sixth inning of trie National League playoff opener.
Bowa listened off-handedly to what Luzinski was telling him. The two of them like to needle each other and have been doing that for a long time now.
"If you feel that good, then go ahead and take over." Bowa suggested in that flat, joking, dead-pan way of his. "You haven't done a damn thing all year."
Luzinksi didn't have to be reminded of that, and Bowa knew it, but that's what a buddy is for, isn't it? And what better time or place was there to make the point than right here and now without any of the media people around?
From the beginning, this looked as if it could turn out to be possibly the nest season of Greg Luzinski's entire career. He showed up at spring training more than 20 pounds lighter than last year and seemed a cinch to better his disappointing .252 figure of the year before.
But somewhere along the way something happened to him. He couldn't get comfortable at the plate, no matter how hard he tried. He developed the bad habit of using too much top hand and looping over the bat and wound up hitting only .228 for the worst showing of his career.
Opposing pitchers didn't fear him anywhere near as much as they once had and no longer did the fans of Philadelphia look to him as "The Bull'' of old.
Coming into these playoffs against the Astros. Luzinski. who has always done weil in them for the Phillies even though they never have been able to win a single time showed only five hits in his 35 times up. Manager Dallas Green had even benched him in favor of rookie Lonnie Smith in a couple of games with the Cubs last week.
In his first time up against Forsch Tuesday night, with Bake McBride on second and two outs in the first inning, Luzinski looked the same way he did most of the year — wretched. Forsch pitched him outside and struck him out.
"I was a little anxious." Luzinski revealed later. "I was too wound up."
He came up again leading off the fourth with the Phillies trailing and popped up weakly to shortstop. Then, with Pete Rose on first and two out and Forsch stili nursing the one-run lead in the sixth, Luzinski caught hold of a 3-2 pitch and hit it deep into the upper left field seats for the blow that decided the game.
The first thing Luzinski was asked after it was all over was whether he had been thinking about the poor season he had.
"To be honest. I'm not thinking about the season." he argued.
"That's in the past. I've been able to put things behind. I got a hit tonight and that many (playoff games) in a row I hit in. I'm charged up."
Luzinski wasn't even sure of kind of pitch he hit. All he knew was that it had been low and in. Forsch, who went the distance for the Astros and didn't pitch badly at all, was able to give more details.
"He hit a fastball that was down and in," said Houston's big righthander. "I was trying to get the ball in on him. I struck him out with a fastball in the first inning and got him to pop up on a 3-2 pih the second time, and my only thought when he came up the sixth was that I didn't want to walk him."
"I thought I had to challenge him. I challenged him before and got him. This time, he got me."
Bystrom Decision Due Today
By the United Press International
PHILADELPHIA (UPI) - The Philadelphia Phillies announced Monday a decision on the eligibility of rookie pitcher Marty Bystrom for the National League playoffs will be made today after team officials meet with league president Chub Feeney.
A Phillies spokesman said Director of Player Personnel Paul Owens and Manager Dallas Green would meet with Feeney to discuss the status of Bystrom. who compiled a 5-0 record with a 1.50 ERA after being called up from the team's Oklahoma City farm club on Sept. 1.
Because he was called up from the minors after the major league rosters were expanded from a maximum 25 players to 40. Bystrom would not be eligible for the playoffs. But Green has made no secret that he would like the 22-year-old right-hander to participate.
Bystrom's name was believed to have been included on a proposed post-season roster sent to the National League office.
Owens said he informed the league office of the situation of veteran Nino Espinosa. who has been bothered by bursitis in his shoulder all season. Espinosa finished the year with a 3-5 record and a 3.79 ERA in 12 starts.
"He's not really hurt." Owens said of Espinosa. "He's just been ineffective. It's nothing we're making up. He's had bursitis in his shoulder since last September. We've explained the whole thing to them, and have given them the medical reports."
A Phillies spokesman said a decision would be announced hours before the first game of the championship series against the Western Division winner under the lights at Veterans Stadium.
The Phillies also are determining the status of left-handed reliever Kevin Saucier, who was on the disabled list as of Sept. 1. The team is allowed to replace any player who was active at the time with Saucier.
If Not For NL Playoffs, Phils Would Be In Red
By the Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Phillies would have ended the season in the red had they not made the National League playoffs, a team spokesman says.
Bill Giles, a Phillies executive vice president, said the team lost money in 1979 when its borne attendance of 2.770.000 was second highest in its history — 120,000 above this year's total.
And if the Phillies hadn't beaten the Expos 6-4 in Montreal Saturday night to reach the playoffs, they would have again wound up in the loss column, Giles said in an interview Tuesday.
Now that the Phillies are in the playoffs, the team should make close to $1 million or more, Giles predicted.
Phils Bull Past Astros In Opener
Luzinski's two-run blast in sixth paces Phils come-from-behind win
By Paul Giordano, Intelligencer Writer
PHILADELPHIA - Tuesday night's 3-1 Phillies win over the Houston Astros in game one of the National League Championship Series started to take form last Saturday at Montreal.
It occurred prior to and during the three hour and ten minute rain delay preceeding the Phils' 6-4 pennant clincher.
In the game before. Friday night, third base coach Lee Elia (former Levittown resdient and teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School) noticed something in Greg Luzinski's swing. Or none swing if you will. Luzinski struck out three times.
"He was outside-ining everything." Elia said Tuesday night after Luzinski powered a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Phils and Steve Carlton a come-from-behind 2-1 lead.
"It looked like he was using too much top hand," Elia said. "It (hitting instruction) was not my department, but as a coach I told him I had to talk to him. I couldn't sleep on it. It's all psychological, though. But he did start to go into the ball a lot better."
Luzinski had three hits and two RBI following the rain delay. And last night, the big blow.
"If he gets hot he can carry the club pretty quick." Dallas Green said. "That's very big in a series like this."
Very big. indeed, especially Tuesday night. Carlton, who had not pitched since last Wednesday, was not his should-be Cy Young Award self. He was in constant trouble through the first four innings, allowing the Astros to take a 1-0 lead in the third, on singles by Jose Cruz, Cesar Cedeno and an RBI single by Gary Woods.
Before leaving for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning he struck out just three, far and below his 1980 standard.
"His slider wasn't there tonight and that was the difference." Green said. And if not for better than average play from second baseman Manny Trillo, the Phils and Carlton could have been one down instead of one up.
But it was Luzinski's home run that proved to be the difference. Those who booed him when he struck out in the first inning and popped to short in the fourth praised him in the sixth.
"Last year I had a bad year and we came in fourth." Luzinski said when asked about the fans' booing.
"But they've been with us when we've had the good years. It's just something you expect."
And this year, too, Philadelphia fans lived up to expectations. Luzinski struggled through the 1980 season with a below par .228 average, with just 19 home runs and 56 RBI. The boos came loud and clear.
"To be honest," Luzinski said. "I don't worry about the season. That's in the past. That's over with. But for some reason I go into a slump in September. I go into the playoffs in a. slump, but I've got a hit in all 12 playoff games now (starting back in 1976). I just get reved up.
"And sure, the not being able to hit the ball, help the club during the regular season, especially at the end,. bothered me. That's why I went down to the cage and hit during the rain delay in Montreal.
"Lee Elia helped me out a lot. He could see what I was doing wrong from third base and I made the adjustment in Montreal. I always hold the bat straight up. But he suggested I hold the bat back a little so I wouldn't use too much top hand.
"I did, and I stopped getting out in front of the ball too fast. I started to see the ball better, too, waited on it longer, used my hand more and now I can drive it out of the ballpark."
The Phillies did need Luzinski's home run Tuesday night. For the first five innings they were flat. Ken Forch's pitching had something to do with it, too. His fork ball was really biting.
Rose started the Phils going with an infield single in the sixth. Luzinski'capped it with his two-out home run. It was Luzinski's fifth home run in playoff competition, which tied him with Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson and Johnny Bench for second place. Steve Garvey leads all. with six.
Garry Maddox kept the pace going in the seventh with a leadoff single. Larry Bowa scarificed Maddox to second. Then, after Bob Boone flied out to left field. Greg Gross was called on to hit for Carlton. Maddox stole third and scored on Gross' single to left field.
Tug McGraw came on and held the Astros hitless for the final two innings.
Phils End Home Playoff Drought
By the Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (UPI) - To remember the last time the Philadelphia Phillies won a post-season game on their home field, you'd have to go back to the days of Fred Luderus, Gavvy Cravath and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Not many people remember, but those players were members of the 1915 Phillies who downed the Boston Red Sox in the opening game of the World Series that year at Baker Bowl, an old Philadelphia ballpark famous for its tin fence in right field.
It took 64 years and 364 days to do it, but the Phillies finally managed to win another postseason game at home.
Greg Luzinski's two-run homer in the sixth inning helped the Phillies break an 0-6 playoff jinx at Veterans Stadium Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros in the opening game of the National League Championship Series.
"The monkey is off our backs with this win," said Luzinski, who had been benched during the Phillie stretch drive because of poor hitting. "It was a big game because we hadn't won here. You just wondered when we were going to break loose.
Tug McGraw, who pitched two innings of hitless ball to save the win for Steve Carlton. went a little further.
"The momentum is going our way." he said. "We're going into tomorrow night's game in the driver's seat. I can tell you now — tonight was a must win for us.
If we take Game 2, we'll have them so far in the hole they won't be able to dig their way out."
Philadelphia can go 2-up tonight when Dick Ruthven, 17-10. takes the mound against Houston's Nolan Ryan, 11-10.
The Phillies'' first home playoff victory didn't come easy. Houston did not look like a team that had arrived in Philadelphia at the crack of dawn after a redeye flight from Los Angeles following their 7-1 triumph over the Dodgers for the NL West crown Monday.
The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI single by rookie Gary Woods, and possibly could have had more had they not stranded seven runners in the first four innings.
Rose's Secret To Playoff Succes Is To Go Out There And Have Fun
By Mike Ferretti, Intelligencer Writer
PHILADELPHIA - Pete Rose's idea of fun is listening to 65,277 people screaming their heads off while millions more are watching on national TV.
Pete Rose's idea of fun is a bestof-five championship series that is more like a round of Russian Roulette than baseball.
"Good players don't worry about pressure," said Rose after the Phillies defeated the Houston Astros, 3-1, Tuesday night to go one up in the National League playoffs.
"Pressure is when you're hitting .220 and watching the playoffs at home, worrying about what kind of contract you'll get for '81."
"The secret to the whole damn thing is to have fun," said Rose after going two-for-four with a run scored and playing an excellent defensive game at first base.
"These euys (the Phillies) are in for a surprise. The World Series is a lot of fun. You've got to enjoy the media, the fans, all the attention. And you have to realize what going to the World Series means for 2,700,000 fans who support this ball club. Right now money don't mean a thing.
"I had fun tonight, talking to the umps, talking to the guys at first base. Hey, that's what I like about playing first — there's a lot more guys stopping there than on third base."
The fans hoot and hollar. The ABC camera never blinks. The season seems to ride on every play; no, make that every pitch.
The playoffs affect different players different ways. In some a. lump begins to form in the throat. In others, there is a grim determination, like a guy on death row who is down to his last appeal.
In Pete Rose there is simply joy.
And the statistics reflect it: in five championship series with the Cincinnati Reds, Rose compiled a .378 batting average, including a .450 mark in five games against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1972, and a .429 mark in a three-game sweep of the Phils in 1976.
"I got spoiled when I played with Cincinnati," Rose said. "When you go in '70, '72, '73, '75, '76, you look forward to the playoffs.
"But we got beat out (by the Dodgers) in '77 and '78, and in '79 (his first with the Phillies) we just had too many injuries. Anyone in his right mind wouldn't have thought we'd go to the playoffs iast year."
But injuries did not plague the Phils again this year; the pitching held together and the defense and offense jelled just at the right time.
And although Alike Schmidt and Tug McGraw might have been the men of the hour with the division title on the line, now that a trip to the World Series is at stake, the Phillies are turning to Rose.
When Rose was signed as a free agent, it was the type of performance he turned in last night that Ruly Carpenter must have envisioned.
On defense, where he has developed into one of the best first basemen in baseball, he was flawless and. at times specatcular. With the Astros leading. 1-0, in the fourth he got the Phils out of what could have been a dangerous situation when pitcher Ken Forsch laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance shortstop Craig Reynolds.
The ball was bunted on a line between the pitcher's mound and first and Rose, who had been charging down the first baseline, had to do a quick change of direction to pounce on the ball land fire to Manny Tnllo covering at first. He got Forsch by a step.
"The hardest time to play first is when Lefty (Steve Carlton) is pitching," said Rose. "I have to play up because he doesn't get off the mound quick — like that bunt tonight. Most pitchers might have had it on a line dnve.
"But the ball hit the turn and had some spin on it, so I had some time to get to it.
"Some guys just lay back and play the ball. But you have to be aggressive, especially on astroturf because you have that crease in front of you (where the edge of the sliding pit meets the astroturf)." It was not a play on which the outcome of the game hinged, but it dampened a potential Astros rally and gave the Phils some breathing room.