Wilmington Evening Journal - October 8, 1980
Phillies are Bullish after first win
Luzinski comes through with decisive home run
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – It was the classic confrontation. The toreador vs. the Bull, each looking for the kill while trying his best not to get gored in the process.
Last night the Bull won.
Greg Luzinski's towering home run that traveled 420 feet to the lower deck in left breathed new life into the sluggish Phillies and eventually made a loser of Houston matador Ken Forsch.
"I really get charged up for the playoffs," said Luzinski, whose two-run homer started the Phillies to a 3-1 victory in Game One of the National League Championship Series at Veterans Stadium last night. "I wasn't worried about my season. We're in the playoffs and the season's past. I usually have a good bat in the playoffs. I just forget about the past and go from there."
Luzinski said he didn't know what pitch he hit, just that it was "down and in. The home plate umpire told Bob Boone the pitch was a foot inside. But I knew it was gone the minute I hit it."
So did Forsch, who had limited the Phils to just five hits to that point.
"I felt if I gave up anything at all, we wouldn't have a very good chance of winning," said the righthander, who didn't need to be reminded that the Astros had flown in from Los Angeles in the wee hours and no one had hit the sack in their hotel until 6 a.m.
"I just went after Luzinski and he got the best of me. I challenged him."
The challenge was worthy of Manolete. The results weren't.
The 65,277 fans – the largest LCS crowd in either league and the largest crowd to see a baseball game in Pennsylvania history – were starting to get on the Phillies, who were trailing the Astros 1-0 on one of Steve Carlton's lesser nights. But once Pete Rose beat out his second infield single of the night and, two outs later, rode home on Luzinski's majestic homer – his fifth in LCS play – the night was won.
"I know the fans have been on me," said Luzinski, who was greeted with a monstrous roar when he returned to left field the next inning. "But they've been on a lot of other guys, too. I know there's been talk about me being traded but, right now, I want to put that out of my mind. My only goal is to get us to the World Series."
Larry Bowa, the fans' current whipping boy for anti-fan comments during the last week of the season, enjoyed Luzinski's homer almost as much as the Bull himself.
"I was glad for him," said Bowa, whose vow of silence disappeared once the playoffs arrived. "It's been especially tough on him this year. The homer was a big lift for us, not only because it helps us as a team, but it helps him personally."
Rose, Luzinski and even Manager Dallas Green called the Phils sluggish in the early going. Rose thought the day off hurt. Luzinski felt people were trying to do too much on their own.
"We all were trying to do it ourselves," he said. "Forsch was moving the ball around and we were a little overanxious. After we made him pitch a bit, we started to put the ball in play and got a few base hits."
Bowa, however, discounted any tightness in the Phillie flannels.
"We weren't tight," insisted the shortstop whose first-inning throwing error gave Houston one of several early threats against Carlton. "Houston's just got one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. We're not gonna blow them out of here. Even the games we won against them during the season (when the Phils were 9-3 vs. the Astros) were close."
Nobody was dazzled by Steve Carlton last night. Carlton was closer to his LCS form (1-2 record, 5.79 ERA) than his 24-9 record, including a 2-0 mark vs. Houston. The Astros stranded seven baserunners in.the first four innings.
"Carlton was a little wilder than he had been against us in the past," said Houston Manager Bill Virdon, "but he's always been effective against us and you're never sure you'll get to him."
Green was more than a bit worried – about Carlton's struggle and the lack of Phils' hitting.
"I'll tell you, that Bull blast eased my mind considerably," he said. "Everything else was typically Phillies."
Except Carlton's performance.
"Lefty just wasn't Lefty tonight," Green said. "That's not the Steve Carlton we've seen in the past. He didn't have his good slider, so they were sitting on his breaking ball. Lefty busted a few fastballs to get some outs. He pitched better in the later innings than he did early."
When Green saw the chance for an insurance run in the seventh after Garry Maddox had singled and been sacrificed to second, the manager didn't hesitate, sending Greg Gross to bat for Carlton.
Maddox displayed a bit of daring by stealing third, but Gross made the gamble pay off by blooping a single over shortstop Craig Reynolds to shallow left for a 3-1 lead.
"Forsch made a great pitch," said Gross. "I fought it off and was fortunate to have it fall in for a hit. It's a great feeling to contribute, especially since it's my first playoff game."
Gross said he wasn't surprised Green sent him up to hit for Carlton.
"I was ready," said Gross. "We've learned over the season that Dallas will do whatever he has to do to get an extra run. And it doesn't matter who the pitcher is."
Catcher Bob Boone agreed. "Lefty's a professional and he accepts whatever happens," Boone said. "We needed a run and Greg Gross came up with a big hit for us. Besides, we had Tug ready to come in and he's been super lately."
Last night was no exception.
McGraw, who had compiled an 0.52 earned-run average since coming off the disabled list and shut down the Montreal Expos in last weekend's division-clinching series, faced only seven Astros in nailing down the save.
Then fireworks lit the skies and Phillies' players streamed onto the field.
"I didn't have any physical prob lems tonight," Tug smiled. "A few mental problems, as usual. The mound was the problem tonight. After a football game, the mound is pulverized and it takes a couple days for the mound to settle back in. There were a few holes out there. That made it difficult for all of us."
More difficult, however, for the Astros, who must win tonight or face a trip home down 0-2.
"There's not enough time for a letdown," said Virdon when the word was mentioned. "We have one desire – to get into the World Series and we're ready to go."
EXTRA INNINGS - The last Phillies' post-season home victory, came on Oct. 8, 1915, when Grover Cleveland Alexander beat the Boston Red Sox 3-1 at Baker Bowl... The Phils added Marty Bystrom and Kevin Saucier to the playoff roster before the game and dropped Nino Espinosa (disabled due to chronic bursitis) and Randy Lerch... Only five Astros had previous playoff experience: Joe Morgan (Reds), Nolan Ryan (Mets, Angels), Art Howe (Pirates), Rafael Landestoy (Dodgers) and Enos Cabell (Orioles)... Astros set eight club marks while winning their first division title in 19 seasons... The 65,277 fans surpassed the largest LCS crowd in either league of 64,924 here two seasons ago... Dick Ruthven vs. Nolan Ryan tonight at 8:15.
Rose is now doing his ‘thing’ for Phillies
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – "OK, Pete," Larry Bowa bellowed from his corner in the Phillies' clubhouse. "We're here now, it's time for you to do your thing!"
"I will, I will," promised Pete Rose, "but you guys are going to have to get some hits, too. I'm not going to hit any home runs."
When the Phillies signed Pete Rose to that four-year, $3.2 million contract in December of 1978, they told people they wanted him to lead them to their first World Series since 1950.
And that was the theme throughout the off-season prior to 1979. Peter Edward Rose would put them over the top after three failures in National League playoffs.
The Phils stumbled in '79 and didn't even come close to post-season play, but last night they began their fourth quest in five years for the promised land and even before they took the field, they were turning to Rose.
"They were all over me," said Rose. "They kept saying that now it was my turn to do my thing. Bowa was especially tough."
The clubhouse needling didn't even faze the 39-year-old Rose. He had been telling his teammates all along that the playoffs would be fun and rewarding.
Forget about his .282 batting average. Forget that he failed for the first time in eons to get 200 hits. Forget that 1980 wasn't a typical Pete Rose year.
Veterans Stadium was Pete Rose's stage last night, with the world looking in. This is the time of the year Pete Rose lives for. He loves the excitement, the pressure and the attention of post-season play.
In the first inning, he made Houston's Ken Forsch throw him 12 pitches before he finally grounded out.
"I just wanted to get a little more exposure," Rose would say later. "Heck, if I hit the first pitch there might have been a commercial on television."
The next time up Rose beat out an infield single and in the sixth when the 65,277 Veterans Stadium fanatics were finally ending a snooze, Rose lashed a single to deep shortstop. Two outs later, Greg Luzinski blasted an awesome home run to the left-field seats and the Phils were on their way to a stirring 3-1 conquest of the Astros.
"I think everyone was waiting for something to happen," said Pete, who holds the record for most hits in championship play, 33. "I wanted to get something started. Lefty (pitcher Steve Carlton) told me he was really feeling sluggish."
Rose probably doesn't even know how to spell pressure because he erased that from his vocabulary years ago.
But now that the Phils are again in the playoffs, they are looking to him for leadership. What does he tell them?
"I tell them they have to have fun, yet still go about their jobs in a professional way," he said. "You have to know what's on the line, but the secret to the whole damn thing is to have fun. These guys are in for a big surprise because the World Series is so much fun.
"You have to enjoy the media, you have to enjoy the big' crowds, the national TV, the pressure of having a man on base and you're up to bat – you have to enjoy all that stuff. It makes you a better person, you have to realize what going to a World Series means to the 2.7 million fans who supported this ball club. That's what I tell them; I don't worry about the damn money,
"I had fun tonight. I was talking to the president of the league (Chub Feeney) over in that box by the dugout, talking to the umpires, to the runners on first. You can't be out there all up-tight."
In 1976 the Phillies won the Eastern Division, but lost three straight to the Reds. Pete Rose, leading off for the Reds, singled to right and raced to second when the right fielder took his time getting to the ball.
Dallas Green, then the farm director, watched that first game on a cold damp, night at Veterans Stadium, The first thing he noticed was the intensity of Rose & Co.
Now, Green is manager and last night's victory was the first post-season success for the Phils in their hometown since 1915 when Grover Cleveland Alexander defeated Boston, by 3-1 in the World Series.
"If there is one guy you lean on a little more in this situation, it's Rose," said Green. "Probably the one thing that sticks out in my mind as being the reason I’ve come up with most of my ideas on how to get this team where it is dates back to that first game in the 1976 playoffs. We won the division, out-talented everyone, then come to the playoffs. It's our turn to take infield that first night and we've got two or three pitchers out there taking infield. Nobody else. Some of my minor-league people were there at the time with me and we were all flabbergasted.
"Now, Cincinnati comes out and they all took infield practice. I made a promise that that's the type intensity, the type approach that you've got to have if you want to win. That one thing told me a lot about how we were prepared to go into a championship series. I think when Pete came over here, he brought a lot of that intensity with him and it is rubbing off. When you've got a five-game series and the whole ball of wax is there, you better not sit back and wait. We almost did tonight, but Pete got us going, then the Bull hit the home run,"
"We're where we want to be right now," Rose said. "Now look around this clubhouse. These guys didn't know they could have so much fun, but we're a long way from where we want to be, but I can just taste it now. These guys are going to love the World Series. Believe me."
$15 fan manages to turn a prophet
By Larry Nagengast, Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – For one night, George McGuigan was both a prophet and a good manager.
McGuigan, of Delaware City, sat restlessly through the first five innings of last night's Phillies-Astros playoff opener at Veterans Stadium.
"This is anybody's game right now," he said, hoping the Phils, losing 1-0, would start paying off his investment in a $15 seat near the right field foul line.
In the bottom of the sixth, it was time for optimism.
"I think we're going to get something. If Pete Rose starts it off, we'll see it turn," predicted McGuigan, who works in the electrochemical division of Diamond Shamrock Corp.. in Delaware City.
Stadium organist Paul Richardson whipped the crowd of 65,277 – the most to see a baseball game in Pennsylvania history – into a well-orchestrated frenzy. Chants of "Let's go, Pete" echoed off the scoreboard down into the batter's box.
Rose responded in classic style – with a slashing single to shortstop.
McGuigan crossed his fingers, but Bake McBride struck out and Mike Schmidt flied out to center.
McGuigan – and everyone else – grew nervous. The batter was Greg Luzinski, a bust in an otherwise beautiful Philadelphia season. Luzinski launched an authentic "Bull Blast.''
McGuigan clenched his fist and waved it high and hard toward the left field seats, where the homer landed. "No doubt about that ball. He was due. He was due."
And McGuigan was right about Rose starting the rally.
In the bottom of the seventh, with two out and a runner on second it was time to play manager.
Does ace lefthander Steve Carlton come out for a pinch-hitter? Philadelphia skipper Dallas Green thought so. McGuigan agreed.
"You've got to go for the run," he said. "Besides, the Astros have seven hits. They've been hitting Carlton."
Good strategy. The pinchhitter, Greg Gross, delivered a looping single to left to score the run.
"I told you, I told you," McGuigan exulted.
The two-run lead convinced some fans that it was time to leave, but not McGuigan and his companions.
One of those with him was coworker Charlie Neel, who is also Delaware City fire chief. Neel is interested in the Phils' fireman, Tug McGraw.
The relief pitcher puts down the Astros in the eighth. "I think we've got this one in the bag now," Neel said.
McGraw repeated his performance in the ninth, sending McGuigan and friends racing toward the nearest exit and out toward the nether reaches of the JFK Stadium parking lot. If they sprinted quickly enough, they may have escaped the post-game traffic jam.
• • •
The tie-up was inevitable. The game started at 8:30 last night, but fans arriving as early as 7:10 found themselves parked parallel to the goal posts at the south end of JFK. Those early birds claimed they had few problems motoring up from Delaware, but the usual 30-minute trip from Naamans Road took about 50 minutes. McGuigan and Neel, arriving a bit later, said it took them 45 minutes to handle the last mile into the parking lot.
But the Phillies fans weren't going to let a little traffic bother them. Sure there were delays getting there, but most everyone said it was "no problem."
A bus driver from Gregg's Bus Service in Yorklyn, which ferries fans who sign up at B&B Ticket-town, got a round of applause from his passengers when he slipped along the shoulder of the Girard Point Bridge to sneak into the lot a little more quickly, said Marion Tucker, a Tickettown employee.
Some people found a way to avoid the south end of the stadium lot.
After paying his $3 to park – a dollar more than in regular season – Leonard A. Korr, a dentist with offices on Kirkwood Highway, slid an extra two bucks into the attendant's palm and got a better spot.
• • •
Officially, the game was a sellout, but tickets were available outside – at almost any price.
One guy wanted your scalp – he was asking $20 for upper-deck, $10 seats. Others were trying to save their skins – they'd take $10 for their $15 tickets. Mostly, the folks with extra tickets were asking face value.
Still, there were guys with stories about how they got their seats.
Gary Farmer of Scottfield, an accountant with NVF Co.; was downright proud of himself. He had a $10 seat in the 700 level but needed one more for a friend. He called Tickettown at 3:30 and found they had two 200-level seats that had been returned a few minutes earlier They wouldn't be held for long. "I'm glad I work downtown. I raced right over," Farmer said.
Mrs. Tucker, the Tickettown worker, was thrilled by the exuberance of the crowd – and this was a half -hour before game time.
With bands playing on the field, the crowd was already starting to roar.
The fans were wildly enthusiastic. Many were expecting not only an opening-game win but also a three-game series sweep.
"This is fantastic," Mrs. Tucker said. "I went to the World Series in Baltimore last year, and this is better."
• • •
Clearly, the crowd expects the Phils to be in the series next week. And the vendors, already hawking their wares at inflated prices, are expecting the same.
"Phillies T-shirts, four dollars,' shouted one salesman outside the Vet. "Buy 'em now. Next week they're ten."
Trillo’s dazzling performance afield thwarts Astros
By Rod Beaton, Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – The talk today when fans relive and replay the Phillies' 3-1 victory in last night's National League Championship Series opener will dwell on the power of a Bull and the color and flair of Frank Edwin McGraw.
Manny Trillo does not weigh 225 pounds, take thresher swings and jerk 65,277 fans into schizophrenic paroxysms of rage or affection. The Bull, Greg Luzinski, does.
Jesus Manuel Trillo is not glib and eminently quotable like McGraw, who sometimes is the most unfathomable Irishman since James Joyce.
But yesterday Trillo provided his specialty, like Luzinski with his home run and McGraw with his magnificent relief job, and without it Houston would be savoring the one-game playoff edge that the Phils entertain entering tonight's 8 35 start at the Vet.
In short, Trillo is a fielder without parallel. A Gold Glove fielder last year and, unless Phil Garner and Doug Flynn vote, this year.
He went hitless last night, a meek 0-for-4. Yet the 1980 .292 hitter did not need to reach base, he was a hit at second base.
A leopard in the infield, Trillo had eight assists, ranging from shallow center field to Camden to throw out Astros. He had five putouts, including a stealthy sprint to first to tag Houston starter Ken Forsch who wandered too far on an Astro bunt attempt.
He might have been handcuffed by a sizzling RBI single by Gary Woods in Houston's second, but he compensated with how'd-he-get-there? plays to help Steve Carlton in the fourth and seventh innings, and McGraw in the eighth.
"He made two super plays that most second basemen don't make and one that most second basemen do," said Phils Manager Dallas Green.
Houston second baseman Rafael Landestoy cannot make the plays Trillo does. His range and anticipation is closer to that displayed by former Phillie Pancho Herrera than it is to Manny's.
"I think seeing him day in and day out, we get spoiled by Manny," said Green. "When he doesn't make the big play we think something is wrong."
Nothing was wrong. He made the plays.
It purged the demons that irritated him since his two-error game in Saturday's clincher in Montreal. But he was not tormented by the memory. The former catcher, who turned pro in the Phillies' system for a manager named Dallas Green, is able to laugh at his failures because they're so rare and because fielders like him are, too.
"The pop-up?" he said, recalling the simple fly he dropped that led to an Expo run. "I was looking at it again. My wife taped the whole game. I looked at it three times last (Monday) night.
"Montreal was there. The ball was there. But I never catch it no matter how many times I watch, I guess," he added, chortling. “I believe it was supposed to be the time for me to drop the ball."
Yesterday was not.
"One thing for me. I know I'm a good defensive player. I don't care what other cities have to say about me. I get 'em my way. I make the great play. That's all I care about."
What Houston is saying about Trillo today cannot be printed in a family newspaper. But he has respect – and not just for his glove.
"He's a good contact hitter," said Nolan Ryan, the Astros' starter tonight. "He sprays the ball all over the field. He has given me fits every lime I've faced him."
Trillo gave the entire Astro staff fits, hitting .357 in the regular season.
And he'll still be a bane to Houston if he hits .057 in the playoffs.
Virdon rejects ‘tired’ excuse
By Anne Squires, Staff Writer
PHILADELHIA - They came from the warm and not so friendly clime of Chavez Ravine in Southern California to the cold and even less friendly confines of Vet Stadium in South Philadelphia. But they came in winners nonetheless, however unceremonious the final triumph was.
How did the Houston Astros celebrate their capturing the National League West Division title and first since major league baseball came to Houston in 1962?
"We went to Plan 4," said Astro pitcher Nolan Ryan, last night at the Vet before Game One of the National League championship series.
"And that was no celebration at all. We really couldn't. It was a tiring flight," he added of the trip, which ended early yesterday morning.
Despite the journey, the Astros managed to come out into the chill of the evening and give Steve Carlton and Co. a run for their money. It took Greg Luzinski's might and a moundful of Tug McGraw to send Houston down to a 3-1 defeat and an 0-1 deficit in the series.
"I really don't think it (the flight) had any effect on us at all," said Houston Manager Bill Virdon. "In fact I think we played quite well. We just got beat."
To try and remedy that situation and even things up before the trip back West, Virdon has slated blazing right-hander Ryan for tonight's Game Two. He'll face right-hander Dick Ruthven.
Virdon will also make an offensive switch, putting Terry Puhl, a pinch hitter last night, in right field in place of Gary Woods, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI last night. Alan Ashby returns to handle the catching chores, replacing Luis Pujols, and Joe Morgan is still uncertain, sidelined with a strained left knee.
When asked how it would or will feel to face his former Cincinnati Reds teammate, Pete Rose said of Morgan, "I hope he stays wherever he was tonight," which was out of the lineup.
Ryan was questioned about the series after last night's loss.
"Under the circumstances" he said, "you'd have to pick the Phillies. But I still don't think this thing is going to be decided by how much sleep you got. We've fought back against odds all year."
With chin placed firmly in an upright position, Ryan sounded ready to take on the challenge.
"I can't afford to pitch any differently," said Ryan. "I certainly can t afford to pitch around these guys. I have to go with my power. And the object is to keep the ball, in the park. I won't change my style, but they're tough. They have good contact hitters and the middle of the batting order can beat you with the home run."
Last night's losing pitcher Ken Forsch gave credence to Ryan's assessment of the meat of the Phils' lineup, when Luzinski sent a 3-2 pitch into the bottom of the left-field stands.
"I felt if I gave up anything at all, we wouldn't have a very good chance of winning," said a dejected Forsch. He (Luzinski) got the best of me. It was a matter of one pitch. I had to go after him."
• • •
Houston reliever Joe Sambito reportedly cut his finger on a champagne bottle after the Astros won their division title, but Virdon says he's OK to pitch.
• • •
The only other time Woods faced Carlton this year was once in spring training.
• • •
Puhl is batting .344 against the Phils this year with 11 hits and four RBI.
Bystrom gets OK for post-season play
PHILADELPHIA – Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and National League President Chub Feeney yesterday jointly decided that Phillies pitcher Marty Bystrom li 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. Rosters must be cut to 25 again for post-season play, with those brought up for the final weeks usually ineligible.
Bystrom. 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA, replaces on the roster Nino Espinosa, a starter disabled with "chronic bursitis" in hii pitching shoulder, the Phillies announced.
"The decision was made after extensive examination of the medical reports on Espinosa and after direct conversation with Espinosa by the commissioner's office.”
Reliever Sparky Lyle, however, was dropped from the roster because he was acquired from Texas after Sept. 1.
Also dropped from the roster, along with several minor league players brought up in September, was pitcher Randy Lerch, a starter sent to the bullpen deep into a disappointing 4-14 season.
His chores as a supplementary middle-innings relief pitcher will be assumed by Kevin Saucier, a role normally filled by Lyle with Saucier used as a late-innings stopper.
"We felt that we needed a middle reliever to take the place of Sparky Lyle," General Manager Paul Owens said.
Playoffs pull Phillies out of red for 1980
PHILADELPHIA – The 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 home 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 yesterday.
Now that the Phillies are in the playoffs, the team should make close to $1 million or more, Giles predicted.
Giles said the Phillies should come away with $850,000 if the series goes only three games, regardless of what team wins.
The major sources of the Phillies revenue from three games would be an estimated $385,000 from gate receipts, $300,000 from national television rights, $100,000 from local TV and radio rights and about $60,000 from concessions and souvenir program sales.
If the series goes the five-game limit, Giles said the Phillies would make about $1.4 million.
"The bottom line is $700,000 to over $1 million, depending on how long the series goes. Which, unbelievably, is the difference between our making money and not making money," Giles said.