Wilmington Morning News - October 8, 1980
Phils win on Luzinski’s homer
PHILADELPHIA – Greg Luzinski's two-run home run backed the 7-hit pitching of winner Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw to lead the Phillies to a 3-1 victory over Houston last night at Veterans Stadium.
The Phillies' first postseason home victory since the 1915 World Series gave them a one-game-to-none advantage entering Game 2 tonight at 8:15.
Carlton struggled early, stranding two runners in the first and second innings before "the Astros broke on top in the third. Right fielder Gary Woods delivered a two-out, two-on single to score the run.
In the sixth, Greg Luzinski turned the boos of many of the 65,277 fans to a standing ovation with his two-out homer to left. The tremendous drive also scored Pete Rose on what was Luzinski's fifth championship series home run.
The Phils got an insurance run in the seventh when Greg Gross, hitting for Carlton, singled in Garry Maddox.
McGraw pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to get the save.
Bull’s blast gets Phillies winging
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – Greg Luzinski's towering home run that traveled 420 feet and Greg Gross' pop fly that barely cleared the infield combined to give the Phillies a 3-1 victory over the tired Houston Astros last night at Veterans Stadium.
It was the Phils' first playoff victory at the Vet and gave them a 1-0 lead in the National League Championship Series.
"I really get charged up for the playoffs," said Luzinski, who put a charge in a Ken Forsch delivery. "I just forget about the past and go from there."
Pete Rose, who scored on the Bull blast; figured the Phillies were a bit sluggish in the early going.
"We needed a few innings to get things going " said Rose, who had two hits. "People were trying to do it on their own."
Of Luzinski's homer, Rose smiled and said: "I knew that one was going out. I was happy because it put us ahead 2-1 late in the game. Forsch had been pitching great up to then.
"But I hope we don't sit around and wait for home runs. We'd been getting a lot of hits and putting rallies together the last week. But if we need a home run, the guys who hit home runs have to hit 'em."
And Luzinski filled that bill last night.
The winning pitcher was Steve Carlton, who was less than impressive in the seven innings he worked. But Tug McGraw, who's been virtually unhittable since coming off the disabled list on July 17, pitched the final, two innings and finished off the dazed Astros, who got to Philadelphia from Los Angeles around 5 a.m. and were in no mood to put up much of a fight.
"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.
"Tired? That didn't have much effect on us. I thought we played quite well. We just got beat. I hope we can change that tomorrow."
The Astros worked Carlton for a 1-0 lead on three third-inning singles, only to stare in awe at Luzinski's majestic homer in the sixth off Forsch.
"I'll tell you, that Bull blast eased my mind considerably," said Phils' Manager Dallas Green. "Everything else was typically Phillies."
Except Carlton's struggling 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."
Luzinski's homer removed any gloom from Carlton's subpar effort. The Bull launched a full-count pitch from Forsch on a high arc to left. There was no doubt it would leave the park, the only question was at what level. The ball came back to the first level of seats but the crowd never came back to earth, cheering the Phils after sitting on their chilled hands for much of the evening.
The Phils added their insurance run in the seventh. thanks to Garry Maddox and Gross.
Maddox, no surprise as the center field starter, got the inning started with a single to left and advanced to second on Larry Bowa's sacrifice bunt. Maddox displayed a bit of daring by stealing third with Gross batting for Carlton.
Gross made the gamble pay off by blooping a single over shortstop Craig Reynolds to shallow left for a 3-1 lead.
"Garry gambled a bit, but we were trying to get the extra run," said Green. "We had Tug down in the bullpen, so I wasn't worried about lifting Lefty."
McGraw, who'd compiled an 0.52 earned run average since coming off the DL and shut down the Montreal Expos in last weekend's division-clinching series, faced only seven Astros in nailing down the save.
Luis Pujols walked to open the ninth but Tug got the next three batters to end the game.
Fireworks lit the skies as the Phils' players streamed onto the field as Pete Rose took Manny Trillo's throw on Rafael Landestoy's grounder to nail it down.
McGraw was asked if he's been overworked, but the Irish imp shook his head.
"I didn't have any physical problems tonight," he said. "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.
"Tonight's game was typical championship play. Both teams played well. They just got the job done a little better. I hope it's different tomorrow."
Carlton was hardly the Cy Young shoo-in everybody expected. Even with five full days' rest, he struggled in the early innings, stranding seven Astros in the first four innings while allowing five hits.
The Astros broke the scoreless tie in the third after Jose Cruz and Cesar Cedeno singled with one out. Carlton got Art Howe on a fly to right and appeared out of trouble. But Gary Woods drilled a single past second baseman Trillo's glove to score Cruz.
The Phillies had their share of mini-threats against Forsch.
Bake McBride singled with one out and stole second in the first inning but died at second.
Larry Bowa, who'd been booed during the pregame introductions, to which he responded with a hat-doffing bow from the waist, got his first solid round of cheers when he singled to left with two out in the second.
Bob Boone, another target of fan displeasure, singled to right. But Carlton struck out to end the inning.
Rose led off the third with a single off Landestoy's glove but the hit-and-run backfired – or was stolen – when Houston pitched out on the first pitch to McBride. Bake took a half-hearted checked swing at the outside delivery and Rose was an easy out at second.
Forsch retired the next Phils and hardly looked overmatched against Carlton, who was 2-0 vs. Houston this season (and 28-9 lifetime) but had a 5.79 earned run average in three previous LCS games.
Ironically, Forsch's ERA vs Phillies this season in two losses was also 5.79.
Rose ended Forsch's string at eight with a single to the hole at short leading off the sixth. McBride struck out and Schmidt flied to center before Luzinski slammed a 3-2 pitch to the lower deck in left for a 2-1 lead.
It was the Bull's fifth playoff homer, one behind Steve Garvey's LCS-record six, and extended Luzinski's string of hitting in all 12 Phillies' playoff games.
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 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 represented the largest LCS crowd in either league and the largest crowd to see a baseball game in Pennsylvania history, surpassing the 64,924 here two seasons ago.... Dick Ruthven vs. Nolan Ryan tonight at 8:15.
Loved or not, he produced
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – It was like having a favorite son, then deciding one day you don't love him so much after all.
Greg Luzinski has been there. For most of eight summers in a Philadelphia Phillies' suit, the fans loved him and he returned the affection. He even shelled out $20,000 a year, buying tickets in the "Bull Ring" for underprivileged children.
But in 1979, the fans decided they didn't love the big guy anymore. They began to boo him and talk about him and would have been happy if he left town. They quickly forgot all the game-winning home runs and and all the contributions Luzinski made during the Eastern Division championship years of 1976-77-78.
Many baseball players would have yelled and shouted and asked to be traded. There obviously was hurt inside Luzinski, but he never let it show. He refused to give into the boos and the criticism and dedicated himself to proving he had plenty of baseball left.
There were people who thought Greg Luzinski did not belong in the lineup as the Phils opened the National League playoffs last night at Veterans Stadium against Houston.
"Greg Luzinski means an awful lot to Philadelphia Phillies baseball," Manager Dallas Green said when he announced that the Bull would be in left field. "If we are going to win this thing, I felt we needed Luzinski in the lineup."
The Bull heard the boos when the teams were announced in front of 65,277 baseball fanatics at the Vet. He expected that, but before the game told a friend he felt like he was swinging the bat well and was encouraged.
Houston and Ken Forsch were in command 1-0 when Luzinski came to the plate in the sixth inning with Pete Rose on first and two out.
The count went to 3-2 and the paying customers, who had acted as if they were as much asleep as the Phils' bats, were suddenly awake.
The ball jumped off Luzinski's bat. It started climbing high into the cool air and there was no question. It landed in the left field seats and the Phils were on top 2-1, and enroute to their opening 3-1 victory. The largest baseball crowd in Pennsylvania history started yelling and cheering and the usually unemotional Bull tipped his hat.
"I have felt all along I can help this team, even though I have had an off year," said Luzinski. "It has been tough on me. I think when you are struggling, you try even harder. That's the way it has been for me lately. I have tried very, very hard and the results have not been there."
Luzinski has hit in all 12 playoff games the Phillies have played and the home run was his fifth in postseason play.
"I've said all along we have to have the Bull in there," said Green, who managed Luzinski during his first year in pro ball, in 1968 at Huron. "I don't care what he has done lately, he has that long-ball threat. We needed that tonight and he came through. I thought we were a little sluggish, but that home run really woke some people up."
"To be honest with you," said Luzinski, "I wasn't even thinking about the regular season. I was -charged up tonight. I'm not even sure what the pitch was. It was down and in, but since the count was 3-2, 1 was just trying to pick the ball up. During the season I was getting out in front too quickly. On that pitch, I stayed back on it.
"I think we were a little sluggish in the early going. We were all trying to do it ourselves; we were overanxious."
Luzinski said the long rain delay in Montreal helped him. He went down to the batting cage under Olympic Stadium, altered his bat approach to the ball and it felt good."
In that dramatic 6-4, 11-inning Eastern Division clincher, Luzinski came through with two hits in four at-bats and drove in two runs.
Before that, the Bull had fanned in 15 of his last 32 at-bats. "But in Montreal, I thought like I was in a good groove," said Luzinski. "I think it carried over tonight. You know, even when I was going so poorly, I was getting letters from some of the fans and they were in my corner. I don't care who you are, you need encouragement when you're down."
"We have always been sluggish after a day off," added Green, "but the Bull took care of that. I was getting a little nervous until he hit that one out. It woke everyone up."
The low point this year for Luzinski the day before the All-Star Game in St. Louis. He jammed his ailing right knee and had to have surgery on July 28 for the removal of cartilagenous bodies. He returned to the lineup on Aug. 24 and immediately hit a home run.
"Maybe all the things I have been saying about the Bull were wishful thinking," said Green. "Tonight, though, he proved there was more to it than that. And I couldn't be happier for the big guy.
The Eagles (and the Astros) get Tug McGraw’s Irish up
By Rod Beaton, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – Frank Edwin McGraw is not a football fancier. The thought of the Eagles playing a home game really gets his Irish up.
At least right now.
Yes, the Eagles were a factor in the Phillies' 3-1 National League Championship Series victory last night. And they almost Tugged a save from McGraw, indirectly of course.
But he got it, his 21st, Sunday's Eagles game notwithstanding.
"The biggest problem, and I'm sure (loser Ken) Forsch and Lefty (winner Steve Carlton) would agree, was the mound," said McGraw, who was adept at solving problems during the Phillies' pennant drive.
“It's always soft after football games. It gets pulverized. "
It's a little soft. I was overstriding and hitting my front leg in the hole.
"When I come in after two tall guys like that, my stride is just half in, half out of their hole."
Carlton is 6-foot-5. Forsch stands , 6-4. The 35-year-old left-handed Tugger stands 6-foot even, but the Phils have been taking giant strides every time he slaps leather to leg and slaps down a lineup.
It's been a second-half ritual as reliable as boos for Greg Luzinski and Bob BOOOOne. McGraw thinks he can keep it up and still keep his pitches down.
"I'm real strong," he said, despite appearances in two of the three Montreal games over the weekend and the two hitless innings last night. Fifty-seven games and 94⅓ innings after spring training, after countless times throwing in the bullpen, his arm remains as limber as his lips and as sharp as his wit.
"I do get a little stiff," he admitted. "It probably happens to all lefthanders who are Irish and drink a lot."
He has started driving the Astros to drink. Expos Manager Dick Williams was last seen downing a tumbler of scotch after the Phils clinched the Eastern Division title Saturday, with McGraw the winner.
Houston Manager Bill Virdon knows' McGraw is so hot percentages are worthless. A Goose Gossage might execute a lineup with awesome heat, but McGraw is just as effective using a surgeon's precision. A slice here, a scroogie there and the guts of a lineup have been eliminated. Call it a bat-ostomy.
"With McGraw pitching, I felt a left-hander such as (Terry) Puhl would have as good a chance as anybody," said Virdon, explaining his decision to pinch-hit the outfielder when right-handed bench strength was available. "Lefthanders have as good a chance against his screwball as anybody."
Which is no chance at all.
Puhl did come up and meekly go down after Luis Pujols led off the ninth with a walk. Dave Bergman ran for him. They were the only Astros to stand on base against McGraw last night.
"I had enough on my fastball," said McGraw, who, has described the pitch as a "Peggy Lee," as in "Is that all there is?"
"They were guessing on my screwball. I've always needed that my screwball fastball to make work.
"I have to be the kind of pitcher who threw basic pitches. I have no real trick pitch like some relievers. No forkball or anything like that.
"It's fun to be out there working with all those tools."
It was fun to be out there with all those fools – fools for the Phils who responded to McGraw's post-game cheerleading during an on-field interview.
He's making the Vet Circus a true Big Mac attack, parading pony-tailed brother Hank, a former Phillies farmhand, and his father "Big Mac" in front of cameras, fans and foes.
He could snort scotch whiskey on second base if he chose to. Since he came off the disabled list July 17, he has a 5-1 record in 34 games, 54⅓ , innings of 30-hit baseball for just THREE earned runs.
He yields runs as often as OPEC reduces prices. He gave up one in his first September appearance. Not one opponent has crossed the plate since.
That's 16 games and 28 innings if you're counting. More than three complete-game shutouts worth of pitching. Not bad for a wild Irishman on a mound who's often as unkempt as his shoulder-length hair.
1980 Ruthven far cry from 1978 version
By Rod Beaton, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – Dick Ruthven sees championship baseball duty about as often as he swallows his chew of tobacco. He accidentally gulped the stuff once when he pitched for the Atlanta Braves And he has appeared once in the National League playoffs.
That was in 1978, hurling for the Phillies against Los Angeles. He pitched that day like he'd swallowed something – and couldn't get it down.
The Dodgers beat him that time, ripping six hits for three runs in five innings. Those who know the intense, 29-year-old right-hander best imply he'll give Houston something to chew on tonight when he starts Game 2 against Nolan Ryan.
Pitching coach Herm Starrette and catcher Bob Boone have encouraged, cajoled and cooperated with Ruthven throughout his 17-10 campaign. Included in that record were four fine outings against the Astros.
After either charting the pitches, or stopping them, they chorus that there ain't no stoppin' him now.
"Basically, the Astros are a good fastball-hitting club," said Starrette. "Ruthven throws his fastball at them, it's a good one, but he relies on the breaking pitches, too."
He has to. The Astros feature a wealth of left-handed hitting talent like Terry Puhl, Joe Morgan and Jose Cruz. They'll pounce on an unsuspecting pitcher, particularly one prone to fall behind in the count. That is not Ruthven.
"He gets the breaking ball over more this year," said Starrette. "That accounts for his consistency."
He was 3-1 against Houston with an ERA of 1.41, allowing only 29 hits in 32 innings, including a 3-0 triumph May 16. He literally threw away the loss, a 3-2 decision coming when he threw a ball past first base in the ninth.
Ruthven had a stretch of even greater consistency than this year in 1978 after the Phillies acquired him from Atlanta June 15 for Gene Garber.
He was 13-5 for the balance of the season, lapsing only in the post-season loss to L.A.
"No, he's not better now than he was then," said Boone. "I don't think there was a better pitcher down the stretch."
He kept that up into 1979 when elbow miseries ruined a 6-0 start. He pitched just 21⅔ innings the second half of the season.
"He's been working back to that '78 level," said Boone. "His overall pitching approach is different. He's still an outstanding pitcher. It's just he was absolutely phenomenal that season."
Starrette says the elbow miseries, surgically repaired last winter, might have aided Ruthven.
"I had him in Atlanta," Starrette said, recalling Ruthven 's 14-17 1976 season. "He has matured a great deal. He got irritated at a bad call or a bad break.
"He learned to discipline himself. I always tell a pitcher if you discipline yourself, you can discipline your pitches."
It was a lesson Ruthven seems to have learned. We are no longer "treated" to the mound-stomping, eyes-glaring routine of his first years with the Phillies in '73 and '74 and the 2½-year stint in Atlanta.
"He's getting stronger and stronger as time passes," Boone said.
His fastball, however, is not.
"In Atlanta we had him clocked at 97 miles per hour," said Starrette. "He's around 90, 92 now.
"But he's more of a pitcher than he'd been. Some guys learn to pitch better after arm surgery."
He was durable enough to throw 223⅓ innings this year, second on the club to Steve Carlton's extraordinary 304. The strikeout-to-walk ratio was not as pleasing, 86 to 74. But Ruthven has always been one to make 'em put the ball in play.
"He shouldn't do anything differently," said Boone.
If he does, he could run into trouble, or rather, the Astros could run him into trouble.
"No, he's not really that good at holding runners," said Boone, who is expected to be saddled with the. chore of throwing out the Houston roadrunners who'll prey on Ruthven's move.
The Astros had six players with 20 or more steals, led by Cesar Cedeno's 48. The team's 195 steals were 55 more than the Phils'.
"His move is just fair," said Starrette. "But good runners will steal on anybody. The thing I want him to do is at least hold them close. Give the catcher a chance."
Running on Ruthven might be the only way the Astros can run up a victory. His 3-1 record against them this year says even that might not be enough.