Doylestown Daily Intelligencer - October 9, 1980
Astros Leave Phillies High And Dry
Running Mistakes Cost Phils Win
By Paul Giordano, Intelligencer Writer
PHILADELPHIA--From hero to goat, in 24 hours. That quick, that simple. In Tuesday night's opening National League Championship Series win over the Houston Astros, third base coach Lee Elia shared the game-winning laurels with Greg Luzmski. You know, helping Bull straighten out his swing during the rain delay last weekend at Montreal.
But Wednesday night, as the Phils were slugged 7-i by the Astros to even the NL Championship series at one-all with games three thru five scheduled at Houston. Elia stood alone, wearing the beard and horns. Baaa. baaa!
He made a mistake in judgement and it cost the Phils a pretty big ballgame. Well, not totally Elia's fault. The bullpen couldn't hold the lead in the final innings: the TEAM left 10 runners stranded after pounding out nine hits in innings seven thru 10; and flat out blew a chance to go to Houston with a two-game edge in the best-of-five series.
Here was the costly situation:
With one out and the game knotted at 3-all in the bottom of the 10th, Bake McBride laced a single to right field. Mike Schmidt followed with a single through the middle. McBride holding at second. Lonnie Smith was the next hitter against Houston relief pitcher Frank LaCorte.
After working the count to 3-2 and fouling five straight pitches. Smith lofted a single to short right field. McBride, off and running, headed for third, slowed down, rounded the bag. stopped and went back.
Right fielder Terry Puhl's throw took one hop to the first base side of home plate and landed in catcher Alan Ashby's glove. Ashby swept to his left, but no McBride to tag.
Manny Trillo struck out and Garry Maddox fouled out to first base to end the inning.
The Astros took it from there and unloaded on relief pitcher Ron Reed for four runs on two hits in the 10th inning and the game was history, but not of the ancient variety.
Would history have been rewritten if McBride would have scored the winning run, giving the Phils a playoff advantage for the first time?
"It's a difficult thing for a base runner to handle." manager Dallas Green said. "You certainly don't want to end the inning on a double play (if Puhl caught the ball and doubled McBride at second), and then again, if you score, it's the winning run.
"It's up to his (McBride's judgement). You go halfway and make a decision. It's entirely up to the base runner in that situation, but probably one of most difficult things for a base runner to handle."
Difficult, yes. But that's what third base coaches are for, to give the guy a much needed helping hand. Elia gave McBride the wrong hand, both of them.
"The ball wasn't deep and it wasn't shallow." Elia said. 'We (McBride being the other) both looked up. I threw my hand up, thinking to myself. 'I don't know if it's going to drop.' Bake thought I was holding him and slowed down. He looked back (looking or the ball) then he started to come again and it was too late. I tried to recover, waved, and it was too late. I messed it up.
"Now, when you look back at the play, if the ball was caught it would have been a double play anyway. I should have taken the chance and sent him and not worry about the double play.
"It was just a reflex action, my hands just went up. What can I tell you? It kills me just as much as it hurts the ballclub. There wouldn't have been a play at the plate if I would have sent him all the way. You can't find fault with Bake McBride, my hands did go up.
"I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself. It took me 22 years to get here (major leagues), but I did mess it up. But for some reason, kicking in the back of my mind, with one out, I thought we would get more runs."
It didn't happen.
"From where I was." Green said, "I didn't think he'd be doubled-off. When he started looking back (see where the ball was), that's what hurt him."
"I knew the ball was going to drop." McBride said. "No way I could get back to second, anyway, if he did catch it. I saw the signal just before I got to third. He told me to stop. If I didn't put on the brakes, I don't know if I would have made it or not. I have nothing else to say."
It was enough.
"From the dugout you could tell the ball was going to fall in." Bowa said. "But out there (on the field) it's a different story."
A story with a sad ending. And despite Elia's blunder, it could have ended on a happy note.
The Astros took a 1-0 lead off starter Dick Ruthven in the third inning on a one out walk to Craig Reynolds, Nolan Ryan's sacrifice bunt and Puhl's RBI single. The Phils took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on Schmidt's leadoff double, Luzinski's RBI double, Trillo's sacrifice bunt and Maddox' RBI single.
Houston tied it in the seventh when Ruthven walked Ryan with two out and Puhl followed with an RBI double. The Astros made it a 3-2 ballgame in the seventh, scoring a lone run off relief pitcher Tug McGraw
Still, it looked like the Phils were going to bounce back. Bowa and Bob Boone opened the Phils' seventh with back-to-back singles off Ryan. Pinch hitter Greg Gross moved Bowa and Boone up a base with a sacrifice bunt. Astros' manager Bill Virdon went to the mound and replaced Ryan with left-handed relief ace Joe Sambito.
Pete Rose was given an intentional walk to load the bases. Still only one out. However. Sambito struck out McBride. Right-handed relief pitcher Dave Smith came in and struck out Schmidt to end the inning.
The Astros made it a 3-2 ballgame in the eighth, scoring a lone run off relief pitcher Tug McGraw. Joe Morgan opened with a double and scored on Jose Cruz' RBI single through the middle.
And again, the Phils came back in the eighth. Luzinski opened the inning with a single. Smith was sent in to run for the Bull. Trillo sacrificed Smith to second. Maddox scored Smith with a single to center field. Bowa was given an intentional walk. But the Phils couldn't capitalize. Boone struck out and pinch hitter Del Unser flied out to left field to end another threat.
Then there was Elia's mistake in the ninth, after Reed retired the Astros in order. Reed, however, couldn't hold them in the 10th.
Puhl opened with a single to right. Enos Cabell sacrificed Puhl to second. Morgan was given an intentional walk. Cruz followed with a single to right field, scoring Puhl with the go-ahead run. Morgan took third and Cruz, second, when McBride made a throwing error to the plate.
Cesar Cedeno's infield ground out scored pinch-runner Rafeal Landstoy (running for Morgan). Green went to the mound and brought in Kevin Saucier. Dave Bergman greeted Saucier with a two-run triple to give the Astros a 7-3 lead. Somewhere Randy Lerch is laughing.
Phils Not Ready To Panic
By Ray DiLissio, Intelligencer Writer
PHILADELPHIA - Dallas Green isn't overly concerned. Pete Rose most certainly isn't ready to put up the white flag-pity the thought. Neither is the rest of this club which is seeking to win its first pennant in three decades.
Sure, the Phillies could have been in a very commanding position-two games to none-heading to Houston where this National League Championship Series continues in the Astrodome Friday in what has now become a best-of-three affair.
The Phils and the Astros are now dead even, compliments of Houston's 7-4, 10-inning win Wednesday night.
"Certainly, we would be in a better position had we won. But I don't think there's any reason to panic. Look this club will bounce back. They did it all year long," said Green after the three and onehalf hour marathon.
"We've had our backs against the wall many times this year. Just last week in Montreal we had to win two out of three. And we did it. And check our road record. These guys certainly aren't afraid of where they're going," added Green.
Rose, who will throw statistics at you without batting an eyelash, somehow makes light of any situation, even the many last night which saw the Phils squander so many golden opportunites which would have moved them a giant step closer to their first World Series appearance since 1950.
"I don't know why everyone is so concerned. What's the big deal? Now, we're dead even. So now we have to win two out of three. We've done it before. We can do it again.
"Who cares where we have to play the final ones. We're proved all year we can win on the road. Check it, we have the best won-loss road record than any other club in the league. We won 32 and lost 28. And in the Astrodome, we won four out of six.
"We had our chances tonight, lots of them. This one just got away from us."
It was just one of those nights when things got progressively worse.
But the Phils aren't ready to push the panic button-far from it.
Phils Squander Chances, Lose
By United Press International
PHILADELPHIA (UPI) - The Philadelphia Phillies aren't out. but they surely do seem down — their protestations to the contrary.
"It's no big deal; it's over with," said Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt, confident his team could bounce back from a 10-inning, 7-4 loss to Houston Wednesday night that evened the best-of-five National League playoffs at one victory each.
"We have a day off to relax, and then we have to win two out of three (in Houston)," Schmidt said. "That's all there is to it. We plan on playing well when we go there (Friday)."
That's right, said the Phillies' demanding rookie manager Dallas Green. No sweat.
"We've played down there before, you know," Green said. "It's not as if we're doing something completely new. We were 9-3 for the year against the Astros. Check our road record for the year (42-39) and especially for the month of September. We haven't done too badly.
"We were in the same position in Montreal, and we didn't do too badly up there," Green said with more than a trace of sarcasm.
The behavior of the Phillies in their quiet, gloomy clubhouse Wednesday night, however, belied their breezy statements.
The veterans of the NL East championship teams that were shut out at home in the 1976, 1977 and 1978 playoffs had to be wondering if Tuesday night's 3-1 triumph over Houston, their first playoff victory at Veterans Stadium, was a fluke.
The Phillies played Wednesday night much like they did in losing those other years, letting scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity slip away. Philadelphia stranded 14 base runners.
Debate will most likely continue for days over one of those situations. In the ninth, with Bake McBride at second and Schmidt on first, Lonnie Smith lofted a single to right field and the fleet McBride held after some indecision at third.