Philadelphia Inquirer - September 14, 1980
Phillies catch 22 for Carlton
Trail Expos by one
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Sparky Lyle was already airborne and less than three hours from Philadelphia International Airport when Steve Carlton threw his first pitch last night.
But if Lyle was figuring on landing in Philly, heading for the Vet and saving Carlton's 22d win, he was dealing with the wrong Cy Young Award winner.
Carlton (22-8) finished off the Cardinals, 2-1, last night in less time than it takes George Brett to compute his batting average.
Precisely an hour and 42 minutes and 92 Carlton pitches after the national anthem, it was over. And the Phillies were back within a game of first-place Montreal.
It was the 13th time this year a Phillies loss was followed by a Carlton win. This one was only a routine five-strikeout, eight-hitter.
"But considering the number of innings pitched the guy's had (now up to 271), it was a damn good performance," said Dallas Green. "And consider who he was pitching against. These guys can swing the bats."
They can, but they don't too often against Carlton. He is now 5-0 against the Cards this year and a mere 28-8 since they traded him.
The Cardinals easily could have made that a respectable 27-9 last night. But unlike the way they rammed home that doubleheader sweep Friday, last night they played like the hopelessly out-of-it team they are.
"We were awful," grumbled the Cardinals' fourth manager of the year, Red Schoendienst. "These guys don't have their bleeping minds on the game, and that's why we are where we're at. You can't give a guy like Carlton, a bleeping chance, and that's what we did."
The one run Carlton did give up came in the second, and he set that up with a wild pitch. But twice, the Cardinals had second-and-third, no-out situations, where it's almost impossible not to score. Twice, they managed not to score. In the fourth, Keith Hernandez singled, and Ted Simmons ripped one under Mike Schmidt's glove for a double. Then George Hendrick thumped a very high chopper to Schmidt. Maybe it wasn't high enough for Hernandez to score, but it was certainly high enough for him to try it.
"High enough?" harrumphed Schoendienst. "If we were playing in the Astrodome, it would have hit the bleeping roof. That's how high it was."
But Hernandez broke for the plate very belatedly – not until after he saw Simmons was steaming in to third to join him, in fact. So a possible run turned into a third-to-first-to-home double play.
Then in the sixth, Tony Scott singled, Hernandez doubled and Carlton had the same challenge. This time he turned on his Cy Young juice and pitched his way out of it fiercely.
The infield marched in, but Simmons bounced to Larry Bowa for one out. Hendrick and his 101 RBIs then got sent safely to first via an intentional walk. Tito Landrum, who had driven in the first run, never had a shot this time, fanning on an 0-2 slider. And Ken Reitz chopped another slider to Schmidt. See ya.
Carlton's final difficult moments came in the eighth, when he walked Hernandez and Hendrick singled. But it would have been worse had Garry Maddox not run about 12 miles to snare a Scott rocket to left-center.
Then Landrum chopped a two-out bouncer up the middle. But Manny ('I'm Not Tired") Trillo went two steps to the shortstop side of second to backhand it and turned it into a force play. Trillo might have forgotten how to hit.320 lately (he's 2-for-43), but he has remembered how to win Gold Gloves.
"Nan, my bat's not heavy, not at all," Trillo smiled with typical supercool. "I just haven't been able to break my bat to get a base hit, I guess. If I had a broken bat, I might get one to fall in.
"I won't give up, though. I'm just going to keep trying. Me and Dallas were talking about whether I should take a day off. But I told him I don't want a day off. I think I can still help the team with my defense."
Where the Phillies could use some help is with offense. They have scored in only one of their last 22 innings. Last night, they came to the sixth with only one hit and 11 ground-ball outs off loser Bob Forsch (11-9).
But Forsch had leadoff hitter Bob Boone 1-and-2, then gave up a double into the leftfield corner. Then he had Carlton 0-and-2 after two fouled-off bunt attempts. Carlton stroked a single up the middle.
It was first and third for Pete Rose (5-for-his-last-34). And Forsch got to 1-and-2 on him, too. Then he drilled Rose in the right foot with a fastball to fill the bases. He repeated the same act with Bake McBride, and that forced in the tying run.
Mike Schmidt made it 2-1 with a sacrifice flv to the wall in deadcenter. But what was shocking on this one was Rose making his first base-running mistake since maybe Little league. Rose forgot to tag up temporarily, then slipped trying to get back to the bag when he remembered. He would have scored on a Greg Luzinski fly ball.
"He just wanted to let you know he's human," Green said.
But Carlton still had his lead, and he then closed it out hungrily. He had only three strikeouts with one out in the ninth. But he fanned pinch-hitter Bobby Bonds (74 strikeouts, 47 hits). Then Schoendienst let Forsch (.300 for the year) hit, and Carlton whiffed him, too.
So 41,728 people got to go home early, Carlton had his win and Sparky Lyle got to spend his evening combing his mustache instead of taking the first cab to the bullpen.
NOTES: Green said he doesn't have much hope that Larry Christenson can pitch again this year. Christenson pulled a groin in Los Angeles, and it appears to be as bad as the one that kept him out for a month last year. So the fourth spot in the four-man rotation could be Marty Bystrom's if he keeps it up.... Green also said Bob Walk felt better yesterday, but the manager still is unsure (1) when Walk will pitch again and (2) who will pitch in Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Relief for McGraw: Phillies obtain Lyle
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Sparky Lyle – that noted author, relief pitcher ami clubhouse character who almost became a Phillie last December – finally became a Phillie yesterday.
Lyle, who has more saves than any lefthanded reliever ever (231), was acquired yesterday from the Texas Rangers.
In return, the Phillies will send Texas a player to be named sometime this winter. Texas people say that player will be "a prospect," probably an infielder.
The Phils almost picked up Lyle at last year's winter meetings, at a price that looks steep now. Tug McGraw, Bake McBride and Larry Christenson were the names the Phillies would have given up in a seven-man deal.
Ironically, when the Phillies finally made the deal yesterday, they were hoping Lyle could be the guy who would complement McGraw instead of the guy who would replace him.
"This takes some of the pressure off Tug," manager Dallas Green said at a press conference before last night's Phillies-Cardinals game. "We haven't had anybody else come out of the bullpen and pitch well consistently for us. We've had sporadic successes – Reed, Noles, Bru. But we haven't been consistent.
"Tug's been a shining light down there. But Paul (Owens) and I talked it over. And we felt that as critical and pressure-packed as the games are going to be the next 20 days, we just thought this is where we needed the help."
Lyle, the American League's 1977 Cy Young Award winner, was only 3-2. with eight saves and a 4 69 earned run average, for Texas this season. But he recently went back to throwing his killer pitch, the slider, virtually all the time, and Owens said his scouts assured him that Lyle, 36, is throwing as well as he ever has.
"I think we owe it to the players and the fans and everyone else to go out and get this type of pitcher," Owens said, "because he's going to help – not only now but another two or three years down the line."
Owens said he has been talking with the Rangers about Lyle "off and on for a couple months." But he said they weren't close until the last week. The deal was "pretty much agreed on" Friday night and wrapped up yesterday afternoon, Owens said.
Before Lyle could be dealt, his complicated contract problems had to be resolved.
Lyle and the Rangers reached an agreement resolving the 10-year, $50,000-a-year broadcasting deal that would have covered Lyle after he retired. The Phillies, meanwhile, agreed to add an extra guaranteed year onto his $350,000 contract. That contract now is guaranteed through 1982.
More interesting, however, is the way Lyle will affect the Phillies' bullpen situation. Green said that Lyle and McGraw will become his game-closers. Warren Brusstar returns to his old role as secretary of middle-inning affairs. Ron Reed, Dickie Noles and Kevin Saucier will handle what's left over.
Owens and Green hope that Lyle will stabilize the bullpen, so that all the young arms the Phils have in the minors can develop in due time. Lyle also provides insurance in case McGraw departs in search of free-agent riches this winter.
Still scarred, Bowa talks
By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor
He was the boy of summer, the one boy among all of them who would surely resist growing up.
From the first day he made it to the big leagues, you could see it in his face, in his actions, in his exuberance. Larry Bowa at 34 looked, acted, was strikingly similar to Larry Bowa at 24 – totally caught up in the game and the needling associated with the game. He was hyper, a compulsive talker, a bundle of pent-up emotions that always seemed on the verge of erupting, and yet he was somehow capable of controlling himself when it mattered. He might pop up with the bases loaded and lose his temper for a few seconds... and then he'd run out to shortstop and make the damnedest play you ever saw.
Good day or bad day, he was almost always available, almost always quotable. It was normal to see a crowd of writers around Bowa's locker after a game. If no other Phillie was talking, surely Bowa would have something to say.
And then, after 10 years, all that changed. The boy who couldn't wait to get to the ball park, couldn't wait to trade zingers with his teammates, couldn't wait to play the game, became an angry, embittered man.
The hurt remains
It's been more than two months since the "Great Pep Pill Scandal" rocketed across the front pages of the newspapers, then faded from sight, but Larry Bowa hasn't fully recovered from the hurt yet.
"You lose all your enthusiasm when somebody accuses you of a wrongdoing that never took place," he said. "The next day they say, 'You're cleared,' but that doesn't do any good... It affects your mom and dad, your sister, your wife. You build up a reputation in town for so many years, and then in one day your name's ripped and everything you worked for is thrown right down the tube because some guy thinks he has a story...."
The scars, he said, are still there – still raw, still painful. There are no longer crowds of writers around Larry Bowa's locker because, for the most part, he has refused to talk to the press. "I won't have a chance to get misquoted," he said.
For those of us who knew and admired Larry Bowa, the boy of summer, it was sad to see the change. It hasn't been easy for him to live with this thing eating him up inside. It hasn't been easy to say "no comment" to old friends. Worst of all, it hasn't been easy to play baseball.
Owens throws a jab
"I used to look forward to coming to the ballpark and playing every day," he said. "I didn't look at it as a job. This whole year, I looked at it as a job."
It became an unnecessarily tough job. The joy of being a baseball player was gone. So was the concentration required to be the steadiest shortstop in the history of the game.
He would back up on a ground ball and fail to get the man at first. Occasionally, he would even fumble one.
"Up until two or three weeks ago I couldn't do anything," he said. "I wasn't mentally in the game. Thoughts would go through my mind when the guy's in the windup. You can't play baseball like that.
"I didn't realize that I was doing some of the things that I was doing. I guess my fellow teammates respected me enough that no one said anything tome."
Paul Owens did say something.
"We had a clubhouse meeting," Bowa said. "The general manager came down and aired out a couple of us. My name was mentioned as one of the guys that really wasn't playing up to his capability."
The Bowa of old?
Apparently, that helped to snap him out of it – at least on the field.
"I said, 'Hey, the most important thing right now is to try to help us get in the playoffs,' " Bowa said. "We get paid a lot of money to play baseball, and you have to put certain priorities above others. Right now, the biggest priority is winning the National League Eastern Division regardless of what your feelings are about the press or the fans or anything like that."
But those feelings are still there, still festering inside, still making the boy of summer a changed man. He is playing well now; there are once again flashes of the old enthusiasm he was bouncing around, shouting, clapping like the old Bowa after the recent, 14-inning win over Pittsburgh. And yet....
"The scar is still there," he said. "A lot of things have bothered me before, and time has healed it. I would think there's been enough time for this to go away, but it hasn't. Personally, I hope it goes away before we start another year."
I hope so, too. Larry Bowa is one boy of summer you'd hate to see grow into an angry, embittered man.
Teams with most wins don’t always win flag
By Allen Lewis, On Baseball
The Royals may win the American league Western Division title this season by the biggest margin since the two leagues split into divisions in 1969. They may also win more games than any AL team in the past 10 years. Neither distinction counts for much when it comes to figuring which team will win the AL pennant.
Past history indicates that a team that wins an AL division title by a bigger margin than its playoff rival usually has to watch the World Series on television. In the last 11 AL playoffs, the team that won its division by the larger margin lost the pennant – and the Royals know about that firsthand. Starting in 1976, the Royals won the West more easily than the Yankees won the East for three years running; they lost the pennant to the New Yorkers each year.
A team's victory total has been only a slightly better indicator of which team will win the pennant. Six times, the division winner with the higher number of victories has won the pennant; four times, it has lost (In 1971, both AL teams won 101 games).
In the National League, form has more often been served. Not since 1973 has the division champion that won by the lesser margin won the NL flag, and eight times the division winner with the greater regular-season victory total has won the pennant.
NOTES: Blue Jays batting coach Bobby Doerr, a man who should know since he played on the Red Sox with Ted Williams in the Splinter's prime, says George Brett is as close to Williams as a hitter as anyone he's ever seen. "Ted hit more home runs," Doerr said, "but George runs better and goes to left field, which Ted didn't do."...The Twins made $500,000 last year by drawing 1,070,521 at the gate. They may have trouble reaching 800,000 this year and figure to lose $500,000…. The 1982 winter meetings were slated for Atlanta, but will be moved because the hotels are booked solid for a fertilizer convention. Well?... Starting with Dave McNally in 1968 through Steve Stone this season, the Orioles have had at least one 20-game winner each year. And that may have a relationship to the fact that manager Earl Weaver, who succeeded Hank Bauer as manager in 1968, has piloted that club to a 210-114 record in September over those 12 seasons.... Don Zimmer is the fifth Red Sox manager to pass the 400 mark in victories, and his winning percentage is the best of the five. The Boston upsurge in August probably means Zim will be back next season. He's signed through 1981.... Mention to Astros manager Bill Virdon that his team doesn't hit many home runs, and he'll reply, "We hit more than our pitchers give up."... How tough is the Expos' Ron LeFlore to throw out stealing? Says Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager: "Once he goes, it's useless to even throw the ball." Expos manager Dick Williams may have summed up the erratic LeFlore best. "Ron is a very exciting offensive player," he said. "But I'm afraid he's also a very exciting defensive player. He doesn't work hard enough at it."
The answer to last week's Trivia Question: Dick Allen of the 1964 Phillies, Dale Alexander and Roy Johnson of the 1929 Tigers, and Jimmy Williams of the 1899 Pirates each had more than 200 hits in his first full season and never again. Jerry Howard Van Horn of Philadelphia was first with the correct answer.
This week's question: Name two players who came to the major leagues as third basemen, then were converted to pitchers and then, after outstanding mound careers, became big-league managers.