Camden Courier-Post - September 15, 1980

Bystrom still hot in win for Phillies


By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post


PHILADELPHIA – The names Allan Worthington and Karl Spooner are not exactly on the lips of every baseball fan in America. And no, they're not the answer to the trivia quiz "identify two pitchers for the Seattle Mariners."


Certainly, the names didn't ring a bell with Marty Bystrom.


"I've never heard of him," Bystrom said, shaking his head, of Worthington.


HOW ABOUT Spooner?


"Nope, never heard of him either."


Well, Worthington and Spooner, who pitched for the old New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers, respectively, were the last two National League rookies to begin their careers with consecutive shut-outs. Worthington turned the trick in 1953, Spooner in 1964.


And they are in whose company Bystrom would have been had he pitched two more scoreless innings during an 8-4 victory over the Cardinals yesterday in Veterans Stadium. The win kept the Phillies one game behind first-place Montreal in the National League East Division standings.


THE ROOKIE righthander gave the Phillies seven shutout innings before being replaced with Sparky Lyle, the newest addition to the bullpen, by Manager Dallas Green. Bystrom shut out the Mets on five hits last week in his first major league start.


"I don't give a (bleep) about records," Green later said. "Had I been aware (that Bystrom had a chance to become the seventh rookie since 1900 to open his career with back-to-back shutouts) it wouldn't have made much more of an impression. We're in a (bleeping) pennant race.


"One thing we're going to learn on this team before it's all over with is that it's T-E-A-M. Sparky hadn't pitched in so long he didn't know what the mound looked like, so I had to get him in. One inning wasn't going to help."


LYLE, WHO was acquired from Texas on Saturday, got a rude introduction to the National League. Lyle entered with a 7-0 lead and watched in fright as two errors, a passed ball and three hits made it 7-4. Lyle, who couldn't remember the last time he pitched for the Rangers, did, however, work a one-two-three ninth.


Bystrom still has a shot at an ancient record: consecutive scoreless innings at the start of a career. It presently belongs to one George McQuillan, who pitched 25 straight scoreless innings over a period of five months for the 1907 Phillies.


"I wasn't aware of that at all," said Bystrom, who ran his scoreless innings string to 17. "It really doesn't mean anything to me right now, breaking records. I'm just trying to do what's better for me."


WHAT BYSTROM has done is give the Phillies a competitive starting pitcher, something they desperately need because righthander Larry Christenson is, once again, injured. And because, of the other available starters, only Dick Ruthven and Steve Carlton have been consistent lately.


Bystrom allowed the Cardinals four hits, but stranded five base runners in the first three innings. The 22-year-older then permitted one of baseball's best hitting clubs nothing more than an infield single through the next four innings.


Meanwhile, the Phillies continued their practice of getting Bystrom early runs. In his start against the Mets, the offense gave him three runs in the top of the first. This time, the Phils took a 1-0 lead in the first, then broke the game open with a six-run third."


THE FIRST run came courtesy of Lonnie Smith, whose misplay of a Tommy Herr fly ball opened the floodgates in the eighth. Smith began the game with a single off Cardinal righthander Silvio Martinez, then stole second and scored on a single by Pete Rose. The stolen base gave Smith 30 – two shy of Richie Ashburn's club record for a rookie – for the season.


Smith also put the finishing touches on the third inning with a two-run single after Bake McBride, easily the Phils' hottest hitter right now, ripped a three-run home run to right-center.

Phillies top Expos in chase for Lyle


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


PHILADELPHIA – Ask not what relief pitcher Sparky Lyle can do for the Phillies. Ask what he might have done to them if he had gone to the Montreal Expos.


That's what the booing fans at Veterans Stadium should have thought of yesterday, when the Phils' newest acquisition debuted in what can best be described as a cross between a Marx brothers film and the most recent voyage of the Titanic.


A 15-year veteran of American League wars, Lyle unveiled a slider that was so rusty from inactivity, it's a wonder he didn't take a grease gun with him to the mound. First impressions are often deceiving, however, especially when two Philly errors and a passed ball accompany the initial introduction.


"They (the fans) had every right. I should have been booed. I did a lousy job," said Lyle, who explained the four runs he yielded to the St. Louis Cardinals by saying, "When I get enough work, my slider breaks down to the outside corner. When I'm not used, that's what you get."


The former Cy Young Award winner may not have time during the remaining 19 games to work himself into top form. Although, the Phillies' front office suspect he will be a trump card worth playing when playoff time rolls around.


That's when the Phils will petition National League President Chub Feeney for permission to move one of several ailing pitchers off the roster and replace him with Lyle. Eligibility for the World Series would be determined by the office of the commissioner, although the Phils are feeling optimistic about such approval at this point.


Management, you see, is every bit a part of the pennant race. And, Lyle represents a clutch performance by Phils' General Manager Paul Owens.


It's no secret that the division-leading Canadians were using some high-level maneuvering in an attempt to tie a tin can to the tails of the Phils, just as they'd done to the Pittsburgh Pirates.


With Willie Stargell injured, the Bucs were desperate for help at first base. And, San Diego's Willie Montanez seemed to be the perfect solution to the problem... until he went to the Expos in a trade that still has baseball insiders scratching their heads.


The same kind of executive power-play was in the works when it became evident that the Texas Rangers didn't need Lyle as much as they suspected during the winter baseball meetings. Thus, when the asking price for Lyle became "realistic" luring the past few weeks, keeping the reliever out of Philadelphia became a main concern of the Expos.


But, a number of factors came into play, not the least of which was the close relationship between Owens and Ranger General Manager Eddie Robinson, who has been on the receiving end of more than a few of Owens' instigated favors over the years.


Lyle's good vibrations toward the contending Phils didn't hurt matters. And, neither did the recommendations of Ranger Manager Pat Corrales, a former Phillies catcher who is the "best bet" selection to replace Green as manager if Dallas decides to move back upstairs next season.


Taxes are killing the Expos players who haven't taken up residency in that country. But, the bottom line had to be the realization by Phils owner Ruly Carpenter that he would be far better off to invest in Lyle rather than face the awful possibility of having him be the one to stop his team's attempts to overtake the Expos.


Perhaps it didn't seem that way when Sparky took his handlebar mustache to the mound in an eighth-inning effort to protect rookie Marty Bystrom's shutout, only to have a butchered fly ball by left fielder Lonnie Smith, a bouncing boot by second baseman Ramon Aviles, a passed ball by catcher Keith Moreland and a walk set the stage for an embarrassing but much-needed maiden voyage by Lyle.


"That will put the fear of God into you," said the premier reliever to his new teammates. When you're good, you can make such jokes.


And, like the other "stopper" in the bullpen, Tug McGraw, put it, "There's only one way to view this thing and, that is, you can't have a bullpen that's too strong."


The last laugh may be on the Expos.