St. Louis Post-Dispatch - September 15, 1980

Cards Lose But Save Some Face Against Lyle


Special to the Post-Dispatch


PHILADELPHIA – It could have been worse.


If not for the rather unimpressive relief performance by Sparky Lyle, whom the Phillies obtained Saturday from the Texas Rangers, the Cardinals would have left Philadelphia on the heels of a totally embarrassing loss, coupled with Saturday night's bitter 2-1 defeat.


On Sunday, it was 8-4, with all four St. Louis runs charged to Lyle. Before Lyle arrived on the scene in the eighth inning, Philadelphia rookie Marty Bystrom had blanked the Redbirds on five hits over seven innings.


Bystrom has pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings. The major league record for a pitcher at the start of his major league career is 25, set by the Phils' George McQuillan in 1907.


The-6-foot-5, 200-pound, 22-year-old Bystrom, who was brought up from Oklahoma City at the start of September, had the Cardinals eating out of his right hand (the one he throws with) for seven innings.


"He showed you what we've talked about all along," said Phillies Manager Dallas Green. "He can pitch. He knows how to pitch. He's not afraid to pitch. He gets the hitters out. That's the name of the game."


The Phillies remain one game behind Montreal in the National League East. The Expos beat Pittsburgh, 4-0, Sunday.


The pressure of the pennant race didn't seem to bother Bystrom.


"I knew the Cardinals were a good- hitting team, but I approached the game in the same way," he said. "I knew I had to get my breaking pitch to pitch over."


Green lifted Bystrom after seven innings because of a bruise on the bottom of his right foot.


It deprived Bystrom of a chance at a second consecutive shutout and a line in the major-league record book.


He might have been the sixth rookie two consecutive shutouts at the start of his career.


Neither Green nor Bystrom were aware of the record.


"I don't care about records," declared Green. "One thing I want people to learn and that is we're interested in team. And I hope everybody understands that before it's all over."


Said Bystrom of the lost attempt at the record: "It really doesn't mean anything right now. I have to do what's better for me. The foot is bruised on the bottom. It bothers me running and pushing off (the mound)."


Lyle, who came to Philadelphia with Impressive credentials, including 231 saves over a 14-year career, simply didn't have it. But, according to Green and Lyle, Sunday's four-run giveaway was not an indication of what Lyle can do, and is supposed to do, for the Phillies in the pennant drive.


"Sparky hadn't pitched in so long," Green said, "he didn't know what the mound looked like. That's why I had to get him in."


Lyle started the eighth inning by giving up a double to Tom Herr, who took third when left fielder Lonnie Smith misplayed the ball. Tony Scott reached base when second baseman Ramon Aviles misplayed his ground ball, allowing Herr to score the Cards' first run.


Lyle then walked Keith Hernandez, and Leon Durham followed with a double, scoring Scott, who had reached second on a passed ball by catcher Keith Moreland.


After George Hendrick grounded out to second, advancing Hernandez to third, Terry Kennedy hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Hernandez with the third run. Ken Reitz's single scored Durham for the last Redblrd run.


Lyle struck out pinch-hitter Ted Simmons to end the first inning of his unimpressive National League debut.


"I haven't been in a game in quite a while," Lyle said. "I really don't know how long it's been. I'm the kind of pitcher who has to work every day. At Texas, I would go nine to 10 days without pitching.


"When I don't pitch, it looks like it did out there today, with my fastball being up. After I get in a couple of times in a row, I'll find the groove. If not, I'll throw as hard as I can in the bullpen, and in four or five days I'll be ready."


Philadelphia took a 14 lead off Silvio Martinez in the first inning. Smith opened with a single, stole second and scored on Pete Rose's single.


Bake McBride's three-run homer, a bases-loaded walk to Bystrom by relief pitcher George Frazier and Smith's two-run single made it a 7-0 game after three innings.


Rookie center fielder Bob Dernier opened the Phils' eighth with a single off relief pitcher Jeff Little and stole second base. He came home on Luis Aguayo's triple.


The Cardinals' interim manager, Red Schoendienst, gave all the credit to Bystrom.


"He really looked good. He threw strikes, moved the ball around. He also had a pretty good fastball, a curveball and he threw pretty darn good change-ups.


"We just didn't do much," said Schoendienst as he sat and watched a pro football game on television. "This kid (Bystrom) pitched well. Give him credit.”