Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - September 17, 1980
Tekulve saves Bucs’ win over Phils
By Charley Feeney, Post-Gazette Sports Writer
It was a game the Pirates would have lost a week ago. It was typical Philadelphia-Pittsburgh baseball. A nail-biter.
And it all came down to an ulcer-producing ninth inning. Kent Tekulve, who had not saved a game since Aug. 22, was trying to nail this one down for Jim Bibby, who had pitched eight strong innings.
In the ninth, the Phillies almost made it back from a two-run deficit. They did not because Tekulve regained his clutch form. He got two big outs with runners on second and third to give the ever-hoping Bucs a narrow, 3-2 victory over the club that has been pressing the Montreal Expos for first place in the National League East.
Bibby, who won his 17th game, took a 3-1 lead into the ninth and suddenly it was a one-run game when Mike Schmidt, leading off, hit a Bibby hanging curve over the left-field wall. It was home run No. 39 for Schmidt, the Phillies third baseman who also has been known to stop Pirate rallies with his glove.
Bibby got two quick strikes on Greg Luzinski and then walked him. Next came pinch-hitter Del Unser, and he did not see a pitch over the plate. He walked on four.
Chuck Tanner walked from the dugout and motioned with his right arm. It was Tekulve time. Once, it meant an automatic lockup. That was before the ace of the pen went sour about two weeks ago. Between then and last night, he could not hold leads.
The Phillies whacked him twice last week in their two-game sweep over the Bucs.
"It was a matter of mechanics," Tekulve said of his slump before the game. "I just wasn't following through and powering my pitches. I think I got it things straight now."
Tekulve had his toughest play when Garry Maddox moved two pinch-runners over a base. Maddox bunted toward he mound, and Tekulve slipped to the turf. He fielded the ball on his knees, and threw on one hop to Phil Garner covering first base.
One out. Tying run on third. Go-ahead run on second. The 22,239 paying customers at Three Rivers Stadium acted like they never knew Teke had been in a pitching slump.
They cheered as he pitched to Larry Bowa and they cheered and cheered when Bowa popped to Omar Moreno in shallow center. Jay Loviglio, the runner at third base, had no chance. But when Moreno's throw was on the third-base side of the plate, Bill Madlock, the cutoff man, leaped and missed the throw. Ed Ott was there to smother it.
Tekulve walked behind the mound and took a deep breath.
"I always do that to relax myself," he said later.
Teke had to face Bob Boone, a .220 hitter who has been known to drive in big runs.
Boone popped in the air near second base. The crowd was standing and cheering. Tekulve watched from the mound. When Garner clutched the ball, Teke waved his arms in the air.
It was not a victory sign. It was a sign of relief. The Pirates picked up a game on the Phillies and now trail them by 2½ games. The team the Bucs must catch, however, is Montreal.
Before the ninth, the only run scored off Bibby came on Maddox's broken-bat RBI single in the fourth.
But Bibby did not get all bad breaks. In the third inning, Dave Parker made a diving catch in right center and rob Pete Rose of a run-producing hit.
"I didn't see the ball when it left the bat," Parker said. "In that kind of situation, I just ran and, when the ball came out of the lights, I saw it and I made my move."
The Pirates belted Phillies starter Dick Ruthven early. Mike Easler and Madlock hit back-to-back doubles in the second.
In the third, the Bucs scored two runs. The first came on successive singles by Tim Foli, Parker and Easler, who is no longer lifted from left field in the late innings for defense.
"My aim is to become the complete player," said Easler, who played ten years in the minor leagues and gained the bad-glove rap.
The Bucs' second run in the third came on John Milner's two-out single. It appeared to be going into the gap in right center for extra bases, but Maddox made a brilliant cutoff.
"He (Maddox) is power on defense," said Milncr. "He's like (Andre) Dawson in Montreal and Omar with us. He makes big plays. Dawson took a double away from me in Montreal. I had one coming tonight."
The Pirates missed a chance to score again in the seventh. With Parker at bat and Easler due next, Moreno made a big mistake. He tried to steal third and Boone's thrown nailed him easily. Parker followed with a single.
Tanner said that early yesterday he had decided to go with his old standbys as the late relievers.
"It was going to be Teke and Jackson after the seventh," Tanner said. "I made up my mind this morning. I have never lost faith in Tekulve."
Had Tekulve lost faith in himself? "Not at all," he said. "I felt bad because I wasn't doing the job. But it was all mechanical. I just wasn't doing the things I should. Tonight. I was getting my pitches down."
Teke's fielding after he slipped on Maddox' bunt was a big play, too.
"I found out I'm a better fielder on my knees than standing up," Tekulve cracked.
NOTES Steve Carlton, who is a big favorite to win his third Cy Young Award, goes after his 23rd win tonight when he faces Bert Blyleven who is 0-6 against the Phillies in three seasons with the Bucs... Pete Peterson held a meeting yesterday with Chuck Tanner, his four coaches and some scouts. Topic of discussion: plans for the 1981 season. It is not uncommon that Peterson called such a meeting with the club still in the division race. He did the same thing last September when the Pirates and Expos were battling down the stretch...The Phillies are on the beginning of a seven-game road trip. They play three in Chicago this weekend and two in St. Louis early next week.
Bowa’s failure to bunt puts Green on spot
By Bruce Keidan, Post-Gazette Sports Writer
You don't like heights, you don't apply to Ringling Bros, for a job as a trapeze artist. You break out in hives within 50 yards of pepperoni, you pass up a chance to wait tables at Pizza Hut. And if you have a low tolerance for the second-guess, it is not recommended that you work as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Not that Dallas Green ever applied for the job, mind you. Green was minding his own business as the Phillies' farm director when it suddenly occurred to club owner Ruly Carpenter and general manager Paul Owens that the guy they were paying to be their field manager, one Danny Ozark, was not ready to move into the Hall of Fame alongside Connie Mack as one of baseball's great strategists" The next thing Green knew.he was a conscript. No more 9-5 hours and dinner with the wife and kids. No more "Wednesday Movie of the Week" and then off to bed. Goodbye, farm in West Grove, Pa. Hello, ulcers.
Managing the Phillies is different from managing, say, the Lo Angeles Dodgers. The difference is, in Philadelphia they might boo you when you win. And when you lose, you are expected to walk barefoot over hot coals in pennance.
Well, the Phillies lost a game to the Pirates in Three Rivers Stadium last night. Lost it, 3-2, and thus lost ground to the Montreal Expos, who are the National League East. Lost it despite a leadoff home run by Mike Schmidt in the ninth and a pair of walks that followed before Kent Tekulve trudged out of the bullpen and took the ball from starter Jim Bibby. Lost it though a sacrifice bunt by Garry Maddox put runners at second and third with one out.
The next batter was Larry Bowa, and the Pirates and 22,239 spectators waited for Bowa to lay down the bunt that would score one pinch-runner from third base and move another to that station. "We were expecting a bunt," admitted Pirate catcher Ed Ott, "because they had been successful against us with the squeeze play at their place last week. We were ready for it. I don't know whether we would have stopped it or not…”
He will never know, because Bowa did not bunt. Instead, he chopped at Tekulve's first pitch to him and popped it to Omar Moreno in shallow center field. When Tekulve then got Bob Boone to fly out, the Pirates had a victory to celebrate and Green had some explaining to do to the Philadelphia press.
How much consideration had Green given to the squeeze play? they wanted to know. Not much, Green told them.
"All he's got to do is pull the ball, and we're gonna get a run," the manager said "He beat Tekulve before with a base hit in a similar situation.
"We wanted two runs not one," Green continued. And, of course, it is the conventional wisdom of baseball that the visiting team must play for a win. while the home team enjoys the luxury of playing for a tie. Still, the way the Pirate bullpen has been going of late...
Had he considered a pinch-hitter for Bowa? He had not, Green said. Well, then, had he considered a pinch batter for Boone? "If you pinch-hit for Boone, they're gonna walk him (the pinch-batter). Then what do I do? Pinch-hit for the pitcher, right? Except I'm running out of pinch-hitters.
"All that stuff goes through your mind when your managing. We know what we're doing. There comes a time when the personnel you put out there are supposed to win games for you. They didn't do it tonight. They'll have to try again tomorrow."
Green chided Bowa mildly for not being more patient against Tekulve, but added: "If he scorches one in the gap, you guys wouldn't be in here asking questions."
It was an apt observation about the nature of managing in Philadelphia. You don't like big monkeys, you don't go looking for King Kong.