Pittsburgh Press - September 17, 1980
Super Bibby Flexing Muscles Again
By Dan Donovan
The Pirates' Superman has his strength back, and is fully recovered from the kryptonite of a flu that sapped his power.
Jim Bibby bent the Philadelphia Phillies in his bare bands last night, holding them to three hits through eight innings in the Pirates' 3-2 win at Three Rivers.
Bibby won his 17th game of the season, and will need all of his strength to have a 20-win season. The Pirates use a five-man rotation that, coupled with two off-days, would give Bibby only three more starts.
The Pirates could give Bibby a larger margin for error by giving one pitcher one day off this week. That would give Bibby four starts, and a better shot at 20 wins, but to do that would be admitting defeat.
The Pirates aren't ready to start playing for individual goals, even though they are five games behind Montreal with 17 left.
"I haven't even sat down and thought about that," Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner said. "I'm not worried about Bibby's fourth start. I'm worried about winning the next game. When the time came, I might. Or he might be able to get a win in relief. But the truth is, I hope Bibby gets his 20th win in the playoffs."
Tanner said he didn't know which pitcher to pull from his rotation. Bert Blyleven pitches tonight, followed by Rick Rhoden, Don Robinson and John Candelaria in the three-game weekend series with the New York Mets.
"All five starters are pitching well right now," Tanner said. "As far as Bibby is concerned, I'll think he'll have a great season if he wins 17 or 20."
Bibby would like to top his career-high 19 wins, but he said it wasn't an end-all for him. Wed,
"I'm aware I have to win all my starts for 20 wins," Bibby said, "but it's not something I worry about. The important thing is just that I go out and try to keep the game close for as long as I can.
"If somebody else wins the game, that's OK. Most of all, I'm thinking of a championship, and we're trying to do that as a unit."
Team unity might suffer if the Pirate rotation were altered now to give Bibby a better shot at a personal goal. The left-out starter would certainly feel left out.
"I would never go in to Chuck and say, 'Let me pitch and take somebody else out,' " Bibby said. 'Twenty games would be great to win. I haven't done that yet in my career, but the whole team, winning is the main thing on my mind."
If the team doesn't win, a flu bug might be the reason. Bibby was 15-1 and the team's stopper when the flu hit. He averaged fewer than five innings in his next five starts. Temporarily, the Pirate stopper went down the drain.
"I felt strong tonight," Bibby said. "As strong as I've felt since I had the flu."
As strong as he felt, Bibby said the Phillies popped up a lot "because they got breaking balls when they expected me to throw fastballs."
But be abandoned his fastball once too often, dropping down to sidearm to Mike Schmidt in the ninth. Schmidt hit a home run over the left-field wall.
"I struck Schmidt out with the sidearm before," Bibby said. "This time I got it over the plate. I throw it to guys who are certain they're getting fastballs. It breaks good, and I'm so big it's deceiving."
When the Pirates don't deceive Schmidt, be hits home runs. He has three hits against Bibby, all home runs. Of bis 10 hits against the Pirates, six are borne runs and one a triple two feet from the top of the wall.
Bibby stayed in the game after Schmidt's home run, even though he walked Greg Luzinski after getting ahead 0-2. He walked the next hitter, Del Unser, on four pitches.
Tanner then called on reliever Kent Tekulve. Tanner denied Bibby got to pitch to an extra batter or two because of Tekulve's recent slump.
"I'm positive I'd have left Bibby in anyway" Tanner said. "He was throwing as hard in the last inning as he was in the first."
Pirate pitchers have a hard time winning 20 games because the Pirates traditionally use a five-man rotation. No Pirate has won 16 games since Candelaria won 20 in 1977.
Since the 1950s, the Pirates have had only four 20-game winners, Murry Dickson (20-16) in 1951, Bob Friend (22-14) in 1958, Vernon Law (20-9) in 1960 and Candelaria (20-5) in 1977.
Bibby has been perfect - 11-0 – against East Division teams, and he'll have to be nearly perfect to win 20 games.
But he feels strong enough for a super task.
¶ ¶ ¶
PIRATE NOTES - Dave Parker had two hits to raise his average to .306, and made a superb diving catch of Pete Rose's fly ball in the third, saving an extra-base hit with a man on.
Mike Easier also had two hits, driving in one run.
The crowd of 22,239 was only a few thousand over the advance sale. The Pirates need 37,844 fans to pass the Three Rivers record of 1,501,132.
The fans seemed lively, though, at the first of two Black-and-Gold nights promoted by. announcer Lanny Frattare.
"I think it was all the black and gold," said Babs Tanner, the manager's wife. "Everybody seemed to have more spirit."
The National League has ruled that Marty Bystrom can be placed on the Phillie playoff roster should Larry Christenson's injury linger through the playoffs.
Teke, Three Rivers Put Lid On Phillies
By Russ Franke
Yes, said Dallas Green, Three Rivers Stadium has become a graveyard for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Their ground balls don't get through the holes the way they do in Philadelphia. Their fly balls are catchable. They don't pull out wins over the Pirates in the ninth inning.
And there was that cadaverish Kent Tekulve out there on the mound, haunting them once again last night, as if resurrected, nailing down the lid on the Pirates' 3-2 win.
It was the Pirates' seventh win over the Phillies in eight games at Three Rivers this season – something Green, the Phillies' manager, was aware of – and the 68th in 98 games since the place opened – something that Green was not aware of but will not dispute.
Tekulve was quite a different pitcher than the Tekulve the Phillies buried in Philadelphia a week ago twice. In two nights at Veterans Stadium, Tekulve faced six batters and gave up a triple, a double, a single and two walks.
Last night he relieved Jim Bibby in the ninth inning after Mike Schmidt had homered and Greg Luzinski and Del Unser had walked with none out. Tekulve looked every bit the wounded vulture in diving for Garry Maddox' bunt and somehow pulling his bones together in time to throw out Maddox, with the help of a situation-saving scoop by Phil Garner at first base.
With the crowd screaming on every pitch, Tekulve got Larry Bowa and Bob Boone on pop flies, and Tekulve had his first save in almost a month.
Tekulve believes he has resurrected himself for good, whether it may or may not be in time for the Pirates themselves to be born again the East Division race. He is "back in the groove," he said after rediscovering his effectiveness in St. Louis last week following the disastrous series in Philadelphia.
"I had been doing a whole bunch of things wrong, mechanical things, and I started working on my delivery with Harvey Haddix (pitching coach) and Otter (catcher Ed Ott) in the bullpen," said Tekulve, "and we were getting pretty close."
It was about 4 a.m. and there was nothing doing in St. Louis, just as there is nothing doing at 4 p.m. in St. Louis, and Tekulve got out of bed.
"It was one of those nights when you're thinking about everything or nothing and you can't sleep," said Tekulve, "and I was telling myself, 'Look, you didn't do it this way last year,' and I started going over my delivery there in the hotel room.
"Anybody who'd have seen me going through my pitching motion in front of the mirror would have thought I was nuts, but I found the last piece of the puzzle why I wasn't keeping the ball down."
A week ago, Bowa would have chopped a double over the infield, and Boone would have grounded a ball into a hole somewhere. For these reasons, said Green, he did not pinch hit for either of them.
"Bowa beat him (Tekulve) in a ballgame at home, in the same situation," Green told the Philly writers digging around in the graveyard. "Boone got a hit off Tekulve, too – back in that... uh, era. He's our fourth leading RBI man, I think."
Tekulve gets paid to throw ground balls in tight situations, but this time he threw pop flies.
"They probably were trying to get under the low pitches," Tekulve theorized, "but that's okay with me if they want to hurt their natural style."