Wilmington Evening Journal - September 17, 1980
Phillies faltering in clutch situations
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PITTSBURGH – With the bases loaded and one out in the 10th inning of a scoreless game Friday night, Greg Luzinski bounced into a doubleplay. St. Louis scored five times in the 11th and won 5-0.
Last night in a 3-2 duel with the Pirates, the Phillies had runners on second and third with one out. Larry Bowa filed out to shallow center and Bob Boone popped up to the infield. End of threat. End of game.
Here we go again.
If the Phillies are to catch Montreal in the National League East, they cannot afford to lose games like the the ones mentioned here. A championship team wins those. Period.
By losing for the seventh time in eight games this season at Three Rivers Stadium, the Phils fell 2 12 games behind first-place Montreal. The Expos, who seldom let opponents off the ropes, won a double-header from the Mets.
Dallas Green had a lot of explaining to do about his moves – or lack of moves – when the media mob invaded his office after the game.
Why didn't Larry Bowa suicide squeeze?
Why didn't somebody who can hit a long fly bat for Bowa?
Why did Boone, a .224 hitter who has been dreadful at the plate lately, bat in the ninth?
The manager swallowed hard. "All Bowa's got to do is pull the ball, chop it over first like he did in Philadelphia off Tekulve last week," said Green. "Anything he hits on that side is going to get us a run. He beat Tekulve before in a similar situation, so why bat for him?
"We wanted two runs, not one and you tend to get greedy. If you pinch hit for Boonie, they're gonna walk the pinch hitter. Then what do I do? Pinch-hit for the pitcher, right? Except I'm running out of pinch-hitters."
The suicide squeeze, which the Phils have used well this year, seemed to be the logical move.
The baseball bible says a visiting team must play for a victory in the last inning, not a tie. But the overworked Pirate bullpen has been ineffective lately, a thought that ran through Green's mind. A suicide squeeze would have tied the game and put the go-ahead run on third with two out.
"All that stuff goes through your mind when you're managing," said Green. "We know what we're doing."
Green paused a moment, glancing down at the two unopened cans of beer and two untouched sandwiches.
He looked up at the dozen or so reporters and what he said just about summed up this puzzling season for the Phillies.
"There comes a time when the personnel you put out there are supposed to win games for you," he said. "They didn't do it tonight. They'll have to try again tomorrow "
While Green was talking, deep down inside he was obviously burning about Bowa's at-bat.
Jim Bibby, who won his 17th game, completely stopped the Phils after they scored in the fourth on a walk, a hit batter and Garry Mad-dox' broken-bat bloop single. He had retired 13 in a row when Mike Schmidt led off the ninth with his 39th homer of the year, a towering shot to left field. Bibby then walked Greg Luzinski and pinch-hitter Del Unser, Tekulve was summoned. Maddox advanced pinch runners Jay Loviglio and Bob Dernier with a beautiful bunt to the right side of the mound.
Bowa, batting left-handed against right-hander Tekulve, stepped out of the box and tried to get third-base coach Lee Elia's attention for a sign. Elia had his back to the plate. Finally he turned around, went through the signs and Bowa stepped in and lofted Tekulve's first pitch to shallow center.
As it turned out, Loviglio could have scored from third because Omar Moreno's throw was way off target and only a clutch stop by catcher Ed Ott kept the ball from going to the backstop.
Last Monday night at Veterans Stadium when the Phils scored to whip the Pirates 6-2, Bowa hit a chopper over first base against a drawn-in infield for a two-run double.
"That's what we wanted tonight," repeated Green. "Frankly, I think Bowa could have used a little more patience in that situation. He hit the first pitch."
"We thought about the squeeze there," said Tekulve, who gained his 20th save and first since Aug. 22. "Even though we knew Bowa might do that, we had to pitch him like a regular hitter. He went for a sinker outside."
"We were ready for the squeeze," said Ott, "They had been successful against us with it before. I don't know whether we would have stopped it or not."
Dick Ruthven, who suffered his 10th loss compared to 15 victories, struggled most of the night. The Pirates jumped on his fastball early, scoring a run in the second and two in the third.
After Maddox hit his RBI single, the Phils loaded the bases with two out when Bowa walked on a 3-2 pitch. Boone then lined out to Dave Parker in right.
EXTRA POINTS - Steve Carlton, who will be going after his 23rd victory, faces Bert Blyleven tonight... Blyleven is 0-6 lifetime against the Phils... The National League office has said that rookie pitcher Marty Bystrom is eligible for the playoffs, but that another pitcher would have to be disabled. If the Phils need to make that decision, Larry Christenson, suffering from a groin pull, probably will be disabled... Sparky Lyle blanked the Pirates in the eighth.