Oakland Tribune - September 2, 1980
Bumbling Giants collapse against Phils
By Nick Peters, Tribune Staff Writer
SAN FRANCISCO – National League Cy Young Award cinch Steve Carlton wasn't at his best but he didn't have to be.
The Giants, hardly resembling contenders, made more than their share of mistakes to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies at Candlestick Park Monday, 8-4.
A Labor Day crowd of 17,608 watched Carlton labor with difficulty (seven hits and four walks), but the southpaw went the distance for his 21st victory because the Giants simply didn't play sound baseball.
Starter Ed Whitson wasn't sharp, reliever Greg Minton threw one too many high sinkers, sore-armed second baseman Rennie Stennett made two critical errors and Billy North had an off day in center field.
Given that many breaks, a lesser pitcher than Carlton could have won, yet the Giants went down stubbornly. It was 4-4 when the Phillies scored twice In the eighth off Minton, snapping his scoreless string at 28 innings.
The victory enabled the Phillies to move into first place In the N.L, East by percentage points, reaching the top spot for the first time since July 12. The Giants, meanwhile, dropped into a fourth-place tie with fast-charging Atlanta.
"First place isn't yoo shabby, said Phillies' Manager Dallas Green. "It didn't look like we wanted to get there very quickly. But some positive things have happened and we're as close as we've been in a while.
"Paul Owens (general manager) talked with the club before the game. It was good to have someone else say the things that I've been talking about all year. He said that we should put away individual problems and get down to playing.”
Catcher Bob Boone, whose single broke the tie in the eighth, said, "Paul got some things off his chest. We had two games in 20 hours at San Diego and didn't play well. But we came ready to play today.”
Boone conceded that Carlton' wasn't his usual self. "He struggled most of the day. Lefty had good stuff, but he was wild. He couldn't put the ball where he wanted."
Neither could Minton, which was a source of concern to pitching coach Don McMahon. After Larry Bowa singled behind second base, Minton uncorked a wild pitch. Bowa scored when Boone blooped a single to center.
Boone advanced on North's throw home, but was cut down at the plate following a single to short by Carlton. Minton's second wild pitch enabled Carlton to reach second, from where he scored on an error by Stennett.
“Minton has always been tough on me," said Boone. "I took the first pitch to see how much his ball was moving. It really bores in on you and it's a tough pitch to hit, but I was fortunate to get my bat on it."
Minton was miffed for two reasons. Not only did he suffer the loss, but he was reprimanded by McMahon over the manner in which ho selected his pitches.
"Mac's on me for not striking out more hitters," Minton said. It’s funny, but I had fewer strikeouts at this time last year and nobody said anything.
“I had good stuff, but I didn’t use it well. It was a belt-high sinker to Boonie. It was inside, but I don’t have enough velocity to get by jamming hitters, My ball has to sink."
Which is exactly what McMahon is preaching, "When Greg is ahead of the hitter, I want him throwing his best stuff knee high," McMahon Mid. Just keep the ball down and they'll swing at bad pitches.
"That's how Sutter (Bruce) and Carlton do it. In Philly, Carlton, struck out 13 against us and only three of the strikeout pitches were strikes. Today, he had nine and several were in the dirt. It's just a matter of using your head."
Whitson, who yielded four runs in six innings, also was disappointed. “It was a real important game and I wasn't sharp," he said. I wasn't getting my good sinking fastball, I wasn't hitting spots and my slider was flatter.
"You try too bard sometimes and it backfires on you. We threw the game away by not making some plays, but that didn't really frustrate me. I know the guys are trying hard."
Maybe too hard.
"They're just over-trying,” said Manager Dave Bristol. “They want to do too much. I know that's what happened to Billy today and that Rennie is playing his heart out without complaining about that elbow.
“We've played Carlton to the hilt all season, but all we have to show for it is one win in four games. It was a tough way for Greg's streak to end, but sinkerball pitchers get beat upstairs. You've gotta bury 'em downstairs.”
Stennett's enflamed right elbow proved costly in the second after the Giants had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on doubles by North and Jim Wohlford. Bake McBride led off the second with a single and raced to third on Manny Trillos one-out single.
Larry Bowa then grounded what seemed to be an inning-ending, double-play grounder at Stennett, who stepped across the bag and meekly one-hopped it past first baseman Ivie for an error, enabling McBride to score.