Philadelphia Daily News - September 20, 1980
Cubs No Relief to Phils
By Bill Conlin
CHICAGO – It was a ninth inning with the turning point look of Borodino, Gettysburg, the second Battle of the Marne and El Alamein.
One minute the Phillies were on the offensive, leading 3-2 with nobody out and runners on second and third, ready to apply the coup d’ grace on another crucial victory. The next, they were in full retreat, like Napoleon's blooded Grand Army reeling into torched Moscow in 1812 after taking 35,000 casualties near a little village to the west, like Lee's Army of Northern Virginia retreating through the lush Pennsylvania farmland, like the mighty armies of the Hohenzollems failing in one last effort to break the stalemate on the Western Front, like Rommell's Panzers limping across the desert toward Libya.
The ninth-inning rally died in ignominy, squashed not by Bruce Sutter but by a one-pitch rookie righthander named Lee Smith. And after that, the shabby Cubs burned Warren Brusstar and Tug McGraw to pull out a 4-3 victory.
"YOU DO NT LIKE to lose like that," Dallas Green said after watching victory slip away like a bar of wet soap. "We could have put the game away. We haven’t done much offensively lately and that bothers me more than anything else. Bobby Walk gave us a helluva ballgame, a quality effort."
Walk left in the Cubs' seventh with a 3-2 lead after allowing just six hits on an afternoon when the Wrigley Field wind was whistling to left. Most of the Phillies' offense was crammed into the bottom of the order after Mike Schmidt gave the rookie righthander a 1-0 lead with a first-inning triple. Ramon Aviles, subbing at short for limping Larry Bowa, led off the fifth with a solo homer, legged out a one-out bunt in the seventh and scored on Walk's sacrifice and a single by Pete Rose.
In the ninth, a potential big inning went up in smoke.
Garry Maddox started it, hanging tough to work right-handed reliever Dick Tidrow for a walk. Bob Boone, 3-for-4, moved Garry to second with a single to center. And while the Cubs were worrying about an Aviles bunt, Boone stole second without a play.
Aviles looked at a called third strike and the wheels were turning in both dugouts. Cubs' Manager Joey Amalfitano brought in lefthander Willie Hernandez to face Greg Gross, who was batting in the ninth spot in the order.
FIRST, ROOKIE CATCHER Ozzie Virgil came out of the dugout, but Green changed his mind while Hernandez took his warm-ups. "I thought about Virgil," the manager said, "but I didn't want to put pressure on him. I'd rather have Lonnie Smith and Keith Moreland handle it."
Green decided to sacrifice Moreland. If he batted Smith for Gross, he figured the Cubs would walk Lonnie and hope Moreland would rap into a bases-loaded double play. Hernandez walked Moreland intentionally, and when Green sent Smith up to hit for Del Unser, Amalfitano brought in Lee Smith, a towering righthander. The scouting report on him was that he couldn't throw strikes with his breaking ball and Green ordered Smith to look for nothing but his hard sinker.
Only a churl would have reminded Green that if he had not chosen to pull Rose for Unser in the seventh, he would have had his most experienced clutch hitter up there with the bases loaded. And if Dallas was worried about the double play with Rose up in a bases-loaded situation, then Pete has been wasting his time since 1963.
Smith looked at a 3-2 fastball and it was up to Bake McBride. The rightfielder bounced out to second and an inning pregnant with potential runs had miscarried.
"Lonnie's only batting .340," Green said. "He hits righthanders and lefthanders and I wanted to stay away from the double play."
THE CUBS’ NINTH was a nightmare of near-misses. Larry Biittner pinch-hit and his drive to right-center just eluded McBride's lunge and rolled past him to the warning track for a double. But Brusstar appeared to get a break back when he fielded Steve Dillard's bunt toward third and threw out pinch-runner Mick Kelleher.
Cliff Johnson hit for Carlos Lezcano and Brusstar walked him on four pitches.
"I wanted him to hit the ball." Brusstar said. "I wanted to give him something he would swing at and hit on the ground. The first two pitches were a little low and he took them, then I missed with a slider and aimed the 3-0 pitch,"
It didn’t take a lot of imagination to see that Green was trying to avoid using McGraw if possible. "We cant use him every day," he said. "I'm trying to stay away from it a little bit. I stuck with Bru because it was a double-play situation and he throws ground balls."
Brusstar threw a ground ball to Ivan DeJesus and the shortstop bounced it through the left side. "That's one of the hazards of being a sinkerballer." Brusstar said. "Sometimes you throw a ground ball and it finds a hole. He did just what I was trying to get him to do and he bounced it through."
McGraw came bouncing in from the bullpen, but this was not his day. Jerry Martin, the Cubs' unhappy and unsigned outfielder, hit for Lee Smith and McGraw blitzed to a 1-2 count.
HIS GAME PLAN was to bust a fastball inside on Martin, who he figured would be looking for his hammer, the screwball. "I wanted to come in on him, really bust it in there, strike him out, pop him up or foul him off." McGraw said. "I figured he'd be looking off-speed and didn't want to give him anything that he could get his bat out in front of the plate on. Then I had him set up for the screwbalL Great plan, but I didn’t throw the ball where I wanted to. I got it out over the plate and he just kind of flicked it between first and second. I guess he could just as easily have hit it right to Manny for a double play. It just wasn't in the cards for us to win today. What beat us was not putting the game away when we had the chance."
This was a loss which disproved the baseball postulate that a game in April is as important as one in September.
"Toughest loss of the season for us," said John Vukovich, who wound up playing first in a game which had 39 participants.
Green didn't arrive in the clubhouse until 15 minutes after the loss. It turned out he was on the Cubs' post-game TV show, a tough act for a guy whose innards were still churning when he went on camera.
"They had asked me if I'd do it before the game and I said I would," Green said. "I really didn't feel like going over there, but I've seen Gene Mauch do that before (fail to show up on a post-game show after a loss) and I didn't want to leave them in the lurch."
PHILUPS: There is no pressure on rookie righthander Marty Bystrom at all today. All he has to do is put a 17-inning scoreless streak on the line and pitch the Phillies back into the win column. He'll go against righthander Lynn McGlothen, who always makes life miserable for the Phillies... Next Sunday's game with the Expos has been set back to 3:05 p.m. to accommodate ABC-TV. If that effects your plans, tough luck. National TV is more important than 45,000 fans blowing Sunday dinner, right?... Phils had a chance to hurt Rick Reuschel after Mike Schmidt's RBI triple in the first, but the portly righthander struck out Manny Trillo and got Garry Maddox on a fly to left... Steve Dillard got the Cubs on the scoreboard with a two-out homer in the second and the Cubs had a run home and a runner on second with one out in the seventh. Sparky Lyle, appearing in his fourth straight game, waded out of the jam.
A Birthday Present For Payoff Winner
When Rose Marconi returned home from her shopping trip, she noticed something strange as she walked toward her home. Some of the neighborhood kids were anxiously waiting for her.
"There were kids waiting for me at my door," explained the Pennsauken housewife. "They were looking at me and saying, You just won a thousand dollars.’"
Not one to take chances, Marconi overlooked the kids, the calls from relatives and friends, and tried to contact the Daily News for verification. "I was trying to get in touch with you," she said. "But I couldn't get through. I never thought they would pull my name."
During the fifth inning of the Phillies-Cubs game, Ramon Aviles' second home run of the season won $1,025 ($25 for the RBI) for Marconi in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest.
"I'VE BEEN SENDING them (payoff coupons) in every week," Rose continued. "My husband mails them for me on Sunday's, so I can get them in on time."
For Rose, the unexpected jackpot could not have come at a more appropriate time. "Sunday's my birthday," she stated, "and that's (the $1,025) a beautiful present.
"I love him," she says of Aviles, the man who has made her birthday a joyous one. "I like him... I like Mike Schmidt... I like them all."
But are you a fan of the team? "Oh boy, you know it," Rose replied quickly. "We went to see them a week ago Monday. I got it (interest in the Phillies) from my husband. I have to like it because he likes it. I got the bug from him."
Winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game next season were: Alberta Minor, Floyd A. Haskins, Herman Preston, and Virginia Arthur, all of Philadelphia.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $19,050. Today's entry coupon appears below.