Philadelphia Inquirer - September 22, 1980
Phillies ½-game off top
Luzinski leads assault on Cubs
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CHICAGO – Dallas Green said he forgot to scoreboard-watch yesterday. But at least he had his mind on the Phillies' postseason possibilities in other ways.
Green might not have been thinking about October as the Expos' loss unfolded on the Wrigley Field scoreboard yesterday. ("Uh, what happened?" was his reaction to the day's pennant-race developments.) But he was thinking about it when he wrote Greg Luzinski's name into his lineup.
Luzinski's first Wrigley Field homer since 1978 put the Phillies ahead for good in a 7-3 win over the Cubs. And that win tied the Phils with Montreal in the loss column and moved them to within a half-game of first place.
Luzinski started yesterday 0-for-the-series despite a couple of rockets that didn't fit into the hit 'em-where-they-ain't category. He came in batting a thunderous.200 since he and his knee left the operating room in July.
Green must have had about a million thoughts of moving Lonnie Smith and his.336 bat back in there. But the manager resisted the temptation.
"I just think Bull does some things for this lineup that will help us," Green said. "And we have to know about him. We have to have him ready if we go into any after-season games. And we can't do that if he's sitting on the bench.
"When you sit as long as he did with the bad knee, you're not going to come back right away and look super. You have to go through almost like a spring-training deal. I think Greg is just getting his feet on the ground and getting comfortable with the bat again."
The Phillies were in a 1-1 game when Luzinski stood in against Dennis Lamp with one out in the third. Lamp jumped ahead of him, 0-and-2, but he never got to 0-and-3. The Bull bashed a sinker into the fourth row in left-center for his 18th homer. It was his first, though, in 17 long days. It seems like a century ago that he had 15 on June 14.
"I hit the ball good a couple times yesterday (Saturday) and the day before that and came up with nothing," said Luzinski, who is now hitting.214, with three homers and 11 RBIs since his return to the lineup Aug 24. "That was kind of depressing. But at least I felt I was swinging the bat good.
"I hit a pretty good pitch for the homer 0-2 pitch, he turned it over, down and in. It's funny, but it seems like I've hit a lot of homers this year with two strikes on me."
Somebody observed to Luzinski that it must have seemed as if he's had two strikes on him the whole season.
"No, not really," he said. "I'm just thinking about winning this thing now. If we can go ahead and win, I think it's going to make everybody's season."
It's certainly not impossible that the Phillies could do that without Luzinski. But a little home-run binge wouldn't hurt any, either. And Luzinski has, finally, shown signs of being himself again the last four games.
"I've felt a lot better swinging the bat lately," he said. "I'm staying back, using my hands well. I'm striding short instead of overstriding and being all out of balance.
"It's important to me that Dallas has stuck with me. But I think it's important to the ball club, too.... I'm still a threat to hit the ball out of the ballpark. And people are gonna pitch Mike Schmidt a little differently if they know there are a couple of guys capable of hitting it out."
Speaking of comebacks, Manny Trillo was alive and hitting again yesterday, too. Trillo didn't go anywhere the last few weeks, but his batting average did clear out of the top 10 column.
Before Saturday, Trillo was 3-for-55. His two doubles yesterday gave him five hits in two days. His first double, a broken-bat job to left, set up the run that put the Phils ahead, 1-0, in the second inning. Double No. 2 knocked in the first run in a three-run fourth that pretty much put the game away.
"The last three weeks I think I was trying to rush myself," Trillo said. "I was trying to pull everything, trying to overdo. When you're in a slump like I was in, you want to get out of it, so you try so hard you really don't know what you're doing.
"It's a funny thing. I've felt like I've been hitting the ball real good in batting practice again. But I think I needed the three hits yesterday to make me feel relaxed again."
Trillo and Larry Bowa (back in the lineup after a two-game absence) also turned three double plays behind Dick Ruthven. And that was perhaps the major reason Ruthven won his 16th game, a career high, despite five walks and no strikeouts.
"He just didn't have good pop on the ball," said Green. "And he kept fooling around with his 'turnover' pitch (a quasi-screwball Ruthven developed), which he and I are not in agreement on.
"I think he's using it backwards. That pitch is only his third or fourth-best pitch. And he's using it as a No. 1 pitch. He's trying to start people off with it. And what's happening is ball one, ball two he's running deep counts with that instead of going after people with his other stuff.
"He just doesn't have the good feel for it yet. He's only thrown it for a couple of years now. I understand that he's trying to work it into his repertoire. I just think it should be a 1-2 pitch or an 0-2 pitch instead of starting a guy off with it or using it 2-1. As usual, hell disagree with me – as Mr. Ruthven has always done."
The other reason Ruthven survived his problems to go 16-10 was 3 perfect innings of relief from Ron Reed. You remember him. He was last seen losing to the Cardinals 10 days ago. Then along came Sparky Lyle, and Reed disappeared.
Yesterday he came on with two outs in the sixth, got Mick Kelleher with two on in what was then only a 5-3 game. Then he set down the last nine hitters.
"Ronny probably felt like he was the forgotten man in the bullpen," Green said. "But I haven't forgotten him. His performance today is certainly going to sit very well with me."
NOTES: Mike Schmidt had two strikes on him with two outs in the ninth, and only one thing could happen, right? Yep, Schmidt homered, his eighth in Wrigley this year and 30th of his career. "Schmitty just couldn't leave Chicago without hitting one more," chuckled Green. "Hey, I had to. I was the only guy in the lineup who didn't have a hit," Schmidt said…. Matchups in St. Louis: Steve Carlton vs. Pete Vuckovich (12-9) tonight, Bob Walk vs. Bob Forsch (11-9) tomorrow.