Philadelphia Daily News - September 23, 1980
Alone at the Top
Phils Win, Lead by ½-Game
By Bill Conlin
ST. LOUIS – Keith Moreland delivered the big hit, a lOth-inning pinch-double that sent Larry Bowa streaking home with the winning run.
Tug McGraw saved Steve Carlton's 23d victory with a scoreless 10th.
Give the springy carpet of Busch Stadium a save, too. It robbed the Cardinals of a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth.
The Phillies nudged the Expos out of first place in the Eastern Division last night with a brilliant, lucky, intense 3-2 overtime victory.
Mike Schmidt, who put the Phillies on the scoreboard with his 42d homer, an awesome 450-foot third-inning shot to dead center, says the Phillies' hero was none of the above. He pointed across the clubhouse at a guy who went a soft 0-for-5, who spent his offensive evening making sharp right turns at first base. Pete Rose.
Saying the Cardinals got no bad bounces in the eighth is like saying an Al Capp character named Joe Bstlfk should have been called Mr. Lucky.
BATTING TITLE CONTENDERS Garry Templeton and Keith Hernandez greeted Carlton with singles. Ted Simmons lofted a fly to right and Templeton scurried to third. The next hitter was the Slugging Sphinx, George Hendrick. The Cardinal rightfielder boomed a drive to deep right-center. Garry Maddox fled to the warning track and watched the ball bounce over the fence for a ground-rule double, which sent Hernandez, who would have scored easily, back to third. "It just cleared the fence by inches," Maddox said after the Phils went 4-2 on their last long road trip.
Carlton went 3-2 on rookie outfielder Tito Landrum. And Lefty caught the kid looking at a third-strike fastball on the knees. The next hitter was another rookie outfielder, Keith Smith, and he sent Schmidt behind third to backhand a bad-bouncing grounder. Mike's long, long throw got to Rose on a wicked in-between hop.
Maybe that kind of ball is an automatic base hit in Triple A, but the man who made the stop and throw is closing in on his first MVP award and the old-timer on first has a den decorated with them. Keith Smith appeared to ease up.
"The throw kind of pulled me toward the inside of the bag." Rose said charitably. "I think he might have had to slow up to keep from running into me." Don't bother asking what Rose would have done if the roles had been reversed.
SCHMIDT WAS ALMOST ecstatic over Rose's ability to turn his desperate throw into the third out. If it had gotten past Rose, two runs would have scored.
"It don't matter a bit to me right now whether we're a half-game out or a half-game in," Schmidt said. "If the world comes to an end tomorrow I guess we win the division, right? It sure as hell don’t matter now. What happens at the end of the year matters. But we're in good position. We're healthy, keyed up. We're on the road and we're winning. The schedule sort of favors us, even though we have to finish up in Montreal the last three. The goal is to keep on building, building, building on that half-game if we can do it each night Play 'em one at a time. It seems like an eternity the last 10-12 games, but before you know it, it's gonna be over. If we play our hearts out each game the chips will fall where they're supposed to."
What the Phillies would like to do is spend three hungover days in Montreal watching their September call-ups perform.
Meanwhile, scouts who covered the weekend "series here with Montreal say the Expos had a hard time swallowing. Dick Williams told one old friend quite frankly that his team's current problem is a collectively tight sphincter.
Schmidt jerked a thumb in the direction of a guy who will not faint between now and Oct. 5.
"THAT MAN OVER there won the game for us," Mike said. "It wasn't Keith Moreland, me, or Lefty. My play was not that tough even though it might have looked like it took a bad bounce. But the way I was pointing after I got the ball in my glove all I could do was underhand it over to first and Pete made the play. Hey, if he's 3-for-5, that play's probably not that important."
Dallas Green didn't want to hear anything about lucky bounces. "Bleep you," he said to a man who suggested that the ground-rule double by Hendrick saved his evening. "We're not a lucky team, we're a good team."
Whatever, the Phillies gave him a 10th inning that was out of the Playbook According to Green.
Bowa, grinding with intensity despite an anti-media slow-burn now in its third month, lashed his third single, and Bob Boone moved him to second with a perfect sacrifice. The pinch-hitter was Moreland, finally in a situation as electric as a Texas-Oklahoma game. The pitcher was left-handed reliever Kim Seaman, a rookie.
MORELAND WAS EXPECTING hard stuff away and was surprised when Seaman came in on him with a couple of off-speed breaking balls. When the kid fed him a 2-2 changeup that was about six inches outside, Moreland went out and sliced it down the right-field line. The ball landed just fair and bounced into the corner.
"I'm not really a power hitter, a home run hitter," the rookie catcher said- "I like to use the whole field. It probably wasn’t a strike, but it was off-speed, something I could go out and handle. I just started running and saying to myself, 'Stay fair.'"
It stayed fair and the Phillies won another tough ballgame, something they failed to do earlier in the season, something they are doing with regularity this gut-wrenching month.
McGraw gave up a leadoff single in the 10th to Simmons, threw a double-play ball to Hendrick and struck but Landrum.
"You guys don't know how tough it's getting on me,” McGraw said afterward, “not boozing, not staying out late at night.
"You don't know, how tough it is going in to pitch these tough games without a hangover."
PHILUPS: Mike Schmidt now has piled up numbers which are hard to contradict as far as his MVP candidacy is concerned. He leads the league with 42 homers and 111 RBI. The good news is, he's not on one of his awesome streaks, just a nice, consistent groove where he's making contact and letting the baseball do the rest He's now hitting a home run every 12 at-bats this season and last night's was a tape-measure shot off Pete Vuckovich, a very tough righthander... Bob Walk vs. rookie Al Olmstead tonight to close what has been a satisfying 4-2 trip so far. Righthander Bob Forsch was scheduled to start, but his mother died in Sacramento yesterday. He and his brother, Astros righthander Ken Forsch, are flying home for the funeral... Steve Carlton finished the season 6-0 against his former team. Last pitcher to do that to St. Louis was Warren Spahn, who was 6-1 against them in 1955.
4 Payoff Winners
There were four winners last night in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest. In the ninth inning of the Phillies-Cardinals game, Janet Gibson of Philadelphia won $10 on Mike Schmidt's RBI single. Winners of four tickets each to a 1981 Phillies game were Philadelphians F. Curtis and Helen Kruzits and George F. Bigge Sr. of Pennsburg.
To date the Daily News has paid out $19,145. Today's entry coupon appears on Page 54.