Philadelphia Inquirer - September 25, 1980
Bystrom goes against Mets
Marty Bystrom, the Phils' 22-year-old rookie sensation, is being called upon again tonight against the New York Mets at the Vet.
In his first big-lcague start on Sept. 10, Bystrom blanked the Mets on five hits.
Bystrom (3-0) has come through every time out in the Phils' quest for the NL East pennant. He didn't give up a run until his third victory, and that was on a Dave Kingman home run, which is excusable since Kong hits them off everybody.
Pat Zachry (6-10) is scheduled to hurl for the Mets.
PHILLIES vs. New York Melt at Veteran Stadium (Radlo-KYW-1060, 7:35 p.m.)
Christenson sharp as Phils win
Rose hit tops Mets in 10th
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
If there is one thing Larry Christenson ought to be good at by now, it is making comebacks.
He has come back from tumbling off his bicycle, come back from taking line drives off his knee, come back from elbow surgery and come back from about 87 groin pulls.
But last night, in the Phillies' 1-0, 10-inning win over the Mets (Pete Rose drove in the run with a single), he might have pulled his greatest comeback ever. He came back clear from the off-season.
Nineteen days ago, Christenson re-pulled his fabled groin again in Los Angeles. And a week later, Dallas Green wrote him off for the year. But there he was last night, starting against the Mets.
He shut them out on four singles for eight innings. He struck out six, including the last two guys he faced. He didn't get the win. But otherwise, it wasn't too bad an evening for a guy who was supposedly buried.
"Uh, I have a way," said Green, "of unburying people."
Christenson was out there last night, said Green, because "I've got to find out whether he can help us. If I went to the last weekend and then pitched him, that wouldn't be fair to L.C. and it wouldn't be fair to the team.
"I've got to find out if he can hold up. If he can hold up, there's a chance he's going to make the squad that goes to the playoffs. If he can't, we've got to go some other route."
Larry Christenson knew this, too. He knew that of all his many comebacks, last night meant the most.
"I'm sure they were just waiting for me to blow out again," Christenson said. "So this was a big test. If I hurt myself, it just would have made it easier for them to make the move now.
"I've been thinking about this game for the last week. It's been tough on me, but it worked out just fine. If it hadn't, I don't think I'd be here talking right now. I wouldn't be in a gutter somewhere, but it would be close."
Last night doesn't necessarily mean Christenson is back in the playoff picture. He didn't have to break off the mound to field any bunts or cover first. He didn't fully test his ability to move around. And that, not his arm, is still the question about him.
"One game does not make a year," said Green. "He knows he's got to hold up. But he certainly pitched well enough to deserve another start."
Christenson faced only two serious crises. He hadn't allowed a hit until Lee Mazzilli and Claudell Washington stroked one-out singles in the fourth. But a Steve Henderson double-play ball finished that off.
Then, with two outs in the sixth, he gave up a base hit to Wally Backman and walked Mazzilli. Claudell Washington was the hitter.
"I looked in for the sign, and Booney called for a fastball," Christenson said. "And I know Claudell's a dead fastball hitter."
He was thinking there must be some way out of this, and there was. He looked over at first, and Rose was whistling, a pickoff sign they worked out in spring training. He wheeled, threw, and Mazzilli was dead.
Mazzilli made it interesting, how-ever. He took off for second, with Rose in furious pursuit, and slid in without Rose tagging him. The only problem with that was that Backman was already on second.
Backman wasn't quite sure what to do, either, so he set out for third. Finally, Mike Schmidt ran him down.
"Man, it sure took long enough," Christenson sighed. "I just kept saying, please, get this over with."
So Christenson spun off all those zeroes. But the Phillies weren't doing much better with rookie Ed Lynch, the latest in the ever-expanding population of men who came from Saturn to shut them down. The Phils now are 1-5, with five no-decisions, against the 11 rookie pitchers they were seeing for the first time this year.
Lynch allowed just two hits in seven innings – a Christenson single and an infield hit by Larry Bowa. But the Phils never got a man past first until Garry Maddox made it to third off Neil Allen in the ninth.
Eventual-winner Tug McGraw (3-4) relieved Christenson and pitched out of a difficult jam in the ninth. But sooner or later, somebody figured to score before the Expos hit town. And finally, the Phillies did in the 10th.
Del Unser, hitting.297 as a pinch-hitter this year, started it off with a pinch single to right. Jay Loviglio ran for him. Green then sent up Tim McCarver to pinch-bunt for McGraw.
"He's been around four decades," said Green. "Hell, he ought to be able to bunt."
To McCarver, making his third trip to the plate this month, Allen looked like he was throwing "about 170 miles per hour." But remembering an old Johnny Keane axiom about bunting the first pitch, he went after the first one, laid down a good one, and Loviglio made it to second.
The tragedy was that the Phillies weren't on TV, so McCarver couldn't interview himself on the star-of-the-gameshow.
"I've been waiting for my chance, too," McCarver laughed. "I figured I'd ask myself a bunch of dumb questions, then slam the mike down and say, 'No wonder Lefty doesn't talk to you guys.'"
After the bunt, all that remained was for Rose to get the run home. Rose might have been an unlucky but unfathomable 0-for-15 at the time, but he still managed to bounce one through the middle.
Loviglio charged home, and so the Expos were still only a half-game off in the distance.
NOTES: The Phillies are 26-10 in games Steve Carlton has started, 18-13 in games Dick Ruthven has started, 7-5 in games Christenson has started, 6-17 in games Randy Lerch has started, 16-9 in games Bob Walk has started.... How big is the Montreal series shaping up? One indication is that the Phillies are expecting writers from as far away as St. Louis, Chicago, Boston, Washington and Baltimore, among other places.... Walk is 2-5, 6.71 since Aug. 1.... Mike Schmidt has 19 RBIs in September. The club record for September RBIs is 29, by Chuck Klein (1920).... Marty Bystrom vs. Pat Zachry (6-10, 3.04) tonight.
Rose singled softly with big stick
By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer
When Pete Rose hit for the first time last night, he ripped a drive that appeared to be double No. 42 as it headed for the wall in left-center field. But the Mets' Mookle Wilson sprinted over from center to make the catch.
Mookie Wilson thus established the spooky nature of Pete Rose's evening at the Vet.
Rose would hit two more balls that were pulled down in the outfield. Then he would smack an eighth-inning line drive that third baseman Elliott Maddox would step to his left and spear. "You could see from the first pitch that this would be a night for glove men," Rose said.
But then it became a night for the revived Larry Christenson, Del Unser, Tim McCarver – the bunting broadcaster –and, finally, Pete Rose, the guy who was in an 0-for-15 funk.
"I don't know the exact numbers," Dallas Green said after the Phillies kept up the pace with their 1-0 victory over the Mets. "But I know Pete was line-driving all over the place and not coming up with anything."
Well, Rose was 0-for-15 when he punched the single up the middle off Neil Allen, the Mets' premier reliever, to score the winning run in the 10th inning. And Rose knew it, of course, although – somewhat surprisingly – he had seen worse times at the plate.
"I was 0-for-21 four years ago," he said, "half in L.A. and half in Chicago. But a funny thing about an 'o-fer' right now: I won't strike out. And the secret is to keep the ball in play, they tell me. This is a strange year. I've got more RBIs, doubles, game-winning hits just less hits."
Rose then referred to his previous slump as "0-for-22." When somebody asked if it was 21 or 22 times at bat, Rose referred reporters to Jim Ferguson, the Cincinnati Reds' publicity director, and casually reeled off the area code and phone number of Ferguson's private office. Pete Rose knows his numbers.
And he has produced some unusual ones this year in the Rose scheme of things. It would take a small miracle for him to get his 200 hits or hit .300 now, and he knows that, too.
"I can't get 200 hits or hit .300. So all I can do is get timely hits, hits that win the games that count," he said. "You win the game, and the hell with the rest of it. I'd rather get the hits that count than hit the ball hard and get hits that don't matter."
So Rose was in his pennant race state of mind when he came to the plate in the 10th, 0-for-15 notwithstanding.
"When you're in a rut like this, the umps look like they have gloves on." he said later. "Everybody is smiling at you and wanting you to hit the ball their way. It looks like there are 13 guys out there. But, fortunately, we came back and won. Del got the big, hit, and look at the job Timmy did. Allen is just a fine relief pitcher."
Unser, hitting for Bob Boone, opened the inning with a single. Then McCarver, at the plate for only the third time in his fourth decade, pushed a neat bunt up the third-base line to get pinch-runner Jay Loviglio to second. "I had no idea he was a good bunter," Mike Schmidt said.
So the winning run was standing out there on second base for Rose; who had made one adjustment to break out of his "slump" – well, his version of one – before the gamer
"What I did," he said, "was switch to a heavier bat, which is very unusual for this time of year. I did it because (Mets starter Ed) Lynch throws a lot of changeups. Then I used that bat against Allen. If I'd had a light bat, I probably would have hit the ball (his hit) right at the second baseman. Sometimes it's good to use the heavier bat. You get all pumped up this time of year, and you're in trouble."
With the heavier bat, the more controlled stroke, Rose was able to chop Allen's second pitch, a fastball, straight up the middle for the game-winning hit.
"I got a chance to win the game because I've got a good hitter after me. If I didn't have Bake McBride after me, I would have gotten a base on balls," he said. "I've told you guys (press) before: You're only as good as the guy behind you."
But, really, Pete Rose (173 hits, .281 average, no George Brett-style attention now) has always been a special case, even when he's 0-for-15.
"Here I'm 0-for-4 and end up on the 'Star of the Game' show with "a groundball single." he said.