Philadelphia Daily News - September 26, 1980
At the Vet, It’s ‘Boo’ as in ‘Boone’
By Ted Silary
"It doesn’t affect meat all."
"My situation doesn’t really matter. Winning the race is what it's about."
"If you're not in a pennant race and doing lousy, that's when you feel bad."
"Naturally, I'm not pleased by this. But I let it stay at the park."
– the latest from Bob Boone
Bob Boone is a man of few words and fewer smiles these days as the Phils mount one last burst toward the wire in National League East.
And part of the reason can be traced to those ever clever fans at the Vet, who now greet each of Boone's at-bats with no smiles and one little word.
Of course, when the word is "boo" and it is uttered by seemingly half the fans in a ballpark where sound carries almost as well as a baseball, that one little word carries a message which rivals the Gettysburg Address.
Four score and seven years ago... well, it wasn't quite that long... Bob Boone ranked high on the list of favorite Phillies, especially with those folks who were lucky enough to have met him on the banquet circuit, or at the opening of a shopping center, where his personality and intellect had a chance to shine through.
Now, if Boone were to drive to the Vet one morning, convene a press conference and announce his retirement, there might be a parade up Broad St.
BOONE WENT 0-for-3 last night as the Phillies nudged the New York Mets, 2-1. A pop to the second baseman, a liner to left, a pop to the short stop. His average dipped to .231 while his popularity, which has been on a steady decline, dipped to a level familiar only to coal miners.
"Bobby is a pretty solid guy," noted Manager Dallas Green. "He knows there are peaks and valleys in this sport."
What Bob Boone might sense is the fact that a group of fans in this city would like to lead him to the nearest peak then push him off... into an extra-deep valley.
Bob Boone receives an earful most times when his hands are filled with lumber. But this was a special occasion and Bob was booed when his left hand was filled with leather and not by the baseball.
It was the seventh inning, the Mets had the bases loaded and Marty Bystrom had fired a string of strikes on a 3-2 count to Alex Trevino, who had fouled all of them off. Trevino then tipped another pitch and Boone couldn't quite hang on.
Boooooooooo! Trevino followed with a grounder to third that brought home a run when Mike Schmidt-fired to Manny Trillo for a force and Trillo dropped the ball while making the pivot.
There's only one small difference between "toast of the town" and "goat of the town." Performance.
"PHEW, I COULD talk for a long time on that (booing)," said Schmidt, letting his lips curl slightly. "I went through it for a whole year (78).
"Nobody likes to be booed. Everybody wants the people to be on their side. But you sometimes get the feeling the fans enjoy it when a guy is not going well. I've been through it all. You strike out three times and hit a homer the fourth time up, the fans will call you out of the dugout. That's how freaky they are.
"This is a rough town. Has been for a while. Maybe 'consider the source' isn't the correct phrase, but you have to realize that fans are fans. We like them to cheer when we do well. I guess they have the right to boo when we don't."
Bob Boone, whether you believe him or not, also has the right to maintain that a treatment that is anything but silent does not get his goat.
Dallas Green believes.
"Bobby can handle this a lot better than some of the players," Green said.
Mike Schmidt believes.
"Bob Boone is a man with strong spiritual convictions," said Schmidt, who came to the Phillies at the exact same time (late in 72) as the struggling catcher. "He knows there are more important, things in life than hitting baseballs – like his family, for one – and those are the things he will worry about.
"BOB PLAYS AS hard as he can every time he goes on the field. He knows that. So, when he walks out of here (clubhouse), he can hold his head high.
"Somewhere along the line you have to realize what your goal is as an athlete. You have to realize who you're on the field to perform for, the identity of the real audience. Your teammates, your coaches, your manager. You can't fool those people. And yourself. You have to be able to look in the mirror."
His face, Bob Boone can look at The sight of his left knee is what hurts.
It was operated on in September of last year and still is not quite right.
"People have to realize," said Schmidt, "that Bob has to force his knee before every game over and over, just to get it flexible enough so it will bend in the game. It's a struggle for him just to crouch."
His most recent batting struggle in a season that has included hardly anything but centers on a 1-for-11 showing in the last four games, two in St. Louis, two at home with the Mets. Before that, Boone went 6-for-9 in the weekend series in Chicago.
"I was swinging the bat real well in Chicago," Boone said. "What did Itake it to mean? That I was swinging the bat real well in Chicago, that's all. All year it's been an off-and-on thing."
MUCH MORE OFF than on, really, although Boone's current RBI total (53) is only five less than last year's, when his average was a career-high .286.
Perhaps, it was suggested to Green, the Phillies faithful would not be booing Boone with such force if rookie Keith Moreland were hitting .324 in Okie City or some other step on the minor league ladder.
"Ah, fans are a very fickle lot, Green mused. "If Bobby comes up to the plate in the next two or three games and drives home a real big run, our fans will be right back with him."
Meanwhile, most are dead set against him.
"I always appreciate the good moments," Boone said. "1 appreciate bad moments, too. It's all part of being a ballplayer."
Bob Boone, from all appearances, is maintaining a level-headed approach to his umpteenth slump of the season.
The fans, however, take an approach which starts in the lungs.
Bystrom a ‘Bellyful’
By Bill Conlin
Marty Bystrom had a one-hit shutout going into the seventh inning. The Phillies were hoarding the 2-0 lead they had painfully built on a sullen, drizzly night.
Only 20.525 fans were in the stands, the smallest Vet crowd of the season. The Expos had gone belly-up in Chicago and if you had just flown into town from the Persian Gulf region, or someplace where news is hard to come by, you'd have sworn the pennant race was over, that the Phillies, the Mets and the fans were out there to go through the motions in a meaningless game.
Appearances are deceiving, though. The Phillies were about to win their ninth one-run game in 11 decisions this month, a tense 2-1 decision. Bystrom was about to run his record since coming up from Oklahoma City in early September to 4-0. Sparky Lyle was about to pick up his second National League save. The Phillies were about to take back a half-game lead in the East.
BY THE TIME Bystrom went after the Mets in the seventh, the Expos were already in town, girding their loins for the first of two weekend showdowns which will determine whether National League President Chub Feeney will have a chance to sit in rain here Oct 7 and 8 or in Montreal snow.
The Mets skidded some balls through the infield on the slick turf and they loaded the bases on Claudell Washington's infield single. The hitter was catcher Alex Trevino and the Mets had runners at the corners with one out. Bystrom fell behind, 3-1. The Phillies gave him early leads in his first three starts. The 22-year-old righthander proved he had good stuff. Now it was time to prove he also has what Dallas Green likes to call "belly." Bystrom whipped Trevino a strike and it was 3-2. And now he threw five consecutive strikes. Trevi no fouled off the first four, two of them sliders.
Trevino bounced Bystrom's final pitch of the game to Mike Schmidt. Contrary to some opinions, it was not a sure double-play ball. Trevino goes to first in 4.2, moving for a catcher. Schmidt had to wait for the high bounce to come down, and, Washington, who can burn, was bearing down on Manny Trillo. If the Phillies had turned it, people would have remembered it a long time. But Trillo dropped the slippery ball making the pivot. The Phillies settled for a force and rookie shortstop Wally Backman scored from third.
Green was greeted by boos when he ambled to the mound. Bystrom left to a standing ovation. Curiously, he did not tip his cap as he approached the top step of the dugout.
"THE OVATION, that's always nice," he said afterward. "There's probably a day when I might get ripped and they're going to be booing me, so I wasn't going to tip my hat or nothing. I know how these fans are here."
Marty got an excellent insight on Philadelphia fans on his next-to-last pitch to Trevino. Alex fouled it off Bob Boone's glove. The catcher appeared to have it an instant and when the ball hit the turf, Boone was booed. Now that is right on the fine line between good sportsmanship and booing unwed mothers on Mother's Day.
"I didn't want to take him out right there," Green said. "But I thought Marty was just about out of gas. The way the bullpen 's been going I didn't want to take a chance."
Dickie Noles ended the threat, getting pinch-hitter Joel Youngblood on a one-pitch line drive to Larry Bowa. Lyle wriggled out of a second-and-third, two-out jam in the eighth and one-two-threed the Mets in the ninth.
Bystrom sounds like he'd just as soon have seen the bullpen rest up for the big weekend.
"I thought we were gonna turn a double play," Bystrom said, "but we didn't because the guy took Manny out real well. I didn’t think I was gonna be taken out. I saw Youngblood coming up and I was gonna go after him, but he brought Dickie in and Dickie got him out. I'll just have to live with that, I guess."
MARTY, MARTY, 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA is no disgrace. Even Steve Carlton has completed only one-third of his games this season. Hey. if the Phillies win this thing, your 6⅔-inning, no walk, six-strikeout performance will become local folklore.
Bystrom 's brilliant pitching this month has also created a colossal problem in the Phillies War Room. To wit, how do they make him eligible for the playoffs? If Larry Christenson was a crippled pitcher Wednesday night, then scores of pitchers will be out running violent sprints and trying to pull their groin muscles.
Green says he will make no decision on his playoff roster until he knows what his options are. He doesn't need any clubhouse unrest. The front office still shudders when it recalls Dick Allen's 1976 pronouncement that if Tony Taylor wasn't on the playoff roster they could count him out, too.
"We'll find out when the time comes." Green said. "No. 1, that's when we get there. No. 2, when we know all the particulars. We haven't researched it that much. Bill Giles has made the one phone call (to President Feeney), but I've still got some questions I'd like to ask Chub before I commit myself.
"There's no sense committing ourselves now and getting the locker room stirred up and worrying about what's going on in the future. I've never done that, nor do I intend to start right now. If you start saying this guy is going to be on and this guy is going to be off, it puts added pressure out in the clubhouse that we don’t need right now. I'm not ruling anybody out that would be eligible. As soon as we clinch it we'll be capable of making that decision. We want to clinch the thing and clear our minds to put together the best possible team we can to go into a playoff series."
NOTHING ABOUT the big leagues has fazed Bystrom yet and if Green can't get him on the playoff list without alienating half his pitching staff, you get the feeling the kid will be able to handle that, too.
"If Larry can pitch he deserves to pitch in the playoffs," Marty said. "He's been here a lot longer than 1 have and I was glad to see him pitch well. I want to see everybody pitch well. If they go out there and do a good job it makes me want to do a better job.
"That's a long way from now. I don't know what they're gonna want to do. We're just gonna have to wait and see. All I know is what I've read in the paper. Nobody's told me about it. I came up here Sept. 1, which makes me not eligible. I thought I had a chance to come up before that, thinking that if I helped the club I could be eligible for the playoff. It didn’t work out that way. If they don't want me in the playoffs it's ail right with me. I'll just have to watch it on TV."
By the way... In case there are any skeptics left out there. Marty Bystrom has "belly." A whole ribcage full.
PHILUPS: The Phils got a break when Pat Zachry pulled a leg muscle running out a double-play bunt in the third. Zachry, who had his deadly change-of-speed pitches working, was replaced by righthander Roy Lee Jackson and the Phils finally broke the scoreless tie in the fifth. Manny Trillo bounced a lead-off triple off the fence in right. Garry Maddox made it 1-0 with a first-pitch single to left and Larry Bowa sent the center-fielder to second with a single to left. The Phils got only one more run out. of the potential big inning, a very big one, it turned out. Bob Boone flied to left, Marty Bystrom bunted into a force and Lonnie Smith, making his first start in left since Sept. 14, scored Bowa with a single up the middle... The Phils finished the season with a run of 10 straight victories over the punchless Mets, who lead Mike Schmidt in homers, 57-43.
Lonnie’s a Winner
By Ray Didinger
Lonnie Smith drove to Veterans Stadium yesterday afternoon, watching the cold rain splatter on his windshield, thinking about what a tough night the outfielders were going to have, skidding around on that artificial turf.
Put a thin glaze of water on a synthetic surface and, all of a sudden, it's like running on a bowling lane in roller skates. Line drives hit the slick turf and skip to the wall, like stones skipping across a pond. You can reach for a routine single and wind up balancing on your nose.
Lonnie Smith hadn't started a game in 11 days and he figured it was probably just as well he didn't start this one. After all, the Phillies didn't nickname him "Skates" for nothing. Lonnie could slip in freshly poured tar. Putting him in a wet outfield with a pennant on the line would be a risky proposition, indeed.
BUT LONNIE SMITH walked into the clubhouse yesterday and found his name back in the leadoff spot Dallas Green had decided to give the slumping Greg Luzinski the day off, a chance to meditate and maybe relocate his hitting stroke. Smith would start in left field. All Lonnie needed was a balance pole and a drum roll.....
"A few of the guys teased me." Smith said later, after the Phillies had defeated the New York Mets, 2-1, to climb past Montreal in the National League East. "They asked me if I could find home plate, if I needed directions to the outfield.
"A lot of things flashed through my mind. At first I thought, 'Of all the nights to be out there (with the rain)'... But then I said, 'Hey, it's a big game. We're fighting for the pennant and I've got a chance to contribute.' I just had to go out there and do my best."
Then came his first at-bat. New York's Pat Zachry started him with an off-speed pitch. Smith took a vicious swing and his wet bat went pinwheeling 10 rows deep into the box seats beyond third base. Fans scattered, ushers rushed in to tend to the wounded. Lonnie Smith stood in the batter's box, cringing.
"I was scared." he said. "I saw a lady sitting right where that bat was headed. I was afraid it was gonna hit her. I saw everybody duck, then I saw a little kid run over and pick the bat up. I watched until everybody got up. I made sure nobody was missing.
"I HAD A SIMILAR experience when I was in Spartanburg (minor leagues). I was swinging a (lead) pipe in the on-deck circle and it slipped out of my hands. It flew back and hit the batboy. He only got a bruised arm but it scared the hell out of me.
"Yeah, it wasnt the greatest way to come back to the lineup. You start off like that, the very first swing, and you think. 'Uh oh, is it gonna be one of those nights?'"
It turned out to be a typical Lonnie Smith night, actually. It was equal parts drama and slapstick, heroism and pratfall. Lonnie won the game, then almost lost the game, then saved the game, all in the space of three innings. With Lonnie Smith, every game is an old-fashioned Saturday afternoon serial.
Last night. Smith reached base three times in four appearances, twice on walks. He singled home what proved to be the winning run in the fifth. In the seventh, he overran a slicing Lee Mazzilli drive, only to make a whirling, backhanded catch that surely buckled a few knees in the Phillies' dugout.
Lonnie helped save the game in the eighth, cutting off a Dan Norman ball in the gap to prevent the fleet Frank Taveras from scoring what would have been the tying run. Lonnie slipped and fell once he got to the ball but, hey, that's his trademark.
Lonnie Smith has an unmistakable style. He heaves his bat into the seats, he misjudges line drives, he rolls around in the wet outfield like a sea otter while the tying run rounds third. He sprinkles gray hairs everywhere he goes but, somehow, he wins.
LONNIE SMITH IS ONE of those guys destined to go through life in a permanent screech, up on two wheels, always ready to flip over. But, if you check the statistics, you’ll see what he has meant to the Phillies this season. He leads the club with a .337 average and 30 stolen bases. He has scored 65 runs while playing in only 95 games.
He kept the Phillies alive when Luzinski was sidelined with his knee injury. After six years in the minors. Smith finally got a chance to play regularly in the big time and he made the most of it On Aug. 24, he was hitting a remarkable 351.
But then the Bull came off the disabled list and Smith knew what was coming. He knew Green would work Luzinski into the lineup because the Phillies needed a long-ball threat to back up Mike Schmidt in the order. Slowly, Lonnie dropped from sight, appearing in only five games since Sept. 6.
"I understood their thinking," Smith said softly. "They wanted to get Greg back in the groove for the playoffs. But I thought I'd still get to play some, whether it was in center or right, just to give the guys a rest.
"I'd sit around and I'd think, 'Well, maybe I’ll play tomorrow.' Then tomorrow would come and I wouldn't play. Then the next day would come and I wouldn't play again. It was depressing because I felt like I had done all that work to prove myself and it was all for nothing.
"I SAT AROUND, wondering what I did wrong," Smith said. "Some days were worse than others.
"The guys said I ought to talk to Dallas, tell him how I felt I never did. Why? Because I know what he would have said. He needed the long ball (Luzinski). I would have gone to Dallas if I totally lost my cool but it never came to that."
Lonnie never popped off in the newspapers. He never sat in the corner of the dugout, muttering behind the manager's back. He kept most of the frustration bottled up inside.
"I'm not the type to pop off," Smith said. "Hey, this team is going for a pennant, maybe a world championship. Why should I blow the whole thing up with a big scandal story? I want to win. I want to play in a World Series. I don't want to do anything that would hurt our chances.
"I've tried my best to stay sharp, to stay ready in case they need me. I've tried to stay loose (emotionally). I clown around on the bench, keep the guys up. I'd be lying if I said it didn’t bother me (not playing) but I'm trying to make the best of it."
Lonnie Smith made the best of his opportunity last night. He drove in the run that pushed the Phillies back into first place and set the stage for a delicious three-game series with the Expos starting tonight at the Vet.
THERE'S ONLY ONE problem: Green has announced that the Bull will be back in left field tonight. That means Lonnie Smith will be back guarding the water cooler.
"I figured that might happen," Smith said. "Montreal has a lot of hard throwers (pitchers) and Bull is a fastball hitter. He could get hot real fast against a team like that.
"Me? I'll be ready. I'm just happy I was able to contribute something tonight. I feel like I've helped put this team back on top, so I'll sleep a lot better.
"I can go home and tell my wife we won and the Pirates lost. She's always getting on me. She says, 'You aren't gonna win the pennant, the Pirates are.' She says we're gonna choke. Nah, she doesn't mean it. It's just her way of firing me up.
"If we win, though, she’ll help spend the check."
Expos Still Enthusiastic
By Dave Nightingale, Special to the Daily News
CHICAGO – It wasn't the end of the world, the Expos 5-4 loss to the lowly Cubs yesterday, according to Montreal Manager Dick Williams.
And Williams insisted that Armageddon (National League East-style) won’t come this weekend in Veterans Stadium, either, unless – curse the thought – the Phils should sweep the Expos in their three-game series.
"Let's put it this way." the laryngitic Williams rasped. "I want two wins this weekend, but we don’t need two wins. The Phillies don’t need two wins either.
"One club is going to be under the gun more than the other when the series is over. But the race still is going down to the final three games in our park (where Montreal is 47-27 this year).
"There is only one thing that's certain about the three games in Philadelphia: They'll draw more people than we drew earlier this week for the key series in Pittsburgh."
THAT WILL BE accomplished tonight alone, when Montreal sends out Dave Palmer against the Phils' Dick Ruthven.
The Expos, however, will not be entering The Confrontation on a high note.
Trailing the Cubs. 5-1. in the ninth yesterday, Montreal did bounce Cubs relief ace Bruce Sutter (28 saves) for three runs, forcing the Cubs to employ last-out help from Dick Tidrow to preserve their victory.
"We gave the Cubs a battle today; we didn't quit," said Williams.
"But the truth of the matter was that we really didn't play that well in the field (spell that R-O-W-L-A-N-D O-F-F-I-C-E) and our relief pitching (spell that F-R-E-D N-O-R M A N) didn't get the job done."
The Expos didnt run too well, either (spell that R-O-N L-E-F-L-O-R E.) And that also was a factor in yesterday's outcome.
Trailing, 3-0, in the sixth, Montreal put runners on first and third against Cub starter Lynn McGlothen with nobody out. And LeFlore (93 thefts) was summoned as pinch-wheels for Willie Montanez at first.
Three pitches later. LeFlore took off and Mike O'Berry. Chicago's rookie catcher, threw him out by 10 feet. Thus, Jerry White's ensuing triple was worth only one run instead of two. And Office's subsequent liner was the third out instead of a sacrifice fly.
"We took chances today, but they didn't work out very well." Williams conceded. "LeFlore (running on his own, as usual) got a bad jump and they pitched out on him.
"FROM HINDSIGHT, that took us out of a three-run inning. But that's "Vwhat we've done all year – apply the pressure with our speed – and we sure aren’t going to change our style at this point in the season."
Williams will find one blessing this weekend. He may have to look at Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose and Garry Maddox. But he won’t have to look at the Cubs' Bill Buckner.
And to hear Williams talk, Buckner was. is, or could be a combination of all three.
Buckner charged back into the race for the league batting title yesterday, collecting three hits to raise his season average to .322.
"Buckner hurt us with his bat today." said Williams, "but he beat us with his brain.
"He is one hell of a ballplayer and I love the guy."
Williams reference to the Buckner IQ was in regard to a sixth-inning basepath ploy that set up a two-run Chicago rally. The spurt gave the Cubs the insurance runs necessary to withstand the three-run Expo ninth.
Buckner doubled in the first off Montreal starter Bill Gullickson and scored on Larry Biittner's single. He doubled in the third to score Mike Tyson. And he led off the sixth with a single (the Cubs were ahead, 3-1, at the time) against Norman.
BIITTNER FOLLOWED with a single to right and Buckner coasted casually into second and around the bag, then summoned a reserve of speed from his always aching heels and drew a throw from Expos right-fielder Office. The peg was futile and it enabled Biittner to take an extra base.
Later. Steve Dillard – surprised that he was getting a chance to bat against the lefty Norman "considering that the righthander (Gullkkson) struck me out twice before" – singled for two runs.
"Are you happy that Office made that throw?" a Montreal writer asked Williams.
"If I was managing, I wouldn't be happy about it." said the writer.
"Thank God you aren’t managing," said Williams.
Returning to the subject of Buckner. the Expos skipper continued. "Nothing that man does surprises me. He has talent; if it wasn’t for his leg problems, he'd really be great. But beyond that, he'll try to beat you any way he knows how... and. in these days of high-priced salaries, that makes him a rarity indeed.
"Take the Cubs' last series up in Montreal earlier this month. In the first game, he gets three hits against Gullickson on the night the kid strikes out 18.
"BUT ALSO THAT night. Buckner is up at the plate with two strikes and starts to swing at a pitch in the dirt. Gary Carter (the Expos" catcher) picks up the ball; Buckner takes a few steps toward first and Carter throws him out. So Buckner stops and comes back and starts claiming that the pitch hit him.
"The first-base umpire, John McSherry, already has called him out. The home-plate umpire, Paul Pryor. hasn’t called anything. So they make an appeal to the third-base ump, Billy Williams, and Williams says he didn’t swing at the pitch in the first place and that Buckner gets to come back to home plate and try again.
"Naturally, the TV replays showed later that he did strike out. But that didn’t matter so much as the fact Buckner would try anything to beat you. I love the guy."
TV Weekend: Snider Exposes Hitting Weaknesses (excerpt)
By Gene Quinn
Duke Snider says absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, but also makes the batting order forget about opposing pitchers.
The Montreal Expos storm into the Vet for a weekend series tonight, then host the Phillies next weekend in Montreal. There's bound to be some groping on both sides since the teams haven't met in nearly a month. What the heck is a Bob Walk or a Marty Bystrom, the Expos must be wondering. And the Phils are scratching their heads over what kind of stuff Bill Gullickson serves up.
Walk and Bystrom are the Phillie Phenoms, a pair of strong-armed rookie righthanders who have helped the Phils gallop to the wire aeck-and-neck with Montreal. Walk, who starts Sunday, beat the Expos once and Bystrom has never faced them.
Gullickson is a powerful, rookie righty who struck out 18 Cubs in his first major league start two weeks ago. The Phils wont have to worry about him until next week because he pitched in Chicago yesterday.
WE HAVEN’T SEEN the Phillies in so long we don’t know anything about them," says Snider, the Dodgers Hall of Famer and Expos broadcaster. "It's like a brand new ball-game. It's been a month since the Expos played the Phillies and we've never seen Bystrom pitch. You see teams in the standings and you see all the box scores. But it's one of those things where the scheduling is so strange now you forget about a ballclub you haven’t played for a while.
“I’ve always thought it's a plus for the pitcher. You can tell a pitcher how to throw to a hitter, and he can go out there and try to do that. You can tell a hitter what a pitcher throws, but he's got to see that pitcher and his delivery and what he throws in certain situations. The new pitcher has a definite advantage in that respect.
"All the hearsay in the world isn't going to do you any good," says Snider. "I can sit here right now and close my eyes and picture a Bob Gibson or a Don Drysdale throwing the baseball, what their delivery looked like, how the ball looked coming up to the plate. You get that fine in your hitting. If you talked to Pete Rose he'd tell you the same thing. But with Bob Walk or a Marty Bystrom, the hitters don’t really know what they look like."
You can thank the scheduling office for red-hot pennant races in the East and West Divisions, of the National League.
"WHOEVER ARRANGES THE schedule this year should take his hat off and bow to everybody," says Snider. "Here you're going to nave Houston and the Dodgers playing five games in the, next week-and-a-half and the last three games each other in LA. And you've got the Phillies and Expos playing six games. They laid out the schedule like they knew something."
The Expos are teetering on the brink of a championship without outfielders Ron LeFlore and Ellis Valentine. LeFlore (broken wrist) is with the club and is used for base-running. Power-hitting Valentine (knee injury) may not play for the rest of the season.
"With Valentine and LeFlore out, it takes a lot of punch out of your attack," says Snider. "Jerry White is adequate filling in for LeFlore, but he's not the threat (to steal) when he gets on base. Rowland Office has done a fine job in right field against right-handed pitching, but not like Valentine can do he can win a game by himself sometimes.
"Without those two, it has been a struggle, but they've managed to get good starting pitching. If you get the starter out and Woodie Fryman has a little problem (in relief), consistently they're in trouble. There's an occasional good gob in relief, like a Norman will do the job. Bill Lee did the job the other day, Stan Bahnsen did it against the Cubs (Wednesday) in relief. But we haven’t gotten the consistent help out of the bullpen.
"IF I WERE managing against the Expos, I’d scrape like the devil to get that starting pitcher out and you have a good chance of beating them.
“The thing with the Expos is, if you're a righthander you can beat them." says Snider. "If Dick Ruthven has his control Friday night, he can get them out. And if Walk has his control, he can get them out. (Lefthander) Steve Carlton can beat anybody – he's proven that. The Expos are usually a little better against lefthanders, but that's with LeFlore and Valentine in there, and neither of them will be."
The matchups are: Ruthven vs. David Palmer tonight; Carlton vs. Scott Sanderson tomorrow, and Steve Rogers vs. Walk Sunday (Channel 17, 3:05). Tomorrow's game will be nationally televised by NBC, Sunday's by ABC. The Philadelphia area will see the Reds and Astros tomorrow (Channel 3, 2:15) and Sunday (Channel 6, 3:05).
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