Philadelphia Daily News - September 27, 1980
McBride Bakes Expos
By Bill Conlin
Bill Giles wondered if the crowd would ever stop screaming and head for the exits.
"It reminded me of the crowd reaction in 1972 after Steve Carlton won his 15th straight here, or the Angels crowd in Anaheim after they lost the final game of the playoff last year." Giles said. "I picked up the phone and called the clubhouse and asked Dallas to get him out there for a bow."
The 50,887 fans weren't calling for a Mike Schmidt encore. They didn't want old, established firms like Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski or Bob Boone Nah, they couldn't have wanted Luzinski or Boone. Nobody was brandishing a rope.
They stood there clamoring for Bake McBride, whose towering first-pitch homer leading off the ninth gave the Phillies a sudden-death 2-1 victory over the Expos and a 1½ game lead in the East. McBride came out for the first post-game ovation of his career.
THEN TUG McGRAW appeared to do a post-game PRISM interview with moonlighting Tim McCarver. McGraw had picked up his fourth victory of the month with two brilliant innings behind Dick Ruthven. The 36-year-old. lefthander stood there with tears running down his cheeks, pumping his arms skyward to the roaring crowd.
When the media horde filed into the clubhouse. Manny Trillo stood in front of McBride's locker like Horatio at the Bridge. "Bake, he says he's sorry, but he is not gonna talk to anybody," Trillo said, doing his best imitation of a traffic cop in downtown Caracas. Several out-of-town writers, new to the vagaries of the Phillies' clubhouse, went into shock.
It was a joke. Bake was talking. He started talking in the trainer's room with a couple of guys who travel with the club. He talked to wave after wave in front of Trillo's locker while the second baseman stalked around in the background feigning anger. He was still answering questions an hour later, wedged in his own cubicle.
In the trainer's room, though, the right-fielder was still up there riding a natural high, clutching the scuffed baseball the bullpen guys had retrieved for him after it clattered off one of the fold-out football seats. His voice trembled with emotion.
McGraw has given a hundred glib, witty, sincere, crowd-pleasing interviews after big games. He gave another one last night after driving his ERA in 29 games since July 17 down to an incredible 0.63. Other guys also deserved mobs in front of their lockers.
THERE WAS GARRY Maddox, who started the evening with a two-out second inning homer off losing pitcher Dave Palmer. There was Greg Luzinski, booed again, who galloped into the left-field corner with one out in the ninth to make a tremendous catch on a sliced drive by Rowland Office. There was Ruthven, who allowed just four hits and lost his shutout in the sixth when the shortstop, Larry Bowa failed to keep what should have been a conceded infield hit by Rodney Scott from going into left.
But this night belonged to Arnold Ray McBride, who batted 1.000 last winter in that his name came up in every Phillies' trade rumor, who would have been playing out the string with the Texas Rangers last night if Ruly Carpenter had been willing to assume Sparky Lyle's 10-year personal services contract. Now the Phils have McBride and Lyle. Who says you can't have your Bake and eat it too?
By now, you know about his knees, the braces he wears on both of them, the special shoes he designed and constructed to help the knees withstand the unyielding turf. You know he has as many game winning RBI as Schmidt, that he is hitting .308 with a career high 82 RBI. Maybe you don't know that one more homer and he'll be the only player in the league with double figures in every category of extra base hits.
Nobody had to tell you Bake McBride is having a helluva season.
"I don't know what it hit," Bake said, displaying a ball with a large piece gouged out of the cover. "Maybe it hit the top of the fence or something. When I hit it I felt that it was gone, then I realized, that the wind was blowing in. Soon as I hit it I went into my trot. If it had hit, the fence I would have wound up standing on second."
HE LAUGHED. THERE was still the nervously elated tremble of a Millionaire's Lottery winner in his voice.
"I am excited," he said, "This is probably one of the exciting moments that I've had this year as far as doing something like that. I think just playing Montreal right, now for the division title makes everything come out in the players. Tonight it was my turn. Tomorrow it will be somebody else, hopefully."
It has been coming out in the Phillies all month. The result of that blood test has finally come back from the lab – it is Blue Positive.. This was the 12th one-run game the Phils have played since Sept. 1 and they have won 10 of them.
"I looked at this as just another game, really,". McBride said, which is the kind, of thing the Pirates were saying last September when they dueled the talented Expos down the stretch in a race that wasn't decided until the final day. "The reason I looked at it that way was I didn't want to put any pressure on myself. Knowing we're playing Montreal really puts more pressure on, so I just went out there and said it was another game."
That's what McGraw tried to do when he was a youngster, shut it all out, the crowd noise, the towering stands. "I tried to develop tunnelvision," he said. "I'd try to pick out one face in the crowd and focus on that, try to block out the cheers. I was working so hard to concentrate I didn't have anything left when it was time to throw the pitch. So I went the other way. My involvement is my way of keeping the adrenalin pumping to my advantage."
DIFFERENT MASKS FOR different tasks. McGraw appreciates the sincere shows of emotion he has seen this month from a collection of athletes who previously could have toured with the King Tut Exhibit and passed for mummies. Much of the emotion has been bottled up by the time the media reaches the clubhouse. But it has been there and last night it was even permitted to linger for brief public consumption.
"We're getting good pitching, getting men over," McBride said. "We're doing the fundamentals correctly. Plus the pitching has been good."
The Phils are 3-0 on the homestand and have scored a total of five runs. It takes pitching, defense and execution to turn five runs into three wins.
McBride was surprised when Palmer started him with a breaking ball.
"In three at bats before then he had only thrown me two breaking balls," Bake said. "I wasn't looking for a breaking ball. I was just trying to put the ball in play and get a base hit. If we'd have been a run behind in that situation I'd have probably gone for the home run, which is bad because my job is target on base and let Schmitty and Bull drive me in. It was a pitch I could get out in front on and pull."
DALLAS GREEN SAYS the only reason McBride's name came up in every trade rumor last winter is because he has talent.
"He was traded to the Phillies because he has talent and we wanted that talent," the manager said. "His name kept coming up last winter because we were looking for quality and people wanted quality in return. Will we trade him in the future? I told him he wouldn't get traded to Texas. Schmitty might have Bake out-statted this season, but he's been a very, very big cog in this ballclub. I think he wanted to prove that some people were wrong about him."
McGraw went at the Expos with his entire repertoire. But he saved the best of his pitching for last. With two outs in the ninth, Tug faced Andre Dawson and fell behind 3-2. And he struck the Expos most dangerous hitter out with his Bo Derek fastball. "It had a nice little tail," McGraw grinned.
PHILUPS: The gate sale was a brisk 17,000 and Bill Giles was beaming. "That's the second time this year I cried wolf before a game and worked both times," he said. "It's just hard convince the public for games like this that we really do have plenty of tickets available. We had about a 33,000 advance when the gates opened tonight"... How even are these teams? When they went into the bottom of the ninth, the Phils and Expos each had one run and four hits... Dallas Green decided to pull Dick Ruthven after seven during a mound visit to discuss walking Warren Cromartie with first open after Andre Dawson bounced a double off the fence in center. "We decided to walk Cromartie and go after Larry Parrish," Green said. "He struck out Parrish and I figured, why take chance of Dick possibly getting into trouble. Dick pitched superbly, but I had my hammer ready. I didn't care if the pitcher was due up the next inning or not. If Bob Boone had got on Tug would have bunted him over"... Steve Carlton, 1-1 vs. the Expos, will go against Scott Sanderson, 2-0 against the Phils, today. Bob Walk vs. Steve Rogers tomorrow at 3:05.
Palmer Watched Homer
By Ray Didinger
David Palmer watched the ball jump of f Bake McBride's bat He turned slowly, almost reluctantly, and watched it sail through the crisp autumn night, then drop silently beyond the right-field fence.
Palmer stood on the mound, staring, into the right-field seats. His Montreal Expo teammates were walking off. the chilly waters of second place creeping ominously above their knees. Palmer didnt move. He stood there alone while Bill Giles' fireworks splashed the South Philadelphia sky.
Finally, Palmer started toward the dugout, walking like a man on his way back from a shock treatment. He walked past home plate where the entire Phillies' team was waiting to greet Bake McBride. This was the biggest reception since Lindbergh touched down in Paris but Palmer didn’t seem to notice.
He headed straight for the trainer's room where he could ice down his tender right elbow and collect his thoughts. He left it Tip to Manager Dick Williams to rummage through the bag of September cliches and find some- thing appropriate for last night's heart-stopping 2-1 Phillies' victory.
WILLIAMS HAS BEEN through pennant races before, once in Boston, three times in Oakland, . then last year in Montreal. He knows how to handle a tough loss in the stretch. He knows what to say on a night when his club loses one in the ninth inning and drops 1½ games back with just eight to play.
"We're not down," Williams said calmly. "Sure, we're down right now because we lost a ballgame but well be OK. We'll be out here again tomorrow. It's not over yet. It won't be over until next weekend.
"This was just a helluva ballgame... well-pitched and well-played by both sides. I can't say enough about the way Dave Palmer pitched tonight. He gave the Phillies, what, four hits through eight innings? He was super.
"Yeah, it was a tough one to lose," Williams said, "but if we come back and win tomorrow, we'll still be in good shape."
Williams' prognosis was a good deal more cheerful than that expressed by his players. Most of the Expos sat quietly by their lockers, picking half-heartedly at their post-game sandwiches. There was no music, no tape players blaring. It sounded, well, like a wake.
"LOSING THIS ONE makes it tough," admitted outfielder Andre Dawson. "We're a game and one-half back now and they have their ace (Steve Carlton) coming at us next (today). We can’t afford to fall too far behind this late in the season.
"I really thought we'd win tonight, split the next two games and get out of here with 2-of-3. We've had pretty good success against (Phils starter Dick) Ruthven and the Phillies haven't been scoring many runs lately. I thought we might be catching them at a good time."
Good time? The Expos are missing two of their starting outfielders, Ron LeFlore and Ellis Valentine, both out with wrist injuries. Their speed and power helped keep Montreal atop the Eastern Division for 76 days this season. Without them, the Expos area different ballclub.
"Injuries are just part of the game," Dawson shrugged. "We've, had to deal with them all year."
He's right. Montreal's regular starting eight has been together in only 23 of 153 games this season. If the Expos had stayed healthy all summer, there might not be a pennant race now. As it is, they are patched together and fighting for their lives.
"WE KNEW THIS was gonna be a make-or-break trip for us," said catcher Gary Carter, referring to the two-week, five-city tour which the Expos are now concluding. "And we knew finishing here was gonna be very tough.
"I'm sure the Phillies got a big lift out of this game. Whenever you win a game on a homer in the bottom of the ninth, it psyches you up. The Phillies were all out there to greet McBride at the plate. Now they have Carlton going... hey, they have to feel good.
"We just have to battle back," Carter said, "and I think we'll do that. This team has a lot of character. We were in the pennant race right down to the final week last year and I think that experience matured a lot of our guys. I think that's gonna help us now.
“The sad part about this game is we wasted a great effort by Dave Palmer. He didn't deserve to lose, not the way he pitched."
Dave Palmer is a 22-year-old kid who was pitching in Double A ball just two years ago. The Expos brought him up last season and he was the hottest thing to hit Canada since Margaret Trudeau. He rang up a 10-2 record and a 2.63 earned run average. He did not lose a game after July 30.
THIS YEAR, PALMER got off to a promising start, then developed tendinitis in his right elbow. He went on the disabled list shortly after the All-Star break and was not reactivated until August 27: He had made only three starts since coming back and he was not particularly effective.
Dick Williams was putting the kid on the spot, sending him out to open this crucial three-game series against the Phillies. There was only a half-game separating the two teams, there were 50,887 pennant-hungry fans in Veterans Stadium and the air was so thick with pressure, guys were breathing through strainers.
But Palmer hung in there. He pitched his way out of trouble in the third, striking out Pete Rose with Ruthven on second and nobody out. If Rose had advanced Ruthven with a ground ball, the pitcher could have easily scored when the next hitter, McBride, lofted a deep fly to center. Instead, it turned out to be a meaningless out.
McBride opened the sixth with a single but Palmer threw Mike Schmidt a good, sinking fastball and the National League home-run leader topped it to shortstop Chris Speier who started a routine double play. Palmer threw just 91 pitches through eight neat innings. Only two of those pitches could be classified as mistakes.
"I hung a curve ball to (Garry) Maddox in the second inning," Palmer said upon emerging from beneath his ice pack. "The last thing you want to do is give Maddox something good on the first pitch, but that's what 1 did. I wanted to throw him a curve down-and-away but I got it up and he hit it out.
"THE PITCH TO McBride was also a first pitch, also a curve ball. I wanted to get it down-and-in. It was down but it was out over the plate. He got around on it. Seems like the guy (McBride) hjas been getting big hits against us all year."
Someone asked Palmer if his pitching performance could be considered a positive note on this otherwise gloomy evening. Palmer gave the guy a long, blank stare.
Positive note? As long as Dave Palmer earns a living throwing a baseball, he'll remember the cold chill he felt when he watched that ball explode on the barrel of Bake McBride's bat.
Another reporter asked if the Expos were "intimidated" by the large, vocal crowd. Palmer shrugged.
"WE'VE JUST GOTTA block that stuff out," he said. "We weren't intimidated, we weren't tight. We lost this game because 1 made a mistake a guy knocked it out of the park, that’s all."
"What were you thinking," someone wanted to know, "when you were standing on the mound, watching McBride circle the bases."
"I was thinking, 'Oh bleep,'" Dave Palmer said. "I'm sorry, but that's the only thing that came into my mind."
Considering the circumstances, David, it seems entirely appropriate.
Robert and Ida Knowles of Camden won $10 plus four tickets to a Phillies game next season on Dick Ruthven's single in the Daily News Home Run Payoff contest.
Other winners in the third inning of the Phillie-Expos game last night were: Marie Johnson of Roslyn, Pa., and A.P. Washington and Charles Cofield, both of Philadelphia.
The Daily News has paid out $19,165 this season.
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