Wilmington News Journal - September 27, 1980
Phillies nip Expos to widen lead
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – The 50,887 fans at Veterans Stadium reacted like the Phillies had just won the World Series.
And so did the players, jumping and screaming and slapping each other on anything that was handy as Bake McBride circled the bases. McBride's ninth-inning homer had given the Phils a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Expos and a 1½-game lead in the National League East scramble.
"When you have this kind of game, you see the emotion," bubbled Phils' Manager Dallas Green, who's been trying to prod some life into his ball club all season and is finally starting to see the results. "It does show down deep that our guys want to win. I think it's sincere, deep and in evidence in games like tonight's."
Games like last night's could help the long-suffering Philadelphia fans forget about the near-misses and the almost-wases that have littered the Phillies' recent past.
"That homer saved me a lot of gray hairs," smiled Garry Maddox, whose second-inning home run had been the Phillies' total offense against loser David Palmer until McBride's shot.
"That was a big hit – huge. But Bake's been killing the ball all year, so it's not that unusual for him. But I'll tell you, it was a BIG hit for the ball club."
Palmer just shrugged and said, "It wasn't a very good pitch," but then he only had Montreal's view of it. The Phils, who have won 13 of their last 18 games, will treasure it for a long time.
"I feel a lot better than I did yesterday," said Green, who will throw staff ace Steve Carlton at the Expos' Scot Sanderson in this afternoon's nationally televised game. "These guys want to win. I've told you that all along. I'm really happy they're enjoying all of this."
Expo Manager Dick Williams wasn't as thrilled. "We've bounced back many times this year," he said, "so this shouldn't bother us at all. They have a super pitcher going tomorrow but, even if we lose, it won't wipe us out."
It wasn't pennant fever that gave the game all the earmarks of a chess match in the early going. Actually, both teams left their bats in the clubhouse.
The Phillies finished with five hits – two of them homers – and the Expos got just four off Dick Ruthven and none off winner Tug McGraw, who has four victories and three saves in September.
The Phils, who've now won 10 of 12 one-run games this month, took a 1-0 lead in the second when Maddox drilled Palmer's hanging curve to the lower deck in left.
"I know he's a first-ball hitter," said Palmer, "and I made a mistake and hung a curve ball."
It was Maddox's 11th homer of the season but, ominously, it looked like the only run the Phils might manage on the cold night.
"At the time it felt VERY good," said Maddox. "It was important in a big series like this to get on top first. That took some of the pressure off at the time."
But the Expos, who didn't get a hit off Ruthven until the fourth when Rowland Office singled with two out, put the pressure back on in the sixth.
Jerry White hit a two-out gapper to left-center for a double. Rodney Scott hit the ball in the hole and Larry Bowa got there. But the Phils' shortstop didn't get his glove down far enough, and the ball scooted under it to left field.
White scored without a throw and the game was tied.
"Personally, I thought that should've been scored an error," said Green. "Larry's got to stop the ball. If he stops it, the run doesn't score. I think he was anticipating a bigger hop."
The Expos threatened again in the seventh after Andre Dawson doubled off the top of the wall in left-center with one out. After Gary Carter flied to center, Green rumbled out to the mound and ordered an intentional walk for Warren Cromartie.
"Dick was getting a little arm-weary and I told him to get rid of Cromartie and just go after Larry Parrish," the manager said of his short chat with his tiring righthander.
And after lacing a long foul down the left-field line, Parrish looked at a third strike on a 2-2 pitch. That was to be all for Ruthven.
"Dick struggled a bit that inning and both Boonie and I felt he was losing a hair," said Green of his switch to McGraw, who's been virtually unhittable (0.63 ERA) since coming off the disabled list on July 17. "Rather than take a chance with Rufus, I decided to make the switch."
Ruthven thought he pitched well and shrugged off any notion of undue emotion.
"To be consistent, I can't put any more importance on one game than another," Ruthven said while soaking his arm in the trainer's room. "Obviously there's more emotion now, but emotion buries me."
If it buries Ruthven, it brings out the best in McGraw, who retired all six batters he faced.
"Every player plays this game their own way mentally," said McGraw. "The physical talent is out there on the field, but the way you play it mentally is what takes you to the top.
"We had it together tonight. Both clubs are trying hard to win, so the pitcher who keeps his composure, wins. Their pitcher (Palmer) made" two mistakes. We made fewer – or got away with more."
But those two mistakes – the first-pitch homers by Maddox and McBride on breaking pitches, which are Palmer's out pitch – proved fatal to Montreal last night. What it does in the long run, which only has a week to run, remains to be seen.
Last seen at the Vet was a wild scene of happy Phillies, congratulating each other and feeling the joy of a big victory. It may not have been the seventh game of the World Series, but you would've had a hard time convincing any of them of that.
EXTRA INNINGS - Phils are 17 games over .500, their high-water mark of the season... McGraw has four victories and three saves in the Phils' last 17 victories... Carter's 10-game hitting streak ended... Bob Walk vs. the Expos' Steve Rogers tomorrow at 3:05 p.m.
McBride delivers in clutch
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – It started climbing into the cool night air, higher and higher, forming a majestic arch before it finally dropped in the Phillies' bullpen.
The roar from the frantic mob started as the ball shot off Bake McBride's bat and vibrated around Veterans Stadium until the hero of the moment was summoned from the clubhouse celebration to take another bow.
Bake McBride tells people he is unemotional, but there were traces of tears in his eyes and his voice trembled as he spoke of the ninth-inning home run that gave the Phillies a dramatic 2-1 victory last night over Montreal and a 1-game lead in National League East.
"I try not to get caught up in emotion," said "Shake 'n Bake," whose 14 game-winning runs batted in lead the Phils. "I came to the park tonight telling myself this was just another game and I tried to approach it that way. But when I hit it, I felt something inside of me. It was one of the most exciting moments I have ever had in professional baseball."
By the time McBride got to first base there was no doubt he had won the tense struggle at the expense of Dave Palmer, and as he started toward second, he shot his clenched right fist in the air. Once, twice, three times.
"The adrenalin was flowing," said McBride, who has been the most consistent of all the Phillies this year. "When I hit it, I immediately went into my home-run trot, then it dawned on me the wind was blowing in, so I started running harder. When I saw it drop over the fence, I relaxed."
By the time McBride got to home plate, the entire team was out of the dugout, mobbing him. The 50,887 ' customers were also on their feet screaming and yelling.
"You have to shift gears in a hurry after a game like this," said McBride. "You have to think about tomorrow. Tonight, I did the job. Tomorrow, maybe it will be somebody else. Don't forget, we have five more games with Montreal. This is a long way from over."
But last's night's exciting triumph gave the Phils their largest lead of the season and stunned the Expos, who had wiped out a 1-0 lead built on Garry Maddox' second-inning home run.
Now, they must face Steve Carlton today, the National League's No. 1 pitcher.
"I know a lot of the guys thought the first game of this series was the most important," said McBride. "I did not feel that way. I wanted to approach it as any other game. But getting the first one under our belts is important. They've got to recuperate in a hurry."
McBride, who is hitting .308 with nine homers and 82 runs batted in, has been playing on aching knees and aching feet, but has never complained.
"Tonight, when I went out to right field it was so cool, I had trouble getting loose," said the quiet, 31-year-old McBride, who came to the Phillies from St. Louis on June 15, 1977. "I'll tell you one thing, though. When I ran around the bases, I didn't feel a thing."
As it turns out, there is enormous irony attached to McBride's most productive year since he made the St. Louis varsity in 1973. He and former Phils' Manager Danny Ozark did not get along and there was repeated talk during the offseason that he would be traded.
In fact, during the winter meetings in Toronto, the Phils almost pulled off a deal with Texas for reliever Sparky Lyle that involved "Shake 'n Bake.”
"I didn't want to go," said McBride. "I told Paul Owens (player personnel director) that. I felt the nucleus of this ball club deserved another shot at winning. After all, a lot of us were hurt in 1979. 1 saw no reason why the starting eight should be broken up after just one disappointing year.
"During the winter, I was afraid to pick up the phone. Before spring training, I had a chat with Paul Owens and I think we got things straightened out. He convinced me I was wanted here."
So, with the nasty thought of being traded behind, McBride set his sights on returning to the form that had given him a ,300-plus career average before '79.
Last year, Bake was one of only four National League players to have double figures in doubles, triples and home runs. Now, he is just one home run shy of being the only player in the league to reach double figures in all extra-base hits this season.
"Tonight, I was not going after the homer," said McBride. "If we had been one or two runs behind, I would have gone for the long ball. All I was trying to do was get on base for Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski. Palmer's first pitch was a breaking ball in the strike zone. I was surprised he started me off with a breaking ball, but I jumped on it.
"Just playing Montreal is bringing us all on. Tonight, I was fortunate."
“And as happy as you've ever been," somebody said.
"You've got that right," said Bake, "and I have a hunch we're all going to be happy for quite some time."