Camden Courier-Post - September 28, 1980
Phillies bow, lead slashed to ½ game
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – There were any number of reasons why the Phillies yesterday failed to deliver what could have been a knockout punch in the second round of their championship bout with the Montreal Expos yesterday.
The 4-3 defeat before a crowd of 53,058 – the second largest to see a game in Veterans Stadium this season – could easily be attributed to an offense that failed to produce more than one hit in any one inning until the ninth. You could point to Steve Carlton, the leader in the Cy Young Award sweepstakes, allowing himself to be hurt by Chris Speier, a .251 hitter, and Jerry White, a switchhitter who went into the game batting .184 right-handed.
But the fact would remain that, for the want of a properly-placed bunt, the Phillies could be sitting on a 2½-game lead over Montreal with eight games remaining in the National League East Division race.
As it is. the Phils' edge over the Expos is again a half-game going into this afternoon's series finale.
The Phillies were down. 4-2, going into the bottom of the ninth against righhander Elias Soas, who had relieved Expo starter Scott Sanderson in the seventh.
Greg Luzinski opened the inning with a ground single to center and, after Jay Loviglio replaced Luzinski as the runner. Manny Trillo singled. It the game for Trillo, who homered in the Phils a 2-1 lead, and threw out a after Montreal had tied the game in was the third hit of the second to give runner at the plate the fourth.
So it was that Garry Maddox was sent to the plate with orders to bunt. In such a situation, it is customary for the bunt to be placed down the third base line forcing either the third baseman or the pitcher to field the ball.
And, how to defense such a bunt was the chief topic of conversation among Montreal Manager Dick Williams and his infielders, who met at the pitcher's mound before Maddox stepped in.
"We have six plays on that situation," said Williams. "Which of the plays we use is determined by the bunter, the runner at second and how well our pitcher moves off the mound."
Maddox, however, bunted toward first baseman Warren Cromartie, who easily threw out Loviglio at third, short-circuiting a threat that would end with the tying run at third.
"Why they bunted toward first, I don't know," Williams continued. "But it was something we were very fortunate on."
The Expos were indeed fortunate that Maddox bunted toward Cromartie, who was charging with the single-minded purpose of a wounded bull. The play left the Phillies precisely where they had begun, with runners on first and second. But now there was one out instead of none.
"There are," said Phillies Manager Dallas Green, "some first basemen in the league who won't make that play. But Cromartie isn't one of them. I think Garry is comfortable bunting toward first base, but you can't do that if the guy's sitting on your front porch. And he was in Garry's lap when Garry bunted the ball."
Any number of things could have happened had the runners been advanced. There was, for instance, a chance Larry Bowa's ensuing soft grounder to second would have scored a run and moved the tying run to third. Or Green might have used a pinchhitter for Bowa. Whatever might have been, all Bowa's grounder did was force Maddox at second.
"It was a big play, no doubt about it, because it choked off the one run," said catcher Gary Carter, who homered off Carlton to tie the game, 1-1, in the second.
Still, a brief glimmer of hope was raised in the hearts of the fans when Keith Moreland stroked an RBI single to right, sending Bowa, the potential tying run, to third.
But that hope flickered and died when Lonnie Smith was caught looking at a called third strike. The pitch, which at once ended the game and greatly enhanced the Expos' chances in the East, was delivered by ex-Phillie Woody Fryman, one of the younger 40-year-olds in the league.
The Expos had taken a 3-2 lead in the seventh with the use of a bunt down the third base line. Speier opened the inning with his third hit of the game, a double to left. Bob Pate moved Speier to third with a bunt in the direction of third baseman Mike Schmidt and, an out later, White picked on a 2-0 fastball and doubled to the gap in left-center.
And they made it 4-2 in the eighth when third baseman Larry Parrish, who had saved a run with a superb stop of a ball hit by Bowa in the seventh, bounced an RBI single up the middle off reliever Warren Brusstar.
PHIL UPS – Andre Dawson began the eighth with his second double of the game off Carlton... Schmidt, who turned 31 yesterday, gave the Phils a 1-0 lead in the first with his 44th home ran of the year... The homer was Schmidt's 23rd this season at home, setting a club record for righthanded hitters... It also was the 25th time one of Schmidt's homers either tied a game or put the Phillies ahead... Rookie Bob Walk opposes Steve Rogers today.
Phils’ punch fades as hurling improves
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – If Steve Carlton had shown up for yesterday's crucial game with the Montreal Expos with his usual array of devastating pitches, the Phillies wouldn't even be giving their starting lineup a second thought.
Unfortunately, with the visitors primed for the coup de grace, a something-less-than-super Steve took the mound and breathed new life into dreary speculation that, for all his marvelous talents, the ace of the Phillies staff just can't win the big game.
You could count on one hand the number of games Lefty has gone into combat this season without an effective slider, which Manager Dallas Green admits is the obvious Cy Young Award winner's "bread and butter pitch."
It happened yesterday. And, it couldn't have happened at a worse time. Although, fairness dictated that Green point out, "Two or three times ain't bad at all when you've pitched nearly 300 innings."
By switching to an almost-obsessed reliance on the fastball, Carlton and catcher Bob Boone (who called the pitches) not only set the stage for two of the least dangerous hitters in the Expos lineup to beat the Phils, but also added to a situation where Manager Green will find it hard to ignore a disturbing truth – somebody isn't hitting.
How ironic that a club that began the season praying its offense could hide a troubled pitching staff now finds itself in a position where the pitchers are continually propping up a starting lineup that just has too many slumping batters.
Solid seasons by some of the starters have helped. Opportunistic hitting, much to the Phils' credit, has saved the day on numerous occasions. And, the aggressive attack the bench has provided has been a blessing of the highest magnitude. Of such stuff, championships are made.
But, only so many genies, like rookie righthander Marty Bystrom, can pop out of the lantern. And magic moments like Bake McBride's ninth-inning homer Friday night aren't sold by the bushel.
The Phils found that out yesterday when they tossed a few coins in the fountain and got only wet money for the effort. Wishing for a shutout from Carlton didn't do it. Helping big Steve with some runs would have.
Did you know that, in their last 78 trips to the plate, Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski, Mike Schmidt and Boone have gotten a total of seven hits? Or, that since September 8th, Rose has gone 16-for-83, which figures out to a .193 batting average? Bull is hitting .231 and Boone's .229 average is a similar reflection of the havoc that injuries have played with both men's prowess at the plate.
This is not meant to detract from anyone's ability or contribution to the success of the club. Luzinski, for example, came up with a clutch hit the ninth inning yesterday. Both he and Boone have made pivotal defensive plays along the way.
However, there is a point of diminishing return. It wasn't important until yesterday. Up until then, the Phils had managed to win four of their previous five games, even though they had given their pitchers just 1 1 runs worth of backing.
Carlton's inability to continue the streak of offensive hocus-pocus has surely made Green feel like the ringmaster who just heard the juggler's dumbells clattering on the ground.
Another punchless defeat and the manager just might decide that if he can't beat the Expos in a head-to-head confrontation with his veteran lineup (which he has stood by so patiently), then he might be better off unleashing the eager young Huns he has on the bench.
Each dandy performance by a pitcher has kept alive Green's hope that tomorrow the veterans would break out offensively and take some of the pressure off the pitchers.
Carlton must have known the offensive situation. He knew he wasn't going to be able to keep the Expos off-balance with a mixture of sliders and fastballs.
So, he went with his fastball, which was thrown out of bright sunlight to a plate draped in shadows. Considering Carlton's velocity, it should have been a hitter's nightmare.
The trouble was, as the game progressed, Carlton had trouble locating his fastball. Thus, he sometimes found himself in the position of having to choose between a troubled slider and a troubled fastball.
A number of baseball experts suspect Boone and Carlton made the wrong choice between the two, especially when dealing with Montreal's Chris Speier and Jerry White.
They are considered "weaker" hitters in the Expos lineup. Those kind of hitters usually have more trouble with breaking balls. Carlton got two strikes on Speier in the fourth. He hit a run-scoring double. Carlton got two strikes on Speier in the seventh. Boone called for a fastball. Speier doubled. Two outs later, White (who was hitting .184 as a righthanded batter) came up. Carlton got two quick strikes on him, threw a fastball and White doubled home Speier to break the 2-2 tie.
But, let's face it, there would be no need to be second-guessing pitch-selection if the "big miracle" happened – the appearance of the total-Phillies' of fense.
Expos escape the corner, now it’s Phillies’ turn
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – The Montreal Expos were not, by any stretch of the imagination, in the best of positions going into yesterday's game against the Phillies in Veterans Stadium.
The Expos had lost in gut-wrenching fashion Friday night when Bake McBride opened the ninth inning with a home run that gave the Phillies a dramatic 2-1 decision.
The defeat put the Expos, who last year were eliminated by the Phillies on the final day of the season, 1½ games behind in the National League East Division race. As if that weren't enough, the Expos had to face lefthander Steve Carlton, whose 23-8 record was hardly what you would call a fluke.
But what could have been a disaster before 53,058 hostile fans and a national television audience turned into Montreal's finest. The Expos, shrugging off two early deficits, beat Carlton and the Phillies, 4-3. Now, instead of being on the ropes, the Expos have the Phillies on the run.
"It was very important, without a doubt," said catcher Gary Carter, who homered off Carlton in the second. "If we had lost today, we would' ve been 2½ back and the Phillies have four games with Chicago before they come to our place (next weekend).
"With this long road trip (13 games) and all the so-called pressure, we needed a big win like this."
According to third baseman Larry Par-rish, who robbed Larry Bowa of a run-scoring hit in the seventh and drove in what proved to be the game-winner in the eighth, the Expos won because they had no other choice.
"We respect Carlton, but we were painted into a corner," said Parrish. "There was nothing else we could do.
"We talked about it last night... about being down a game-and-a-half and having to face Steve Carlton ... We were like the guy who has himself in a corner in a fight you got to come out swinging."
The Expos did just that, getting two doubles from Andre Dawson and one each from shortstop Chris Speier and right fielder Jerry White. Speier provided some particularly damaging punches, singling in a run to tie the score, 2-2, in the fourth, and doubling and scoring on a White's double to give Montreal a 3-2 lead in the seventh.
"It was a must game", said reliever " Woody Fryman, who picked up his 17th save ' by striking out Lonnie Smith with the tying run on third to end the game. "I'm not going to say we would've been out of it if we had lost, but beating Steve Carlton gives us some momentum because he is the best pitcher in the league."
It's funny how rapidly things change in baseball. Yesterday morning the Expos were on the verge of being counted out of the East race. This morning, they are the team with the advantage. The Phillies may not yet be backed totally against the wall, but yesterday's loss certainly staggered them a step or two.