Reading Eagle - September 28, 1980
Montreal Cuts Phillies’ Lead To ½ Game
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – The sun, slider and sacrifice all failed the Philadelphia Phillies Saturday, and so their first-place seat is shaky instead of solid.
The Montreal Expos beat the Phils and Steve Carlton by 4-3, thwarting a ninth-inning rally 90 feet from a tie game.
That out the teams back where they were Friday afternoon, with the Phillies clinging to a half-game lead (in the loss column) and making this afternoon’s 3:05 series finale doubly important.
“We had them on the ropes, but we couldn’t put the coup de grace on them,” summed up Manager Dallas Green, who admitted he went into the game “feeling very comfortable with Lefty out there.”
The Fan Appreciation Day crowd of 53,058 (second largest at the Vet all year) saw the Phillies twice take early one-run leads on homers by Mike Schmidt and Manny Trillo. But the Expos went up 3-2 in the seventh and tacked on the decisive run in the eighth.
The bright sunlight, contrasting with the lengthening shadows, provided trouble for hitters and fielders alike. The only time it figured in the scoring was on Larry Parrish’s hopper over the mound which squirted through for the eighth-inning run.
It came off Warren Brusstar, who had entered after Carlton had given a leadoff double to Andre Dawson. “I never saw it till it got right on top of me,” said Brusstar. “I grabbed like crazy for it, but I just never got to it. It was so bright out there – really glaring.”
“Bru got the ball just where we wanted, but he couldn’t see it,” agreed Green.
Meanwhile, the sun didn’t hurt the Expos on what Pete Rose called the game’s biggest play – Parrish’s diving stop of Larry Bowa’s grounder with a runner on second in the seventh. “He didn’t see it at first, but he just got it,” said Pete.
The slider which hurt was Carlton’s, because it wasn’t up to its usual standard.
“Herm (Starette) said he didn’t have a good one when he was warming up,” said Green, noting that if Steve had had a good one, he wouldn’t have thrown some of the fastballs on which he got hurt.
Also huting was the slider of the Expos’ ancient reliever, Woody Fryman. He came on to get the last out in the ninth by enticing pinch-hitter Lonnie Smith to look at a third strike on a 1-2 offering.
“You would prefer not to see the kid take the ball in that situation,” said Green in measured tones.
The sacrifice was the one Garry Maddox couldn’t deliver as the third batter in the ninth, with the tying runs aboard thanks to singles up the middle by Greg Luzinski and Trillo.
Maddox, who earned the reputation as the team’s worst bunter in the Ozark era, had sacrificed successfully in the seventh for his fifth of the year, a career high. But that was with just one on.
He pushed the bunt right at the charging first baseman, Warren Cromartie, whose throw to third beat pinch-runner Jay Loviglio with plenty to spare.
Thus, after Bowa’s forceout grounder to second and Keith Moreland’s ground single down the right-field line, the Phils had only one run, with Bowa on third.
“That’s the way we’ve played all year,” said Green, reacting to suggestions that the bunt wasn’t the wisest move. “But the guy’s got to get it down.”
The bunt obviously should have been to third, because Parrish stayed at the bag. “Garry feels more comfortable bunting to first,” said Green, “but you can’t do that with a guy sitting on your front porch.
“There are some first basemen in this league who won’t throw to third, but Warren Cromartie isn’t one of them. Give him credit, he charged and that’s the secret of the play.”
With the tying run on third and the winning run on first, Green sent up Del Unser to his for Sparky Lyle against Elias Sosa, who had replaced winner Scott Sanderson in the seventh.
When Dick Williams countered with the lefty Fryman, Green went to Smith, who also struck out against Fryman in a key spot as a pinch-hitter for Unser on Montreal’s last visit to Philly.
“That’s a tough spot for him – he’s not used to pinch-hitting,” said Green, who has called on him to pinch hit only eight times. “But you’ve got to play the percentages. We haven’t let Del hit against a left-hander all year, and we’re not going to start now.”
Green was questioned on one other move, letting Carlton go out to start the eighth despite his allowing two doubles in the seventh, and despite the Phils being in position to double-switch because Greg Gross hit for Bob Boone in the seventh.
“He didn’t win 23 by me taking him out,” replied Dallas. “Sometimes he struggles on inning, and he’s overpowering the next.”
Schmidt homered to left (No. 44) in the first, and Trillo did likewise in the second. The rest of the Phils’ attack consisted of six singles, the first three wasted.
Still, that was three more hits than the Phils had managed in any of their last four games (three of which they won).
“We just haven’t hit the ball the way we should,” said Green, who had no real explanation.
“We’ve faced some real good pitching,” suggested Rose. “The guys are really hearing down so much defensively, they just score what they have to. You see a lot of low-scoring games this time of year. And it was tough to see out there.”
Things are tougher this time of year because the sun sets earlier. It should be tougher today, assuming the sun is as bright, because of the 1½-hour late start for national television. (Even the umps were complaining about it Saturday.)
“There’ll be less scoring tomorrow,” Rose promised. The pennant may hinge on which team scores the less.
PHIL-PHILLERS – “You don’t expect guys like Chris Speier and Jerry White to beat you,” said Green. Speier singled home the second run (in the fourth), and doubled before scoring on White’s double to break the tie in the seventh… It was also Reading Day. George Eyrich threw out the first ball… Gary Carter hit his 27th homer to tie at 1-1 in the second… The Pirates will be mathematically eliminated with their next loss – or with a win Monday be either the Expos or the Phils… Phils got only two runners to second (other than on the homers) in the first eight innings… Sosa made a nice play on Gross’ hopper to end the seventh, right after Parrish’s play on Bowa.