Montreal Gazette - September 29, 1980
Expos club Phillies to regain East lead
By Michael Farber of The Gazette
PHILADELPHIA – Before the start of the three-game series with the Expos, manager Dallas Green of the then first-place Phillies said:
"The shoe is on the other foot."
Well, given the weather in Montreal on October 22 the scheduled date of the seventh game of the World Series the snowshoe is back on the other foot.
On Friday, Les Expos sont blah. This morning, the Expos sont la.
Oh, how the National League East kaleidoscope whirls, changing the look of a pennant race with every turn. Philadelphia had the division in the palm of its hand Saturday and now its palm sweats a bunch. The Expos – two games behind in the loss column Saturday morning with the prospect of facing Steve Carlton – regained first place by a half game (the teams are even in the loss column) by trumping the Phillie ace Saturday and winning, 8-3, yesterday.
"That was not some kind of accident," said Steve Rogers, "nor was that a fairy tale. Nobody has to sprinkle a magic powder on this team. This is just the nature of the Expos. We've had every opportunity to roll over and die, but we haven't. And we won't."
Steve Rogers, remember him? The guy who can't win the big games because he keeps tripping on his Adam's Apple?
Right, the same guy who is 4-1 this month with a 2.16 earned run average and six complete games in his past eight starts. Rogers (16-11), who three-hit the Pirates in Pittsburgh in his previous start, allowed Philadelphia just five hits and got 12 ground ball outs with a nasty sinker.
Gary Carter, whom Rogers shook off just twice (changing one kind of fastball for another) hit two home runs and drove in four runs. Chris Speier tripled home two more and the Expo defence looked like the DEW line.
Easy as ABC.
The Most Crucial Game of the Season, Take 12, started at 3:05 yesterday, 90 minutes later than usual, to accommodate the network which brings you Howard Cosell. Like Cosell, it was a joke.
At 4:44 p.m., when all good players should be knocking back a milkshake, the Expos and Phillies were in the top of the sixth inning. With runners on first and second and the Expos leading, 2-1, Speier lined a ball to centre fielder Garry Maddox, the Secretary of Defence.
Maddox, who was playing the right-handed Speier to right-centre with Phillie fastballer Dickie Noles pitching, broke quickly in and to his right – in seemingly perfect position to run down the ball. But anytime you play a middle inning at the Vet in a late September afternoon, there is no such thing as a perfect position. Maddox, staring directly into the sun, could not see the tall as it flew past his glove, rolling to the wall.
Warren Cromartie and Larry Parrish scored as Speier reached third. Rogers then singled through a drawn-in infield, and the Expos led, 5-1. Time to switch to the football game.
"During the middle innings, the sun was unreal" said Expo centrefielder Andre Dawson. "Because it sets just to the right of home plate, he was looking directly into it. That could just as easily have been me as him."
"I've seen television's influence too many times," said Green. "The playoff game (played in a semi-monsoon at the Vet in 1978), other late afternoon starts. I don't think TV people understand one iota what the conditions do, and I don't think they care. But hell, the Expos should have had more trouble than us. We play 80 games a year here."
All of which might have been an end to the discussion, one of those acts-of-God-or-producer-Chet Forte type things... except Maddox failed to flip down his sun glasses as he pursued the ball.
Not first time
That isn't a Maddox first for 1980. On August 31 in San Diego, he fumbled two fly balls, one in a five-run inning, because he had his sun glasses in a back pocket – which weren't doing his eyes much good.
"He's got to flip them," Green said. "Maybe he still doesn't catch the ball, but it removes the doubt. Certainly I see better in direct sunlight with sun glasses than without them."
Do the Phillies have a rule about their fielders wearing sun glasses, somebody asked.
"I got a lot of rules," Green said, "but they make their own options. That's what I've been trying to get rid of for a year (since he became manager)."
Not that it would matter all that much later, but the Secretary of Defence played Carter's blooped single into a double, allowing Dawson to score the Expos' final run.
Carter's other runs-batted-in – which raised his total to 99, two behind Ken Singleton's Expo record – came on monster drives into the left field seats, home runs No. 28 and 29. For Carter, it was three dingers in two days at the Vet – where he has hit 13.
Carter's first home run was a solo shot in the second inning against loser Bob (Whirlybird) Walk (10-7), who hasn't won since August 16. The rookie needed 97 pitches, had six three-ball counts and walked four before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the fifth, trailing 2-1.
Bowa comes through
The Phillies had scored against Rogers in the second when Greg Luzinski (two-for-18) walked on a 3-2 pitch. The Bull reached second on an infield out and third on Maddox's deep fly to centre. Larry Bowa, a punch hitter was up, and Bob Boone, 0-for-16 was next, so Rogers had some options. But they evaporated quickly when Bowa singled on Rogers' first pitch to tie the score.
Rowland Office broke the tie with a sacrifice fly in the third, and then Garry Maddox broke the Phillies' back with his Here Comes the Sun faux pas.
Rogers, pitching with a sore big toe on his right foot, would have only one more annoying problem.
Pinch-hitter Greg Gross opened the eighth with a single, Pete Rose (three-for-31) walked and Bake McBride looped an opposite field double for a run. But Rogers retired the dangerous Mike Schmidt on a sacrifice fly to centre, nailed Luzinski on a fly to left and retired Manny Trillo on a ground-ball.
And the kaleidoscope turned.
EXPOSES – Mike Schmidt, Bob Boone, Greg Luzinski, and Fete Rose are a combined eight-for-90 recently, and Phillie manager Dallas Green plans some changes for tonight. "Lonnie Smith and Keith Moreland (definitely will play (in place of Luzinski and Boone) tonight, but I'm not sure about Pete," Green said. "I'll have to sit down with him. One day's rest doesn't usually do it. You need three or four, but we don't have the time. But goodness, my coaches could hit better than my players."
Expos, Phils won’t quit until last pitch thrown
By Red Fisher
Win, lose or tie... no matter what happens in this week of decision, the hope is that there was lesson to be learned for each of us during the past few days.
It's this: capitulation is a four-letter word.
Tell me, how many times in recent days have you turned to a neighbour and delivered a sour monologue about the team which yesterday regained first place in the National League East?
It's all over. Everybody should have known they couldn't stand the heat...
How about early last week when the Expos lost the first of a two-game series to the Pirates? At that time, rigor mortis had not yet started setting in for last year's champions. There was still hope. The victory brought them to within three games of the Expos. A victory in the second game of the series would leave them only two behind.
Up against Pirates
Forget the pennant, eh? Start thinking about third place, expe-cially with Steve Rogers facing the Pirates in the second game of the series.
It's simple, really. Rogers never wins the big ones.
Rogers throws a three-hitter.
How about last Thursday, when the Expos fell out of first place again, losing 5-4 to the Cubs? Teams in pennant races don't go around losing games to the sweat hogs of the National League East.
Or the next night, when the Expos lost 2-1 to Philadelphia. Now they were 1½ games behind the Phils, with the terrible prospect of facing the National League's best pitcher, Steve Carlton, the following afternoon.
Let's see, now... that would be 2½ games behind with seven remaining... and has anybody noticed lately how the Alouettes and Canadiens are doing?
Now, suddenly, the Expos are back in front again. They were helped – perhaps only slightly – yesterday by the astonishing generosity of a Philadelphia manager who chose to lift his starting pitcher for a pinch-hitter with one out and nobody on base after his man had held the Expos to three hits through five innings. All that matters, though, is that the Expos are out in front again.
Rogers has done it again, as well, and now all of the people who fell off the bandwagon last week are doing a triple parlez-vous somersault from a prone position clambering aboard again.
They knew, of course, that Rogers would do it again... knew it all the time. Yes sir!
Always loved that guy, Rogers.
Good ol' Steverino.
Know something, friends? The Expos are back in front again with another stirring demonstration of character-building. The teams are even in the loss column, but the momentum has swung this way. All this is true, but don't count anybody in or out until this thing is over.
What I'm saying is that yes, the Expos can do it – as I've thought all along. But so can the Phils.
Baseball is a funny game. At times, it's hysterical. And since this is so, both teams can be in and out of first place several times before this week is over.
Common sense dictates it will go down to the final series, but can anybody remotely aware of what can happen in this game discount for even a moment the roles Chicago and St. Louis can play in this pennant race?
The Cubs are in Philadelphia for four games, the Cardinals in this city for three – and anyone choosing to look beyond these two series simply isn't aware of how quickly this game can be turned around.
Nobody on the Expos has to be reminded of it. They know what a St. Louis team is capable of doing with a little pitching. They learned all about it last week when they dropped two of three games to the Cardinals.
A team effort
Nobody has to be told, either, that what the Expos have done after 156 games is an outgrowth of team achievement. But somebody, somewhere, has to feel especially good about the job Rogers has done.
Yesterday's five-hitter was his fourth victory in five games this month. He wore the Pirates on his watch-chain last week, and did the same thing to the Phillies yesterday when he had a three-hitter going until the eighth inning.
The "choke" label is the nastiest anyone can inflict upon a professional athlete, and I've heard it far too often about this splendid pitcher.
More often than not, it is a product of little more than ignorance and unfairness.
Hopefully, it's the last we've heard about it.
Awesome Carter caps trip with demolition of Phillies
By Ian MacDonald of The Gazette
PHILADELPHIA – The Kid was "awesome".
That was the word Gary Carter used to describe the pitching of Steve Rogers but in fact it was he who best fit that description.
Carter hit his 28th and 29th home runs and added a run-scoring double as well to complete a grand road trip, during which time the Expos won seven games and lost six.
"Now's the time to get hot," Carter beamed after the 8-3 victory had given the Expos back the Division lead.
"We're in a pennant race and this is a total team effort. I'm so happy that I can celebrate tonight with my wife Sandy.
"I haven't seen her for two weeks and she's expecting any day. I hope the good Lord gives us a healthy baby and I hope we win this thing."
Chances of the Expos winning this thing and whatever else follows are greatly enhanced because of the way that Carter is swinging the bat.
On target for records
While hitting safely in 12 of the 13 games on the trip, Carter lifted his over-all average from .252 to .269 and has himself on target to set team records in both home runs and runs-batted-in.
The Expos' team record for home runs is 31 which Carter set in 77. And his 99 RBIs put him second only to the 103 driven home by Ken Singleton in 1973.
On the trip Carter was 21-for-49, for an average of .429. He had five doubles, one triple, five home runs and 16 ribbies. Carter has a slugging percentage over that stretch of .878.
Carter has played in all of the Expos' 26 games this month despite mentioning several times he is tired.
"Gary feels that it's his duty to be behind the plate," manager Dick Williams said. "We've asked him a few times if he wants to sit down but he says no.
"Last year he caught most of those doubleheaders down the stretch and then he got hurt."
Carter missed the Expos' final five games last year after injuring his finger while tagging a runner out at the plate. The Expos lost four of those games.
"Yes, I said I was tired earlier because I was," Carter explained. "There's so much excitement going on now, there's no time to think about being tired. We just have to think about playing as well as we are and think about winning.
"We came up a little short last year and we don't want it to elude us this time."
Carter's home runs were 'shots' while the ninth-inning double that drove home the final run was a blooper that bounced over the head of Garry Maddox.
“I’ll take any of those," Carter said. "We got a couple of breaks today. We found a couple of holes and we got that 'sun' ball (two-run triple by Chris Speier) that got past Maddox. We need all the breaks we can get."
Carter said he can never remember having as successful a trip as this and looks forward, "to us doing even better for the remainder of our games at home."
About Rogers' five-hitter which brought him to within one win of his career high 17, Carter said: "He was awesome. He got a little wild at one stretch when they scored two runs (eighth inning) but other than that he was at his very best.
"We needed that The whole team needed it and whole team is responding."
Carlton rematch welcome as Expos triumph Saturday
PHILADELPHIA (Gazette) – It's not considered outlandish in these parts, and many others as well, to call Steve Carlton the best pitcher in the world.
A likely Cy Young Award winner for the third time and a 20-game winner for the fifth time in his illustrious career, Carlton is the Phillies' key stopper.
This means that depending on how this frenzied National League East race developes, Carlton will get either one or two more starts.
What is certain is that Carlton will pitch in one game of the series at the Olympic Stadium next weekend – and the Expos are interested in the challenge.
After scoring four earned runs on their way to beating Carlton and the Phillies 4-3 Saturday, the Expos talked cautiously of looking forward to playing against the super southpaw in a winner-take-all situation.
"We would have to feel confident about going against him in a critical game," said catcher Gary Carter, who's team leading 27th home run of the season was his third of the year against Carlton.
"The way we got the key hits today – hits by Jerry White and Chris Speier and Larry Parrish – well, it takes a bit of concern about him off our minds. We know we beat the best. Bring him on again."
Expos have beaten Carlton twice in his three decisions this year. Also, the 23-game winner has not been as effective since the Phillies went on a four-man rotation this month.
Further, Carlton has not been nearly as good in championship series action – clutch games – as he has been during the regular schedule. In four post-schedule starts he is 1-2 with an earned run average of 5.79.
This was the sixth time in 37 starts that Carlton has given up more than three runs, but three of those games were in his last five starts. Since the Phillies went to the four-man rotation when Carlton was 20-7, he has been 3-2 with two no decisions.
Phillies' manager Dallas Green said about Carlton: "It wasn't his finest hour. He didn't have a good slider and that's usually his bread and butter pitch."
Green must decide whether to throw Carlton against the Cubs here Wednesday and then have him available for a possible showdown game Sunday at the Olympic Stadium or to save him for the game at Montreal Friday.
After Andre Dawson doubled for the second time to lead off the eighth, Warren Brusstar was brought in to relieve. It was just the fifth time this year that Carlton has been replaced during an inning.
Dawson eventually came home when Larry Parrish broke a zero-for-10 skein during which he struck out five times by singling up the middle with what proved a most important run.
It made the score 4-2 but before the Expos evened the series they had to stave off a rally the Phillies made against Elias Sosa to the delight of 53,058 paid.
Eventually, ol' Woodie Fryman had to come in and catch pinch-hitter Lon-nie Smith looking at a slider on the outside black of the plate for the final out of the game.
Fundamental baseball played a key role in this highly entertaining and well-played game.
With Dawson on second after a double and Carter on first with a walk, Warren Cromartie sacrificed the runners ahead and eventually Expos scored a run in the fourth.
Greg Luzinski and Manny Trillo led off the ninth with singles. Trying to sacrifice the runners ahead, Garry Maddox bunted down the first base line and Cromartie was able to force pinch runner Jay Loviglio.
Went six innings
Scott Sanderson went only six innings in winning his 16th game. After Speier led off the seventh with double and was sacrificed to third by Bob Pate, manager Dick Williams went for a pinch-hitter.
"Scott told me he felt strong," Williams said, "but he said: 'Look, if you want to try and get the run, hit for me. I want whatever is best for the team.' The pinch-hitter (Ken Macha, a strikeout) didn't get the job done but Jerry drove it home anyway.”