Wilmington Morning News - September 29, 1980
Phillies down – but a dogfight remains
Montreal’s two ‘killers’ strike again
By Kevin Noonan, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – A pair of Philly killers pushed the Montreal Expos into first place in National League East yesterday at Veterans Stadium.
Gary Carter slugged two home runs and drove in four runs, and Steve Rogers went the distance, pitching a five-hitter, as the Expos bombed the Phillies 8-3 to reclaim first place by a half-game.
"We're virtually tied," said Manager Dick Williams of Montreal. "They have a game in hand, but they've got to win it. And we're going back to our ballpark where we play well. But we can't let down. We play the Cardinals, and everyone knows what a great offensive team they are. It's going to be a dogfight the rest of the way."
Rogers outdueled Steve Carlton in his last prior start against the Phils, giving up one run in nine innings, while Carter has hit four homers against the Phils this year and driven in a team-high nine runs.
"I think I pitched well, considering I had trouble getting any rhythm in the beginning," said Rogers, who had enough ice strapped to his arm and shoulder to sink the USS Saratoga. "I managed to pitch through that, and the guys went out and pounded out some runs. I could relax some out there, and that helped me find my natural rhythm."
Carter hit his first homer off of loser Bob Walk (10-7), who gave up two runs in five innings while struggling with his control. Carter's second-inning blast gave Montreal a 1-0 lead. Carter's second homer, off Kevin Saucier, came in the seventh, with Andre Dawson on first, and it gave the Expos a 7-1 lead. In between Carter's homers, the Expos put the game away.
“I’ve just been in a good groove lately," said Carter. "He (Walk) got a pitch out over the plate on my first homer, but the second wasn't on a bad pitch. I just got all of it."
Walk left the game for a pinch-hitter in the fifth, and Manager Dallas Green went with rookie Noles in the sixth. Noles walked Carter, the lead-off batter, and got Warren Cromartie to hit into a fielder's choice before Larry Parrish bounced a single up the middle to put runners on first and second with one out. Chris Speier hit a sinking liner to center field, where Garry Maddox appeared to draw a bead on it. But at the last moment, Maddox lost the ball in the late-afternoon sun and the ball flew by him to the fence. By the time the dust had cleared – and the boos from the crowd reached their peak – two runs were in and Speier was on third with a triple.
Noles got the crowd of 40,305 in an even surlier mood, giving up an RBI single to Rogers, a two-hopper through the drawn-in infield. Jerry White grounded out to end the inning.
"I was running the ball out hard, but I was sure Maddox would get it," said Speier, who also singled and walked twice in a perfect day at the plate. "I don't have to tell anyone what a great outfielder he is, but that can happen to anybody. Our outfielders were complaining about the sun all day. It was vicious."
Maddox also let a Carter hit get by him in the ninth for a double, scoring Andre Dawson from first with the Expos' final run.
The Phillies put on a mild rally in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Greg Gross lined a single to center, and Pete Rose walked. Bake McBride went the opposite way on a 1-2 pitch and doubled down the left field line to score Gross, and Mike Schmidt's sacrifice fly to left-center drove in Rose to make the score 7-3.
Larry Bowa's RBI single in the second inning knocked in Greg Luzinski, tying the score at 1-1. In the third, Walk walked leadoff batter Jerry White, who promptly stole second despite the Phils' attempt at a pitchout. White took third on Rodney Scott's sacrifice bunt, and scored on Rowland Office's sacrifice fly to center.
"Some things are out of your control, and you can't dwell on them," said McBride. "Gary had no chance on that ball. I had trouble seeing it, too, and I wasn't looking right at the sun like he was. All the balls that were hit to left and center, I had no idea where they were."
Bottom line on the Phils: they’re in dreadful slump
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – With one out in the seventh inning a large paper airplane rose from the mass of humanity, climbed to 50 or 60 feet, then made a beautiful landing near second base.
Those remaining in the Veterans Stadium crowd of 40,305 enthusiastically applauded the touch-down. In fact, it was one of the loudest reactions during the warm, sultry autumn afternoon.
Before that, and after that, most of the customers sat in a daze. Maybe they could not believe what they were seeing yesterday as Montreal stoned the lethargic Phillies 8-3. Or maybe they believed what they were seeing because they had seen it so many times before from this group of enigmatic, multi-talented athletes.
Dallas Green had seen it before. Maybe that's why he quickly gulped down a post-game beer, then immediately ordered another – and another.
Yesterday's jarring loss left the Phils only a half-game behind the Expos in National League East. The way the Phils lost, though, made that gap seem much, much wider.
If you're an optimist you can point to the fact the Phils have four games this week at the Vet against lowly Chicago before jetting off to Canada for a three-game showdown with Montreal. The Expos, meanwhile, must play St. Louis three times beginning tonight, take Thursday off, and brace for the Phils.
"Considering the way we played the last two days it does seem more than a half-game," said Green. "I don't think anybody out in that clubhouse, if they can look in the mirror – or if they will look in the mirror – can really appreciate the way we have played. I don't think that's Philly baseball and it's proven not to be winning baseball. If I had the answer, I would have straightened it out by now."
Green saw enough yesterday to last through the winter into spring training. He had to stomach the insanity of network television that forced the Phils to start the game at, 3:05 p.m. The late-afternoon sun at Veterans Stadium this time of the year is brutal. It pierces through the top of the stadium, making outfield play in late innings nothing more than a horror show.
Ask Garry Maddox.
With the game still 2-1, and runners on first and second, Chris Speier hit a liner to center off reliever Dickie Noles. Maddox has made a zillion of those catches on the run. Yesterday, he lost the ball in the sun, two runs scored and Speier stopped at third where winning pitcher Steve Rogers singled him home. Suddenly, a 2-1 game was a 5-1 laugher.
Earlier, Green had watched Mike Schmidt's scorching liner in the third bounce over the fence for a ground-rule double. Bake McBride, who was on first at the time, had to stop at third on a hit he certainly would have scored on. Then, Greg Luzinski hit a soft liner that second baseman Tony Scott back-pedaled on to catch just by a fraction of an inch.
And in the eighth, when the Phils bats finally came to life, first-base umpire Eric Gregg called Manny Trillo out on a high chopper that snuffed a big inning. Green charged Gregg, exploded, and was immediately ejected.
You can talk about the ridiculous starting time, you can talk about Schmidt's ground-rule double, you can talk about Scott's catch and Gregg's blown call. The bottom line, however, is the fact the Phils are not playing championship baseball. If they continue this pattern, they do not deserve to win.
The nucleus of the attack is in a dreadful slump. Bob Boone, Pete Rose, Greg Luzinski and Mike Schmidt are a collective 7-for-87. That's a .080 batting average. Boone is 0-for-19, Rose 3-for-31, Luzinski 2-for-21 and Schmidt 2-for-16.
Yesterday, the pitching was terrible. Bob Walk, the loser, threw more than a hundred pitches in five innings, was continually behind in the count and struggled in every inning but one. Noles was hit hard, as were Kevin Saucier and Randy Lerch.
Sometime this afternoon Green will meet with his coaches and decide on some changes. Most important will be the pitching plans for the remaining seven games, but the line-up also will be discussed. Boone and Luzinski most certainly will be replaced by Keith Moreland and Lonnie Smith.
The last two losses were so typical of the Phils this year. They won an important game Friday night, opened a 1½-game lead over the Expos, then packed it in.
“I feel better about our team now," said Green. "I think we have proven this month we can win one-run games, and we can win clutch, tough games. I think we've proven we can win them by staying within ourselves and doing things we're capable of doing.
“But this team again goes back to the same old thing – that we need a constant reminder. I'm supposed to be that reminder, yet we get our feelings hurt when I remind.
"I said we were physically and mentally prepared for this weekend and I still think that. But so many little things seem to affect this team that they don't play over or that they don't go after. It gets me thinking again and it goes back to character, whether or not they really want it. We've got to put aside every problem we've got in the world right now and concentrate on the one thing we have to do which is win."
Green took a sip of beer and the volume of his voice – which had been turned down for most of the conversation – got louder.
"We've got to do the things we have to do to win, regardless of personal problems, regardless of personal frustrations, regardless of personal wants, likes or dislikes. I think they're capable of doing. So far, they haven't done it."
Green tried to defend Maddox until someone entered the room with news that the center fielder did not have his sunglasses flipped down over his eyes when he missed Speier's ball.
"He said the glasses would not have made any difference and gave the indication he maybe didn't have time to flip them down," the informer said.
"Well, all I know is when I'm out in the sun I can see better with sunglasses," said Green. "Having them down certainly wouldn't have made the catch more difficult. But that field is treacherous that time of the day. There's a glare and the sun is coming right in the outfielders' eyes. But the bottom line is Montreal played under the same conditions. They hit the ball, they fielded the ball and they won. We didn't."