San Francisco Examiner - September 4, 1980
Next year here for Giants
By King Thompson
They're still introduced before every game with the phrase, "And now presenting your 1980 Giants." But that is becoming, a misnomer more and more each day.
Many of the people who have been trotting out on the field in Candlestick Park lately might be more properly presented as "your 1980 Phoenix Giants." Or, perhaps, "your 1981 San Francisco Giants."
It is hard to find anyone around the Giants clubhouse who will admit to thinking in terms of next year, even after the Philadelphia Phillies completed a three-game sweep last night with a 4-3 victory.
The loss dropped the Giants 10 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League-West and one game below .500. What's more, they are now in fifth place, two games behind the surging Atlanta Braves.
It is fairly obvious that the Giants' chances of winning a pennant this year rate right up there with the odds of science discovering a cure for cancer in the next month.
But if there was any good news for Giants fans in last night's game, it was the performance of several people who could play increasingly big roles in the team's future.
In particular, keep in mind the names Guy Sularz and Chris Bourjos.
Sularz made his first major league start at second base in place of the slumping Ronnie Stennett last night, and he whacked his first hit in the bigs to keep alive a mini-rally in the sixth in which the Giants scored their first run.
Bourjos, meanwhile, gave the fans something to cheer about in the ninth when, batting for pitcher Mike Rowland, he walloped a towering two-run homer to left that cut the Phillies' margin to 4-3.
It was his first major league hit, and he was so excited that he had to slow down his home run trot as he reached third to avoid passing up Joe Pettini.
"I just can't remember anything at all," he said of his greeting In the dugout. "There were just a lot of people talking....
"I just couldn't trot. I was too excited. Right now I just feel full of energy."
Bourjos said he had hit 27 home runs with Fresno in the California League one year, but he added that there are a lot of small parks in that circuit. He had nine this year for Phoenix before being recalled.
For a brief moment, it appeared to the 5,504 fans in attendance that Bourjos' homer might be more than just a wonderful memory for the right handed outfielder.
The homer chased Philadelphia starter Dick Ruthven to the showers, and after Tug McGraw got Billy North and pinch-hitter Larry Herndon on fly-outs to center, Terry Whitfield rapped a double that carried ail the way to the fence.
That brought Mike Ivie to the plate with the chance to bring in the tying run. Ivie battled McGraw to the end, going to a 3-2 count and fouling off two pitches, but he finally succumbed to a McGraw screwball and the game was over.
But that still didn't take much of the luster off Bourjos' homer, or the play of Sularz.
Sularz lined out to the pitcher and popped out to second before be finally deposited a drive to right that fell in front of Bake McBride in the sixth. That single sent Milt May to second, and the catcher scored when yet another rookie, Pettini, lined a shot over shortstop Larry Bowa to cut the Phils' lead to 4-1.
Sularz originally was signed by the Giants, but he was drafted over the winter by the Minnesota Twins and spent spring training in their camp. San Francisco manager Dave Bristol said the Twins kept him until the last day, when they finally let him go partly because they had another good infielder in Pete Mackanin.
"I called my close friend Gene Mauch and asked him about (Sularz)," Bristol said. "He said he had a stomach full of guts, he wants to play and he'll fight you in a minute."
Sularz, who was expected to get another start at second today when the Giants opened a four game series with the Montreal Expos, can play either third, second or short. He says it doesn't matter to him where he plays, although he has spent most of his minor league career at shortstop.
“It really doesn’t matter (where he plays)," he said. "But I like shortstop if I had to pick one. I feel more comfortable there. I played full years at shortstop in ‘77 and ’78."
In 89 games in Phoenix, he played all over the infield, although he got more time at short after Pettini was called up. He batted .266 with 41 runs scored and 25 runs batted in for the Little Giants.
The insertion of Sularz into the lineup isn't the only change that Bristol has planned for the near future. He also said last night that he has removed struggling pitcher Bob Knepper from the starting rotation and will pitch John Montefusco in Knepper's spot tomorrow night.
"I'm going to try to get him straightened out," Bristol said of the left-handed Knepper, who has a 9-15 record, a 4.12 ERA and the increasing habit of failing to hold a lead. "I'll use him out of the bullpen."
Bristol also was asked how Knepper received the news of his new role.
“He was disappointed, naturally," the manager said. "But that's the way I'd want it to be."
NOTES: The Phillies. who moved into undisputed possession of first in the NL East with last night's triumph, took a 3-0 lead in the second with the help of a Darrell Evans throwing error, a double by Ruthven and a single by third baseman Mike Schmidt. Pele Rose tried to score on Schmidt's single but left fielder Terry Whitfield cut him down at the plate with a fine throw to Milt May... The Phils added another run in the sixth on a perfect suicide squeeze bunt by Bowa that scored Manny Trillo... Unusual play of the night: In the seventh, Max Venable lined a shot back to the box that appeared to bounce off Ruthven's heel as his right leg was in the air during his follow-through. The ball went high in the air and was easily grabbed by shortstop Bowa for a 1-6 popup put out... Rowland, yet another rookie, finished up with three innings of perfect relief... The Expos' Bill Gullickson (6-4) was to face Al Hargesheimer (4 3) today. with Steve Rogers (12-10) to go against Montefusco (4-6) tomorrow night. Over the weekend it will be Scott Sanderson (13-8) vs. Ed Whitson (9-9) on Saturday and Charlie Lea (4 5) vs. Vida Blue (12-7) Sunday.