Philadelphia Inquirer - September 7, 1980
Christenson hurt as Dodgers blast Phils, 7-3
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES – Larry Christenson rolled through two outs of hitless baseball against the Dodgers last night. It turned out to be the high point of his evening.
Then Dusty Baker bounced a single toward right. Off the mound sprung Christenson. And pop went that pulled groin that has been coming to visit him every time he has cured himself of everything else these last couple of years.
Christenson hung around for only the first inning and two-thirds of the Phillies' 7-3 loss to the Dodgers. Then out he went. And with him went Dallas Green's four-man rotation after six glorious days of operation.
"It's probably going to knock him out of a turn or two," said Green. "We just can't run a guy out there who is going to break down on us every time he makes a move."
No, said Green, he doesn't know who will start in Christenson's place Wednesday in New York. But yes, he said, rookie Marty Bystrom is one of the candidates.
It was 2-0 when Christenson left in the second. It was 3-0 when Randy Lerch completed the inning. It was Lerch's game to win or lose when the Phils tied it in the third. It was Lerch's loss (No. 14) when he gave up a run in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
Whatever chance the Phillies had of holding onto first place for a sixth straight day died in the third in Rick Monday's glove. Monday turned Bake McBride's eighth homer into Bob Welch's third out of the inning with a reach-over-the-wall stab.
Then he made sure Welch raised his record to 12-9 with a gargantuan two-run homer off Lerch in the fifth.
Upper Darby's own Mike Scioscia stuck in a 4-for4 night. Davey Lopes knocked in three runs. And the Phillies' offense, which hasn't been the reason this trip has gone so well, was quiet again. Except for their three-run, four-hit third, the Phils got only three hits off Welch and Steve Howe.
So the Expos take over first in the NL East shuffle. The Phillies fell to a game back. The Pirates are two out and have another day in Atlanta to survive before they reach the Vet tomorrow.
Last night, Christenson threw virtually nothing but breaking stuff, ran five three-ball counts on the 11 hitters he faced and just generally wasn't himself.
He pitched out of a two-out, two-on jam in the first. But Monday singled to start the second. Scioscia bounced a hit-and-run single into right. Bill Russell chopped to Schmidt, and that scored Monday.
Christenson got the pitcher, Bob Welch, for the second out. But his first pitch to Davey Lopes was a high, irresistible slider. Lopes didn't resist it. He ripped it to left for a double, and it was 2-0.
Four pitches later, Christenson was 3-and-1 on Jay Johnstone. And that was it.
Pitching coach Herm Starrette burst out of the dugout, and that was all for Christenson.
So into this strange scene strode Randy Lerch. He warmed up a while, then took over the 3-1 count on Johnstone and pumped a fastball in at his knees. It broke Johnstone's bat, but The Jay still stroked it into right-center for the kind of single Lerch has had nightmares about this year. So it was 3-0.
But it didn't stay that way. Welch, who was 1-6 since the All-Star break, four-hit the Mets last week and announced that he had found the secret by studying Steve Carlton in Philly. He seemed to be in the groove the first two innings last night (no hits, three strikeouts). But he came undone in the third.
Larry Bowa singled. Bob Boone singled. Welch sizzled a fastball off Scioscia's glove for a passed ball, and Bowa scored.
Lerch bunted Boone to third. Lonnie Smith broke a streak of four strikeouts in four at-bats with an RBI single, and it was 3-2.
Pete Rose bounced a hit-and-run single through a deserted right side, and Smith cruised to third. Welch jammed Mike Schmidt with an 0-1 fastball. But Schmidt still muscled it to center for a sacrifice fly and his 98th RBI. So that tied it.
Bake McBride, the next hitter, was in a l-for-18 funk as he stood in there against Welch. But McBride really got into one to center. And it was nearly far enough, save for Monday's leaping save of a catch.
Scioscia led off the fourth against him with a single. Russell's attempt to bunt him over turned into a force at second. Welch successfully bunted Russell along. Lopes bounced a single that skidded under Schmidt's glove for his second RBI of the night. And Lerch was down, 4-3.
He never made it through the fifth. He almost had Monday struck out on a 1-2 pitch with two out and Steve Garvey on first by virtue of a walk. But Pallone ruled that Monday hadn't quite gone around.
Lerch was annoyed and frustrated, and his next pitch was a high, lazy changeup that wasn't really what he had in mind. And Monday mashed it 425 feet and halfway up the right-field pavilion. So it was 6-3, and poor Lerch appeared to be heading toward loss No. 14. He had to be wondering how he got himself into this one.
If Green leaves the dugout, could it be Mauch again?
By Allen Lewis, On Baseball
It wouldn't come as a surprise if the Phillies announce this week who will manage the team next season. And it wouldn't come as a surprise if the manager is once again Dallas Green.
Owner Ruly Carpenter and general manager Paul Owens think Green has done an outstanding job under difficult circumstances, and so do most qualified observers.
"They want me to manage again next year, and I'm leaning that way, but it's not definite yet," Green told me last month. "If I'm going to, I guess it would be a good idea to announce it before too long so the players and everybody else will know where we stand."
If Green decides to go back to the front office, the inevitable rumors about Gene Mauch coming back to Philadelphia to manage will be heard daily.
Right now, Mauch is relaxing at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and playing a lot of golf. When asked about the possibility of his being named general manager at San Diego, which has been rumored, Mauch said, "I wouldn't want to be tied to the telephone for 12 months of the year; seven months as a manager is enough."
Mauch, who was getting $100,000, plus all expenses, when he gave up the job of managing the Minnesota Twins last month, won't be out of the game for long. He's enjoying the freedom right now but won't hit 55 until mid-November, and although he's set financially, the game is in his blood.
NOTES: Plans for the new domed stadium in Minneapolis call for the right field fence to be 40 feet high because it will be only 316 feet from, home plate at the foul line, four feet short of what the major leagues now deem "preferable."... If the Red Sox, usually terrors at home and patsies on the road, had a Fenway Park record this season equal to their away log of 40-27, they would be leading the American League East. The Dodgers, on the other hand, would be running away in the National League West were it not for their 31-37 record on the road.... The Braves recently called up outfielder Gary Cooper from their AA team in Savannah, where he was hitting.220 with 27 RBI and 17 stolen bases. Cooper, 23, is a former Georgia state sprint champion with a 9.4 clocking for 100 yards.... Inflation note: When the Angels had to play a makeup game on a recent Monday afternoon in Minnesota, it cost them $30,000 to charter a plane in which to fly home on what had been an open date until two days before.
Answer to last week's Trivia Question: In 1934, first baseman Rip Collins of the Cardinals hit 35 home runs and batted in 128 runs to set National League records for a switch-hitter that still stand. The word "National" was inadvertently omitted from the question last week.
Trivia Question of the Week (suggested by John Reilly of Stratford, N.J.): What player collected more than 200 hits in his first full major league season and never had a 200-hit season in his career again?
Phils, Eagles on the tube
The Phillies, in a hotly contested pennant race, play the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Eagles, thought by many to be Super Bowl bound, open their season in Denver. Bjorn Borg, with Wimbledon and French Open championships already under his belt, will be trying for the VS. Open tennis against John McEnroe in a rematch of the Wimbledon final. All three are on the tube at 4 this afternoon, so there's plenty of time to complete the chores before settling down in time for the opening credits.
Dick Vermeil on the Eaglet (TV-Ch. 10, noon)
NFL Today (TV-Ch. 10, 12:30 p.m.)
New York Giants at SL Louis (TV-Ch. 10,1p.m.)
NFL 1980 (TV-Ch. 3, 3:30 p.m.)
EAGLES vs. Denver at Veterans Stadium (TV-Ch. 3; Radlo-WIP-610, 4 p.m.)
Penn State highlights (TV-Ch. 3, 11 a.m. and Ch. 12, 11 p.m.)
California at New York; backup game Is Oakland at Baltimore (TV-Ch. 6,2 p.m.)
This Week In Baseball (TV-Ch. 17, 3:30 p.m.)
PHILLIES at Los Angeles (TV-Ch. 17; Radlo-KYW-1060, 4:05 p.m.)
The 9 wins that got away from Carlton
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES – Heaven knows, the world has heard enough stories about the way things should have gone but never did.
Roger Maris probably should have hit 71 homers, except the wind was blowing in. Ted Williams would have hit .506, except he went 0-for-11 twice. Rudy Meoli undoubtedly would have been a star if they had only let him bat 400 or 500 more times a season.
Everybody has a story. Everybody coulda been a contender. But as that noted baseball expert, Doris Day, once said, "Que cera, cera."
Ironically, it is the one guy in baseball who probably complains the least who might have the most right to tell you what kind of season he should be having but isn't. And that guy is Steve Carlton.
Carlton might be stringing together one of the best seasons by a pitcher in baseball history, except nobody knows it. Not only could he easily be in a position to win 30 games this year, he could almost as easily have 30 wins already.
"I don't think it would be realistic to say Lefty should have 30, but realistically, he should have 25," said Tim McCarver.
For Carlton to have been a 30-game winner by now, you would have to change around the outcome of only nine games. And you could do that very easily. Here are the nine games Carlton deserved to win but didn't:
• April 21: He allows the Mets five hits, but Ray Burris shuts out the Phillies, 2-0.
• May 10: He strikes out 11 Reds and gives up just four hits. But the winning run scores when Larry Bowa drops a pop-up.
• May 27: He fans 11 Pirates, gives up five hits and just four earned runs. But the Phillies don't score until after he is taken out in the eighth.
• June 9: The famous 3:11 a.m. classic. He strikes out 10 in six shutout innings, and "if he'd pitched a perfect game that night nobody would have been surprised." said McCarver. But the Phils lose to the Giants, 3-1, after he leaves.
• June 22: A 3-2 loss to the Mets, highlighted by Lee Mazzilli's looping inside-the-park homer that caroms past Bake McBride in right.
• July 12: The bullpen fails to hold his 4-3 lead against the Pirates in the ninth. A no-decision.
• Aug. 2: He strikes out 10 Reds and gives up two runs, but Mike LaCoss shuts out the Phillies, 2-0.
• Aug. 22: A 10-inning loss to the Giants in which Carlton strikes out 13 and the winning run scores on an error.
• Sept. 5: Ron Cey's second-inning homer is all Carlton allows. But Sutton and Don Stanhouse three-hit the Phillies, 1-0.
It is hard to explain the way things have worked out, why Carlton has only 21 wins. We could ask Doris Day, but she didn't take batting practice last night.