Philadelphia Daily News - September 8, 1980
Three-Hit Loss Drives Phils Batty
By Bill Conlin
LOS ANGELES – The Phillies team batting slump, an equal opportunities employer, received the Good Housekeeping seal of approval yesterday.
It's not enough that the Phils have lost six points off what was once the National League's top team average during the 11-game. Coast trip, not enough that they've gone homerless in-13 of their last 14 games. Now they can’t even get credit for the hits they get.
Manny Trillo went into the third inning of yesterday's incredibly drab 6-0 loss to the first-place Dodgers dragging an 0-for-13 anvil with his bat He lined a ball sharply to left. Dusty Baker came in at full speed and vacuumed the ball off the grass. From press box distance it was impossible to determine if Baker trapped the ball or caught it cleanly. Third base coach Lee Elia registered a mild protest with umpire Dave Pallone, who called Trillo out.
Press box partisans howled gleefully when the TV replay showed with no room for argument that Baker fielded the ball on the short hop. Make that 0-for-14, Manny.
One of Murphy's Laws, Baseball Division, holds that broken-bat hits by the opposition increase in direct proportion to line drives caught.
THE DODGER first was no exception. Dallas Green has instructed his pitchers to go after Baker with hard stuff inside after watching the leftfielder devour pitches away from him. So Dick Ruthven dutifully came inside on Baker with two outs. Crack! Splinters showered from Dusty’s bat handle as he popped a little jam shot to center. For a single, of course.
The Dodger bat boy was already selecting a fresh piece of lumber for Steve Garvey as his broken-bat double fluttered to earth near the right-field line. With runners on second and third, Ruthven, who is either the smartest dumb pitcher in the game or the dumbest smart pitcher, started his wind-up, lifted his foot off the rubber and broke his hands. "Balk!" yelled plate umpire Ed Vargo. Baker strolled home, Garvey went to third and the Dodgers led, 2-0, when Ron Cey, jammed, of course, blooped a single to shallow center.
The Dodgers, who took the final three games of the four-game series, never looked back. The Phillies pounded a total of three hits.
When the Dodgers turned three legitimate singles into a fourth-inning run and a 4-0 lead, Green went to his bullpen early for the second straight game.
"We're not swinging the bats the way we can, that's for sure," Green said as the Phils headed home for what will be an inconclusive two-game homestand with the crumbling but potentially lethal Pirates. "And the pitching kind of fell apart the last two games after carrying us this trip."
WARREN BRUSSTAR replaced Ruthven with runners on first and third, a run in and nobody out. Catcher Mike Scioscia-stayed put on third while reliever Bobby Castillo sacrificed Derrel Thomas to second. Green waved the infield up and Davey Lopes bounced a two-run single past a lunging Mike Schmidt.
Larry Christenson went south – again – Saturday night. He blew out the groin muscle he re-injured for the third time since spring training and left in the third inning trailing, 3-0, after coming up lame on a 3-1 pitch to Jay Johnstone. All of which gave Randy Lerch an unwanted opportunity to become a 14-game loser. The Phils came back to tie it, 3-3, but the Dodgers pounded Lerch and wound up with a 7-3 decision.
Green's well-publicized four-man rotation suddenly is down to three pitchers for the moment. Christenson probably will miss at least one start. "I just can't run a guy out there who breaks down every time he makes a move," the manager said. Would he consider replacing Christenson with rookie righthander Marty Bystrom? "Possibly," Dallas said. Bystrom made his major-league debut, pitching a scoreless eighth inning.
Despite the recent swoon, the Phillies are still in the hunt. They trail the division-leading Expos by just one game in the loss column. They have three games left with Montreal, including the regular-season closing series in Olympic Stadium.
“I JUST SEE this thing going right down to the last day," Pete Rose said. "The three contenders are all streaky by nature and it's gonna come down to who gets a few breaks and can stay right there until that final weekend. Right now Montreal's playing good and the Phillies and Pirates are scuffling. Still, 6-5 on a Coast trip ain't a record to be ashamed of."
You had to be a born-again optimist to find a Phillies' highlight yesterday. So let history record that on Sept. 7, 1980, a rookie broadcaster named Tim McCarver became the first catcher in major-league history to appear in four decades. McCarver pinch-hit for Brusstar in the fifth and drew a walk from Castillo.
The way the Phillies swung the bats yesterday, his guest on the star of the game show could well have been Tim McCarver.
PHILUPS: Starter Dave Goltz turned his right ankle covering first in the second inning and was forced to leave after throwing his warm-up pitches before the fourth. Bobby Castillo blanked the Phils the rest of the way... The Dodgers are on a fantastic fielding tear. The infield has made just one error in the past 25 games. The Dodgers as a team have made just four errors in the last 23 games. Streaks: Shortstop Bill Russell, 47 straight games without an error; second baseman Davey Lopes 43. The Dodgers have the fewest errors in the league, 85. The Phils, who had the fewest errors in the league last year, already have committed 120, including 25 by defending Gold Glover Mike Schmidt... The Pirates, swept again by the league's best team since late May, Atlanta, will pitch Don Robinson tonight. The Phils will counter with Bob Walk. Steve Carlton, a tough-luck 1-0 loser to Don Sutton Friday night, will oppose John Candelaria in his second try for victory No. 22... The Phils will barely have time to pick up fresh laundry. After tomorrow night's game they'll bus to New York for two night games with the Mets.
There were six winners in the Daily News Home Run Payoff over the weekend.
In yesterday's third inning, W.W. Radomicki of Sicklerville. N.J., J. and B. Curry of Philadelphia, and Mike Liska of Camden, N.J., each won four tickets to a Phillies game.
In Saturday's eighth inning, Nancy Lennon and Dorothy Reynold, both from Philadelphia, and C.P. Drangula of Burlington, N.J. all won tickets.
So far the Daily News has paid out $16,695. Today's entry coupon appears on Page 60.