Philadelphia Inquirer - September 8, 1980
Phils held to 3 hits in 6-0 blowout
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES – A lot of worse things could have happened to the Phillies than going 6-5 on the West Coast.
Their dugout could have been picketed by movie stars. Their bullpen could have quit baseball to open a restaurant specializing in sprouts, avocado sandwiches and burritos. They could have gone 3-8 and heard Dallas Green yell at them a lot.
Instead, they won one more California game than the Expos did. They come home tonight a game and a half closer to first than they were when they left. And they will find the Pirates struggling to catch them tonight at the Vet instead of the other way around.
Even three straight losses to the Dodgers, culminated by yesterday's 6-0 blowout, can't take that away from them.
"You can take all the negatives you want," said Mike Schmidt. "We went to the West Coast and went 6-and-5. We could have come to the West Coast and been four or five games out now. So this was a pivotal trip for us, and I think we came through it fine."
They came through it a game behind the Expos, who have stumbled to the front of the NL East class for now. They came through it a game in front of the Pirates, to whom the Vet will look like a month in Honolulu after a weekend in Atlanta.
So why, if there is all this good stuff going on in the Phillies' lives, is there such an empty feeling about the way their Western journey ended?
Maybe it's because the Phils started out by winning six of eight, had a one-game hold on first place and appeared to have a chance to perform the unheard-of feat of taking control of their chaotic division.
The ‘76-‘77-‘78 division winners took over in the second half and never looked back. Uh, well, they did look a lot, but nobody ever caught them. It is not going to work that way this time.around. This is a division in which you're not sure whether to look back, look forward or look sideways.
"Just because you lose one game or three games you can't panic," said Dallas Green. "This division is so, uh – 'fouled-up,' I guess is the word – that we're going to be in it to the end."
Still, yesterday wasn't something you'd want to remember California by. The Phils got one hit off Dave Goltz before he sprained an ankle. They got a thunderous two off winner Bobby Castillo (6-6) over the last six innings.
That adds up to three, for a rollicking total of 19 in the four-game series. The shutout, their second in three days, made it 12 runs in their last six games. They scored in two of their last 35 innings.
Bake McBride, despite a hit yesterday, is 2-for-25. Garry Maddox, despite a hit yesterday, is 2-for-24. Manny Trillo, who didn't have a hit yesterday, is 0-for-15.
"I just think a lot of guys are really tired right now," said Green. "You try not to use that as an excuse, but facts are facts.
"Pete's played his butt off for a long time. Bake, Manny, Bowa, Schmitty – they've all busted their butts for a lot of straight days. It makes for a long year.... But a few innings, like they got today, is about all the rest they're gonna get now. What the hell, we've got 27 games left. They're not gonna get a damn week off now."
But Schmidt rebuffed the idea that fatigue could be an excuse.
"Is that the theme for today?" he asked. "Guys don't get hits, everybody assumes they've got to be tired, right? Well, they might be tired. But I don't think that's the right approach to take."
The Phillies didn't ride offense to that 6-2 start anyway. It was great pitching that made the first eight games of this trip look so good.
But the second lap around the four-man rotation didn't go quite as well as the first. First, Larry Christenson broke down with a groin pull Saturday, and "it doesn't look good," said Green.
"He's spasmed up now," the manager said. "And it's not a good situation. A groin for a pitcher is a very critical thing. Your legs are your bread and butter. Everybody talks about your arm. But if your legs go. you can't pitch. LC's arm is fine, but he can't pitch."
Yesterday, Dick Ruthven (14-9) was gone with nobody out in the fourth, his earliest exit since his fourth start of the season.
Ruthven had averaged more than eight innings per start in his last 13 outings. But yesterday, said Green, "He didn't have good control of anything."
Ruthven balked home one run in the first after a Dusty Baker single and Steve Garvey's bloop double. Then Ron Cey's looper to center knocked in another. A wild pitch set up Garvey's RBI single in the third. The Dodgers put it away with three runs on four singles in the fourth.
The rest of the afternoon was to produce such highlights as Tim McCarver's first appearance in his fourth decade as a player (a walk), the return of Luis Aguayo and Dan Larson, Bob Dernier's first big-league stolen base and a scoreless inning from rookie Marty Bystrom, who will get a start sometime this week.
Showdown at the Vet
If you believe the old sports adage about having to beat the contenders, then it's showdown time for the Phillies and Pirates tonight at Veterans Stadium.
The cross-state rivals, locked in a three-way battle with Montreal for the National League's Eastern Division title, open a two-game series at 7:35 p.m. Don Robinson is scheduled to pitch for Pittsburgh against Phillies rookie Bob Walk.
The teams wind up Philadelphia play tomorrow night (815 p.m.). They will meet for the final times Sept. 16-17 in Pittsburgh.
PHILLIES vs. Pittsburgh at Veterans Stadium, 7:35 p.m. (Radk-KYW-1060)