Camden Courier-Post - September 9, 1980
Phillies drop slumping Bucs, cut Expo lead
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Okay. This is it. No more fooling around with those teams in that other division. The time has come for the National League East to unshuffle itself and discover a winner.
From now until early October, the East will be staging its version of "Three's Company," starring the Phillies, Pirates and Expos. The division's three top teams will be playing each other 14 times in the coming weeks, which all but guarantees a mad scramble to the finish.
Round one of the East's September round-robin went to the Phils, who last night bounced the Bucs, 6-2, before 40,576 heartened fans in Veterans Stadium. The Expos, who presently lead the division, had the night off.
WHAT THE Phillies used to break a six-game losing streak to the Pirates and move within one-half game of Montreal was some excellent pitching by rookie Bob Walk and reliever Tug McGraw and some timely hitting by the heart of the batting order: Bake McBride, Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski.
Walk permitted the Pirates but one hit until the fifth, when John Milner sent a 3-2 . pitch careening off the 1977 championship disc beyond the right-field wall. The homer, Milner's eighth, was the first off Walk in six weeks, 45⅓ innings, and it staked the Bucs to their only lead of the game.
And McGraw picked up his first victory since last Sept. 18 by working out of jams in the seventh and ninth. The win was particularly sweet for the lefthander, who lost two games in the late innings to the Pirates earlier this season and twice was victimized by Pirate grand slams a year ago.
"Every win now is absolute – no matter who you play," said McGraw. "But I wanted this one."
HE GOT IT by entering the game in the seventh, after the Bucs had tied it, 2-2, off Walk on back-to-back doubles by Dave Parker and Mike Easler. The first batter McGraw faced was Milner, whose pinch-hit, ninth-inning grand slam off McGraw sent the Phillies tumbling from the 1979 pennant race. McGraw pitched carefully to Milner, walked him, then got Ed Ott (another member of the Grand Slam off Tug McGraw Club) to fly out and Phil Garner to bounce into a fielder's choice.
In the ninth, after the Phils had broken the game open with a four-run eighth off relievers Enrique Romo and Kent Tekulve, McGraw got one out before Parker singled to left. Easler forced Parker, but Milner walked and Ott singled off McGraw's glove to load the bases. This time, however, there would be no bases-loaded heroics for the Pirates, McGraw snapping a third strike past Garner to end the game.
McBride lit the fuse in the decisive eighth when he greeted Romo with his fourth hit of the game, a single to right, then motored into third base behind Schmidt's broken-bat single to right.
Luzinski, in a 1-for-11, five-strikeout recession, fouled off Romo's first two pitches, took a tough 0-2 pitch, then lined a hanging curveball to left to send McBride home with the lead run. For Luzinski, who had walked and struck out twice against starter Don Robinson, it was – at the least – a satisfying hit.
"THERE'S NO question about that," Luzinski said. "You know, you're 0-for-2 with two strikeouts... You're in the eighth inning... Tug's throwing the ball good. We haven't scored too many runs the last couple games. You hit the ball hard, put it in play, you have a chance of scoring."
Luzinski's single seemed to snap whatever dam had been holding back Phillie runs recently. After Manny Trillo sacrificed, Tekulve replaced Romo and intentionally walked Garry Maddox to get to Larry Bowa, who promptly doubled in two runs. And, McGraw himself put the finishing touches on the inning with a nicely executed squeeze bunt that scored Maddox.
The Phillies, who had lost to Robinson three times in four previous meetings, got their only runs off the righthander in the sixth.
McBRlDE OPENED the inning with a single, but was gunned down at second when Schmidt could not get a cut at a high, inside pitch with the hit-and-run on. Nevertheless, Schmidt later got a swing at a Robinson pitch and sent it soaring over the wall in right center for his 37th homer of the season. It was only Schmidt's second hit (the other also was a home run) in 14 at bats against the Pirate righthander this season.
The Phils were fortunate to score another run in the inning. Trillo (0-f or-15 at that point) followed a Luzinski strikeout by popping a breaking ball into the no-man's land of shallow left center. Three Pirates converged on the ball, and Easler made what appeared to be a sensational shoe-top catch.
But Easler stumbled, rolled and the ball was jostled free, second base umpire Andy Olsen ruling the leftfielder had not maintained control. The Pirates argued the call to no avail, setting the stage for Maddox to single home Trillo.
PHIL UPS – Pirates have lost 12 of 14, 16 of 21... Win snapped three-game Phillie losing streak... Schmidt has 22 home runs this season at the Vet, tying the club record he had already shared with Deron Johnson (1971) and Luzinski (1977)... Five of Schmidt's seven hits off Pirates this season have been homers... McGraw is 1-0 with nine saves and a 0.87 ERA over his last 21 appearances...Steve Carlton opposes John Candelaria tonight... Marty Bystrom gets his first major league start tomorrow in New York.
Tug looks grand, slams door on Bucs
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – When Tug McGraw successfully accomplishes a mission on the mound, it's always hats and horns – a combination New Year's Eve and St. Paddy's Day complete with whoops, hollers, glove slapping and the distant sound of champagne bottles popping.
The trouble is, when you uncork the bubbly stuff too soon, it's a little tough to stay dry, let alone get it back into the bottle.
Such was Tug's dilemma last night when he prematurely broke the seal on a magnum of vintage frustration that he has been carrying around ever since the Pittsburgh Pirates gave him back-to-back hangovers by cracking grand slam home runs to beat him twice in 1979.
John Milner of the Bucs came off the 1 bench in the ninth inning to do it once. And a week later, catcher Ed Ott did it again, thus setting the stage for Tug to go into the record books as one of the few hurlers to give up four grand slams in a season.
It gave the Pirates a feeling they "owned" McGraw. At least that's what Tug suspected when the "Family" pegged two more defeats on him with late inning heroics during the current season.
Small wonder McGraw's pent up emotions were spritzing all over Veterans Stadium this time around as a check-swing by Pittsburgh's John Milner, signaled what Tug thought was the final out in the Phillies' 6-2 victory.
Unfortunately, umpire Nick Colosi didn't quite see it that way because as McGraw said in jest, "Nick doesn't like Irish guys... so he said Milner didn't swing."
Although the zany southpaw retained his humor, he lost concentration and intensity during his premature celebration and ended up walking Milner and yielding an infield hit to Ott to load the bases.
Deja vu. With the sacks full and just one out needed to nail down his first victory of the season, Tug felt like he'd been here before.
There was a difference, however. The leprechaun of the Phillies' bullpen had come to the ballpark convinced that he was, "going to put an end to all this crap," and show the Pirates they didn't own him.
"It was no threat," said Tug with a smile. "Ott and Milner were already on base. And Phil Garner isn't going to hit a grand slam off me."
Such a possibility existed, however.
"How could I not know that! What with 40,000 fans reminding me," said Tug. "But, all I had to do was get my act together. When I think the game is over, I let it all hang out and I'm a goner emotionally."
McGraw wasn't that far gone. He's at the top of his game right now, having registered an impressive 17 saves thus far this season while brandishing his best screwball in years and some variations on his fastball.
He has his regular straight fastball, plus a hummer that he holds differently and releases with a limp wrist, thus causing it to tail away from lefthanded batters.
Yet, if one were to look for the main reason folks are beginning to suspect McGraw may lead the Phillies to a championship as he did during his glory days with the New York Mets, it probably would be found in the way Manager Dallas Green has bandied him.
"I was sincere when I used to complain about the way Danny Ozark used me," said Tug. "Now, I'm being used effectively and consistently."
So, McGraw struck out Garner to end the game and register his first victory since Sept. 18, 1979.
"It's usually a matter of either getting a save or a loss when you're a' relief pitcher," he explained. "Still, it's nice to get a victory. It's a little tough when you go to a Little League banquet and some kid asks you how many games you won... next question!"
In 1973, when his 25 saves sparked a division title for the Mets, McGraw didn't post his first victory until August. He figures his waiting this long for number one in 1980 is a good omen.
When he said that, he was wearing an army camouflage shirt that he bought in Los Angeles because the Dodgers were out to get him.
They'd better get in line behind the Pirates. A lot of people are out to get Tug McGraw these days. But, most of the time, it has been the other way around.
Crawford tangles with Ott
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Jerry Crawford is hardly what you would call the favorite umpire of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was Crawford, if you recall, who earlier this season got his face entangled in the glove of Pirate third baseman Bill Madlock. Crawford's close encounter eventually cost Madlock a record 15-day suspension and $5,000 fine.
Last night, after the Phillies had wrapped up a 6-2 win over the Pirates in Veterans Stadium, Crawford again met face-on with one of the Bucs, this time catcher Ed Ott.
Crawford, the home plate umpire, ejected Ott during a post-game confrontation just outside the runway that leads to the umpires' dressing quarters. Ott, who had complained on two called strikes before singling in the ninth, was standing on first base as Phil Garner took a called third strike from Tug McGraw for the game's final out.
As he walked toward the Pirate dugout, Ott apparently yelled something at Crawford, who was already in the runway. Incensed, Crawford returned to the field and went jaw-to-jaw with Ott before the two were separated.
"He called me a (blanking) crybaby because I complained about the low pitch (Crawford called two strikes after McGraw had fallen behind Ott, 3-0)," said Ott.
"He was upset at the called strike and started screaming at me," said Crawford. "He called me a (unprintable name) and I'm not going to take that from, anybody. And, I came back down the runway and told him.
"He said I said something about him in Pittsburgh. If I have something to say to him, I'll tell him to his face. And you can tell him I said that... I'm going to file a report (with the National League office)."
When told of the report, Ott observed, "That's Jerry's style. He'll probably have me pinning him to the ground."