Reading Eagle - September 9, 1980
Big Win For Tug
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – One hundred and thirty-six games into the 1980 baseball season, Frank Edwin McGraw has finally achieved victory No. 1.
His 6-2 triumph over Pittsburgh Monday was notable in that it means the Phillies are two games ahead of the defending champions instead of even with them. It was important to Tug for other reasons as well.
“It’s nice to have one victory a year anyway,” said Tug, while holding court at his stall for a longer time than he spends on the mound in a couple of games put together.
“You go to Little League banquets and they ask you how many games you won last year. So you say, ‘Next question.’ It’s tough for relief pitchers to get wins, but you don’t want to go 0-for-’80.
Then there’s the omen business. Tug was trying very hard to give the writers something to write: “I didn’t get my first win in 1973 until August, and we (Mets) made it to the World Series. Since I didn’t get my first win this year until September, that means we’ll win the World Series. There’s an omen there somewhere, even if we have to make it up.
ERA at 1.90
McGraw now boasts a glittering 1.90 ERA and 17 saves, but his record was 0-4 until he came in with the score 2-2 in the seventh Monday.
He didn’t do his pre-game running. “Everybody was dragging after the flight from L.A.,” he said. “So I just did some stretching.”
Perhaps the theme song this winter will be “Will Tug Run?” instead of “Will Steve Run?”
Then there was the fact that McGraw won his first on the night he made his home debut in his camouflage jungle jacket.
He bought it in L.A. as a joke response to the threats the Dodgers had made against him following the Bill Russell incident. He wore it – with a Marine helmet – on a pregame show there, accompanied by Russell wearing boxing gloves.
“I did it to break the tension,” said Tug. “I apologized to Russell and everything is OK. Neither one of us would have known what to do if we’d gotten at each other. Davey Lopes may still be mad at me; I don’t know.
“He threatened to kill me if he had to wait eight years. That’s good. He thinks I’ll still be around here in eight years.”
Maybe Ed Ott or Gerry Crawford will borrow the jacket tonight.
Memories of ‘79
Tug did not need to be reminded that two of the record four 1979 grand slams he gave were hit by Pirates. “Everybody in the park was thinking about that when they loaded the bases in the ninth,” said Tug.
Tug thought he had John Miller struck out of a half-swing, but it was called a ball. Milner walked and Ott singled to load the bases and bring up Phil Garner with the tying run.
“When I think it over, I let it all hang out,” suggested Tug. “It took me a while to regroup.”
“But I didn’t mind facing Garner in that situation; he hasn’t hit one off me yet. And Chuck didn’t put the grand slam on.” (Tug struck out Garner; when he gives a grand slam, it’s to a lefty.)
Yes, it was quite a night for McGraw, since the beginning of July is 1-0, 0.87 with nine saves and only 20 hits allowed in 31 innings. “I’m healthy and in a good groove. I’m a fundamentally sound pitcher,” he said. “Without bragging, there’s no reason I shouldn’t get them out.”
He also notched his first successful suicide squeeze in the major, to the best of his recollection. “But I’ve always been a good bunter,” he insisted.
Maybe the only sour note was that he struck out in the seventh and lowered his 1980 batting average 67 points – to .333. Oh, well, you can’t have anything.
If you could, Tug McGraw would find a way to get it.
Broken-Bat Singles Ignite Phillies
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – When Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski crack back-to-back hits for the winning run, it is reasonable to assume that extra-base blows are involved.
On Monday night, that assumption was as valid as the one that school starts everywhere right after Labor Day.
A pair of broken-bat singles by the awesome sluggers provided the impetus to a four-run eighth inning. The Phillies thus whipped Pittsburgh 6-2, in the first of the Phils’ 10 final-month games with their two Eastern Division pennant playmates.
“Schmitty and Bull hit those pitches just like they’re supposed to; that was gratifying,” said manager Dallas Green. He had watched the Phils total four hits – none a smash – and work two bunts vs. ace relievers Enrique Romo and Kent Tekulve in the decisive eighth. They usually don’t do that well against the Pirates pen in a series.
“We’ve seen a lot of broken bat hits at Three Rivers,” suggested Schmidt. “We were due to get some.”
19 Hits, Four Games
Actually, the Phillies were due to get any kind of hit. The batters didn’t do much more work in Los Angeles than actors. They limped home after amassing 19 hits and six runs in four games there. And Monday they managed three hits and no runs in the first five innings against Don Robinson.
But four hits of varying intensity gave them a 2-1 lead in the sixth. The eighth-inning fun shattered a 2-2 tie, and lifted them within a half-game of first-place Montreal, idle Monday.
Bake McBride got the best hit of the eighth (his fourth of the night), a hard grounder past first as leadoff swinger. Schmidt went to right with Romo’s breaking ball, McBride taking third.
Then Luzinski, a strikeout victim in the last two times, slapped a 1-2 pitch over third. A guy wanted to know if Green was particularly pleased to see Luzinski, struggling since his return, get the hit in that situation.
“It was a relief to see anybody get a hit,” Dallas replied.
Manny Trillo followed with a perfect sacrifice. Tekulve replaced Romo and intentionally walked Garry Maddox to load the bases. Larry Bowa promptly bounced one over John Milner’s head at first base to score two runs.
Still the Phils weren’t done. Bowa stretched the hit into a double as Dave Parker threw to the wrong place, and Bob Boone was intentionally passed. Tug McGraw dumped a sweet suicide squeeze to score Maddox.
“You never have enough runs against the Pirates,” Schmidt observed. Indeed the Bucs, after McGraw had set down six straight, loaded the bases in the ninth. But Tug slipped a third-strike screwball past Phil Garner for his first 1980 win.
“I thought about squeezing Bowa,” said Green. “You always do with him. But I thought he’d get a ball to handle. He’s been swinging pretty good lately.”
“Larry says he has the highest average on the team with men on base the past month,” said Schmidt, who become designated talker for the silent shortstop, in the best McCarver-Carlton tradition.
37th for Schmidt
There was nothing cheap about Schmidt’s earlier hit. His 37th homer sailed over the center-field wall in the sixth, matching Milner’s fifth-inning homer off Bob Walk.
As he stepped up, the scoreboard reminded everyone that Mike needed one to tie the club record of 22 for homers at home.
McBride was aboard at the time. Unfortunately Green didn’t get the message and called for the hit-and-run, and Bake was out when Schmidt took the forehead-high pitch. “I thought Bake had a chance to make it on his own,” Mike explained.
So Mike’s drive only tied the score. But the Phils went up three batters later.
Maddox singled home Trillo, on second with a cheap double.
Mike Easler in left had caught Manny’s bloop with a lunging grab and held it as he hit the ground and rolled over. But the ball fell from his grasp as he came out of the roll, and the rules make it clear that’s not a valid catch.
Speaking of making up hits, it was suggested that this made up for the trapped hit in Los Angeles which was ruled a catch.
“I’ll take this one,” said Green. “We would have lost the other one anyway.”
Strong Through Six
Walk thus entered the seventh with a two-hitter and a 2-1 lead, having faced only two batters over the minmum. His one walk had been erased by a double play.
But Parker and Easler drilled consecutive one-out doubles to tie and bring in McGraw. Tug walked Milner before getting the next two, and got the side in order in the eighth.
“Walk pitched a super game,” said Green. “He showed a lot of heart, and gave us everything he’s got.
“Every win counts now. This is especially nice, because you want to beat the teams you have to beat, and they have dominated us somewhat – to say the least.”
Ott vs. Crawford
Meanwhile, the frustration of the Pirates (losers of 12 of their last 14) boiled over at the game’s end. Catcher Ed Ott charged Gerry Crawford as the umps headed up the runway. Crawford had come back to meet him.
Crawford had called two strikes on Ott in the ninth on which Ed started for first, thinking a fourth ball had been called. (Ed eventually singled to load the bases.)
Crawford, who called Ott a liar in talking about the heated exchange, ejected him even though the game was over.
PHIL-FILLERS – The Phils, even with Montreal in losses and one back in wins, now lead Pittsburgh by two games (three in the loss column)… Steve Carlton tries for No. 22 against John Candelaria (10-13) tonight on national TV… Milner’s homer was the first allowed by Walk in 35-1/3 innings… Schmidt is only 8-for-49 against the Pirates this year, but five of the hits are homers… The Phils, who had lost their last six games with the Pirates, now trail them on the season 5-10. The only other club they trail is Cincinnati, 5-7.