SI Vault
 
A Family Feud In Philadelphia
Jim Kaplan
June 11, 1984
Hugging on the sideline and slugging in the batter's box, Phillies West (Chicago) confronted Phillies East for first place
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
June 11, 1984

A Family Feud In Philadelphia

Hugging on the sideline and slugging in the batter's box, Phillies West (Chicago) confronted Phillies East for first place

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3

The Phillies committed five errors, increasing their league lead to 62. Lefebvre twice struck out with the bases loaded, once taking a called third strike down the pipe. The Phillies blew at least four double-play opportunities, and the three hapless pitchers they used kept the ball so high that Matuszek made no putouts at first—a feat of derring-don't accomplished only seven other times in baseball history. "Hell, we played worse tonight than they did last night," said Owens.

Maybe so, but the Cubs had played better in their victory than the Phillies had in theirs. In the second inning Richie Hebner replaced third baseman Ron Cey, who had pulled a groin muscle, and he got three hits to raise his average for the season to .500—16 for 32. Dernier and Sandberg—Cub announcer Harry Caray calls them "the daily double"—accounted for five hits, five runs, five RBIs and two stolen bases, with the 180-pound Sandberg hitting tremendous homers to left-center and center.

Talk about vindication. The winning pitcher was Rick Reuschel (3-1), who in 1977 had been the Cubs' last 20-game winner. Reuschel was traded to the Yankees in 1981, but he missed the 1982 season because of shoulder surgery and was discarded by George Steinbrenner on June 9. "It was a family in New York," he says, "but I didn't enjoy Papa." His shoulder healthy again, Reuschel took the advice of his agents and asked the Cubs for a second chance. Green sent him to Class A Quad Cities, where he went 3-4 with a 2.42 ERA in 13 starts, and then brought him back to Chicago in September, and he was 1-1 with a 3.92 ERA in four starts. During the winter Reuschel, once a blimp, lost at least 25 pounds, and now he is relatively fit and trim.

"We have a good blend of experience, power, speed and depth—more than we had in the old days," says Reuschel, who first joined the Cubs in 1972. "Look at what Hebner did tonight. And we haven't even had a chance to use Keith Moreland."

They got the chance Saturday. A .302 hitter in '83 but reduced this season to playing rightfield against lefthanded starters, Moreland broke up a 1-1 game with an eighth-inning homer off Holland.

Frey brought in Smith to start the bottom of the eighth, but the reliever yielded a broken-bat single to Hayes, setting the stage for Schmidt. The way both men talked before the game, Schmidt was hopelessly mismatched. "I strike out guys like Murphy and Horner in key situations," said Smith. "There's no tougher pitcher on righthanded hitters than Smith," said Schmidt. But Mike's wheels are always turning. Smith grooved a fastball, and Schmidt—"I used a lighter bat and for once took a nice, easy swing"—hit it into the Cub bullpen.

With one out in the ninth, Dernier walked and stole second and third, but Sandberg struck out and Matthews grounded out. "This," said winning pitcher Holland, "was a real ball game."

Sunday's was, too—for a while. Starting with three days' rest and coming off a 6-2 win at Atlanta in which he pitched 7? innings before giving up a hit, Steve (Rainbow) Trout lasted five innings and left with a 3-2 lead, thanks to Dernier's broken-bat single. "If you can keep it close," said Trout, now 7-3, "this team will score some runs." Sure enough, everyone in the lineup except Trout reached base as the Cubs scored four times in both the eighth and ninth innings. Durham ended the week first in the league in RBIs, tied for third in homers and fourth in batting average.

So, the Cubs, picked for last place before the season began, continued to confound baseball. This year the Phillies West may be best.

1 2 3