SI Vault
Steve Wulf
October 06, 1980
With one week of the season remaining, the Phillies trailed the Expos in the National League East and the Dodgers were behind the Astros in the West, but both races were still far from over
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October 06, 1980

Out But Not Down

With one week of the season remaining, the Phillies trailed the Expos in the National League East and the Dodgers were behind the Astros in the West, but both races were still far from over

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When Ozzie Virgil Sr. came out of the dugout Friday evening, he looked for his son, but didn't spot him. "Where is that turkey?" he asked. McGraw was a picture of civility, though, as he went up to Williams, shook the Expos' skipper's hand and said, "Good luck tonight. I hope you win if we're unable to do so." The Phillies, it turned out, were able to win. They got a run in the second on a solo homer by Maddox off David Palmer, but the Expos tied the score in the sixth on a double by Jerry White and a single by Rodney Scott. Scott's hit was a grounder to Bowa's right that a younger Bowa might have reached. McGraw, working in relief of Ruthven, set the Expos down in order in the eighth and ninth. After striking out Andre Dawson to end the ninth, he came off the mound as only he can, flailing his right thigh with his gloved hand and pumping the air with the other. The Scoreboard's extraneous message was LET'S GET PSYCHED.

Palmer's first pitch to Bake McBride in the bottom of the ninth was a curve-ball, down but over the plate, and McBride got a good piece of it. "The ball wasn't carrying to right, so I thought it might stay in," said Palmer. "Then I saw Office go back, look up and turn away. That one hit drove in 50,000 people." McBride's homer touched off a wild home-plate celebration led by McGraw, Bowa and Green. The fans started chanting, "We want Bake," and the message board now read A BAKED TATER. Said McBride, still holding the home run ball that Ozzie Jr. had retrieved from the bullpen, "Dallas told me to go back out, and I said, if I go out, I want everybody with me, so we all went out."

As for his performance, McGraw said, "I have no control over it. I see myself on TV sometimes and I'm halfway embarrassed. I'm just very conscious of the crowd. You can almost reach out and touch the energy. It creates a density in the air, like when you turn up a stereo real loud and the lamp shakes. Then I'll just pick a face out in the crowd, like a drop in the waterfall, and I'm at peace." So much for poetry corner. The reality of the situation was that the Phillies were a game and a half up with Steve Carlton going the next day. "We're in the driver's seat," said Green.

But, as Houdini once said, nothing is a lock. The Phillies were certainly a confident team the next day, chasing the slightly larger Philadelphia Eagles out of right field so they could take batting practice. Linebacker Bill Bergey even came over and did a perfect imitation of McGraw's frenzy the night before. When Schmidt smashed his major league-leading 44th home run on his 31st birthday in the first inning, it looked like it would be another day for the Phillies. But students of Phillie history knew that on this same date in 1964, Sept. 27, the Phillies had fallen out of first place. It's Doomsday. Gary Carter of the Expos homered off Carlton in the second, but Manny Trillo answered with a solo number of his own. Carlton struck out the side in the third, but after that he began to lose his stuff. Chris Speier drove in a run in the fourth to tie the score at 2-2, and doubles by Speier and White in the seventh put the Expos ahead to stay. The Phillies drew to within one at 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth with the winning runs on base, but then Williams called in his relief ace, the 40-year-old tobacco farmer, Woodie Fryman, who has been called sacré in Montreal. Green sent Smith up to pinch-hit. No contest. After four pitches, the fourth a perfect slider that caught Smith looking, the tying run was dead at third.

"I don't look as excited as Tug does," said Fryman, who pitched to Ozzie Sr. and will someday pitch to Ozzie Jr. "But it's all inside. I was really pumped up. It's either going to be this season or next for me, and I want to win this thing." Said Carter, "If we were to win the division for one man, it would be Woodie. He's been an inspiration to us all."

Williams got in another dig after the game when he said, "All I want to say is what Dallas Green said last night. I think we're in the driver's seat. We've got our ace, Steve Rogers, going tomorrow, and we'll be a half-game up when we leave here. I like our chances a lot better now than I did at 11 last night."

He liked them even better at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Expos blew out the Phillies 8-3, thanks mostly to Rogers' five-hitter and Carter's four RBIs and two home runs. Carter's first homer gave the Expos a 1-0 lead in the second, and his 29th of the year, in the seventh, gave them a 7-1 lead. It also gave Carter 99 RBIs, so maybe Schmidt isn't such a shoo-in, after all. The Expos also got a little help from Maddox, who had as much trouble with the sun as Icarus did. He lost a liner by Speier in the sixth and let it go to the wall for a two-run triple, recalling the liner he missed that cost the Phillies the playoffs in 1978. "I didn't have my glasses down," said Maddox, "but I don't think they'd have helped." So the weekend that began with a bang for the Phillies ended with a whimper.

"Isn't it amazing," Carter said, "that you play 156 games, and the last six games are still important."

The Expos play three games with St. Louis early this week, and the Phillies have four with Chicago, but then they go at each other in cold Montreal. Says Cromartie, "I don't care if it's 10° up there. Once I hear the noise from our fans and take that first at bat, I'll be hotter than hell."

As Williams said after Saturday's victory, "The forecast is clear and exciting."

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