The Phils also professed a Neumanesque attitude. It was best expressed by reliever Larry Andersen. "We're still in the driver's seat," said Andersen. "We just lost our map." Besides, the Phillies had the edge on the Expos this season. Their record against Montreal was, you guessed it, 6-4.
The Expos, on the other hand, were worried on Friday. The night before, in St. Louis, in a 4-3 win over the Cardinals that had drawn Montreal to within five games of Philadelphia, Moises Alou, the Expos' leftfielder and their manager's son, had fractured the fibula and dislocated the ankle of his left leg while rounding first. The sight of Alou's foot dangling to the side was so grotesque that players and umpires had turned away in shock.
Yet on Friday afternoon Alou showed up at Olympic Stadium on crutches to assure everyone that he was all right and to thank people for their concern. (He made a point of thanking the Pittsburgh Pirates for the basket of fruit they sent.) He also briefly addressed the team. "I told the guys that I would be there with them, to play hard and kick ass," he said. As Expo infielder Randy Ready put it, "Just seeing Mo was a huge relief. It takes a big man to fly halfway across the country after such a traumatic injury just to lift our spirits."
There were many more spirits to be lifted on Friday night.
The Expos are, ironically, a lot like the '64 Phillies—young and scrappy and playing over their heads. And just as manager Gene Mauch played "little ball" that season, Felipe Alou practices balle petite: He has only one hitter, rightfielder Larry Walker, with more than 20 home runs, but eight Expos have more than 10 stolen bases. Eleven Montreal players are rookies, including five who started the season with Double A Harrisburg and made the jump to the majors.
One of them is Curtis Pride, a 24-year-old outfielder who hit a combined .324 with 50 stolen bases at Harrisburg and Triple A Ottawa. Pride is a remarkable athlete who played soccer for the U.S. under-18 team and point guard on the William & Mary basketball team. He was first signed by the New York Mets in 1986, but the Expos signed him as a minor league free agent before this season, and he blossomed. Oh, yes—Pride is 95% deaf.
So he didn't hear the cheers of the crowd of 45,757 when he stepped to the plate against Bobby Thigpen as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning Friday night, with the Expos trailing 7-4. There were runners on first and second with one out, thanks to a single, a 6-4 force and an infield hit. Why had Felipe called on such an unproven rookie in such a crucial situation? "There was something in the delivery of the pitcher," said Alou, "that made me think Curtis could hit him."
Sure enough, Pride laced Thigpen's first pitch to the wall for a two-run double and his first big league hit. The Big O was awash in sound, and eyes were misting. "At that moment," said Alou, "I thought of all the letters, all the phone calls I have gotten from hearing-impaired people, asking me to give Curtis a chance."
As Pride stood on second, third base coach Jerry Manuel called time and went out to talk to him. "He was telling me to take off my helmet," Pride said. "At first I thought, What's wrong with my helmet? Then I knew what he was talking about." Pride tipped his cap to the crowd.
Could he hear the cheering? "Here," said Pride, pointing to his heart. "I could hear it here." Second base umpire Gary Darling then went over to Pride. "I just told him to smile," said Darling. "It didn't look like he was enjoying himself."