A trail of blue towels greeted Bill Gullickson as he reached the clubhouse. It stretched to the showers. It was the Expos' version of the red-carpet treatment, and they were extending it to the 21-year-old for having struck out 18 Cubs, setting a team record and a major league mark for rookies. It also fell one short of the major league record for a nine-inning game, shared by Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan. "I'm more excited about the win than the strikeouts," said Gullickson, who shared his joy with his parents and seven of his eight brothers and sisters, who were back home in Orland Park, Ill. watching the game over the Cubs' television network. The Expos (4-2) needed that win, as well as shutouts by Steve Rogers and Scott Sanderson, to stay in first place, a game ahead of Philadelphia and 3½ over the Pirates (page 18).
The Phillies (5-3) got help from a rookie of their own. In his first major league start, Marty Bystrom, 22, allowed only five hits while shutting out the Mets 5-0. And then there was the veteran Tug (Ya Gotta Relieve) McGraw, who, after 17 saves, got his first win of the year. Then he reminded everyone that it is September and that way back in '73, when he was pitching for the Mets and they won the pennant, he didn't get his first win until August. "There's an omen in there somewhere," said Tug, "even if I have to make it up."
The Phils could have taken over first place, but they lost twice to St. Louis (4-4) on Friday. The Cardinals had a child to lead them, too. Al Olmsted, 23, made his major league debut in the nightcap and shut out the Phils on six hits in 9⅓ innings before giving way to a reliever. After the 5-0 victory, Olmsted said simply, "I didn't want to embarrass myself." Yet another rookie, Leon (Bull) Durham, hit his first major league grand slam to help win the first game for the Redbirds.
Is there anything more boring than a game between the two worst teams in the league? How about one that goes 14 innings? The Cubs (3-4) and the Mets (1-5) did just that Friday night—and Saturday morning. When the game finally ended after 4½ hours, few fans left in Shea Stadium seemed to care that the Mets had lost their 13th straight. But 13 proved to be lucky as New York beat the Cubs the next day, 4-2. And it took them only 2½ hours to do it.
MONT 78-64 PHIL 77-65 PITT 75-68 ST.L 64-78 NY 60-82 CHI 55-86