Little Me snuggled up to my shoulder minutes before the Funkyland Express zapped us back to Vet Stadium for the Cubs-Phillies game. He was kind of excited because Sheila had given him the Orioles to root for so he wouldn’t be without a team, but he was also kind of worried about his future—with good reason.
“Is evaporating the same as going to heaven?”
“Well, buddy…Can’t say because none of us have ever done it. But it might be. Uncle Seamus isn’t even sure himself. Tell you what, just think good thoughts about your Orioles and maybe they’ll win the pennant.”
“But Lester told me they don’t have a chance because they have the worst team OPS and a super-thin bullpen!”
“Lester doesn’t know everything. He just thinks he does. The Royals bullpen is actually thinner and look how close they are.”
Mikey was up in a front seat making barking sounds, already stoked about his Phillies probably about to kick Cubbie butt, even though I pointed out that something very different might happen if that was where the bus was dropping us off. Little Me sighed and tried to close his eyes.
“I don’t like Mikey. He’s a poopie-head, and I wish he really drowned that time.”
I leaned into his little face. “Don’t say that about anybody, buddy. Ever. Someone gave him a second chance for a reason…” I looked out the bus window, at Philly’s Center City beginning to take shape. “And I guess that’s true about all of us.”
Game of the Day
PHILADELPHIA—The best vs. the worst, record-wise at least. The Cubs nearly squeaked out a win yesterday with Reuschel, and now put Bonham up against the assassin Carlton. Mikey is back in obnoxious form, up and down in his seat, yelling at the field with food in his hand, refusing to believe his drowning was anything more than a two-month coma.
His team sure isn’t in a coma, putting two guys on in the first two innings, but Bonham squirrels out of each jam. With Trillo still out another day or two, Chicago has their young Puerto Rican bench player Dave Rosello in the 2-hole against Carlton, because he hits lefties a bit better. Dave comes through in the 3rd, knocking a sac fly to put the Cubs up 1-zip.
The lead lasts about 15 seconds. Schmidt begins the Philly 3rd with a single. McBride gets hit and knocked out (again!) for two games. Luzinski bounces a sure DP ball out to Rosello, but the ball plays him and scoots up his arm for a huge error. Bonham’s rattled, as Hebner and McCarver draw bases-loaded walks. Maddox fans but Bowa pops a sac fly and it’s 3-1 Phillies for no reason.
But this game has weirdness written all over it. After Buckner singles to start the Cub 5th, Steve Swisher shows his son Nick who won’t be born for three years how to do it, whacking a Carlton fastball over the wall to tie the game!
Bull Luzinski bounces another ball out to Rosello to start the Phillie 5th. He boots this one, too. Hebner then launches a drive to deep right. Murcer races back, leaps and snags the ball before it leaves the park. Lester giggles with glee and Mikey threatens to give him an ass-hat. McCarver lines into a DP to kill the inning.
And Murcer does it again two innings later, robbing Johnstone of a homer! Bonham and Carlton have both settled down, and both guys pitch into extras. But when Johnstone singles to begin the Phillie 10th, Sutter is hailed into the game, and told to pitch until his arm falls off. He strikes out the side for starters.
Can the Cubbies win it for him? Doesn’t look that way. Murcer doubles with two outs in the 12th, but guess who gets nailed at the plate by Maddox? Yup, Dave Rosello. Top of the 14th, though, Swisher doubles, is balked to third with two gone, and Dashing Dave does it! Lines a double into the gap to put Chicago ahead! Lester gets the remnants of Mikey’s hoagie in his face for cheering, but doesn’t care.
Naturally, Bowa singles to start the Phillie 14th, gets over to third on ground outs, and Schmidt grounds a single past—yup, Dave Rosello—to tie the game! Mikey hoots, gives Lester his napkins. The damn bus might leave without us. Brusstar finally takes over for Carlton, who was pulled for a pinch-hitter, and Murcer and DeJesus greet him with singles. Buckner then dumps one into center, Biitner pinch-hits another one off McGraw, and the Cubs are ahead 6-4!
That’s what we think. Sutter still in there, his arm almost in a sling, Luzinski singles. McCarver singles him to third with one out. The Bull scores on a force. Maddox tries to get a lead at first but can’t, Bowa grounds into a force, and it’s over! The mighty Cubs win their 30th, and improve to 2-14 against the Phillies!
CHC 001 020 000 000 012 – 6 19 2
PHL 003 000 000 000 011 – 5 11 1
W-Sutter L-Brusstar HR: Swisher GWRBI-Buckner
The Buzz Line
CARDS 10-16-0, at EXPOS 1-4-2
Ah yes, a nice relaxing massacre. Mumphrey with three hits, Simmons and Reitz with taters, Rasmussen with more brilliance, as St. Louis inches its way back into this.
ASTROS 3-7-0, at PIRATES 1-8-1
Huge win for Houston, massive letdown for the Bucs, as J.R. Richard outpitches Candelaria and the 1-1 tie is snapped in the 6th when Oliver butchers a ball in left with two aboard. Pops Stargell thankfully returns tomorrow.
DODGERS 3-7-0, at REDS 1-5-0
Nearly a carbon copy of the last game, except Hooton has Cincy befuddled for most of the day. L.A. puts many people on against Moskau and should have scored more, but they’ll take any win they can get on this road trip.
ROYALS 8-14-3, at RED SOX 6-12-1 (10 innings)
Playing Boston these days, especially in Fenway, is like trying to hold off an army of Visigoths with a water pistol. The great Dennis Leonard is given five runs in the top of the 1st, capped by an Otis 3-run bomb, but the relentless Red Sox chip, gouge, and finally bludgeon away. With Reggie Cleveland settling way down, a Patek error and two singles give Boston a run back in the 3rd (before a triple play ends the inning). Evans hits a solo shot in the 5th. Down 6-2 in the 9th, Burleson leads with a single. Doyle doubles with one out. Evans blasts a 3-run homer. Fisk singles and Mingori’s in to face Yaz. Yaz triples to tie the game. Rice and Lynn miraculously make outs and we go extras. Otis does it again, tripling in two, then drops an easy fly for a 2-base error leading off the Boston 10th. Littell is summoned, and gets Burleson and Carbo before hitting Montgomery. Evans is the winning run at the plate, but this time Dewey skies out to Cowens and everyone on the bus is suddenly nice to me.
at YANKEES 8-14-0, TWINS 4-10-1
With Friendly Fred the nicest of all. The Yanks’ fourth try at their 50th win is a success, but still manages to be as easy as root canal. Down 3-1 in the 5th, none other than Mick the Quick Rivers boinks a 3-run homer to put New York ahead. Carew leads the 7th with a triple but Guidry pitches his tail off, getting Wynegar and Bostock on grounders and whiffing Hisle. Three add-on runs in the 8th finish off the win, as the Yanks pick up a desperate game in the standings and now welcome in their other arch nemesis Royals for three big games.
at ORIOLES 3-8-0, WHITE SOX 0-1-1
That would be Jockey Jim Palmer with the near no-no, the lone hit a Zisk single with one out in the 7th. Little Me chirps with delight, as his Birds hop a game ahead of…
at INDIANS 8-11-0, RANGERS 3-6-2
…the mystifying Rangers. Alexander can’t hold an early 3-0 lead here, and the Tribe pounds out two 4-run innings to take the win, even with Blanks and Grubb hitting the injured list.
American League through Thursday, July 17
National League through Thursday, July 17