Inching Up

The Phillies team that Lee Thomas had put together up to now, was just marginally better than earlier teams; these things take time. They won 11 more games than the year before, and tied with the Cubs for fourth place, 18 games back of the Pirates. With no established number one starter, manager Nick Leyva’s only option was to keep putting guys out there and hope somebody would show that he could consistently keep his team in the game. Eleven different pitchers got at least one start; 15 got at least one finish. Ten different pitchers threw 81 or more innings, including closer Roger McDowell who won six, lost eight, finished 60 games with 22 saves, and a 3.86 ERA.

The team may not have been that much better, but with Dykstra, Kruk, Von Hayes, and Daulton hacking away from the left side, they were fun to watch. Unless you were Dodger manager, Tom Lasorda. The 63-year-old Lasorda was in the 15th of a 21-year highly successful career as Dodger manager; he is famously known as the man who bleeds Dodger blue. In 1990 his Dodgers were in a season-long dogfight with the Cincinnati Reds for top spot in the NL West, and even though his guys won the season series from the Phillies, 8-4, three of those defeats were so bitter that Lasorda considered abandoning prayer as penance for excessive demands on a vengeful God.

First was the May 6 game at Veterans Stadium; the Dodgers led 5-1, only to fall to a six-run Phillies seventh inning that featured a grand slam homerun from Ricky Jordan.
Two weeks later at Dodger Stadium, Lasorda’s team led 10-8 in the ninth only to see the Phillies put up four for a 12-10 lead. The Dodgers sent it to extra innings with two in the bottom of the ninth, but failed to win it after loading the bases with none out. Philadelphia’s Rod Booker, with 10 RBI the entire season, got three in the 11th with  a bases loaded triple for a 15-12 Phillies’ win. But the worst was yet to come.

On August 21, a balmy summer night at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers held an 11-3 lead only to see the Phillies score nine runs in the ninth , thanks to a pinch hit three-run homer from John Kruk, and two crucial errors from rookie shortstop Jose Offerman. A play-by-play account of that notorious ninth can be seen in Max Blue’s 2009 book "PHILLIES JOURNAL: 1888-2008."

By max blue
Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Darren Daulton, John Kruk, Jose Offerman, Lee Thomas, Los Angeles Dodgers, Nick Leyva, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Ricky Jordan, Rod Booker, Roger McDowell, Tommy Lasorda, Von Hayes


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