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101 Wins, 2.7 Million
You wouldn’t think that a team coming off a 101-win season would need to make any changes. Phillies general manager Paul Owens thought otherwise. He replaced second baseman Dave Cash with Ted Sizemore; what was that all about? Cash was generally seen as a team leader who hit .284 and scored 92 runs; he was only 29 years old. Sizemore was three years older and coming off two years with the Cardinals and Dodgers where he hit .240. And why would he replace the fan-favorite Dick Allen at first base with Rich Hebner who, as far as anyone knew, was a third baseman?
Most puzzling of all was the June 15 trade that sent young (24) lefthander Tom Underwood to St. Louis for right fielder Bake McBride. The Phillies’ outfield seemed to be set with Luzinski, Maddox, and Jay Johnstone in right. Why another rightfielder? And why give up a promising young left handed pitcher?
Whatever. For the second year in a row, the Phillies won 101 games. Carlton won another Cy Young award with a 23-10, 2.64 ERA year. Larry Christenson was 19-6, Jim Lonborg, 11-4. Ron Reed, Gene Garber, and Tug McGraw combined for 43 saves. Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski were a comforting presence in the middle of the lineup with a combined 77 home runs and 231 RBIs. Often overlooked, was the combined contribution of the other three outfielders: Maddox, Johnstone, and McBride totaled 40 homeruns, and 172 runs batted in. The team scored 847 runs, 113 more than the second-place Pirates.
The winning pattern changed in 1977. In 1976, the Phillies jumped out early, leading by 10 or more games from May until October. In 1977, heading into August, the Pirates had won the same number (59) as the Phillies, but lost one more. From August 3rd through the 23rd, the Phillies won 19 0f 20, including a 13-game winning streak. In August, the Pirates were a respectable 18-12, but were left in the dust by the Phillies’ powerful charge.
The Phillies won the first game of the Divisional series with the Dodgers, but then lost the next three, and were eliminated.
Garry Maddox and Mike Schmidt won Gold Gloves.By max blue