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Phils Down, Danny’s Fault
On paper, the 1979 Phillies looked better than before, which is saying a lot for a three-time division champion. They had Pete Rose at first base and Manny Trillo at second, upgrades over Richie Hebner and Ted Sizemore. Philadelphians were giddy at the thought of the 10-time all-star Rose playing for the Phillies – we have to be better was assumed. Not so fast, people, this is baseball. The 39-year old Rose did what he always did (.331 average, 208 hits – the 10th time he had 200 or more). Mike Schmidt was back with a good year (45 home runs, 114 RBIs), but Greg Luzinski was down (18-81). Steve Carlton was okay (18-11).
They started fast (14-5 in April), and cruised into May, reaching a high note on May 17, following a 13-0 Carlton complete game three-hitter on the 16th in Chicago, when they boosted their record to 24-10 with a wind-aided record home run performance in a 23-22, 10-inning victory. The teams combined for 11 home runs with Schmidt’s second of the day, a 10th-inning game winner off Cubs’ top flight relief pitcher, Bruce Sutter. Somebody had to save it for the Phillies, and it was Rawly Eastwicki who retired all six batter he faced in the 9th and 10th innings.
The 36-run, two-day explosion in Chicago seemed to take some wind from the Phillies’ sails as they travelled to Montreal and were swept in a three-game series, then proceeded to lose 9 of 10 to fall to 27-22. After losing 8 of 9 from August 20 to 29, Paul Owens had seen enough – it was Danny Ozark’s fault, and he had to go.
Dallas Green took over and pushed the team to a 19-11 finish, but it was way too late, and the proud champions, plus Rose, finished fourth (84-78), 14 games behind the winning Pirates (98-64).
Bob Boone, Manny Trillo, and Mike Schmidt won Gold Gloves.By max blue