Tag Archives: Del Unser

Looking for veteran versatility for the bench could lead Phillies to Josh Harrison

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Harrison could help the Phillies as a versatile veteran off the bench

While all of Phillies Nation waits on verdicts in the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado cases, the team is not sleeping on other moves to improve the overall roster.

A glance around the Phillies depth chart reveals, assuming the club’s power brokers actually want to contend in 2019, that a couple of important bench pieces may be missing.

Those two pieces would be a veteran infielder with proven ability at multiple positions, and a power bat who would be comfortable coming off the bench as a late-innings pinch-hitter while seeing limited opportunities otherwise.


For fans who were around during the 2008 championship heyday, think Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs. For older fans who can harken back to the 1980 championship team, think Ramon Aviles and Del Unser.
The Phillies are reportedly looking into one such player. MLB insider Jon Heyman of Fancred sports  tweeted out the following on Sunday afternoon:
Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Phillies and Rays are among teams in on Josh Harrison, a great and versatile defender





Harrison would fit perfectly into the role of a versatile and experienced infielder who could capably handle multiple positions. Now a free agent after spending the first eight seasons of his big-league career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Harrison has seen action at five different positions.
A native of Cincinnati, the now 31-years-old Harrison was the sixth-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Cincinnati.
At the July 2009 non-waiver trade deadline, the Cubs shipped Harrison to the Pirates as part of a three-prospect package to acquire a pair of veteran left-handed pitchers, Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow.
Harrison broke into Major League Baseball with Pittsburgh in the 2011 season, and finally became a regular during a breakout 2014 campaign. That year, Harrison hit .315 with 58 extra-base hits, making his first NL All-Star team.
He also finished ninth in the NL MVP voting that year while playing multiple games at third base (72), right field (26), left field (26), second base (17), and even eight games at shortstop.
Harrison was an important piece on three straight playoff teams in Pittsburgh from 2013-15, so would also bring that valuable postseason experience to a Phillies team that is hoping to become regular contenders.
During a second NL All-Star campaign in the 2016 season, Harrison drilled a career-high 16 home runs. But long balls are not what the right-handed hitter is known for, or why the Phillies would bring him on board.

Harrison has retained versatility over the years, playing four positions well in both 2015 and 2017, while also starting all year as the Pirates regular second baseman in the 2016 season. Last year, Harrison again played mostly at the keystone, with 87 games at second base. He did step in for a pair of games at the hot corner as well.

The last couple of years his performance has been affected by injuries. He lost the final month of the season in 2017 due to a fractured fifth metacarpal in his left hand.
That exact same injury recurred in April of 2018 when he was hit on the hand by a pitch. The second injury to his hand caused him to miss six weeks. He then suffered a lingering hamstring problem that restricted Harrison to just seven games during September of last season.
There was a $10.5 million team option in Harrison’s contract for 2019 which the Pirates declined, choosing instead to pay him a $1 million buyout and making him a free agent for the first time.
With the Phillies, Harrison could become a backup at both second and third base. He could also slide out to a corner outfield spot if needed, and even handle shortstop in a tough-spot emergency.
Getting Harrison board would also provide some insurance for the club if the Phillies were to deal Cesar Hernandez and allow Scott Kingery to take over the starting position at second base.
Not the big fish that the Phillies and their fans are really hoping to land, Harrison would nonetheless bring something of value to the team. Now, would he be willing to accept the role? And how much would it cost to bring him on board?

If he is willing to become a backup and the price is right, this would be a smart move for general manager Matt Klentak to consider.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Josh Harrison reportedly on Phillies radar

A look at the 10 dramatic Philadelphia Phillies postseason extra-innings games

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Maddox was in the middle of the action during  the decisive1980 NLCS Game Five

The Los Angeles Dodgers season was on the brink as Game 3 of the 2018 World Series staggered into the bottom of the 18th inning at Dodgers Stadium. The Boston Red Sox had a 2-0 lead and would take a nearly insurmountable 3-0 stranglehold on the series with a victory.

The Dodgers were rescued when Max Muncy lofted a lead-off, walk-off, opposite-field home run to give Los Angeles a 3-2 win, pulling them back from the precipice and cutting Boston’s lead in the Fall Classic to a 2-1 margin.
In the 136-year history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise the club has reached postseason play on 13 occasions. They have been involved in 103 games across 22 different series during those playoff appearances.
Just ten of those games reached extra-innings. The Phillies have an even 5-5 split result. While none lasted nearly as long as last night’s marathon, each held its own drama and importance, and revealed its own heroes and scapegoats.
Let’s take a quick look back at each of those five Philadelphia Phillies extra-inning postseason victories and defeats.


The Phillies were swept by the powerful New York Yankees in four straight games in this Fall Classic. But the young ‘Whiz Kids’ didn’t go down without a fight. They battled the Bronx Bombers evenly during the first three games, losing each by a single run.
After the Yankees had taken the opener by a 1-0 score, Game 2 of the 1950 World Series would again be held at what was still in those days known as Shibe Park. The Yanks went up early when Gene Woodling‘s ground single off Robin Roberts scored Jerry Coleman in the top of the second inning.
Mike Goliat left off the home 5th with a single off Yankees pitcher Allie Reynolds. He rolled around to third base on a one-out base hit by Eddie Waitkus, and then raced home with the tying run on a sac fly to left from Richie Ashburn.
Roberts and Reynolds would battle into the 10th inning, both pitchers going the distance in what is a complete antithesis to today’s game. In the top of the 10th, Joe DiMaggio crushed a lead-off home run out deep to left field for what would prove to be the game-winner.


The Phillies had tied the franchise record by winning 101 regular season games for a second straight season. And for a second straight year they would meet the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers had taken the series the previous year by breaking the hearts of Phillies fans on what has become known as ‘Black Friday’ in team lore. Now a year later, LA appeared on the verge of doing it again, taking the first two games.
The Phillies fought back to win Game 3 on the road. And now Game 4 of the 1978 NLCS went to extra-innings with the Phillies looking to tie it up, and the Dodgers looking to advance to a second-straight World Series.
Trailing 3-2 with two outs in the top of the 7th, Bake McBride had blasted a home run off Rick Rhoden to tie it up and force extras. In the bottom of the 10th, Tug McGraw retired the first to Dodger batters, but then walked Ron Cey.
The next batter, Dusty Baker, reached on an extremely rare error by Phillies center fielder Garry Maddox. Dodgers light-hitting shortstop Bill Russell then looped a first-pitch single cleanly to center, with Cey racing around to score the series-winning run.


For my money, the 1980 National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros remains the greatest NLCS in baseball history. After the Phillies won the opener 3-1, each of the final four games went to extra-innings.
In Game 2 of the 1980 NLCS at Veteran’s Stadium, Maddox’ single scored Lonnie Smith in the bottom of the 8th inning to send it to extras. The Phillies then had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the 9th, but the Astros Frank LaCorte wriggled out of the jam. Houston then scored four times in the top of the 10th and evened the series with a 7-4 victory.
In Game 3 of the 1980 NLCS at the Astrodome in Houston, Larry Christenson of the Phillies and Joe Niekro of the Astros dueled through shutout starts. In fact, Niekro lasted 10 innings. Joe Morgan led off the bottom of the 11th with a triple off McGraw.
After Phillies skipper Dallas Green ordered two intentional walks to load the bases, Denny Walling lifted a sac fly to score the game’s only run. The walkoff victory gave the host Astros a 2-1 lead and put them within one game of the first World Series appearance in franchise history. This remains the longest postseason game by innings in Phillies history.
Game 4 of the 1980 NLCS saw the Phillies trailing 2-0 with their season on the brink into the top of the 8th inning. But Verne Ruhle surrendered four straight singles to start the frame, and then a Manny Trillo double scored Pete Rose with the go-ahead run.
Houston battled back to tie it in the home 9th inning. Then in the top of the 10th, back-to-back two-out RBI doubles from Greg Luzinski and Trillo gave the Phillies a 5-3 win, tying the series at two games apiece and setting up the dramatic finale.
Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS is perhaps the most dramatic postseason game in Phillies history. It easily includes their greatest playoff comeback. For a second straight game, the Phillies season appeared to be ending as the game entered the top of the 8th inning, but this time it looked even more bleak.
Entering that top of the 8th, the Astros lead 5-2. Not only that, they had future Hall of Fame ace Nolan Ryan on the mound. But the Phillies somehow scratched out a pair of runs without hitting a ball out of the infield. Then huge hit from Del Unser tied it, and Trillo ripped a triple to left to put the Phillies incredibly ahead by 7-5.
This dramatic game and series were both far from over. Houston rallied back to score twice in the bottom of the 8th off McGraw to again tie it up, and the teams rolled into extra innings for a fourth straight game.
In the top of the 10th, Unser doubled with one out. Then with two outs, Maddox dropped an RBI hit to center field. Usually a starting pitcher, Dick Ruthven retired Houston in order for a second straight inning to finish it off and send the Phillies on to the World Series.


The Phillies followed up that dramatic series with Houston by rallying for a pair of victories at The Vet in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. As the Fall Classic moved out to Royals Stadium for the first time ever, George Brett and the home squad were desperate for a victory.
Trailing 3-2 into the top of the 8th in Game 3 of the 1980 World Series, the Phillies once again showed their late-inning comeback resilience when Rose laced a two-out single to score Larry Bowa with the tying run.
The teams moved to the bottom of the 10th, and McGraw allowed the first two runners to reach base. He then battled back to retire the next two hitters, but following a steal and intentional walk, Willie Aikens base hit scored Willie Wilson with the walkoff game-winner.
The Royals would tie the series the next day, but the Phillies would ultimately capture their first-ever World Series crown in six games.


During a time when there was no such thing as a ‘Division Series’, a lengthy mid-season player’s strike resulted in Major League Baseball deciding to work under a split-season format with two half-seasons separated by the strike date.
The Phillies had the best record in the NL East at that point and were declared first-half division champs. The Montreal Expos took the second-half, and so the two teams would meet in a National League Division Series. The Dodgers and Astros were meeting in another such series, with the two winners slated for the NLCS.
The Expos shut the Phillies down in the first two games at Montreal, taking both by 3-1 scores. The Phillies offense finally awoke for a big 6-2 win in Game 3 back at Veteran’s Stadium. The Phillies needed to win to tie it up, while the Expos were looking to advance into the NLCS against the Dodgers.
The Phillies rushed to an early 4-0 lead in Game 4 of the 1981 NLDS, but Montreal scored in each inning from the 4th through the 7th, and the two teams battled into extra-innings tied at 5-5.
In the bottom of the 10th, Green sent young George Vukovich up to lead-off as a pinch-hitter for McGraw. Vukovich wasted no time becoming a postseason hero, ripping a walk-off homer over the right field wall. The Phillies had tied the series at 2-2, but Montreal would win it the following day when Steve Rogers out-dueled Steve Carlton.


The 1993 ‘Macho Row’ squad went worst-to-first to win the NL East crown in an almost wire-to-wire performance that remains the single most fun Phillies season that I have witnessed in my 48 years following the team.
Waiting for them in the NLCS were the Atlanta Braves, who were then in the NL West Division. Atlanta had won 104 games that year and were seen by most as one of baseball’s up-and-coming teams. Despite winning their division, the Phillies were seen by many as a flaky fluke.
The Phillies sent a message in Game 1 of the 1993 NLCS at Veteran’s Stadium that they were no pushovers. After the Braves tied it by scoring an unearned run off Mitch Williams in the top of the 9th, the Phillies walked off to victory in the bottom of the 10th of the opener.
With one out in that 10th, John Kruk drilled a line drive double to right field off Greg McMichael. Next up was Kim Batiste, who had entered the game as a late defensive replacement for Dave Hollins at third base. Batiste ripped a two-strike, walk-off hit down the left field line to score Kruk with the game winner.
In Game 5 of the 1993 NLCS with the two teams tied at 2-2 in the series, the pivotal game entered extra-innings with someone looking to take the series lead.
With one out in the top of the 10th, Lenny Dykstra stepped in against Braves fireballer Mark Wohlers. On a 3-2 pitch, ‘The Dude’ blasted a go-ahead solo home run to put the Phillies on top. Larry Andersen came on to set Atlanta down in the bottom, and the Phillies had a 3-2 series lead headed back to The Vet. They would win the NL Pennant in the next game.
That blast from Dykstra highlighted what would prove to be the last Phillies extra-innings postseason game to this point. Despite reaching the playoffs in ever year from 2007 through 2011 and playing in more games during that stretch than all previous playoffs combined, the Phillies would not need extra frames again.
Losing the first four times, the Phillies have battled back to even their all-time franchise record at 5-5 in extra-innings playoff contests. When will we see the club back in the postseason? Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before we see bonus Phillies playoff baseball for the first time at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies have been involved in three winner-take-all postseason games

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Garry Maddox delivered the winning hit and recorded final out in 1980 NLCS

The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers by a 7-2 score on Friday night. The victory by the Brew Crew forces an ultimate Game 7 in the National League Championship Series tonight at Miller Park in Milwaukee.

There have now been 136 seasons of baseball in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise, 14 of which have resulted in a postseason appearance. None has ever resulted in the Phillies participating in a Game 7.
However, the Phillies and their fans have experienced the nervous energy and thrill of some winner-take-all drama on three occasions.
The first was Game 5 of the National League Championship Series back in 198o. The following year during the first-ever National League Division Series held because of the split-season due to a player strike, it happened again. Three decades would then pass before the next in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series.
The Phillies have enjoyed the thrill of victory just once, in that 1980 NLCS. They went down in heart-breaking fashion in both 1981 and 2011. The two losses came as a result of similar circumstances.
The 1980 series between the Phillies and Houston Astros was perhaps the greatest NLCS in history. All three were close, dramatic games, with the last four all ending in extra-innings.
The Phillies won the opener at Veteran’s Stadium by a 3-1 score behind a Steve Carlton gem and a Greg Luzinski home run. Houston then scored four runs in the top of the 10th to even the series at Veteran’s Stadium in Game Two.
Back home at the Astrodome for Game Three, the Astros got a leadoff triple in the bottom of the 11th from Joe Morgan off Tug McGraw in a 0-0 game. Following two intentional walks, Denny Walling scored Morgan with the walkoff, putting Houston within a game of their first-ever World Series appearance.
The Phillies fought back, rallying from a 2-0 deficit in Game Four to score three times in the top of the 8th inning. After Houston tied it up in the last of the 9th, the Phillies scored twice in the top of the 10th to win it. That rally was highlighted by Pete Rose plowing into Bruce Bochy with the go-ahead run.
With the NLCS tied at two games apiece, the decisive Game Five would take place once again in Houston. This time the Astros had a literal ace-in-the-hole in Nolan Ryan, and the big right-hander rolled into the top of the 8th inning with a 5-2 lead.
The Phillies then scratched and clawed their way back, scoring five times in that 8th inning to take a 7-5 lead. Houston refused to die, scoring twice in the bottom of the frame to tie it up, and again the two teams headed to extras.
In the top of the 10th inning, Del Unser, whose pinch-hit RBI single had tied it up in that big Phillies 8th inning rally, once again played the hero by doubling to right field. Then with two outs, Garry Maddox dropped a ball into center field, driving in Unser with the go-ahead run.
Manager Dallas Green then brought his #2 starting pitcher, right-hander Dick Ruthven, in to pitch the bottom of the 10th inning. Ruthven retired the Astros in order, getting Enos Cabell to fly out to Maddox for the final out. The Phillies had won their first National League pennant in three decades en route to their first-ever World Series victory.
The following year of 1981 was marred by a strike from the players, one that resulted in Major League Baseball deciding to split the season into two halves. The Phillies were in first place at the time of the strike, and thus were awarded the first-half title.
In the second half, the Montreal Expos finished on top. This meant that the Phillies and Expos would face-off in the first-ever National League Division Series.
The whole split-season thing was all a bit frustrating for the Saint Louis Cardinals, who finished with a better overall record than both the Phillies and Expos in the NL East, and who finished just a half-game behind Montreal in the second half.
In fact, over in the NL West Division the Cincinnati Reds finished with the overall best record in baseball but were also shut out of the postseason. The Reds ended the first half at a half-game behind the Dodgers and finished the second half at 1.5 back of the Astros.
In the best-of-five NLDS, the Expos bolted out to a 2-0 lead by shutting the defending champion Phillies down in identical 3-1 victories at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. The series then returned to Veteran’s Stadium for the final three games. The Phillies bats finally awoke for a 6-2 win in Game Three.
With the Phillies now trailing 2-1 in the series and their backs still to the wall, Game Four moved into the bottom of the 10th inning tied at 5-5. Green sent up 25-year-old George Vukovich to leadoff as a pinch-hitter for McGraw.
With just a single home run in 91 plate appearances spread over his first two seasons to that point, Vukovich seemed an unlikely hero. But that is exactly what he became when he ripped the first pitch from Expos closer Jeff Reardon over the right field wall and into the Phillies bullpen for a walkoff homer.
The momentum now seemed in the Phillies favor for the decisive Game Five. They had won two straight, were at home in front of their roaring fans, and would have Carlton on the mound. The only problem? Someone forgot to tell Expos starting pitcher Steve Rogers that he didn’t stand a chance.
Rogers had bested Carlton in the opener by battling through 8.1 innings in which he surrendered 10 hits but allowed just a single run. He was even better this time.
In a complete game masterpiece, Rogers shut out the Phillies on six hits. And in the top of the 5th inning his bases-loaded single off Carlton scored two runs to break up a 0-0 showdown. The Expos won 3-0 and advanced on to the NLCS, and the Phillies were dethroned.
The last winner-take-all for the franchise in 2011 also ended in heartbreaking fashion with the opposition starting pitcher out-dueling a Phillies ace.
In 2011, the Phillies had set an all-time franchise record by winning 102 games during the regular season. That came largely thanks to a starting rotation featuring the ‘Four Aces’: Roy HalladayCliff LeeRoy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.
The Cardinals had not even won their division. They finished in second place in the NL Central, six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. But the Cards beat out the Atlanta Braves for the NL Wildcard berth on the final day of the season, earning an opportunity against the Phillies in the NLDS.
The Phillies took two of the first three games and very nearly got a sweep. Saint Louis stayed alive by rallying from an early 4-0 deficit against Lee to eke out a 5-4 win in Game Two. The Cards then won Game Four at Busch Stadium to force a decisive game back in Philadelphia.
For that dramatic Game Five at Citizens Bank Park, Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel sent his ace of aces Halladay to the mound. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa countered with big right-hander Chris Carpenter, an off-season hunting and fishing buddy of Halladay’s.
The Phillies had battered Carpenter early in Game Two, driving him from the mound by scoring four times over the first three frames. But a parade of six Cardinals relievers then completely shut the Phillies bats down to keep Saint Louis in the series.
Halladay was strong, surrendering just a single run on six hits while walking one and striking out seven over eight innings. He yielded extra-base hits to the first two batters of the game to fall behind 1-0 but would scatter just four singles the rest of the way.
Carpenter, however, would not allow himself to be embarrassed again. The 36-year-old veteran delivered a true masterpiece, allowing the Phillies just three hits in a complete game shutout that was eerily reminiscent of Rogers’ elimination of the Phillies three decades earlier.
Carpenter was in trouble just once, getting Raul Ibanez to fly out with runners on the corners and two down in the bottom of the 4th inning. In the bottom of the 9th, he retired Ryan Howard on a weak grounder for the final out, ‘The Big Piece’ crumpling to the ground with what turned out to be a major Achilles injury while trying to run from the batter’s box.
Someday the Phillies and their fans may have to sit through the tense drama of a Game 7 during a National League Championship Series or a World Series. It would be a first for the franchise.
If it should come in one of those scenarios, or perhaps during an NL Wildcard Game or a decisive fifth game of a Division Series, the memories of those three previous winner-take-all Phillies October dramas are sure to be relived.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Phillies have never been to Game 7, but have been winner-take-all

Phillies Fall Classics IV: 1980 World Series Game Five

The Philadelphia Phillies had built an early 2-0 lead in the 1980 World Series over the Kansas City Royals with a pair of victories at Veteran’s Stadium.
The Fall Classic then shifted to Royals Stadium (now Kauffman Stadium) for three games over the weekend of October 17th through 19th.
In Game Three on Friday night, the two teams battled into the 10th inning tied at 3-3. 
There in the bottom of the 10th, the host Royals gained life when their offensive star of the series, big 1st baseman Willie Aikens, singled off Tug McGraw to score Willie Wilson with the walkoff run in a 4-3 victory.
Then in Saturday afternoon’s Game Four, Kansas City tied the series thanks to a pair of home runs from Aikens. Those twin blasts had pushed the home side out to an early 5-1 lead after just two innings. 
The Phils fought back with solo runs in both the 7th and 8th innings to make a game of it, but those rallies fell short.

However, a bit of momentum would swing the Phillies way in the 4th inning. With the Royals rolling and the Phils looking listless, KC superstar and future Hall of Famer George Brett stepped into the batter’s box against righty reliever Dickie Noles.
Feeling that the Kansas City hitters were simply too comfortable at the plate, Noles fired a fastball that honed in on Brett’s head like a guided missile. 
Brett’s entire body flew out from under him as he evaded the lethal-looking pitch, eliciting an outburst of indignation from Royals’s skipper Jim Frey, and warnings to both benches from the umpires.
But the pitch appeared to serve its purpose. Noles struck out Brett and then Aikens, both swinging. He then struck out two of the three batters he faced in the 5th as well. 
There was a noticeable swagger gone from the Royals approach after that “intent” pitch by Noles.
As presented at Wikipedia, Phillies’ future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, in his book Clearing The Bases, called it “the greatest brushback in World Series history.
The stage was thus set for a pivotal 5th game, our dramatic Phillies Fall Classics IV. With the two sides knotted at two games apiece, the winner would take a 3-2 lead and move to within a single victory of their franchise’ first ever World Series championship.
Game Five was played on a Sunday afternoon in direct competition with the NFL, in the days when Major League Baseball was still concerned enough about issues like presenting the national pastime during a time period when young viewers could enjoy an entire game, rather than milking every last possible advertising dollar.
On the mound, the Royals would bring back veteran lefty Larry Gura, who had been fantastic in taking a Perfect Game into the 5th inning of Game Two
For the Phillies, it would be 22-year old rookie righty Marty Bystrom getting the start. Bystrom had been a September revelation for the starting rotation, going 5-0 during the month as a surprising key player in the Phillies drive to clinch the NL East.
The old vet and the young gunslinger traded zeroes on the scoreboard through the first three innings. 
Finally in the top of the 4th, the Phillies broke through with a pair of runs off Gura when Schmidt drove a 2-2 pitch over the wall in deep right center for his 2nd homer of the series and a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Bystrom had worked around trouble in the 3rd and 4th. But down 2-0, the Royals finally broke through in their half of the 5th inning. 
Leadoff singles by U.L. Washington and Wilson, and a sacrifice bunt by Frank White, put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out and the heart of the Kansas City order coming to bat.
Brett grounded out to 2nd base, scoring Washington with a run to cut the Phillies lead in half at 2-1. 
Bystrom was able to wriggle out of further trouble again in the inning, but in the home 6th, KC would get to him again, taking the lead and driving the youngster from the game.
The 6th inning trouble began immediately for Bystrom, as Amos Otis led off the frame by crushing an 0-1 pitch deep over the left field wall to tie the game at 2-2. 
When the next two batters each singled, that was it for Bystrom. Phils’ skipper Dallas Green went to veteran Ron Reed, who was greeted by a sac fly from Washington to score Clint Hurdle with the go-ahead run.
With the Royals now up 3-2, Wilson slashed a ball into the right field corner that would go for a double. A slow-footed Darrell Porter chugged all the way around from 1st base in an attempt to score a run that would possibly begin to bury the Phillies.
But the Phils’ instead executed a perfect defensive relay from right fielder Bake McBride to 2nd baseman Manny Trillo and finally to catcher Bob Boone, nailing Porter as he slid in at home. Reed got out of the inning without further damage, but the Phillies now trailed.
In the top of the 7th, the Phils put two on with one out, and Gura was replaced by closer Dan Quisenberry, who would get out of the inning cleanly. 
Green then turned to his closer Tug McGraw in the bottom of the 7th, and the rest of the game would be a battle between the two talented, veteran closers.
The game moved into the 9th inning with the Royals still holding that 3-2 lead, with Quisenberry having not allowed a hit over his 1 1/3 innings to that point. He was just three outs away from putting Kansas City up 3 games to 2 in the series.
Schmidt led off that 9th inning, and despite the fact that he was perhaps baseball’s top home run threat, Brett smelled a bunt, and played in shallower than normal. Schmidt instead swing away, and sent a smash to Brett’s left. 
Had the Royals 3rd sacker been playing back as normal, he may have fielded it cleanly. But up shallow, he could only dive and watch the ball roll off his glove as Schmidt reached 1st base as the potential tying run.
Green then made a move to his bench that was becoming familiar to Phillies fans at this point, sending up Del Unser to pinch-hit for Lonnie Smith
As he had so often in that postseason, Unser delivered, firing a base hit down the right field line. Schmidt read the ball perfectly, possessed good speed, and never stopped as he went first-to-home, sliding in with the tying run well ahead of the Royals relay throw. 
Unser rolled into 2nd base with a double, and would then move up to 3rd when Keith Moreland followed with a sacrifice bunt.
Quisenberry got Garry Maddox to ground out to Brett, who was able to freeze Unser at 3rd base. So now the Phillies had the go-ahead run just 90 feet away, but there were two outs. 
Trillo, who had come up with a number of key hits in winning MVP honors in the NLCS, stepped in against the Royals closer, who was hoping to keep it tied and give his team a chance to win it in the bottom of the 9th.
Instead, it was Trillo who would again play the hero, smashing a ball right back at Quisenberry, who could not handle the hot-shot. As it rolled away from the mound, Trillo reached with an infield single, and Unser crossed the plate with the go-ahead run.
The Phillies would take that 4-3 lead into the bottom of the 9th, and Green left his indomitable closer McGraw in the game, despite his having already tossed 25 pitches over the previous two innings.
Tug walked two of the first three Royals batters, surrounding a strikeout. He induced the tough Hal McRae to ground into a force out at 2nd base for the second out of the inning, but White moved over to 3rd base, putting the tying run just 90 feet away for Kansas City.
McGraw then pitched around Otis, loading the bases with two outs, and bringing ex-Phillie Jose Cardenal to the plate. 
Cardenal had very nearly crushed a 3-run homer off McGraw back in the 7th inning. But here with the game on the line, the Tugger struck him out swinging on a 1-2 pitch to nail down the dramatic victory.
The road win pushed the Phillies on top by 3-2 in the series, and left them just one win away from taking the first World Series title in franchise history. The series would now shift back to The Vet, where the Phils would have two shots to get it done. 
The first of those would come with ace Steve Carlton taking the mound on a Tuesday night in South Philly in what will be our ‘Phillies Fall Classics V’ presentation.

Phillies Fall Classics III: 1980 World Series Game Two

A big 3rd inning explosion and Tug McGraw bullpen heroics gave the Philadelphia Phillies a 7-6 victory in Game One of the 1980 World Series at Veteran’s Stadium the previous night, setting the stage for Game Two on Wednesday night, October 15th, 1980.
This was a big night for me personally, as it was and remains still the only World Series game that I have ever personally attended. 
I was 18 years old, working for a year at First Pennsylvania Bank as a low-paid, low-level clerk. I didn’t make a lot of money, and frankly saw an opportunity to make some quick cash.
The Phillies had added a new tier of seating for this World Series, bleacher style seating in what had previously been a walkway at the very top of the 700 level at The Vet, ringing the entire stadium.
The weekend before that Fall Classic began, you were able to purchase tickets at the stadium box office. I took a wad of money that I didn’t really have, and on a prayer and the hope that I could sell the tickets for a profit, went down to stand in line.
Tickets that were available by the time my turn came were for that upper level at $15 per ticket. There was a maximum available per person of eight tickets per game. I purchased eight for Game Two, shelling out the $120 from my wallet.
Based on today’s ticket prices, that might sound like a bargain to you. But remember, these were 1980 dollars, and I didn’t have $120 of them to spare. 
However, the Phils were in the World Series for the first time since 1950, the 2nd time ever, and the 1st time in my lifetime. The team had the town wildly excited.
I believed that I could sell the tickets for a profit, but had no clue for how much. The very first day that I walked in to work and let it be known that I had them, one of the more well-off members of my department offered to buy a pair for $50 each. Sold! Later that same day, I sold another pair for another $50 each.
Four tickets sold in a matter of hours, and $200 returned on my original $120 investment. 
The next day, which was the day before the game, I unloaded two more for $25 each. With a $130 profit, more than what I paid for the eight tickets, I was now going to use the final two for myself.

At the last minute, my original game partner was unable to go, due to a work scheduling conflict. 
In those days before cellphones and pagers and social media, I got on the telephone and dialed around, looking for someone to go with me. Finally, by a twist of fate, my Uncle Frank LoBiondo, husband to my father’s sister, would prove the lucky recipient.
We headed up to the game on the 79 bus, a trackless trolley, along Oregon Avenue in South Philly, then took the Broad Street Subway across to The Vet. 
It was a wonderful atmosphere, with the Phillies in the World Series, and the stadium was dressed up and rocking. In just its 10th season of existence, The Vet was still a wonderful place to watch a baseball game in those days.
That was my personal setting for the dramatic events that were about to unfold before us, as Uncle Frank and I looked down from our nosebleed seats directly above home plate.
The game began as a pitcher’s duel between a pair of strong, experienced lefties. For the Royals it was 32-year old, 11-year veteran Larry Gura, and the Phillies’ were going with a future Hall of Famer, Steve Carlton, who was then 35 years old and pitching in his 16th MLB season.
Gura and Carlton set down the opposition for the first 4 1/2 innings, and the game remained scoreless as the Phillies came to bat in the home 5th. 
In fact, Gura had a perfect game brewing. When he got Phils’ star 3rd baseman Mike Schmidt to leadoff by grounding out, it was his 13th consecutive batter retired.
But the Phils’ bats finally began to get to him. Rookie Keith Moreland started it off, finally breaking up the perfecto with a clean ground single past KC shortstop U.L. Washington
Garry Maddox then drilled a ball deep into the left field corner, holding with a double as the slow-footed Moreland got around to 3rd base.
Manny Trillo, the Most Valuable Player of the dramatic NLCS victory over Houston, then delivered a sacrifice fly to score Moreland, and the Phillies had a 1-0 lead. 
Larry Bowa then followed with a line single to left, and it was a 2-0 lead. The crowd was roaring, and everyone felt the confidence now with Carlton being given a two-run lead with which to pitch.
However, “Lefty” wouldn’t hold that lead for long. In the top of the 6th, Amos Otis led off with a single and John Wathan walked, putting two aboard with nobody out. 
Willie Aikens then grounded a ball to the Phillies’ usually sure-handed 2nd baseman Manny Trillo. But on this one, Trillo threw the ball away at 1st base, allowing Otis to score to cut the lead to 2-1.
In trouble now, Carlton bore down like the 3-time Cy Young Award winner that he was about to become. 
He struck out former Phillie Jose Cardenal, and then induced Frank White to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 doubleplay.
But trouble would return for Carlton in the top of the 7th, this time of his own doing. He walked Willie Wilson to lead off the inning, Washington bunted him over to 2nd, and the speedy Wilson then took off and stole 3rd base, putting the tying run just 90 feet away with one out.
That brought to the plate what would normally have been future Hall of Famer George Brett‘s spot in the order. 
The Royals 3rd baseman was already 2-2 with a walk in the game. However, Brett had to be removed, suffering from a severe bout with hemorrhoids that would plague him the entire series.
In his place, Dave Chalk worked another walk off Carlton. When veteran DH and cleanup hitter Hal McRae stepped in, Chalk took off and stole 2nd base. 
With runners and 2nd and 3rd and one out, McRae then walked on a 3-2 pitch, Carlton’s 3rd free pass of the frame.
The Phillies still led by 2-1, but the Royals had the bases loaded and just one out. The veteran Otis stepped up and delivered, ripping a 2-run double down the left field line to score both Wilson and Chalk, giving the Royals a 3-2 lead.
Wathan then delivered a sac fly to score McRae, and the Kansas City lead was up to 4-2. Carlton then got out of the inning on the same play, as Otis was thrown out on an 8-3-5 tootblan.
Royals’ manager Jim Frey then decided that he wasn’t going to waste this newfound momentum, and brought his submarining right-handed closer Dan Quisenberry into the game in the bottom of the 7th inning. 
Quisenberry made him look like a genius for the moment, setting the Phils down in order and sending the game to the 8th with the Royals still up by 4-2.
Carlton was still in for the Phillies, and despite allowing a pair of 2-out singles, the big lefty got out of the inning without damage, striking out a pair of Royals hitters to raise his total to 10 K’s on the night. So the Phillies would come to bat in the bottom of the 8th trailing by two runs.
Quisenberry was back out on the mound for KC in that bottom of the 8th, and he returned Carlton’s favors by committing the baseball cardinal sin of walking the leadoff man, Bob Boone
Now Phillies manager Dallas Green made a move, sending up pinch-hitter extraordinaire Del Unser to bat for rookie Lonnie Smith.
Unser made his skipper look like a genius, lining a double into the left center gap that rolled to the wall, allowing the slow-footed Boone to score all the way from first. 
Pete Rose followed by grounding weakly to 1st base, but it allowed Unser to move over to 3rd, where he stood just 90 feet away from tying the game.
The other 65,773 fans in the record crowd who had joined Uncle Frank and I would not long forget what happened next. First, Bake McBride drilled a single to right, scoring Unser to tied the game at 4-4.
Then up stepped Mike Schmidt, the Phillies’ own future Hall of Fame 3rd baseman. Schmidt crushed a double and McBride charged around 3rd, sliding in just ahead of the throw as the go-ahead run. 
Schmidt rolled on to 3rd base on the play. When Moreland followed with a clean base hit to center, Schmidt scored with the run that put the Phillies up by 6-4.
Carlton would not come out to try to protect the lead in the 9th inning. He had thrown 159 pitches already. Let that sink in for a minute. 
Green also did not have closer McGraw, who had thrown 27 pitches in registering his 3rd Save of the postseason the previous night, available to him.
So Green considered his options, and chose to bring in 37-year old, 15-year veteran righthander Ron Reed to try to close this one out. 
Reed allowed a one-out single to McRae, but then after registering the 2nd out, he faced Wathan as the tying run. 
Reed struck Wathan out on a 2-2 pitch, setting off a wild celebration in the stands, including Uncle Frank and I exchanging high fives with one another and every fan in slapping distance.
The Phillies had a 2-0 lead in the 1980 World Series. That meant at the very least that they would return home to The Vet, even if the Royals somehow managed to sweep the three games that would now take place out in Kansas City.
That very nearly did happen, but as the next chapter in this Phillies Fall Classics series will show, the Fightin’ Phils would indeed find a way to win one game on the road, coming home less than a week from this very night with a chance to win the first World Series championship in franchise history.