If you’re wondering where the Dodgers are, don’t ask catcher Mike Scioscia. For a while Sunday afternoon, he thought they were in Houston. They were, in fact, in Dodger Stadium and still in first place despite their 4-2 loss to the Cardinals Sunday.
Scioscia was momentarily confused after he was KOd by Jack Clark at the plate. “I asked him, I kept hollering, can you hear me?” said Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, one of the first on the scene after the Clark collision in the first inning. “I said ‘Where are you?’ and he says, ‘Houston.’ ”
Lasorda shrugged and said, “Maybe he hits better in Houston, I don’t know.” Likely Scioscia mistook the stars in his eyes for the lights of the Astrodome. Or maybe he just thought he was knocked across several state lines.
Scioscia, in a play that may yet have the American Medical Assn. calling for a ban of the sport, managed to hold onto the ball and get the out, although denying Clark the run only prolonged Dodger agony until the 10th inning, when Cardinal pinch-hitter Steve Braun hit a two-run homer off reliever Tom Niedenfuer.
“He is one tough so-and-so,” Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog said of Scioscia. “Best in the world at that. Amazing he held on to the so-and-so ball.”
Nevertheless, it was strictly reflex and he had to leave the game on a stretcher, unconscious for as long as three minutes. He was taken to Centinela Medical Center Hospital, where he was X-rayed and pronounced in good condition with a mild concussion. He was detained the night for observation and sounded cheery if a bit vague on a post-game radio show on KABC.
Bud Furillo of KABC asked Scioscia what he recalled of his collision with Clark. “Was that who it was?” said Scioscia. Then Furillo asked if he was conscious on the field and Scioscia said he sure was. Then Furillo told him he was taken off in a stretcher. “Then I must have been unconscious,” agreed Scioscia.
The collision, though violent, was certainly not intentionally so. Clark, trying to chug home from first on Willie McGee’s double, had his forearms up, but as much in self-protection as offense. Starting pitcher Jerry Reuss thought it was just baseball. “I didn’t think Clark intentionally hurt him,” he said. And Lasorda said the same thing: “Clark did everything he was supposed to.”
Clark even doubled over, himself, to the apparent joy of 40,830 who cheered his pain and then jeered each subsequent appearance.
Whatever headache Scioscia left with, at least he didn’t have to endure the Dodger heartache that followed, including bases-loaded situations in the ninth and 10th innings, when the Dodgers really let the game get away. After winning the first three in the series from the East Division leaders, the Dodgers seemed almost invincible and not even Herzog was surprised when the Dodgers had the bases loaded.
It was as dramatic a situation you’ll see this side of “Casey at the Bat.” Lasorda, who had gotten a pinch-hit from Candy Maldonado, sent slugger Pedro Guerrero in to hit for the pitcher. Guerrero had been out since the All-Star break with a back sprain and had been saying he couldn’t swing. But there he was, with the winning run on third.
He worked Joe Boever to a 2-1 count and then met Jeff Lahti in relief of Boever. Guerrero fanned on a mighty swing and there was no joy in Mudville, though St. Louis was real happy.
“Who’d have thought that you bring a guy in on a 2-and-1 count and it works out,” said Dodger Mike Marshall. “In the good streaks you win some games you shouldn’t.” Meaning there’s bound to be some you should win that you don’t. “We did everything you’re supposed to do,” he said. “We swung the bat, Jerry pitched a good game, except late in the game we didn’t execute.”
Reuss had a rocky first inning, though he certainly wasn’t hit as hard as Scioscia. Tommy Herr and McGee each got him for RBI hits in the Cardinals’ two-run inning, but Reuss settled down after that. After Clark got a single in the third inning, Reuss got the next 12 batters out. He gave way to Ken Howell, who worked a flawless ninth inning. Niedenfuer (4-3) wasn’t quite so flawless when he served up a home-run pitch to Braun, whose last homer was in 1983.
The Dodgers still had chances. There was the ninth inning, but there was also the 10th inning, when the bases were loaded with two out. Maldonado flied out to kill that inning.
And before that, there was the Dodgers’ eighth inning, when it still appeared they were blessed. Terry Whitfield, batting for Bob Bailor, singled and then Enos Cabell, batting for Reuss, singled behind him. Steve Sax singled Whitfield home, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Mariano Duncan then tried to do something he saw Fernando Valenzuela pull off the night before--slap a bunt past a drawn-in infield.
But he slapped it right at Herr, who got a double play out of it, and the inning was soon over.
Up to that point, Herzog thought his team was in a hopeless situation. Hadn’t Steve Yeager, in for Scioscia, hit an RBI single off starter Kurt Kepshire? “Those lucky so-and-sos,” said Herzog, laughing.
Still, Herzog knew it wasn’t just a matter of Dodger luck. “Our pitching is good,” he said, explaining how the Dodgers won three of four, “but theirs is just better. They shut us down completely. Really, we just scored five runs in four games. We ended up with seven runs but that was because of extra innings.”
Of course, it might have been eight runs, but that would have been because Scioscia was human and dropped the ball. “Amazing, ain’t he?” asked Herzog.
Dodger Notes Whitey Herzog said if Mike Scioscia wanted somebody to blame for his concussive collision he should point the finger at shortstop Mariano Duncan, who relayed Ken Landreaux’s throw perfectly. . . . Cardinal Vince Coleman got a stolen base off Jerry Reuss but Reuss wasn’t too apologetic. “How many does he have now?” he said. “Sixty-five? You know he’s going to steal his bases.” . . . Reuss was truly alarmed when he approached the unconscious Scioscia. “It was a sound unlike any I’ve heard,” he said. “It was somewhat like snoring.” . . . The Dodgers begin a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight. Pitchers: Rick Honeycutt (6-8) vs. Pirate Larry McWilliams (4-7).