First Save Tough One for Dodger Walsh, 3-2 : Baseball: He retires Kruk with two out in the ninth inning. Brooks continues torrid August with go-ahead double.
The Dodgers presented rookie Dave Walsh with his first career save opportunity Thursday, although he is forgiven for not immediately thanking them.
There were two out in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies. The tying run was on second base. Jim Gott was pitching. And Walsh was not believing his ears.
“When Perry (pitching coach Ron Perranoski) went to the mound, I thought he was just going to talk . . . then all of a sudden he is calling for me,” recalled Walsh. “I was, uh surprised.”
He was more surprised when his first three pitches to John Kruk were balls.
“I thought, ‘Nice job,’ ” Walsh said. “I thought, ‘Man, this is the only batter you’ve got to get. This is, like, do or die.’ ”
Walsh threw a strike and then pitched Kruk inside, forcing a weak pop fly to right field to end the game and give the Dodgers a 3-2 victory before 24,160 at Veterans Stadium.
“From what I can see,” a relieved Walsh said later, “this team is on a mission.”
Thanks to only their second three-game sweep on the road this season, they remained 5 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading Cincinnati Reds, who defeated Chicago, 6-5. They have won 12 of their last 16 games and are 31-17 since the All-Star break, the best record in major league baseball during that time.
Their only problem is, the Reds are getting hot again. And despite seven victories in their last nine games, the Dodgers have gained no ground during that time. They have 32 games remaining and the Reds have 33, with six meetings remaining between the two teams.
“But no matter when it is, the game is still not going to change for you. . . . Two weeks from now you are still going to have to get three outs and then go out on the field and hold them,” said Eddie Murray, reflecting an attitude that has been adopted by this calm, veteran team. “I’m not going to sit here and let anything put pressure on us. Every game is still just a game.”
Murray’s poise led to a run-scoring single against Darrel Akerfelds in the fifth inning that gave the Dodgers a 2-2 tie. Then he drew a walk against Joe Boever in the eighth to set up the series’ offensive hero, Hubie Brooks, who drove a two-strike pitch into the left-center field gap for a go-ahead double.
Despite entering the series with a sore left knee he aggravated again in the third inning Thursday, Brooks had eight hits in 13 at-bats with a homer, three doubles and five RBIs for the three games. Living up to his reputation as one of the clutch players in baseball, Brooks is batting .359 in August with five homers and 19 RBIs.
“Hubie Brooks is the kind of guy who can carry a club,” Manager Tom Lasorda said. “When he gets hot, he stays hot.”
Brooks heard the quote, chuckled and shook his head.
“I can’t carry a club, man,” he said, pausing. “But I can sure help.”
He added: “I don’t know how to explain it. Sometimes I come in and swing good, sometimes I don’t. But we’re not that far out of first place, so every day I’m going to come in here ready to play.
“Sometimes it’s tough. Sometimes it’s a real struggle. But I’m going to be out there.”
Few imagined that Walsh, who had made seven appearances with no decisions since being recalled from triple-A Albuquerque Aug. 11, would be out there at the end. He had a 6.35 earned-run average in 5 2/3 innings and had allowed six unearned runs in one-third of an inning against the Phillies last week.
But with injuries to Ray Searage and Pat Perry, Walsh is the club’s only left-hander relief pitcher. After Gott allowed a one-out single to Von Hayes in the ninth inning and Dale Murphy advanced Hayes to second base with a grounder, bringing up left-handed hitting Kruk, Lasorda felt he had no choice.
“I knew they didn’t have Carmelo Martinez (a right-handed hitter traded to Pittsburgh earlier in the day), so I knew Kruk would have to bat, so I wanted a left-handed who could throw him the breaking balls,” Lasorda said. “This is like the Marine Corps--I want to get a guy out there and find out what he can do in the heat of the battle. How else will I ever know?”
Said Walsh: “The other day I was thinking, just two years ago I was washing my own uniform in Mexico (Mexican League) . . . and now look at this. It’s pretty amazing.”
He saved the game for Ramon Martinez, who earned his 16th victory but his first in five starts, despite allowing 10 hits in seven innings with just two strikeouts. Martinez, who still leads the National League with 190 strikeouts, has averaged just four strikeouts per game in his last four games.
The Dodgers have recalled four minor leaguers--two pitchers and two position players--who will join the team when the rosters are expanded Saturday. Infielder Jose Vizcaino, catcher Darrin Fletcher and right-handed pitcher Darren Holmes were recalled from triple-A Albuquerque, and left-handed pitcher Jim Poole was recalled from double-A San Antonio. The four will mainly serve as role players. . . . Vizcaino and Poole played for the Dodgers earlier this year, when Vizcaino batted .200 in 10 at-bats and Poole was 0-0 with a 5.40 earned-run average in seven appearances. Poole was scored upon in just one of his seven games. Fletcher, a left-handed hitter, played five games for the Dodgers last season, collecting four hits in eight at-bats with a home run. Holmes, a 16th-round selection in the 1984 draft, will be making his major league debut. In 54 relief appearances in Albuquerque, he was 12-2 with a 3.22 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 89 1/3 innings.
Vizcaino batted .279 for Albuquerque and Fletcher batted .291 with a team-leading 13 homers and 65 RBIs for the Dukes. Poole was 5-7 with a 2.47 ERA for San Antonio with 75 strikeouts and 24 walks in 62 innings.
Kal Daniels and Kirk Gibson both wanted to be in the lineup, but both were ordered to rest because of nagging injuries. Daniels is still nursing a pulled muscle in his back, and Gibson’s left knee is as sore as expected after playing hard for two games on artificial turf. Both are expected to return to the lineup in Montreal today. . . . Ray Searage said he felt good while throwing 50 pitches on the side in his first action since going on the disabled list with an inflamed left elbow Aug. 18. He hopes to throw again today, and if he continues to progress, he could be ready within a couple of weeks.
The Dodgers newest power hitting prospect, double-A outfielder Henry Rodriguez, was named Player of the Year in the Texas League. He led all double-A players with 28 homers and 108 RBIs for San Antonio.