The New York Muggers put the Los Angeles Huggers behind the eight ball with a 4.2 victory today in this darkness-vs-light World Series.
Ron Guidry, a slim, laconic Cajun, was the centerpiece of this hugger-mugger fourth game hurling a four-hitter that left the New York Yankees in charge of this best of seven Classic three games to one.
Reggie Jackson symbol of muscle and money held a [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of the stage with a home run and double. And Lou Piniella, the outfielder who has been running from coast to coast banging himself into outfield walls finally robbed a Dodger of a home run today.
But the Bronx stalwarts had competition today for the spotlight. L.A.'s Tommy Lasorda might be looking to his Big Dodger in the Sky for a heap of forgiveness after the way Lasorda managed today, although he was not apologetic.
Lasorda chose an improbable starting pitcher, recently injured Doug Rau then encountered a succession of strategic misfires in the second inning that left the Yankees with a three-run cushion.
The Yanks dispatched Rau, who had not started a game in 18 days and had won only one in three months, as though they knew what was coming.
Jackson Piniella and Chris Chambliss opened the second with three ringing opposite-field hits double single, double.
Rau had been routed.
"The Yankees either have one [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of a scouting report on us or they've got a lot of smart players." said Don Sutton the man many a Dodger fan will say should have started this must game today. "Yesterday they scored three runs in the first inning doing the same thing - slapping a left-hander's curves to the opposite field."
Lasorda called for righthander Rick Rhoden with a run in men at second and third and none out.
With slumping Graig Nettles at the plate. L.A. eschewed either an intentional walk or playing the infield in With the infield back. Nettles slapped a routine grounder to second that scored a run and advanced Chambliss to third.
The Dodgers already had seen Guidry fan Bill Russell and Ron Cey in the first, but still they played prevent-the-big-inning baseball. How many runs did they think they could spot the New York ace?
Bucky Dent stepped to the plate and the Dodgers strategy went into full reverse. Instead of an intentional walk to get to Guidry. Rhoden pitched to Dent - even when the count reached 3-0, then 3-1. Dent slapped a ground single into right for the third run.
Guidry, who asked a teammate last week. "Which way do I bat?" was never forced to show what a hitter could do who had never been to bat in a major league game.
Even the Dodgers second-guessed Lasorda. "I'd have pitched around Nettles at the least probably walked him," said Sutton, who will start Sunday (4:15 p.m. EDT-WJLA-TV-7) against Don Gullett.
"If I'd pitched to Dent at all. he'd have seen six curve balls a foot outside. He's not going to beat me on a pitch near the plate when I've got a guy on deck who's never been to bat in his life."
But Dent saw two straight fast ball strikes when he was far ahead in the count.
To add salt to Lasorda's wounds Rhoden, who along with Sutton was a logical starting choice today, hurled seven innings of two-hit ball. He had the Yanks completely baffled, except - Rhoden pitched to just one man over the minimum in his stay, and that man, Jackson, stung him.
In the sixth, Yankees leading 3-2 after a two-run Dave Lopes homer to center in the third. Jackson provided an insurance run with one swing. His 420-foot drive somewhat left of dead center would have been a Yankee Stadium can of corn. But in Chavez Ravine it was a lusty homer several rows up in the pavilion.
"This season has worn me down, dragged me down," said Jackson. "Sometimes I wonder if it's all worth it. But the answer to it all is to hit."
For the last two days here the Yankees have played such flawless baseball that harmony is getting a bad name.
"Billy Martin, said Jackson, "should probably get a Nobel Peace Prize for managing this damn team."
For one brave moment today, the Dodgers seemed to have drawn dead even, to have wiped out Lasorda's error's and to have the largest crowd in Dodger Stadium history in full voice.
Lopes, an 0-for-13 tin can tied to his greyhound tail to that juncture, had awakened the slumbering Dodger lumber with his 410-foot homer after a ground-rule double by the good-nitting Rhoden.
An inning later in the fourth, the throng stood in a collective roar as Cey, the other slumping man in blue (1 for 11 coming up), blasted a fly ball over the left-field fence at the 360-foot mark that would have tied the game 3-3.
But Piniella had promises to keep "Lou told me he had narrowly missed so many homers already in this Series," said Guidry, "that he promised me before the game that he was going to snatch one back in for me."
Piniella glove was nearly two feet above the fence when his robbery occured. I've bruised myself all over chasing these pitchers' mistakes." laughed Piniella. True, both here and in Yankee Stadium.
Piniella even held the crowd in suspense for an interminable second, acting as blase as a man with nothing in his mitt before flipping the pill back to the infield.
"Lou had me faked out on that one," said manager Martin of the Oscar performance.
The Dodgers, who now have a 190 collective Series average, were faked out, too. "It might have changed the whole game," said Cey.
Dodger catcher Steve Yeager chose to curse the entire breed of southpaw pitchers that the Yanks have thrown at the all-righthanded Dodger lineup.
"I hate lefthanders," stormed yeager. "My daddy told me everybody was born lefthanded but the smart folks switched over. Dad-blame crooked-armed sons of the evil," added Yeager or words to that effect. "At least well know what Gullet throws tomorrow. Heaters (fastballs)."
"I'll guarantee one thing," said Sutton. "We're all bringing our suitcases to the park tomorrow. Nobody in this clubhouse thinks the Series is over."
In 73 previous World Series, three teams have come back from 3-1 deficits and become world champions - the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates over the Washington Senators, the 1958 Yankees over Milwaukee and the 1968 Detroit Tigers over St. Louis.
"Is that right?" asked Sutton. "Those aren't the best odds I've ever heard of.
"I'm goin' home, pick up a couple bottles of wine and a loaf of bread take a swim, then watch Starsky and Hutch. I'll think about the Yankees tomorrow."
Lasorda, munching on bologna and maintaining Rau was a reasonable bet to win today, was equally optimistic. "I love New York." he beamed. "I'd love to go back there in October. I've got a lot of friends I'd like to see there." He made some of them today.