I hit it awful good," said Gorman Thomas, the Milwaukee Brewers' gimpy slugger who saw a ninth-inning, two-run home run turned into a spectacular out by the Cardinals' flying Willie McGee.
"If I get it up," Thomas said, "it's a home run. But it stayed on one line all the way. It must have had topspin on it, because if it had backspin it would have gone way out."
Must haves and would haves were all the Brewers came away with in Game 3 of the World Series, won by St. Louis, 6-2. As in the previous game, the Cardinals' reliever Bruce Sutter closed the show with 2 1/3 innings' work, this time to save Joaquin Andujar's impressive victory. Besides stealing Thomas' home run, McGee hit two homers of his own off loser Pete Vuckovich.
Milwaukee catcher Ted Simmons said McGee's home runs came on pitches thrown precisely the way the Brewers wanted them.
"He hit a slow slider up and a straight change," Simmons said. "That was the scouting report on him, give him slow stuff. That's what we got him out with in St. Louis, but tonight he must have had a great night."
Vuckovich, mostly ineffective in the Brewers' league championship series against California, gave up only five hits in 8 2/3 innings tonight.
"I thought he pitched very, very well," Simmons said, "with the exception of what Willie McGee did. Take away two pitches and the most it is is 3-2."
Which is better than 6-2, no doubt, but these are the Brewers of 216 home runs this season, of 5.5 runs a game. They now trail St. Louis, two games to one, in this best-of-seven series, and they must be worried about getting some runs.
Thomas and Ben Oglivie are hitting a combined .113 in the eight postseason games. Thomas is three for 26, Oglivie three for 27. They have one home run each and a total of five runs batted in. During the regular season, they hit .245 with 71 home runs and 214 RBI.
Both are now playing hurt. Thomas jammed his right knee sliding and Oglivie banged up his ribs colliding with the outfield wall in the California series. Oglivie seems to hurt even when running; Thomas can't run much beyond a fast trot. At the plate, Oglivie is slow with the bat, a symptom of rib cage muscle damage; Thomas is weak pushing off his right leg.
"The knee is 60 percent, tops," Thomas said. But he said it didn't bother him hitting.
Oglivie said, "I don't think I'm helping the club now."
Because of the ribs?
"I don't want to use that as an alibi. I'm playing. I just hope I can be a factor tomorrow."
"Defensively, they haven't cost us at all," second baseman Paul Molitor said of his lame center fielder and left fielder. That could be argued by some who felt another center fielder, McGee perhaps, would have run down Lonnie Smith's triple in the seventh inning tonight.
"I'm not sure how they feel at the plate," Molitor said. "But I know this: if they feel like they're hurting the ball club, they wouldn't be out there."