Reading Eagle - June 28, 1980
Mets’ Rookie Stops Carlton’s Streak
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – It’s been said many times that baseball is a strange game.
What would you have wagered that John Pacella, a New York Mets rookie who had never won a major league game, would go out and beat Steve Carlton, perhaps the best pitcher in baseball today.
Well, that’s just what happened. Pacella, with some late inning relief help from Tom Hausman, beat the Philadelphia Phillies, and Carlton, 3-2 Friday night, ending Carlton’s eight-game winning streak.
The loss was only the third against 13 victories for Carlton.
The Mets had lost to 10 of the last 12 lefthanders they’d faced, but somehow the sight of southpaw Carlton brings out the best in the team.
The Mets have won two of the three games Carlton has lost, the last one 3-0. In fact, New York is one of only two teams – Cincinnati is the other – that have a career lead on Carlton.
The Mets have won 27 and lost 24 against the Phillies’ ace.
New York manager Joe Torre tried to explain his team’s toughness against a fine pitcher such as Carlton.
“These guys always seem to rise to the occasion against teams and guys they’re not supposed to beat,” said Torre. “They beat the (Los Angeles) Dodgers three times on this last West Coast trip. They seem to react well against the tough challenges. And that’s what Carlton represents.”
Torre said the key in beating Carlton is not to let him get ahead of you.
“He’s like Bob Gibson (retired pitcher). I don’t think I’ve ever seen tougher pitchers once they get a lead.”
This was a scoreless game until the fifth when the Mets jumped on Carlton for three runs.
Lee Mazzilli started the rally with a shot to right that appeared a single. The ball, however, bounced away from right fielder Bake McBride into the right field corner.
Before the ball was retrieved, Mazzilli was approaching third and was waved home for an inside-the-park home run and a 1-0 lead.
Before the inning was over, the Mets had two more. Joel Youngblood singled across one run, and another scored on a sacrifice fly.
Carlton pitched seven innings, gave up eight hits and struck out six, moving him into ninth place with 2,824 on the all-time strikeout list. He also took the Phillies’ career high from Robin Roberts, with 1,873.
The Phillies broke a 15-inning scoreless streak in the seventh on a single by Garry Maddox and Bob Boone’s fifth home run of the season.
Pacella then hit pinch-hitter Greg Gross, and was relieved by Hausman, who pitched hitless, scoreless ball the rest of the way to earn his first save.
The 23-year-old Pacella tried not to be awed at winning his first major league game at the expense of Carlton.
“I’m sure that when Carlton first came into the big leagues he experienced the same thing. I tried to think of the Phillies, not Carlton,” Pacella said.
“I have pitched some good games, last September and this year and got nothing. Hopefully this is the start of something,” Pacella said.
Mazzilli described his home run as one of the shortest he’d ever seen.
“I thought it would drop in front of him (McBride), then it took one of those bounces.
“The coach waved me on. I was dead. I had no strength left,” Mazzilli added, referring to the very hot, humid night.
McBride said he thought he had the ball, but it bounced past him into the corner.
Phillies’ manager Dallas Green lamented his team’s lack of offense in losing six of its last eight games. He said he felt McBride played Mazzilli’s ball correctly.