Game 1 defeat without defense Jays make Phillies pay for errors

October 18, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Before the start of the National League Championship Series, Philadelphia Phillies manager Jim Fregosi made a bold prediction.

Even though his team appeared clearly overmatched in the pitching department, Fregosi said defense would be the difference. "If we catch and throw the ball, we'll win," he said.

The Phillies made some costly errors and still outlasted the Atlanta Braves -- by outpitching them, four games to two.

Fregosi didn't repeat his prediction before the World Series. But Game 1 undoubtedly served as an indication of what the Phillies manager was talking about before the NLCS.

The Phillies were out-defensed, not necessarily beaten, 8-5, by the Toronto Blue Jays. Their tormentor was second baseman Roberto Alomar, who made his first error in 24 postseason games, but still was undeniably the game's fielding star.

And it was a play on which Alomar almost got another error, in the sixth inning, that may have been the turning point. He had robbed Len Dykstra of a hit the inning before, saving a run and cutting off a big inning, but it was on a single up the middle by Mariano Duncan that Alomar's reputation, and advance scouting reports, kept the Phillies from taking the lead.

"Everybody is aware of how Robbie throws behind runners," said Paul Molitor, the Blue Jays' veteran designated hitter. "[Kevin] Stocker slipped because of that 'backdoor' play Robbie likes to make."

Stocker had rounded third when he was alerted that Alomar had made a diving stop of Duncan's single. He lost his balance and immediately dived back to third base.

What Stockton hadn't realized is that when Alomar came up to throw, the ball slipped from his hand and went 20 feet farther into center field. But it was too late to recover. Stockton was helpless, lying on the ground.

"When that happened," Molitor said, "it really helped us." Instead of taking the lead, the Phillies lost it on John Olerud's homer in the bottom half of the inning. The Blue Jays never looked back.

"The first one [the play on Dykstra] was the tougher one," said Alomar. "But the second one . . . that was a key play for us."

The Phillies never will know how big the play was on Dykstra. It came at the start of the fifth inning, and preceded a triple by Duncan and a walk to John Kruk. There is a good possibility it might have forced Blue Jays starter Juan Guzman out of the game three outs earlier, rather than at the end of the inning.

Dykstra hit a looping line drive that went directly over the outstretched glove of Olerud at first base. The ball hung in the air long enough for Alomar to go behind Olerud and make a diving, skidding catch in shallow right field.

It gave Olerud, who gets a better view than anybody else, another opportunity to marvel at Alomar's defense. "With the range he has, I really don't have to worry," said Olerud.

"He makes it easy on me. There are some balls I don't have to even think about, because I know he will get to them. I pretty much know right away when a ball is hit if I have to go get it. With his range, I don't have to worry about a lot of them."

The two plays by Alomar saved a minimum of two runs, and on the flip side of the defensive coin, the Phillies lost one by lack of execution. Left fielder Milt Thompson collided with Dykstra on a long fly by Devon White that went for a three-base error.

"It was screwed up, let's face it," said Fregosi. "Lenny called for it, and Milt came over . . . either one could have caught it."

But neither did, and Thompson bore the brunt of the blame, though baseball people will insist it's better for two players to risk a collision than to come up timid and have the ball drop while two pairs of eyes are staring at each other.

"However you want to say it, I just missed the ball," said Thompson. "We brushed each other . . . but I just missed it, that's all."

Three plays -- three runs, one allowed, two prevented. That's usually more than enough to decide a World Series game.

LATE SERIES GAME

Last night's World Series game did not end in time to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions of The Sun and all editions of The Evening Sun. For the latest sports results, call Sundial at (410) 783-1800, ext. 5001 (in Anne Arundel County, call [410] 268-7736, ext. 5001).

WORLD SERIES

A1

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES vs. TORONTO BLUE JAYS Blue Jays lead series, 1-0 Gm. Result

Blue Jays 8, Phillies 5

2 Phillies at Blue Jays

Gm. .. Date .. .. .. Site .. .. Time

3 . .. Tomorrow . .. Phila. ... 8:12

4 . .. Wednesday ... Phila. ... 8:12

... Thursday . .. Phila. ... 8:12

... Saturday . .. Toronto .. 8:12

... Sunday ... .. Toronto .. 8:29

necessary

TV: All games on channels 11, 9

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