Until March 27, we’ll be counting down the 50 greatest Phillies games of the last 50 years. This is 50 of 50.
And this is No. 6.
THE DATE: May 17, 1979
THE GAME: Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
THE STAKES: Aiming to win a rubber match in May
THE GREAT: When people say, “The wind is blowing out today in Wrigley,” that usually means a few homers will be hit onto Sheffield Avenue. A 9-8 or 10-9 ballgame is not out of the norm when the wind is blowing out. A total of five or six home runs between the teams is a possibility.
Well, on May 17, 1979, the wind was sure blowing out all right at Wrigley Field. And more than a few left the yard (11 to be exact).
The Phils took advantage from the get-go. Bake McBride singled and Larry Bowa doubled, which set up a Mike Schmidt three-run home run within minutes. Bob Boone added another three-run homer to the inning making the score 6-0. And even Phils starter Randy Lerch wanted in on the action and took his counterpart Donnie Moore deep for a solo shot. You know it’s going to be a long game when the pitcher knocks one out (the game took 4:03).
Lerch didn’t record an out until the fifth batter of the game. By that time, it was already 7-4. The first of Dave Kingman’s three homers came in first inning, when he took Lerch yard for a three-run shot. Lerch retired just one batter on the day, and Doug Bird came in as the long-man. He didn’t fair much better either, because he surrendered an RBI triple to Moore. We thought allowing a home run to the pitcher was bad? A triple may be worse. 7-6 Phillies after one.
The Phils scored eight more in the third. A two-run double by Pete Rose and a three-run homer by Gary Maddox were the big blows in the inning. Boone, who contributed an RBI single in the inning, and Maddox were a combined 7-for-8 on the day with nine RBI and three walks.
15-6 Phillies after three.
A four run Phillies fifth made the score 21-9. You would think that’s insurmountable, but not on that day.
The Phils scored just two runs after the fifth inning. The Cubs scored another six runs, three in the sixth and three in the eighth.
But one run that made the difference for the Phils? Schmidt’s solo home run off Bruce Sutter in the 10th to give the Fightins’ a 23-22 lead.
Rawly Eastwick came in and did the impossible: He ended the game for the Phils in a 1-2-3 10th. He pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win.