MONTREAL — At the start of the troisieme manche (that's third inning, for you Southerners), a cool Canadian breeze invaded Olympic Stadium here. It ruined the game for the hitters, who certainly knew that any ball hit to shallow portions of the outfield would end up in the infield.
And although this was plain to see, it is sometimes hard to take. Tony Gwynn, for instance, came up to bat Friday night with two runners on and two out in the 10th inning, and he hit one hard to dead center, the ball spinning, spinning toward the fence. And since Goose Gossage had just come out of the game for a pinch-hitter, it was imperative that this ball become a base hit, or else another Padre pitcher would inevitably blow the game.
But the wind gusted just then, the ball drifting back into the playing field. And Montreal Expo center fielder Herm Winningham made a brilliant, over-the-shoulder catch that basically ended the game.
Because with no one but Tim Stoddard to turn to, the Padres were easily scored upon in the bottom of the 10th and lost, 2-1. Tim Raines singled off Stoddard, stole second off Bruce Bochy, and Andre Dawson scored Raines with a double. That was that. Manager Dick Williams sat there in the clubhouse, wishing he had another Goose.
"I've got to get someone else to pick us up in the bullpen besides Goose," said Williams, sounding more perplexed than angry. "I don't see anyone doing it. The guy (Goose) did the job, and we can't even hold one inning. Somebody's going to have to step forward and do it. Goose can't do it everyday. We want him to be able to lift hi arm in July, August and September, too."
Still, Goose, who pitched the eighth and ninth innings, was more interested in lifting the spirits of his fellow relievers, who are in a funk right now. Craig Lefferts has an ERA of 6.00. Greg Booker apparently hasn't recovered from the beanball incident with Chicago. Luis DeLeon is 0-1. And the other one is Stoddard, who had shown signs that he was coming around, dropping a one-time 16.00 ERA to 3.72.
But Stoddard's slider was destroyed by the Expos, and Gossage later consoled him.
Said Gossage: "I don't think the guys (in the bullpen) are getting enough work. There hasn't been consistency."
Said Stoddard: "I threw Raines a slider and Dawson a slider. Does that mean I should quit throwing sliders? I mean, what am I going to worry about? The game's over. I don't get discouraged, and I don't get happy. It's as simple as that. I'm throwing the ball good. I'm not worried about my confidence.
"In my best years, I never had a win before the All-Star break. Guys get paid to hit; guys get paid to pitch. Somebody wins; somebody loses. What do you want me to do? Jump in front of the subway?
"Whenever you (sportswriters) talk to a guy, he's either the star or the loser. You come over to me, and should I apologize? Dawson was looking for it (the slider). It was on the outside corner, but he kind of leaned over a bit. It probably would've been called a ball if he didn't swing."
Unfortunately for Stoddard, Dawson did swing, and now Williams plans to swing back and forth with his use of other relievers, not quite sure who will be the No. 2 man behind Gossage. He said Gossage will never pitch three full innings anymore, and that's why he came out after two innings Friday night.
In defense of Stoddard, Raines didn't steal second just on him. There's a catcher involved, too, and Bochy (who struck out three time) was in there since Terry Kennedy had a stiff right arm. He had slept the wrong way on it. Raines did get a good jump on Stoddard, but Bochy's throw almost sailed into center field.
As for Gwynn, he unnecessarily questioned his power after the game. The ball he had hit to center, off of winning relief pitcher Jeff Reardon, had no business going over the fence because of the Canadian wind.
But Gwynn still said, "I guess I have no drive, no power. I mean, that's all I got. That was two runs. I must be hitting a buck (.100) with runners on. He (Reardon) threw me a belt-high fastball. Usually when I hit the ball that hard, I feel good, but I don't now. I can't hit it any better."
Winningham, though, who came over from the Mets in the Gary Carter trade, made a great catch. As the ball was hit, he went back quickly, Dawson (the right fielder) telling him he wasn't close to running into the fence. At that point, he said he felt it was better to catch the ball over his shoulder rather than turning around, stopping and catching it. So that's what he did. It looked rather nonchalant.
"Reardon said he thought it was out, but, here, sometimes you give it your best shot and it goes out, and sometimes it dies," Winningham said of Gwynn's hit. "It wasn't a nonchalant play. I thought it was gone, so I took off."
Winningham has forced Terry Francona out of the lineup here, mainly because of his defense. He said when he was in high school, he was a ".400 or .500 hitter," but liked defense more. And he still does.