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Cub Rookie Pitcher Trims the Slumping Padres to Size, 6-1

July 22, 1986|TOM FRIEND | Times Staff Writer

CHICAGO — The Padres lost, 6-1, Monday to one of the skinniest pitchers you'll ever see.

Chicago Cub left-hander Jamie Moyer, 23, seems to have very few muscles--either that or they're hiding. He says he weighs 165 pounds, but also admits he had to eat a lot of steak and potatoes to work up that much bulk--but if you call it bulk, that's a lot of bull.

He's so skinny, you can't pinch an inch or even a centimeter.

But he defeated the Padres, throwing what they thought was a screwball, but what he swears was a changeup. San Diego equaled its season low of four straight losses and fell under .500 for the first time since June 19.

To add even more perspective, Moyer began this season pitching Single-A ball in Winston-Salem, N.C., got a call to go up to Double-A (Pittsfield, Mass.) a month later and then found himself at Triple-A (Iowa) a month after that. The Cubs were injury prone, so he came up to Chicago June 14.

"I've had four or five addresses," Moyer said.

He came up to the big leagues, won his first start, thought he was pretty cool and then got slammed around in Philadelphia, losing, 19-1.

"After every hit, I kept saying to myself, 'geez, sooner or later, I gotta get an out.' And then, boom, another hit. I'd say, 'Gol, I get this guy,' and then, boom, another hit. And I kept saying, 'What am I doing right or doing wrong?' And, it was real embarrassing because I'm from right outside Philadelphia. . . . And I went to school at St. Joseph's (in Philly). And a lot of my friends were there from home and from school, people I hadn't seen in a while. And to throw a game like that, it's pitiful."

So imagine how the Padres feel now. First of all, Moyer's pregame earned-run average was 9.37. Secondly, they still think Moyer--who yielded five hits in eight innings and left with a 6-0 lead--was getting them with a screwball. Tony Gwynn came up with two runners on and two outs in the eighth (the score was just 3-0), and he popped out lazily to right.

Gwynn said later: "It was a hanging screwball. I got a little bit out in front, and I popped it up. The worst feeling in the world! It's one thing if he gets you out on a good pitch."

Moyer said, "Listen, I haven't been throwing the way I'm capable of. . . A game in L.A.? I lasted two-thirds of an inning. And Philadelphia? . . . But I proved to myself today that I can pitch. I knew I had to turn my act around because if I didn't, I wouldn't be around. I knew I could pitch, but today I finally used all my pitches. Screwball? Ha! It's a changeup. I'll live with that to my dying days. It might tail some, but most lefties' pitches do. It's a change. And I throw a fastball, curveball and cut fastball."

So imagine how the Padres feel now. In their last 17 games, they've scored 56 times--and that includes single games of 13 and 7 runs. This averages to 3.3 runs a game. Last Saturday in Pittsburgh, Bob Walk four-hit them through eight innings. Then, Mike Bielecki, Larry McWilliams and Don Robinson three-hit them for nine innings. And now Moyer. Anyone heard of these pitchers?

"You can't win that way, no," Manager Steve Boros said. "Regardless of how good your pitching is."

LaMarr Hoyt was the losing pitcher Monday, but he certainly didn't throw like a loser. The Cubs had three runs in seven innings against him until Dave LaPoint came in and gave up three more in two-thirds of an inning.

The best hitter Monday was Jerry Mumphrey, who went 4 for 4. But he didn't knock in one run. The Cubs scored their first run of the game on a ground out, got RBIs from Leon Durham and Ron Cey in the sixth inning, got one run in the eighth on a Cey double, got another that inning on a Gwynn fielding error in right and a final one on Chris Speier's pinch-hit double off Bob Stoddard.

How good was Moyer? Lee Smith came in for the ninth inning, and the Padres rallied for a run and left two men stranded. Whitey Herzog once said of Smith, "The Cubs oughtta start all their home games at 3 o'clock so Smith can throw his fastballs at dusk." Moyer proved his changeup was superior in the light.

Afterward, Boros explained that he had tried something new--starting Carmelo Martinez in left field for the first time since June 28. He had Bip Roberts in against the left-hander, too. And Bruce Bochy. And Jerry Royster. Gwynn was the only lefty.

It didn't work.

Here's what they were saying:

Roberts--"Today, he (Moyer) was Cy Young, but I didn't think he had great stuff. For some reason, guys throw their best games against us. . . . We gotta play hardball. . . . This guy was weak."

Bochy--"Right now, anybody would like to go against us. We're having a hard time getting the key hit. . . . I'm as frustrated as I've ever been right now. I felt too good to do what I did today (0 for 4)."

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