MILWAUKEE — It was Seat Cushion Night at County Stadium, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The fans did a lot of sitting through long innings while Pete Vuckovich was on the mound.
Vuckovich walked a Milwaukee Brewers record eight batters today. The Blue Jays loaded the bases twice. Knowing that, you’d assume the Brewers either lost or it was a high scoring affair.
Either way, you’d assume incorrectly. Vuckovich threw 146 pitches in a complete game, allowing only a single run. In fact, none of his eight walks scored.
“They weren’t biting,” Vuke said to explain his wildness. “I threw a lot of balls down around the knees. They were balls. They just weren’t going after them.”
Especially not in the first inning. In fact, in that inning it appeared Vuke would have a short outing. With one out and a run in, Hosken Powell swung at a 2-0 pitch out of the zone to ground out and end the inning. Prior to that, Vuke had thrown 14 of 16 pitches for balls.
But that’s the way Vuckovich prefers to pitch. He’ll pitch around the strike zone, but he’s not going to split it. And he is not afraid to walk anyone.
“It’s better that way than getting it up where they can see the whole sphere coming at them when they’re attempting to reach out with the wood tool with the purpose of reversing the sphere to certain areas between the white lines where men aren’t standing with gloves on,” Vuke continued.
While the Blue Jays failed to score with the bases loaded, the Brewers took advantage of their one opportunity in the fourth. With the bases juiced and one out, Marshall Edwards hit a possible double play ball to first baseman Willie Upshaw. Upshaw spun and fired to second, but the return throw wasn’t in time to retire the speedy Edwards. Ted Simmons scored, and Jim Gantner followed with an RBI single to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead.
Possibly the biggest play happened in the fifth inning. Damaso Garcia led off the inning with a single to right and Rance Mulliniks followed with a walk. Vuckovich then spun and fired to Robin Yount, covering second, in an attempt to pick off Garcia. The throw was just late. But they tried again, and this time Garcia was out. It changed the inning, and the Blue Jays were unable to score.
“That was the big play of the ball game,” said manager Harvey Kuenn. “It was a case of perfect execution. Robin saw daylight, made his move to second, Vuke made a perfect throw.”
While the win was a big one and made it three in a row against the Blue Jays, the Brewers also received bad news about their star closer. Rollie Fingers flew home to San Diego to have his right elbow examined and isn’t expected back this series. Fingers, stuck on 299 career saves, is having trouble with his pitching elbow.
“He felt some stiffness in his elbow last night after the game,” said Kuenn. “It had been a little tender but he said he could pitch last night. He said he wanted to see his doctor out there. He’ll be back tomorrow. He said he’ll be all right after a few days’ rest.”
Let’s hope it’s nothing serious. This team can’t afford to lose a player of Fingers’ caliber.
The Red Sox beat the Orioles 5-2, so the Brewers maintain a 5 1/2 game lead in the AL East.