Chuck Tanner mentioned it. Willie Stargell mentioned it. It's one of those intangible things that doesn't show up in statistics. And, with teams as evenly matched as the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinatti Reds seem to be, those intangibles may be the difference.
For the second straight day at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium the Pirates and Reds finished nine innings of baseball tied, 2-2. And for the second straight day, Pittsburgh came out a winner, this time on a 10th inning Dave Parker single. And suddenly, with the prospect of playing the remaining games in this best of five series in Pittsburgh, and with just one loss between them and elimination, the Reds have their collective backs to the wall.
Yesterday's game was another classic.
With one out in the ninth and the Pirates up 2-1, Reds pinch-hitter Heity Cruz doubled, and crossed the plate moments later with the tying run when Dave Collins doubled to right. Collins, the potential winning run, got no further, however, as a succession of Pittsburgh pitchers finally retired the side and sent the game into an extra frame.
The Pirates scored what proved to be the winning run soon after when fleet Omar Moreno singled, moved to second on a Tim Foli sacrifice, and flew home on a Dave Parker single.
Don Robinson, who had saved the Pirates 5-2 11-inning victory Tuesday night, clinched the victory as he retired the Reds in order in the bottom of the tenth.
The Pirates and Reds are perhaps the two most evenly matched teams to meet in the N.L. Championship Series, since it began in 1969. Both teams came down to the final week of the season before winning their divisions, with the Pirates actually clinching the championship on the final day.
However, what may prove to be the crucial difference in the two is the attitude of the teams: The Reds, under fire by the Cincinnati press for the dismissal of popular Manager Sparky Anderson and the loss of living legend Peter Rose, who played out his option and signed with Philadelphia, play conservative, defensive baseball. The Pirates, on the other hand, have assumed the personality of their leader, Willie Stargell. Stargell, 38, is the heart and soul of the team. It was he who kept the younger members of the team loose all year with his clubhouse clowning. It was he who rapped out 32 home runs in just over 400 at bats and got the key hits down the stretch. And it was he who hit the game-winning, three-run homer Tuesday night that gave the Pirates a 5-2 win in the first game of the series.
But, none of this is news to Stargell. He predicted a Pirate victory back in April. And, his reasoning makes as much sense now as-it did then: "We've got heart."