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A reader, we'll just call him Larry from Philadelphia, reached out after Game 1 of our virtual showdown between the 1980 and 2008 Phillies, the only two clubs to win the World Series in the franchise's 137-year history.

We're not sure if the reader was more incensed or incredulous. He certainly was a little of both after reading that the 2008 Phillies had beaten 1980 National League Cy Young winner Steve Carlton in Game 1 of the series.

It wasn't the '80 team's loss that so much bothered the reader. It was how the loss happened, with Carlton, one of the best left-handers in the history of the game, giving up three killer extra-base hits to left-handed hitters and two of them to Cole Hamels, the opposing pitcher. 

"There's no way Steve Carlton gives up two doubles to the pitcher, no way!" the reader fumed. "He owned left-handed hitters. Ask Dave Parker."

Our virtual competition, being played out via Strat-O-Matic computer simulation, is based on actual statistics from the 1980 and 2008 seasons and Carlton was indeed death on lefties. In 1980, he led the majors with 304 innings pitched. Left-handed batters hit a minuscule .183 with just four doubles and one homer against him that season.

So, the reader's shock at Carlton's giving up two doubles to Hamels and a two-run homer to Chase Utley, another lefty stick, was not unfounded. 

 

That's the way the numbers played out, we told the reader, one Larry from Philadelphia. Stick with the series and see what happens, we said. It's actually a lot of fun and where else are you going to get some baseball during this shutdown?

"OK," said the reader, calming down just a little bit. "I'll stick with it. But I better be drinking champagne when it's over."

Clearly, the reader has a rooting interest in our little series. He was happy to see that the '80 club bounced back with a blowout win in Game 2 to even the series and he'll be even happier to see what happened in Game 3 at Veterans Stadium: The '80 club prevailed, 6-2, behind a strong start from Dick Ruthven. For the second straight day, the '80 club pounded out 15 hits. A guy named Larry Bowa had three of them. He also stole three bases and scored two runs.

Insert smiley-faced emoji here.

Bowa wasn't the only longtime Phillie to have a big day in Game 3. Greg Luzinski, who was in his last season with the Phils in 1980, clubbed a two-run homer against J.C. Romero in the seventh to put the game away. Jamie Moyer, the 2008 starting pitcher, gave up 11 hits but managed to limit damage by holding the '80 club to just four runs over six innings.

The 2008 club had just seven hits and left eight men on base. Through three games, the '08 team is hitting just .165 (14 for 85). Utley has two doubles, a homer and four RBIs in the first three games, but Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino, three of that club's big guns, have been quiet at a combined 1 for 31. It has not been hittin' season for Charlie Manuel's boys. The bats need to wake up in Game 4 against Marty Bystrom or this thing might end quickly.

Bystrom, a late-season star for the '80 team, will try to duplicate the success of teammates Bob Walk, who pitched a two-hit shutout in Game 2, and Ruthven, who gave up just two runs, one of which was unearned, over 6⅔ typically workmanlike innings in Game 3. Ruthven got a nice assist from relievers Dickie Noles and Tug McGraw, who combined on 2⅓ scoreless innings. 

It was nice to see the late, great Tugger make his first appearance of the series. Things are always a lot more exciting when he's around and we look forward to seeing him again, even if it is on a computer screen. (Wouldn’t a late-game showdown with Matt Stairs be cool?)

 

Down two games to one, the '08 team will go with Joe Blanton in Game 4. The right-hander joined the '08 Phillies that year in a trade-deadline deal with Oakland. He proved to be an excellent pickup, the kind of under-the-radar difference-maker Pat Gillick was known for. Blanton made 11 starts down the stretch for the '08 Phils and the club won seven of those games. He also was a standout in the postseason that year. His team needs a big effort in Game 4 of this Spring Classic.

Keep reading, Larry. (Wink. Wink.)

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