Fergie Jenkins of the Chicago Cubs pitches in a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I decided to set the BCB Way-Back Machine to the era in which the Cubs contended in the late 1960s and early 1970s (1967-73).
It chose this game; as it turned out, that was a game I actually attended that year. It was a wild game against the San Francisco Giants that had nine home runs and three lead changes, and went into extra innings before the Cubs won in a most unusual way.
"When you come by, bring my stomach!"
That's what Jack Brickhouse always seems to yell whenever the Cubs get themselves into a dicey situation, then get out of it. He's probably got stomach problems galore this afternoon after the Cubs' 10-9, 10-inning win over the Giants, making them 18-13 under the management of Whitey Lockman. They're still 11 games behind the Pirates and catching them doesn't look too possible... but with 34 games left, if they can just get hot...
The wind was blowing out this afternoon and both teams took strong advantage of it. I have no idea how Fergie Jenkins made it through eight-plus innings, giving up 12 hits, all nine Giants runs (eight earned, and one scored when Jack Aker allowed a sac fly after Fergie was finally, mercifully, taken out), and four homers, one by Dave Rader, one by Willie McCovey and two by Ken Henderson. Henderson has 17 on the year; maybe someday he'll fulfill that "next Willie Mays" tag put on him when he came up.
But the Cubs fought back with five homers of their own, two each from Ron Santo and Billy Williams and -- this ought to tell you how strongly the wind was blowing out -- Paul Popovich's first home run in almost a year, since Sept. 11, 1971. Popo has almost no power, so it would have to take a windy day like this to get him to hit one out. Two of the Giants' homers hit the basket, while just Popo's needed some help to leave the yard.
That homer was part of a three-run sixth that gave the Cubs a 7-4 lead, but they gave that back over the next two innings and the game went into the bottom of the eighth tied 7-7. That's when Billy hit his second blast of the game to give the Cubs a 9-7 lead, only to see Jenkins and Aker cough it right back up in the ninth.
In the 10th, Jose Cardenal led off with a single and then Billy singled him to third. After Rick Monday struck out, the Giants apparently didn't want to risk having Santo hit another homer, so they put him on with first base occupied, to set up a possible double play. However, Randy Moffitt's first pitch to Joe Pepitone hit Pepi -- the Giants claimed it missed, but it definitely brushed his uniform, at least -- to force in Cardenal with the game-winner.
Here's a bit of trivia I bet you didn't know -- Moffitt's sister is tennis star Billie Jean King (whose maiden name was Moffitt).
Billy Williams is having the season of his life, maybe even better than two years ago. He's got a real shot at the MVP -- I hope he wins it, we haven't had a Cub MVP since Ernie in '59.
And after the game, there was even bigger news -- Leo Durocher isn't done managing! He was hired to manage the Astros for the rest of the season and all of next year; he'll start Tuesday when Houston begins a series at home against the Phillies. It's surprising because we all know how much Leo hates the Astrodome. But I guess he wanted a job more. We won't see him until next season, because the Cubs and Astros finished their season series last month. At 67, Leo once again becomes the oldest manager in baseball, six years older than the Dodgers' Walter Alston.
Leo Durocher, not done ruining teams yet, I guess.