Cubs 11, Nationals 1: Everyone Digs The Long Ball

Brian Kersey

Nate Schierholtz led a Cubs offensive barrage with a career day Monday night at Wrigley Field. Raise your hand if you expected this to happen.

Go figure, right?

Among the tweets I saw after the trade of David DeJesus to the Nationals was this one:

Of course, that meant that the Cubs would go out and tie a season high with five home runs -- including one from Navarro -- in an 11-1 dismantling of the Nats that was just the second 2013 game in which the Cubs scored in double figures, and their first double-digit margin of victory.

Nate Schierholtz led the barrage with a pair of homers and a career-high six RBI; Donnie Murphy also had two home runs. That's Murphy's second two-homer game this month and he has six in 13 games as a Cub.

Most of this was off Jordan Zimmermann, who entered the game leading the National League in wins (for whatever that's worth) and with a 3.02 ERA that jumped to 3.37 with the right runs allowed; Zimmermann is the first pitcher to give up eight earned runs to a Cubs team this year.

To cap off all the weirdness, the Cubs had scored a total of 12 runs in their previous eight home games, before the 11-run outburst Monday night. Who knew that all it would take was a trade of one of the Cubs' starting players to the other clubhouse?

DeJesus, for his part, pinch-hit for reliever Fernando Abad in the eighth inning and got a warm ovation from the crowd for his one-and-two-thirds seasons of solid outfield play for the North Siders. He popped up to end the inning and then was sent to play center field. I can only imagine what must have been going through his head, patrolling that outfield wearing a gray road uniform instead of white pinstripes. And, there's an ongoing postscript to the DeJesus deal; I'll have a separate post up about that, later this morning.

Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija threw his second complete game of the season; he made just one pitching mistake, grooving one to Nats catcher Wilson Ramos. That one was deposited onto Waveland Avenue, where the doorman of the rooftop club of the building on the corner of Waveland and Kenmore caught it on a couple of bounces. If you saw a ball thrown back on the field... it wasn't the home run ball, because the guy who caught it was still holding it in his hand an inning later. Samardzija allowed just six other hits and only one other Nats player reached second base.

If only we could get this type of performance from Shark every time out. He shows flashes of this -- as he did in his other CG, a six-hit shutout of the White Sox May 27, but then seems to lose focus at times. If he has a strong finish, management will have some choices to make.

Now, here's a complete list of the team leader in home runs going back through history, going off the note that Navarro entered the game as the team leader with 51 (now 52) career homers. There hasn't been a team leader with that low a homer total since 1926. Mike Bojanowski did the research:

I was very strict about this, and did not include a player until the 52nd career HR was already in the books at the start of a season that he finished in full. Thus this continuity list, working backward. I'm sure it's not the most efficient list possible, but I wasn't interested in that.

Alfonso Soriano 2007-13
Derrek Lee 2005-06
Sammy Sosa 1994-95, 1998-2004 Sosa's 52nd HR occured in 1993 Ryne Sandberg 1986-93, 1996-97 Sandberg's 52nd in 1985 Ron Cey 1983-85 Bill Buckner 1981-82 Dave Kingman 1978-80 Bobby Murcer 1977 Rick Monday 1975-76 Billy Williams 1971-74 Banks did not finish 1971 as an active player Ernie Banks 1956-70 Banks' 52nd in 1955 Hank Sauer 1950-55 Sauer's 52nd in 1949 Phil Cavarretta 1946-49 Cav's 52nd in 1945 Bill "Swish" Nicholson 1942-45 Swish's 52nd in 1941 Hank Leiber 1941 This is the weakest link in this chain; Leiber was hurt much of this season, but was the only Cub "fully vested" at the start of the year. Nicholson's 52nd career was his 23rd HR of this year. Also, Babe Dahlgren's 52nd career was his 15th of this year. Gabby Hartnett 1927-40 The streak snaps during 1926. No Cub is fully vested at the start of the year. Hartnett's 52nd career HR is his fourth of this year, occuring 8/4 at Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. Hack Wilson's 52nd career homer came during 1927, after Hartnett became vested. Unless I've missed something, this is the lowest number for a career leader on this team in eighty-seven years, almost to the day. Impressive.

And there you have it, the least-powerful Cubs team since almost the deadball era smacks five home runs. It was an enjoyable game on a pleasant evening. You can't really ask for more.

The Cubs and Nats will go at it again Tuesday night, with Chris Rusin facing almost-Cub Dan Haren.

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