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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Pirates, Friday 9/7, 6:05 CT

Thirty-eight years ago today, perhaps the saddest regular-season game in Cubs history occurred at Wrigley Field.

For those of you too young to remember, or if you have, reasonably so, blocked that game from your memory, let me set the scene.

The Cubs had led the NL East all season, and went into the games of Sunday, September 7, 1969 at 84-55, leading the division by 3.5 games over the Mets. However, they'd lost three in a row, one to the Reds, and the first two of a three-game series to the Pirates -- badly, 9-2 and 13-4. But on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, they went into the ninth inning leading 5-4, and closer Phil Regan got the first two men out easily on an infield popup and a comebacker. With only one strike to go for a Cub victory, Willie Stargell put a ball on Sheffield to tie the game, and the Cubs lost 7-5 in 11 innings, despite having two runners on with nobody out in the bottom of the 10th. I was at that game, and even at not quite 13 years old, I will never forget the silence that fell over Wrigley Field when Stargell hit that home run. Here's my scorecard from that game, the earliest surviving scorecard I have.

They lost four more in a row, including getting swept by the Mets in New York, and fell out of first place, never to return.

It's September 7 and the Cubs are playing the Pirates tonight. Yes, I know -- it was a long time ago. Not a single player on either the Cubs or Pirates today was even born when that game was played (the oldest player currently on either the Cubs or Pirates is Henry Blanco, who was born August 29, 1971). Heck, in September 1969 a 25-year-old Lou Piniella was just finishing up his Rookie of the Year season with the Royals.

Still. It's time to pay them back. And especially if they are wearing those godawful red uniform shirts.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Hill
R. Hill
vs. Tom Gorzelanny
T. Gorzelanny
8-7 W-L 13-7
3.84 ERA 3.57
159 SO 116
55 BB 54
25 HR 15
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs
Note: MLB has had the coin flips to determine home field for possible tiebreaker games. More information in this diary.

Despite the turmoil of recent weeks, the Cubs still have the best record in the NL since June 3 -- 49-37, and the best record in the NL Central since June 23 -- 38-29.

Rich Hill is 1-0, 1.69 in three career starts vs. Pittsburgh. Tom Gorzelanny is 1-1, 0.60 in two career starts vs. the Cubs. The latter is hard to do -- how do you lose one of two starts when your ERA is that low? Here's how -- get shut out 1-0 by Jason Marquis.

Time for Alfonso Soriano to keep stepping it up and hit. He is 9-for-21 (.429) with 3 doubles and 3 HR over his last five games, and is 13-for-27 (.481) with 2 HR in six games at PNC so far this season.

Once again, some people in the Chicago area will not be able to see this game as it is on CSN Plus, because it's on CLTV in Chicago and some local cable systems don't carry CLTV. You may have a separate channel carrying Plus; otherwise check today's Mediacenter link. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2006 version) Gameday for the Brewers/Reds game (6:10 CT start) Gameday for the Cardinals/Diamondbacks game (8:40 CT start)

Discuss amongst yourselves.