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It Was Thirty Years Ago Today: Cubs vs. Mets Preview, Thursday 4/22, 6:10 CT

Tonight's Cubs game is on WCIU, which means that you need a secret decoder ring to be able to watch it, even in the Chicago area. And, both the Bulls and Blackhawks are in playoff action tonight, so that means baseball gets even less attention, at least for today.

So let me tell you the story of the Cubs game played thirty years ago today, April 22, 1980 at Wrigley Field.

The day began warm. VERY warm. It was 85 degrees at game time, and wound up being 92 degrees, which is still, to this day, the highest temperature ever recorded in Chicago in the month of April. The boxscore link above says the wind was blowing out at 22 MPH, which is exactly as I remember it. We used to have quite a number of days like that in the mid to late 1970's and early 1980's... but not as many early season games like that since.

The two teams combined for six home runs, including one by Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch, and one by Cub SS (and current 1B coach) Ivan DeJesus, who had five hits and hit for the cycle. Since then only one Cub -- Mark Grace on May 9, 1993 -- has cycled. Incidentally, check out the boxscore from that 1993 game -- Grace needed a HR to complete the cycle; he hit a three-run, two-out HR in the last of the 9th, but the Cubs lost 5-4.

Anyway, in the 1980 game, the Cardinals had a 6-2 lead in the third, but the Cubs tied it 6-6 in the bottom of that inning. That didn't last long -- St. Louis put five on the board in the fourth and one in the fifth to take a 12-6 lead. The Cubs made it 12-9 in the fifth, 12-11 in the seventh and Barry Foote homered in the eighth to tie it. In the ninth the Cubs loaded the bases and, with two out, Foote hit a ball that just barely landed in the RF seats for a walkoff grand slam (even though we hadn't heard the term "walkoff" in 1980). It was the second time the team had scored 10 or more runs in a week, made the Cubs' record 6-3 and the 18,889 in attendance (doesn't seem like much now, but that was a huge weekday afternoon crowd for an April game in that era) walked out screaming like the Cubs had just won the World Series.

That season went downhill from there -- the 1980 Cubs were awful and lost 98 games, third most in club history.

But that game was special. The Cubs had 23 hits -- they've had more than that at Wrigley only three other times in the expansion era (since you'll ask: May 17, 1977, July 28, 1977, and May 17, 1979. And the two teams combined for 39 hits and 10 walks and still played the entire game in 3:02. Try doing that today.

Fun stuff. For tonight, I'd settle for a 1-0 win.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Tom Gorzelanny
Tom Gorzelanny
vs. Johan Santana
Johan Santana
0-1 W-L 1-1
1.93 ERA 3.00
7 SO 17
3 BB 6
0 HR 1
vs. NY -- vs. Cubs

2010 - Tom Gorzelanny 0-1 2 2 0 0 0 0 9.1 7 3 2 0 3 7 1.93 1.07

2010 - Johan Santana 1-1 3 3 0 0 0 0 18.0 13 6 6 1 6 17 3.00 1.06

Johan Santana has made two career starts vs. the Cubs. One of them was while he was a Twin, against the horrid 2006 Cubs; the other in 2008, while a Met. He won both of them and has a 1.69 career ERA vs. the Cubs. Derrek Lee has gone 2-for-6 with a HR; despite Alfonso Soriano's big day yesterday, it might be a good idea to give Sori the day off today -- he's 0-for-10 vs. Santana with three K's (and two walks).

Tom Gorzelanny is off to a good start, which might have been better if he had not been hit in his pitching shoulder by a line drive last Saturday. He was removed as a precaution, but will be fine to make his start tonight. In his career, Gorz hasn't been very good vs. the Mets: 2-2, 5.68 in eight appearances (four starts), but current Mets are hitting only .172 (5-for-29) against him with no homers. Here's hoping for another good outing from him.

Lineup via tweet from Carrie:

#Cubs lineup vs #mets is ss theriot, 3b baker, 1b lee, cf byrd, rf nady, lf sori, c soto, 2b font, p gorzelanny

So still no Tracy starting, instead Baker fills in for Ramirez and Fontenot gets a start vs. a LHP. Why is Tracy even on this team?

Today is one of eight games on WCIU (there will be another one next Tuesday). For EI viewers, it's also being covered by SNY. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Mets site Amazin' Avenue.

This afternoon's first pitch thread will be up at 6 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 7:15, 8:15 and 9 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.