The 1985 season started out reasonably well for the Cubs, coming off their 1984 NL East championship season, and things were looking up -- except for what everyone hoped was just one little bump, coming into this game, the first of a homestand.
On May 19, in Atlanta, 1984 NL Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe had pulled a hamstring while running the bases in a 3-0 loss to the Braves.
Still, even with that, the Cubs came home to face the Reds on May 20 in second place, just two games behind the front-running Mets. Nothing could stop the Cubs from contending for the '85 NL East title all the way through the season.
(Also, remember when you are reading this that it is being written as if I were writing on May 20, 1985. You'll see why this is important after the jump.)
Hopefully, Rick Sutcliffe's injury yesterday in Atlanta won't be more than a blip in him repeating his Cy Young season.
Even if he's out for a little while, other pitchers look like they're going to pick up the slack; Northbrook native Scott Sanderson certainly did his part today, throwing a five-hit, one-run complete game against the Reds at Wrigley Field and the Cubs beat the Reds 6-1 in the first game of a six-game homestand against West Division teams (the Astros will follow this weekend).
It was a coolish day at Wrigley with 21,231 in attendance, cloudy with a little light rain falling at times, and maybe that helped Sanderson keep Reds hitters at bay. The only Reds player who had an extra-base hit, out of the five, off the tall Cubs righthander was Cincinnati player-manager Pete Rose, who homered in the fourth inning, cutting the Cubs' lead to 3-1. That was actually a fairly significant hit; before today, Rose had not homered in almost three years, since September 18, 1982. For his part, Rose continues his inexorable run toward Ty Cobb's all-time hits record; the homer was hit No. 4,129 of Rose's illustrious career. He might have a shot at breaking the record when the Reds come back to Wrigley in September, on his way to induction into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Perhaps Rose will even become the first player inducted with a unanimous vote.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were concerned with more immediate things, putting the game away in the bottom of the sixth when they scored three runs off Reds starter Jay Tibbs; Keith Moreland drove in a run with a sac fly and three batters later, light-hitting backup catcher Steve Lake smacked a two-run single.
After that it was all Sanderson, who gave up just four more singles after Rose's homer.
We'll await what we hope will be good news about Sutcliffe; meanwhile, this series continues tomorrow afternoon -- when the forecast calls for bright sunshine. Lefthander Ray Fontenot, who has pitched mostly in garbage time so far this season, will make his first start as a Cub.