After a 4-4 road trip, the Cubs returned home to host three National League West foes. The three from California who they also opened the season against. The Cubs opened the homestand two games out of first place. With the calendar turning to May, the offense was turned up a notch or two and after a few low scoring affairs on the road trip, this homestand will feature a few slugfests.
Game 23, May 4 - Cubs walk it off against the Padres 7-6 (13-10)
- Superhero - Ryne Sandberg (.333). Two key at bats landed Ryne here on a day where he had two hits, a walk, an RBI and a run scored. The first of those two was a seventh inning single with the bases loaded and no outs (.156) that cut the Cubs deficit to 5-4. The second was reaching on an error with no outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth (.103). After the runner in front of him was erased in a fielder’s choice plate later in the inning, Sandberg ultimately scored the winning run.
- Hero - Keith Moreland (.298). Keith didn’t even start this one, but he did have two plate appearances. The second of those two plate appearances was in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded. A bases loaded walk produced .337 WPA and literally walked it off for the Cubs.
- Sidekick - Bob Dernier (.205). Like Sandberg, Bob lands here on the heels of two key at bats late in the game. The first of which was a walk he drew with first and second and no outs in the seventh (.131) and the second was also a walk leading off the ninth (.073). Dernier had a hit in addition to the two walks and scored twice.
- Billy Goat - Scott Sanderson (-.285). Scott threw seven innings allowing 11 hits and a walk, resulting in five runs total (four earned). He struck out three hitters.
- Goat - Bill Buckner (-.174). Buckner pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and hit a ground ball to first that resulted in a force at home.
- Kid - Jody Davis (-.103). Jody was hitless in four at bats.
Keith Moreland was 30 years old in 1984. He was originally drafted by (who else?) the Phillies in the seventh round of the 1975 draft. He had sparse playing time across four seasons at the major league level before being dealt to the Cubs. Moreland came to the Cubs with Dan Larson and Dickie Noles for Mike Krukow in December 1981. Keith played catcher primarily in the minor leagues with the remainder of his time being at third base. By 1983, Keith was almost exclusively playing right field for the Cubs. His best year as a Cub was either 1983 or 1985, the latter of which he received some down ballot MVP support, finishing 17th in the voting. In six seasons with the Cubs, he played in over 135 games every year and hit at least 12 home runs in all of them with a career high of 27 in 1987.
Game 24, May 5 - Cubs beat the Padres with second consecutive walk off 6-5 (14-10)
- Superhero - Warren Brusstar (.375). Warren came in with a runner on first and no outs after Lee Smith had blown a three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning. Brusster got Steve Garvey to ground into a double play and then retired Kevin McReynolds on another grounder to get out of the ninth. He then threw a scoreless tenth and notched a win when the Cubs scored in the bottom half of the inning. Warren allowed a hit and a walk in two innings of work.
- Hero - Leon Durham (.260). Bull had a three-hit game that included a solo home run (his second in as many days). He also drew a walk and scored twice. The big WPA contribution came from his 10th-inning walk with runners on first and second and no outs (.116).
- Sidekick - Jody Davis (.122). Davis had a two run homer in the second (.148).
- Billy Goat - Lee Smith (-.411). Lee came in to start the eighth inning and pitched a scoreless inning with a 5-2 lead, giving up just a single. He went back out to try to pick up the save in the ninth and the Cubs still leading by three. He allowed a walk and three consecutive singles. The third single plated two runs and chased Smith from the game.
- Goat - Larry Bowa (-.085). It was a hitless in four at bats game for Larry.
- Kid - Gary Matthews (-.062). And the same for Matthews.
Warren Brusstar was in his age-32 season in 1984. Warren was first drafted by the Giants in 1970 (27th round) but didn’t sign. He was also drafted by the Giants in 1971 (6th round) but didn’t sign. He was then drafted in 1973 by the Mets (33rd round) but didn’t sign. Finally, he was drafted by... the Phillies in 1974 (fourth round) and finally signed. Brusstar made his major league debut for the Phillies in 1977. He worked entirely out of the bullpen over a nine year career. The Cubs ultimately acquired Warren from the White Sox along with Steve Trout in a trade for Scott Fletcher, Randy Martz, Pat Tabler and Dick Tidrow. 1984 was the only season in his career in which he registered positive bWAR (0.1) and that resulted in a 0.1 bWAR career.
Game 25, May 6 - Cubs drop series finale 8-5 (14-11)
- Superhero - Leon Durham (.172). It was the third homer in three days for the Bull, this one being a two-run shot in the first (.167). He also had an RBI single in the fifth (.084). Unfortunately, he also made the last out of the game with runners on first and third.
- Hero - Dickie Noles (.120). Dick Ruthven started and last just two batters into the fourth inning. Noles came in and gave the Cubs four innings of one run relief that kept the game relatively close. Dickie allowed two hits and two walks over his four innings.
- Sidekick - Henry Cotto (.050). Henry reached on an error to start the ninth, giving the Cubs a glimmer of hope of a third straight walk off.
- Billy Goat - Dick Ruthven (-.414). As noted, Ruthven made it just two batters into the fourth inning before leaving the game with the Cubs already down 5-2. In those three plus innings, he allowed six hits and three walks. Of the five runs he allowed, three were earned as an error by Richie Hebner contributed to two unearned runs.
- Goat - Bill Buckner (-.090). Bill got the start in this one in left field and had just one hit in five at bats, though that single was in the ninth inning and put runners at first and third with two outs against Rich Gossage.
- Kid - Bob Dernier (-.078). Dernier had a similar line to Buckner, also having one hit in five at bats.
Bill Buckner was 34 years old in 1984. He was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the second round of the 1968 draft. The Cubs acquired him in January 1977 in a trade along with Ivan de Jesus for Mike Garman and Rick Monday. Buckner played more games in a Cubs uniform than any other team, though he played parts of eight seasons for both the Cubs and Dodgers. In all, his career saw parts of 22 seasons during which he amassed over 2,700 hits and 1,200 RBI. He was an All Star just once, but received MVP votes in five different seasons. He won a National League batting title in 1980 as a Cub. Bill definitely belongs in the Hall of Very Good and should be remembered for more than one rough play in Boston.
Game 26, May 7 - Cubs outslug the Giants 10-7 (15-11)
- Superhero - Leon Durham (.161). Durham stays blisteringly hot with his fourth home run in four days. On the day, Leon had an RBI single in the first (.113) and a three run homer in the second (.052) to make it 8-0 Cubs. He later drew a walk.
- Hero - Chuck Rainey (.094). Chuck gave the Cubs six and two thirds innings allowing eight hits and five runs. With the Cubs building the early 8-0 lead and ultimately pushing it to 10-0, Chuck concentrated on throwing strikes and didn’t walk anyone. He allowed all five runs in the seventh inning, long after the game was put out of reach.
- Sidekick - Tim Stoddard (.084). Stoddard came in with runners on first and third and no outs in the ninth inning and the lead down to four. He retired the first hitter, allowed an RBI single to Al Oliver and then struck out Jack Clark and Dusty Baker to end the game and record the save.
- Billy Goat - Warren Brusstar (-.054). Warren came in to finish the seventh and allowed a single to recently hired Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis before getting out of the inning without allowing any runs. He then went back out for the eighth with the Cubs leading 10-5 and allowed a Jack Clark home run. He a single to Baker and the following batter to reach on an error but then he struck out the final two hitters to end the rally. He went back out again for the ninth inning and allowed two more singles, the second of which was to Davis again before being lifted for Stoddard.
- Goat - Keith Moreland (-.017). In one of those tough crowd games, Keith had two hits in five at bats but lands down here, as he flew out in the first (-.017) with it 2-0 and didn’t bat again until it was already 8-0.
- Kid - Henry Cotto (.004). After moving out the hitting efforts of both Rainey and Brusstar, Cotto is the tough luck positive WPA Kid. Henry had a single in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out and a runner on first after having replaced Gary Matthews defensively in left field.
Chuck Rainey had one of those starts to the season where results didn’t always match performance. Despite a 3.57 ERA in April (granted, he allowed three unearned runs, so his performances were a little worse than the ERA indicates) but was the losing pitcher three times in four starts. This start reversed the trend as with five runs allowed in just shy of seven innings, he picked up the win. Of course in this one, he pitched better than the results showed and probably stayed in a few batters too long. The Cubs won this and the next three starts he made afterwards. Chuck pitched into the fifth inning every one of his first nine starts of the year in 1984 and had an ERA of 4.82 in those starts. He gave the team a marginal chance at winning every time out, but they certainly needed to improve on his results if they were going to have a chance at reaching the postseason.
Game 27, May 8 - Cubs sweep two game series with 12-11 victory (16-11)
- Superhero - Ron Cey (.335). If you’ve been following along, you know that WPA hasn’t been terribly kind to Ron so far this season. But on this day, he hit a grand slam with the Cubs trailing 3-1 with one out in the third (.290). Cey added a single in the seventh as part of a run scoring inning for the Cubs (.108).
- Hero - Jody Davis (.308). Things haven’t been a ton better for Davis but he added three hits, two RBI and a run scored to reach this podium. The biggest contribution for Davis was an RBI single with two outs in the seventh (.195). He also added a single with no outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth (.073) and pinch runner Henry Cotto scored the winning run for him.
- Sidekick - Richie Hebner (.250). Richie lead off the eighth inning with a solo home run to give the Cubs a 10-9 lead.
- Billy Goat - Dickie Noles (-.573). This was the sixth-worst WPA recorded by a Cub in 1984. Dickie started the seventh inning with the Cubs leading 8-5. Chili Davis continued his hot hitting against Cubs pitching with a single to get things started. That was followed by a single, a fly out, a single, a double, and a single before Jim Frey went out and mercifully ended the outing. In all, six batters faced, five hits, four runs. The 8-5 lead turned into a 9-8 deficit.
- Goat - Lee Smith (-.273). Dickie wasn’t the only one who had trouble. Smith was given the ball and an 11-9 lead to start the ninth inning. He quickly retired the first two hitters, but Jack Clark followed with a homer and then Gene Richards singled and stole second. Joel Youngblood had a two out RBI triple to tie the score before Smith retired Bob Brenly to end the rally.
- Kid - Rick Reuschel (-.132). I honestly didn’t remember Rick pitching for the Cubs in 1984. He got the start in this one and threw six innings allowing eight hits, two walks and five runs. Not a bad first time out after missing time to start the season. The Cubs were up 8-5 when he left and surely the wind was blowing out on a day when the teams combined for five home runs.
Ron Cey came into this game with a .218/.320/.425 line, usually batting fifth in the order. Certainly not optimal, and partially explains why he was sitting at the bottom of the cumulative Hero/Goat standings. Ron’s struggles actually continued throughout the spring and into early summer before finally having an OPS of 1.043 in August. To the extent that you put weight in “clutch” statistics, Cey was clutch in 1984. He had a .287/.371/.566 line in 175 plate appearances with runners in scoring position (.240/.324/.442 overall) that explains how he drove in 97 runs. With two outs and runners in scoring position, he was even better (.273/.385/.697) over 78 plate appearances.
Game 28, May 9 - Cubs defeat Dodgers for third straight win 7-0 (17-11)
- Superhero - Scott Sanderson (.164). Scott threw five shut out innings allowing four hits and no walks while striking out four. The Cubs used just two pitchers as Rich Bordi followed with four shutout innings, allowing only one hit, for the save.
- Hero - Leon Durham (.140). This was a tremendous homestand for Durham at the plate and he picked up two more hits and a walk to go with three RBI and a run scored. Leon got the scoring started with a first inning, bases loaded, no outs single, plating two runs (.110). He added an RBI single in the third to make it 5-0.
- Sidekick - Gary Matthews (.096). Sarge had two walks in four plate appearances and scored a run in the first inning as the Cubs jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead.
- Billy Goat - Ron Cey (-.056). Ron had a rough day at the plate with just one walk to show for plate appearances that included three strike outs.
- Goat - Larry Bowa (-.029). Bowa was also hitless in four at bats on the day.
- Kid - Gary Woods (.000). After moving two pitchers hitting efforts out (reliever Rich Bordi and Dick Ruthven who pinch hit in the fifth), Gary Woods gets the tough luck spot. He pinch hit in the eighth with it 7-0 and runners on second and third with no outs and grounded out.
Leon Durham was 26 years old in 1984. He was the first-round pick of the Cardinals (15th overall) in 1976. He made his major league debut in a Cardinals uniform in 1980 but was traded to the Cubs in December of that year with Ken Reitz for Bruce Sutter. Bruce Sutter, of course, went on to be one of the premier relief pitchers of the first half of the 1980s. But this was hardly a one-sided trade. Leon had finished seventh in Rookie of the Year voting in 1980 with the Cardinals and then in his first two seasons with full time usage with the Cubs in 1982 and 1983 he was an All-Star. He finished 12th in MVP voting in 1984. From 1982 to 1987, Bull had at least 100 games played every season, and hit 20 or more home runs five times. In eight seasons as a Cub, he had a line of .279/.356/.475. He lead the league in intentional walks in 1985 with 24. He won a silver slugger as an outfielder in 1982 and was the National League player of the month in May 1984.
Game 29, May 10 - Cubs lose 5-1, split brief series with Dodgers 5-1 (17-12)
- Superhero - Henry Cotto (.097). On a day when Bob Welch threw a complete game limiting the Cubs to just seven hits, no walks and one run, Henry had two hits and an RBI. His two out single with Larry Bowa on second provided all of the Cubs runs (.110).
- Hero - Tim Stoddard (.024). Tim came in with the score 4-1, one out and a runner on first in the seventh inning. He struck out Steve Sax and got a ground out to end the inning.
- Sidekick - Ron Cey (.020). Penguin had some rough days where he provided offense for the Cubs and showed up on the Goat podiums, this is a day where he had just one hit in four at bats and shows up on the Hero podiums.
- Billy Goat - Steve Trout (-.121). Steve got the start. He lasted 6.1 innings and struck out four. Unfortunately, he allowed eight hits and four runs (three earned). He also walked two.
- Goat - Bill Buckner (-.117). It was a tough day for Buckner at the plate, going hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Leon Durham (-.104). For one of the few days on the homestand, the Bull was kept in check. He was hitless in four at bats as well.
Steve followed a 3-1 2.38 April with a 3-2 2.18 ERA May as he continued to be the ace of the Cubs staff. This game was a tough one for him, but it was the first time the Cubs lost a game he started since his first appearance of the season back on April 7, breaking up a streak of five straight games the Cubs won that he started. Interestingly, Steve got 12 hitters to hit ground balls and got one pop out while allowing just one extra base hit (a double), so he likely wasn’t pitching too badly.
- Richie Hebner 14
- Gary Matthews 9
- Scott Sanderson 8
- Ryne Sandberg 6
- Leon Durham 6
- Steve Trout 3
- Henry Cotto 3
- Bob Dernier 3
- Tim Stoddard 2
- Warren Brusstar 0
- Dickie Noles 0
- Keith Moreland 0
- Rick Reuschel -1
- Chuck Rainey -1
- Rich Bordi -2
- Gary Woods -2
- Tom Veryzer -2
- Jody Davis -2
- Porfi Altamarino -3
- Larry Bowa -3
- Mel Hall -4
- Dick Ruthven -6
- Lee Smith -7
- Bill Buckner -9
- Ron Cey -12
Next week, we’ll look at a six-game road trip for the Cubs to face two more National League West foes, the Astros and Reds. This homestand saw the Cubs go 5-2 against the NL teams from California. The Cubs started the homestand two games back of the Mets in the NL East, but moved into a first place tie on after beating the Giants on May 7 and finished the homestand with a half-game lead in the division. In all, the Cubs spent four consecutive days tied or leading the division. Would they be able to maintain their lead while going out on the road? Check back next week to find out.