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Cubs Heroes and Goats 1984 edition: Games 57-63

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Cubs return home for seven game homestand.

MLB Photos via Getty Images

When last we checked in those 1984 Cubs, they were finishing up a daunting four-city, 12-game road trip. They came in at 6-6. There was certainly a game or two they could have won but didn’t, but all in all you’d have to be happy with a 6-6 road trip. The Cubs maintained their position in first place and came back home with a one game lead on the division.

Game 57, June 11 - Cubs falter late, lose to Expos 2-1 (32-25)

  • Superhero - Bob Dernier (.121). It was a three hits in four at bats day for Dernier. Bob doubled in the first, singled in the third and doubled again in the sixth. He followed his sixth inning double with a steal of third and then scored on a ground out by Ryne Sandberg. This gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
  • Hero - Rick Reuschel (.093). Rick gave the Cubs 7.1 innings of six hit, one walk, one run baseball. He probably stayed in the game a few batters too long. In the eighth inning he allowed a single, a sacrifice, a walk and an RBI single by Tim Raines.
  • Sidekick - Jody Davis (.023). Only three Cubs had a positive WPA on this day, despite only allowing two runs and having ten hits. Jody had two hits in three at bats. He had a single in the fifth with a runner on first and not outs and he singled to lead off the seventh.
  • Billy Goat - Ryne Sandberg (-.184). Sandberg actually drove in the only Cubs run in this game. He was hitless in four at bats. He lands here due to grounding into a double play in the third (-.128) with runners on first and third and one out.
  • Goat - Ron Cey (-.163). The play log and available resources weren’t super clear on this one. Ron did have a single in the fifth, leading off the inning. That was his only hit in four at bats. It appears that he may have been out trying to stretch a single into a double in what was a scoreless game. He also made the last out of the game.
  • Kid - Leon Durham (-.106). Leon also had one hit on the day in four at bats. He was the first out in the ninth inning, a line out to first (-.094).

After a scorching May, Leon cooled off a bit in June before ultimately getting hurt later in the month and missing 16 games. It’s hard to know what to make of Leon’s 1984 season. In the first half of the year, he had a .308/.394/.527 line, but it was buoyed by a .353 BABIP. In the second half, his line dropped to .250/.343/.483, but it was dragged down by a BABIP of .245. For the season, he had a relatively normal looking .295 BABIP and a season line of .279/.369/.505. So, it appears that Leon experienced at least a degree of good luck in the first half of the season. Rather remarkably, Durham had 274 plate appearances in each half of the season and 237 versus 236 at bats. So he saw remarkably similar playing time. He had two more doubles, one more triple and one less home run in the second half of the season. So it is hard to see anything other than a luck difference between the two halves.

Game 58, June 12 - Cubs pound Expos 11-4 (33-25)

  • Superhero - Mel Hall (.255). On a day when the Cubs hit four home runs and had 16 hits and six walks as part of their 11 run output, Mel Hall had the first long ball. It was a first inning two run homer to put the Cubs up 3-0 (.157). He added an RBI double to make it 4-2 in the third (.105). In all, he had two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. He drove in the three runs and scored two.
  • Hero - Gary Matthews (.101). Gary drove in the Cubs first run with a first inning single (.079). He added a two run homer in the fourth (.041) that made it 7-2. He also had a walk, reaching three times in five plate appearances.
  • Sidekick - Bob Dernier (.053). Dernier actually got to the plate six times. He had two hits including a double, a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored.
  • Billy Goat - Ron Cey (-.033). Someone had to draw the short straw and on this day it was Cey. He did have a hit and a walk in his five plate appearances and scored a run, but finishes the day at the bottom.
  • Goat - Leon Durham (-.010). After moving out Dennis Eckersley’s one for four day, that leaves Durham in the next spot. Durham did have a hit and a run on the day, but struck out four times.
  • Kid - Larry Bowa (.013). Larry gets some really tough luck after Warren Brusstar’s one hitless at bat is moved out. Larry singled in his only at bat in the second inning before leaving the game.

Mel Hall started 21 games for the Cubs in May putting up a .257/.303/.486 line. He started most days in right field for the Cubs. In June, he started 10 games for the Cubs, covering 42 plate appearances. During that time he hit .306/.381/.528. I imagine there were more than a few Cub fans who lamented trading him later in the month. As things were in those days, I imagine there were more people upset about trading Hall who’d seen some success at the big league level than Joe Carter. Of course, you have to give something to get something. Mel never lived up to the hype of having been a top 3 Rookie of the Year finalist in 1983. But certainly in May and early June of 1984, there were signs of what he was capable of.

Game 59, June 13 - Cubs beat Expos 7-4 to win series (34-25)

  • Superhero - Steve Trout (.185). The Cubs scored a run in the second and two more in the third and Trout blanked the Expos for the first four. He allowed a solo homer to Tim Wallach in the fifth who had connected earlier in the series off of Lee Smith to win the first game. Trout started the sixth but left after issuing a one out walk to Tim Raines. That runner would come around to score on a Pete Rose triple.
  • Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.179). Sandberg singled in the first with Dernier on first and no outs (.052), singled in the third with Dernier on first and no outs (.089). He flew out into a double play in the fourth when Larry Bowa was thrown out trying to score (-.069). He tripled with one out and the bases empty in the sixth with the score tied 4-4 (.110). He scored twice.
  • Sidekick - Jody Davis (.118). Jody had a hit and a walk in four plate appearances. The hit was a big one though. With two outs and runners on second and third in the sixth and the Cubs leading 5-4, he had a two run double (.159).
  • Billy Goat - Tim Stoddard (-.224). Tim relieved Trout and had the tall task of facing three of the best hitters of that generation. Future Hall of Famer Tim Raines was on first and was a notorious base stealer in those days. Pete Rose was the hitter. He wasn’t quite the hitter he once was but still managed a line of .286/.359/.337 that year (at 43 years old). Rose tripled to make it 4-2. Future Hall of Famer Andre Dawson stepped to the plate next and doubled. Future Hall of Famer Gary Carter followed with a single and just like that it was 4-4. Were it not for the gambling issues of Pete Rose, that 1984 Expos team would have been running out four future Hall of Famers consecutively in their lineup. Stoddard did manage to get out of that inning without any more runs scoring, despite allowing a walk. He also allowed a walk to Raines and a single to Rose in the seventh before getting out of the inning.
  • Goat - Gary Woods (-.079). Gary hit for Mel Hall in the sixth and grounded out with runners on second and third and only one out (-.074). He stayed in the game and batted again in the eighth with a runner on second and two outs and struck out.
  • Kid - Mel Hall (-.016). Mel had a single and stole a base in the second before scoring the game’s first run. He had three at bats in the game before departing.

Steve Trout made five starts in June. It was his worst month of the year performance-wise. He allowed 27 hits and 14 runs in just 23 innings of work. He issued 10 walks while only striking out 13 hitters. He missed a start after this one, but did take his turn in the rotation the following time through. It was the only start he missed that year. His numbers are distorted quite a bit by a tough start later in the month against the Cardinals in what will forever be remembered as one of the greatest games in Cubs history. In the other 4 starts in June, Steve threw 21⅔ innings allowing 22 hits and 7 runs which is right in line with the rest of his season.

Game 60, June 14 - Cubs crushed by Phillies 11-2 (34-26)

  • Superhero - Gary Woods (.032). Gary had a two hit game. He also drew a walk. The Cubs had just seven base runners on the day, so this was actually a pretty huge day at the plate.
  • Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.019). By 1984, Steve Carlton was not the pitcher he once was. You know, the 10-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer. That said, in a down year, Steve was 13-7 with a 3.58 ERA. But, he threw more than 50 innings less than he had the year before and struck out more than 100 less hitters. It is fair to say he was off a little. But you couldn’t tell it from the Cubs that day. Ryne reaches this spot because he drew a walk in the first inning (.026) and it was 5-0 before he batted again.
  • Sidekick - Dave Owen (.002). Dave had a hit and scored a run. The hit was a single with a runner on second and no outs in the eighth inning. The Cubs were trailing 11-0 at the time. Both runners scored later on a Gary Matthews single.
  • Billy Goat - Rich Bordi (-.331). Rich was generally effective as a starter for the Cubs in 1984, but on this day he was clubbed for eight hits and six runs. He walked two batters and didn’t strike anyone out. Future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt got the scoring started with an RBI double in the first and Juan Samuel’s three run homer in the second made it 5-0 in a hurry.
  • Goat - Gary Matthews (-.041). You know it is an upside down game when the guy who drove in your two runs ends up on a goat podium. The problem is, a two run single when down 11-0 was worth (.000) because there were already two outs in the eighth inning. Gary’s first inning strike out was worth (-.030). Gary had one hit in four at bats.
  • Kid - Bob Dernier (-.037). Carlton did a great job keeping Dernier off base. The speedy lead off hitter was hitless in four at bats.

Gary Matthews got off to a red hot start to his 1984 season with a .953 OPS in April. He followed that with a .250/.367/.341 May and June. That covered 49 starts and 215 plate appearances. I have no doubt that some people were beginning to wonder if Gary was starting to lose it a bit at 34 years old. But he bounced back in the second half with a .311/.424/.484 performance. Gary had a .331 BABIP for the season and that number dipped to just .305 during May and June, so no doubt he was hitting into some tough luck. Gary had a fantastic season and would have been a justifiable MVP choice. As it was, he finished fifth. This was the last season as a full time starter for Matthews, but he was as vital to the team’s success as any player on the team.

Game 61, June 15 - Cubs drop second straight to Phillies 5-2 (34-27)

  • Superhero - Ryne Sandberg (.147). Ryno had a third inning solo homer that gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead (.114). It was one of two hits he had on the day in four at bats. It was also one of only two hits the team had on the day as well as only drawing two walks.
  • Hero - Gary Matthews (.053). Gary drew both of the Cubs walks on the day. They were the only two times he reached base in four plate appearances.
  • Sidekick - Warren Brusstar (.052). Brusstar threw the sixth and seventh innings. They were pretty to be sure. He allows two singles, a wild pitch, a walk and a stolen base. But no runs. He came in with it 5-2 and kept it right there.
  • Billy Goat - Chuck Rainey (-.312). There was trouble almost right out of the gate. After retiring the first two hitters, Von Hayes had a two out double. Schmidt then picked up an RBI single to give the Phillies and early lead. Rainey was perfect in the second and third innings though and the Cubs added a run in each inning. Things were looking good until Chuck pitched into the fourth inning. He got Hayes the second time around to start the inning. And then he got a ground ball to short from Schmidt and it looked like things might continue to roll along. But Larry Bowa booted the ball allowing Schmidt to reach. The next four hitters reached base and Frey had seen enough. Those four batters were a double, an intentional walk, a walk with the bases loaded and a two run single. Tim Stoddard allowed an inherited runner to score and it was 5-2 where it would stay the rest of the gam.
  • Goat - Leon Durham (-.143). Bull was hitless in four at bats on the day. The largest negative on the day was a sixth inning at bat with runners on first and second and no outs. The Cubs were trailing 5-2 and Durham flew out to center (-.073). That at bat was a huge one for the Cubs. They had a chance to get back into the game and knock Charlie Hudson out of the game. Instead, he set down Durham and then retired the following eight hitters he faced before giving way to Al Holland who pitched a perfect ninth.
  • Kid - Bob Dernier (-.091). For the second straight day the Phillies did a great job against Dernier. Bob was hitless in four at bats on the day.

Bob Dernier had his best month in June of 1984. He had a .319/.404/.429 line. He hit two of his three homers, drove in 11 of his 32 RBI and stole 12 bases (second only to the 15 he stole in May). He scored 23 runs (second only to the 24 he scored in May). This is despite seven games in the month against the Phillies. They were his nightmare in 1984. He hit .213/.333/.328 across 16 games and 73 plate appearances. The only other team he had more than 50 plate appearances with a lower OPS was the Pirates (.543).

Game 62, June 16 - Cubs lose third straight to Phillies 8-2 (34-28)

  • Superhero - Ryne Sandberg (.049). For the third straight day, Phillies pitching stifled the Cubs bats. This time the Cubs produced just six hits and two walks. Sandberg recorded one of each in his four plate appearances. The double lead off the second inning and he eventually scored on a Leon Durham home run. Unfortunately, the two run homer made it 5-2.
  • Hero - Leon Durham (.048). Durham had just the one hit in four at bats, but it was a home run that accounted for all of the scoring by the Cubs.
  • Sidekick - Jay Johnstone and Warren Brusstar (.022). Jay had a pinch hit single with a runner and first and one out in the fifth and stayed in the game. The Cubs would load the bases in the fifth, but didn’t end up scoring. Brusstar came in after the Cubs’ starter had allowed three straight hits and two runs to start the fifth. He recorded three straight hitters to get out of the inning with no further damage.
  • Billy Goat - Rick Reuschel (-.411). Reuschel ended up getting touched for nine hits, one walk and seven runs while only recording four innings. The last three hits and two runs in the fifth finished his day.
  • Goat - Gary Matthews (-.060). Gary did have one hit in three at bats but he just nudged his way into this spot.
  • Kid - Bob Dernier (-.059). Once again, the Phillies held down Dernier which appears to have been one of the big keys to stopping the Cubs offense. Bob was hitless in four at bats on the day.

Rick Reuschel recorded his second lowest game score of the season in this one, just nudging out a game 10 days earlier in Montreal (18-11). Rick had a relatively decent start against the Phillies in Philadelphia two weeks earlier going 7⅓ innings and allowing three runs on nine hits and two walks while picking up a win. Consistency was the problem for Reuschel in 1984. Just looking at Game Scores, from May through the end of June his numbers looked like this: 37, 74, 40, 39, 54, 11, 64, 18, 53, 22. It was just hard to know what you were going to get when he went out there. After June, he made just three more starts, only one of which was after the All-Star break.

Game 63, June 17 - Cubs find bats, but still end up swept in four game set by Phillies 9-7 (34-29)

  • Superhero - Keith Moreland (.180). Keith enjoyed his finest day at the plate for the season. He had four hits in five at bats and two of them were home runs. His solo home run in the fourth cut the Cubs deficit to 3-1. He also hit a solo home run in the ninth to cut it to 9-6.
  • Hero - Gary Matthews (.122). Gary had a hit and a walk. The hit was a triple leading off the fifth inning. When Leon Durham drove him in, it cut the deficit to 3-2. That was the closest the Cubs would get on this day.
  • Sidekick - Bob Dernier (.118). After three straight appearances on the Kid podium in this series, Bob finally broke through with three hits including a solo homer. The Cubs did hit four home runs in this game, but all of them were solo homers.
  • Billy Goat - George Frazier (-.222). This was just the second appearance in a Cubs uniform by George Frazier who was brought over to boost the bullpen. Of course, the key piece of that deal for the Cubs was Rick Sutcliffe. Frazier threw two perfect innings in his debut on June 14, striking out four. This one didn’t go nearly as well. It started fine as he set down the Phillies in order in the fifth, striking out two more. Then he went back out for the sixth. Mike Schmidt greeted him with a double. The Phillies followed with two singles, a sacrifice fly and a double and that was it for Frazier. In all, he allowed four hits and three runs while only recording one out in the inning.
  • Goat - Ryne Sandberg (-.172). Sandberg had just one hit in five at bats. Twice he made the last out to snuff Cubs’ rallies. The first of those was in the fourth with the bases loaded and the Cubs trailing 3-1 (-.096). The second was in the eighth with runners on second and third and two outs (-.071).
  • Kid - Leon Durham (-.152). Durham was hitless in five at bats. He did have an RBI grounder in the fifth that cut the score to 3-2.

George Frazier was 29 years old in 1984. He was drafted in 1972 by the Rangers in the 13th round, but didn’t sign. He was then drafted in the ninth round of 1976 draft by the Brewers. The following year he was traded to the Cardinals for Buck Martinez. In 1981 he was traded to the Yankees and in 1984 he was trade to the Cubs along with Ron Hassey and Rick Sutcliffe. The Cubs sent Mel Hall, Joe Carter, Darryl Banks and Don Schulze to the Indians. The move was a blockbuster aimed to further solidify the starting rotation for the Cubs. Frazier was a secondary piece, but of course the bullpen needed some upgrade as well. George had been a 2.1 bWAR player in 1983 for the Yankees and 1.6 the year before. Both of those years saw him throw over 110 innings entirely in relief. If you like FIP, you’d like the numbers of Frazier in Chicago as he had a 3.04 FIP there. It didn’t translate so well though as he ended up with a 4.10 ERA. He did win six games for the Cubs and save three.

Cumulative Standings

  • Gary Matthews 14
  • Richie Hebner 12
  • Ryne Sandberg 11
  • Steve Trout 11
  • Leon Durham 10
  • Bob Dernier 8
  • Rich Bordi 7
  • Scott Sanderson 6
  • Gary Woods 2
  • Dickie Noles 1
  • Jay Johnstone 1
  • Henry Cotto 1
  • Dennis Eckersley 0
  • Mel Hall 0
  • Keith Moreland 0
  • Lee Smith -1
  • Warren Brusstar -1.5
  • Don Schulze -2
  • George Frazier -3
  • Porfi Altamarino -3
  • Tim Stoddard -3.5
  • Tom Veryzer -4
  • Dave Owen -4
  • Rick Reuschel -5
  • Chuck Rainey -5
  • Jody Davis -7
  • Bill Buckner -9
  • Dick Ruthven -9
  • Larry Bowa -9
  • Ron Cey -18

Leon Durham falls back to the pack a bit putting Gary Matthews back on top. Ryne Sandberg and Steve Trout move into a tie for third. At the bottom, Ron Cey takes a significant “lead” for last place.

This was a borderline disastrous homestand. The Cubs dropped five of seven at home. What had been a one game lead in the division after the longest road trip of the season was now a two game deficit in the division. Next up is a brief trip to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates. The next game features the Cubs debut of Rick Sutcliffe.

That’s all for this week. Happy Holidays to all who are celebrating. I hope you all have a happy, safe holiday season. My columns will continue to run around the holidays with a look at 2017’s sixth biggest negative event early next week and a recap of the trip to Pittsburgh late next week. Until then, thanks for reading.