When last we checked in our 1984 Cubs they had won five of seven on a homestand to improve their record to 40-33. They moved back into second place after briefly dropping down to third and they moved back within one game of first. The team was clearly in the hunt. Ryne Sandberg had keyed a sweep of the hated Cardinals. Rick Sutcliffe’s home debut was electric. This Cubs team had put itself into contention heading into the All-Star break. Before they could book a few days rest though they had to survive an 11-game, three-city trip to California. Let’s take a look at how things went on that road trip and see if the Cubs could keep their momentum going and build off of an impressive homestand.
Game 74, June 28 - Cubs rally to beat Dodgers 5-3 (41-33)
- Superhero - Tim Stoddard (.290). When Tim came into the game, the Cubs were leading 5-3 but Steve Trout had just walked two straight hitters after retiring the first batter in the seventh inning. Pedro Guerrero, who was a feared slugger in those days, and Mike Marshall would be coming up and, though early, the game was clearly on the line. Stoddard retired both of them and the other six batters he faced. Eight batters faced, none reached base. Stoddard recorded the save for his efforts.
- Hero - Gary Matthews (.257). Sarge had a big day at the plate reaching four times in five plate appearances. He walked and scored in both the fourth and sixth innings. He added singles in the seventh and ninth innings.
- Sidekick - Keith Moreland (.152). Zonk had two hits on the day in five at bats. He didn’t directly factor in the scoring, but his sixth inning single sent Matthews to third where he scored on a wild pitch while Jody Davis was batting.
- Billy Goat - Steve Trout (-.229). All around Steve produced a positive WPA on the day based upon (.235) recorded as a hitter. Steve reached on an error with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. The error scored the Cubs’ fourth and fifth runs on the day. On the mound it was a bit of a rough day for Steve. Despite pitching into the seventh, he allowed 10 hits, three walks and three runs on the day.
- Goat - Jay Johnstone (-.132). Johnstone did have one hit in four at bats getting the rare start. He lands here largely due to his foul out with runners on second and third and one out in the sixth.
- Kid - Bob Dernier (-.084). Bob had five at bats and did not reach base on the day.
This was one of four games in the 1984 season in which Gary Matthews reached base four times in. During the month of June, Gary had a line of just .253/.364/.345. But things started to turn for him during the Pirates series. He had hits in each of the last two games of the Pirates series and then he followed that up by reaching base at least twice in each of the three games played in the Dodgers series we are currently looking at. July will see Gary add 26 points to his season OPS and August will see him add 13 more. September will cap that with 26 more. As I’ve told you previously, Matthews is going to get hot.
Game 75, June 29 - Cubs get clobbered by the Dodgers 7-1 (41-34)
- Superhero - Gary Matthews (.035). Matthews had a hit and a walk against Orel Hershiser, one of just two Cubs to reach base more than once. Hershiser was excellent in completing the game allowing only one run on nine hits and a walk. He struck out eight. Gary lands here largely due to the lead off walk he drew in the fourth when the Cubs were only down 2-0 (.046).
- Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.027). Ryno had three hits on the day. He also stole two bases, but he never made it past third base.
- Sidekick - Dickie Noles (.001). Noles was the only other Cub who recorded a positive WPA on the day. He threw two scoreless innings allowing two hits.
- Billy Goat - Rick Sutcliffe (-.274). If you only remember the dominant Rick Sutcliffe, you are blocking out games like this one. Rick threw four innings allowing eight hits, three walks and seven runs (five earned). Rick did start the fifth inning, but all three batters he faced before leaving had hits and eventually scored.
- Goat - Keith Moreland (-.087). Keith was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice against Hershisher.
- Kid - Jay Johnstone (-.063). Getting another start, Johnstone had one hit in four at bats and scored the Cubs only run after his seventh inning double. He lands here due to his grounding into a double play in the second inning with a runner on first and one out (-.049)
Jay Johnstone was 38 years old in 1984. He was originally signed by the Angels in 1963. He made his major league debut for the Angels in 1966. His best season by bWAR was 1976 when he posted a 4.3. He played on Yankee and Dodger World Series teams in 1978 and 1981 respectively. He played for seven teams at the major league level before signing with the Cubs as a free agent in June of 1982. He did get into 98 games and have 351 plate appearances for the 1982 Cubs, producing 1.0 bWAR. He appeared in just 15 games in the field for the ‘84 Cubs. The following year he appeared in 17 games for the Dodgers, entirely as a pinch hitter. After that season, he retired. In a largely unremarkable career, he managed to appear in 1,748 games, amass 5,229 plate appearances and play in parts of 20 seasons in the big leagues.
Game 76, June 30 - Cubs pound Dodger 14-4 (42-34)
- Superhero - Bob Dernier (.264). As he so often was, Dernier was the catalyst in this one for the Cubs. He had four hits and also walked once in six plate appearances. He scored two runs and drove in three. He also stole a base and hit a home run on a day where he was tormenting the Dodgers all day long.
- Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.225). Sandberg had four hits and a walk himself. The Cubs top two hitters absolutely wrecked the Dodgers. Sandberg scored three times and drove in one. He stole a base and had a triple in the game.
- Sidekick - Tim Stoddard (.174). Tim threw three innings to finish out the game and therefore recorded a save. He allowed three hits over three innings. He also got to bat twice and even had a sacrifice bunt in this one.
- Billy Goat - Chuck Rainey (-.241). After the Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second, Rainey started giving it back. He allowed two walks a single and a run in the bottom of the second. When he went back out for the third and allowed a one out double followed by a walk and another single Jim Frey had seen enough and lifted him. Rainey ended up allowing three runs while only retiring seven batters.
- Goat - Jody Davis (-.113). Jody actually had three walks and three runs scored in this one. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have any hits in this one. He struck out with the bases loaded to end the second (-.037) and grounded out with runners on second and third and one out in the sixth (-.052) to land here.
- Kid - Henry Cotto (-.030). Getting the start in left for Gary Matthews, Henry had two hits, an RBI and two runs scored. But he lands here largely for his fly out in the sixth with the bases loaded (-.044).
Bob Dernier had just three home runs on the year and this was the only one he hit on the road. A little bit of an oddity given that Dodger pitchers only allowed 76 home runs total on the year, good for first in the National League. Even more crazy, it was the only home run Ken Howell allowed that season in 32 games and 51⅓ innings of work. For his entire career Ken allowed .7 home runs per nine innings pitched, so this was a truly unusual home run. This was the only time in his career that Dernier had both four hits and a home run. Quite the game.
Game 77, July 1 - Cubs defeat Dodgers 4-3 to take three of four in series (43-34)
- Superhero - Dennis Eckersley (.329). Dennis was superb on this day, allowing just four hits, two walks and a single run in eight innings of work.
- Hero - Jody Davis (.273). Jody was the offensive hero in this one for the Cubs with three hits and two RBI. His two run triple (.192) in the fourth made it 3-0 Cubs.
- Sidekick - Keith Moreland (.103). Keith had a hit and drew a walk in four plate appearances. He scored two runs.
- Billy Goat - Ron Cey (-.120). Ron had one hit in four at bats. A run actually scored when he grounded into a double play with no outs and runners on first and third in the second inning to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead (-.056).
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.044). Just one hit for the Deer on this day in five at bats. He did score one run.
- Kid - Henry Cotto (-.038). Drawing another start, this time in right field Cotto was hitless in four at bats.
Henry Cotto only had 28 games started for the 1984 Cubs as a rookie. He amassed 160 plate appearances. He might have been a guy Joe Maddon would have enjoyed, at least that season. Despite hitting right handed, he had a .326/.376/.349 line against righties (compared to .200/.250/.250 against lefties). He struggled in the first half with a line of just .246/.303/.262 in the first half but settled in and had a line of .294/.341/.341 in the second half.
Game 78, July 2 - Cubs drop opener to Padres 5-1 (43-35)
- Superhero - Bob Dernier (.079). On a day when the Cubs only mustered five hits and one walk, Dernier had two of the hits in four at bats. He had one double and scored the Cubs only run.
- Hero - Ron Cey (.015). Reaching on a one out walk in the fifth inning (.036) and advancing on a wild pitch (.024) was enough for Cey to reach this spot.
- Sidekick - Ryne Sandberg (.013). Ryno had a hit in the game, a sixth inning single following Dernier’s single and those singles set up a third single by Gary Matthews that accounted for the Cubs’ run.
- Billy Goat - George Frazier (-.116). George worked two innings of relief in this one. It was 2-1 when he came in after Rick Reuschel had allowed a double to start the seventh inning. Frazier walked the first batter he faced and then after a bunt single, Tony Gwynn singled to left on a play that ended up scoring three runs due to an error. Frazier was charged with two earned runs.
- Goat - Keith Moreland (-.111). Keith was hitless in four at bats and struck out three times in a tough day at the plate.
- Kid - Jody Davis (-.098). Davis matched Moreland’s hitless in four at bats day.
George Frazier was making his ninth appearance as a Cub in this game. It was the seventh consecutive game where he walked at least one batter including five of them in long relief a couple of days earlier on this road trip. This was the sixth time in his first nine appearances that he was charged with at least one earned run. Including his next two appearances he allowed runs in eight of the first 11 games he pitched in. The Cubs lost seven of those games. In those 11 appearances George threw 21⅓ innings, allowed 18 hits, 14 walks and had 20 strikeouts. He allowed 12 runs and all were earned (5.06 ERA). He’ll be much better after that, but just didn’t provide a lot of boost to the Cubs pen.
Game 79, July 3 - Cubs bounce back and squeak out a 3-2 win over Padres (44-35)
- Superhero - Tim Stoddard (.501). In what will be the ninth largest WPA performance of the year for the Cubs, Tim Stoddard would throw four shutout innings to record another save. He allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out six Padres.
- Hero - Keith Moreland (.243). Keith provided the offense for the Cubs with two hits, a walk, two RBI and a run scored. He got the scoring started for the Cubs with a solo homer to tie the game at 1-1 in the second (.113) and added an RBI single with two outs in the third (.124).
- Sidekick - Bob Dernier (.060). Dernier drove in the other run with a two out single in the fourth to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead (.114).
- Billy Goat - Jody Davis (-.099). Davis was hitless in four at bats.
- Goat - Henry Cotto (-.074). Cotto was hitless in four at bats and struck out once.
- Kid - Ryne Sandberg (-.043). Sandberg had one hit and scored a run in four at bats.
This game was the sixth game that Tim Stoddard pitched in between June 23 and July 3. He finished five of them, the Cubs won five of them, and he recorded three saves. He threw 13⅔ innings over those games and allowed just six hits, three walks, no runs and struck out 15 batters. One of those was the 14-4 Cubs laugher, but in this one he pitched four innings with a one run lead. He retired Padre star Tony Gwynn twice, and Graig Nettles once (and he reached on an error the second time) and Steve Garvey once. In all, he faced 16 batters, retired 12 of them. This was a superb relief outing.
Game 80, July 4 - Cubs beat Padres 2-1 and take two of three in series (45-35)
- Superhero - Lee Smith (.446). For the second straight day the Cubs bullpen came up big when it was called upon. Lee came in after Rick Sutcliffe allowed back to back one out singles in the ninth inning. He faced one batter and recorded a double play.
- Hero - Rick Sutcliffe (.213). This was another dominant performance for Sutcliffe. He threw 8.1 innings and allowed seven hits and one walk. He only struck three, but he limited the Padres to a single unearned run on the day. He also had an RBI double to drive in the first run of the game.
- Sidekick - Keith Moreland (.071). It was another strong day at the plate for Keith as he had two hits and drove in the decisive run with a fifth inning RBI single (.072).
- Billy Goat - Jody Davis (-.110). This is the fifth consecutive game where Jody reached a podium. Unfortunately for him it is the fourth time it was one of the negative podiums. Once again Davis was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice.
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.096). He did have a hit and a walk in the game and scored a run. He hit into a double play in the sixth inning with one out and runner on first and second (-.088) after Larry Bowa was doubled off on a ball hit in the air.
- Kid - Gary Matthews (-.036). Sarge had one hit in four at bats.
Coming off of a string of four consecutive appearances in which he allowed runs, this was a big save for Lee. It was his 16th of the year. He’ll notch saves in five consecutive appearances starting with this game. July was a strong month for him with seven saves in 12 games (the Cubs will win 11 of them). He’ll throw 18⅓ innings and allow only 13 hits and two walks while striking out 14. He’ll allow 5 runs, all earned (.2.45 ERA).
Game 81, July 5 - Cubs triple up Giants 9-3 (46-35)
- Superhero - Ron Cey (.269). Ron was the offensive star of this one, connecting for home runs in the third and fourth innings. He drove in the first, third and fourth runs of the game with the 14th two homer game of his career. He also drew a walk in reaching three times in four plate appearances and scored all three times.
- Hero - Scott Sanderson (.222). Scott threw 5.1 innings and allowed six hits and two runs. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out five.
- Sidekick - Dave Owen (.096). Owen had two hits including a home run that followed the first Cey homer. This was the only homer of Owen’s career.
- Billy Goat - Jody Davis (-.063). Jody’s struggles continued as he lands in the bottom spot despite one hit in five at bats and a run scored.
- Goat - Ryne Sandberg (-.043). Sandberg was hitless in five at bats. He did have an RBI ground out in the sixth that made it 9-0 Cubs.
- Kid - Gary Matthews (-.033). He reached base just one time in five plate appearances and that was via a walk.
Scott Sanderson makes his first visit to the Hero podiums since May 9. July won’t be a particularly good month for Scott though. He’ll start five games, pitch 28 innings and allow 32 hits and six walks. He’ll strike out 20 but he’ll allow 13 runs (4.18 ERA). The Cubs will go 3-2 in those games and Scott will go 2-1. Scott’s numbers will look a little odd to the modern fan. His ERA stays good despite giving up a lot of hits. The reason? Scott had a 1.5 walks per nine walk rate and just a .3 home runs per nine allowed. This allowed him to minimize the damage quite a bit. I can only imagine that today we’d call him crafty, though that label only seems to ever be stuck to lefties.
Game 82, July 6 - Cubs hold on to beat Giants for fourth straight win (47-35)
- Superhero - Dave Owen (.351). Dave had a perfect day. He had his first at bat in the sixth inning, a one out single with a runner on second (.072) and he followed that with a two out, two run, bases loaded single in the seventh to put the Cubs ahead 5-3.
- Hero - Lee Smith (.344). Lee threw two scoreless innings nursing a two run lead. He allowed just two hits.
- Sidekick - Tim Stoddard (.173). Stoddard came into the game after Dennis Eckersley had allowed three straight one out hits to tie the game and then intentionally walked Duane Kuiper to load the bases. Stoddard got a double play and then threw the seventh inning allowing a run while getting credited with a win.
- Billy Goat - Dennis Eckersley (-.311). Eck pitched into the sixth inning, however he allowed nine hits and a walk and allowed three runs, all earned.
- Goat - Ryne Sandberg (-.184). Just one hit in five at bats for Ryno. But he wasn’t the only one with that line.
- Kid - Ron Cey (-.157). Ron was also one of three Cubs with one hit in five at bats (Keith Moreland was the other).
Dave Own played in parts of three seasons for the Cubs in the mid-80’s. He also got into a few games for the Royals in ‘88. He had 155 plate appearances and hit just one home run. The pitcher? Bill Laskey. He was a full time starter in 1984, one of two years in his career in which he started 31 or more games. He allowed an average of .9 home runs per nine innings, so he wasn’t particularly vulnerable. Candlestick Park wasn’t particularly known for home runs, interestingly, I remember as a park that yielded some more homers during the day, but this one was a night game. For whatever reason, the ball was carrying. The summer of ‘84 has to be one of the highlights of Owen’s career.
Game 83, July 7 - Cubs drop one to the Giants 7-2 to snap winning streak (47-36)
- Superhero - Dan Rohn (.065). It was an odd set of home runs on the road trip for the Cubs. Bob Dernier hit a rare home run in a park that didn’t yield many against a pitcher who yielded no other homers that year. Dave Owen hit his only career home run. Then it was Dan Rohn’s turn. He hit the lone homer of his career. He was pinch hitting in the eighth inning off of former Cub Mike Krukow.
- Hero - Thad Bosley (.018). Thad got a rare start in this one and had a hit and a run in four at bats.
- Sidekick - Chuck Rainey (.013). Chuck had been moved to the bullpen by this time and threw 3.1 innings of relief in this one. He allowed four hits, two walks and one run.
- Billy Goat - Rick Resuschel (-.179). The line doesn’t look all that bad. He threw 3.2 innings, allowed six hits and one earned run. He only walked one batter. But the unearned runs count two and Rick allowed two of those as well. He left with runners on first and third and two outs in the fourth with the team trailing 3-1.
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.121). The Giants kept Dernier in check and the Cubs were held down. This is not entirely a coincidence. Dernier was hitless in five at bats.
- Kid - Keith Moreland (-.116). Keith only batted four times. He too was hitless.
Dan Rohn was 28 years old in 1984. He is not the local sportscaster with a similar name (that’s Dan Roan). He had 78 plate appearances in his career. He had 18 hits and four walks in those plate appearances and actually managed six extra base hits with three doubles, two triples and this one home run. However, he only had four of those hits in 1984, finishing with a line of .129/.152/.226 in 33 plate appearances across 25 games.
Game 84. July 8 - Cubs double up Giants 6-3, win three of four (48-36)
- Superhero - Lee Smith (.160). Lee came into this one with one out in the eighth after the Giants had cut it to 5-3. He faced five batters and retired them all to nail down another save.
- Hero - Gary Woods (.151). Gary got a rare start and made the most of it was a fourth inning two run home run that made the score 5-2 Cubs. He had two hits and two RBI in four at bats.
- Sidekick - Gary Matthews (.124). Matthews was on four more times in this game, getting two hits and drawing two walks. His third inning RBI single gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead and they never relinquished it.
- Billy Goat - Larry Bowa (-.059). It was a tough day for Bowa at the plate with no hits in four at bats.
- Goat - Jody Davis (-.035). Jody actually had one hit and one RBI in his four at bats, a first inning RBI double. He lands here largely because he grounded into an inning ending double play the next time up in the third to snuff what initially looked like a promising inning with two singles and a balk producing the Cubs third run.
- Kid - Bob Dernier (-.021). You know Heroes and Goats is being a bit of a tough judge when you have two guys on the negative side who had RBI on the day in a game that wasn’t particularly high scoring. Bob had a ninth inning RBI single to provide an insurance run for the Cubs. But that was his only hit in five at bats and the Cubs already had pretty firm control of the game before that hit.
Gary Woods was 30 years old in 1984. He was originally signed by the A’s in 1973. He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1981 in exchange for future manager Jim Tracy in an exchange of two guys who didn’t distinguish themselves a great deal as players. Woods was almost exclusively used as a bench player by the Cubs, though he did start 55 games in the outfield for the 1982 Cubs. In 1984 he started only 17 games. The homer for Woods in this game isn’t quite as rare as some of the others earlier in the trip. He did hit three in 98 plate appearances that year and 13 in 1138 in his career. Woods played for the Cubs again in 1985 and after being released after the 1985 season never appeared in the major leagues again.
- Ryne Sandberg 23
- Gary Matthews 16
- Richie Hebner 14
- Bob Dernier 14
- Leon Durham 9
- Tim Stoddard 8.5
- Lee Smith 8
- Scott Sanderson 8
- Rich Bordi 7
- Thad Bosley 5
- Steve Trout 5
- Gary Woods 4
- Dan Rohn 3
- Rick Sutcliffe 2
- Dickie Noles 2
- Warren Brusstar .5
- Mel Hall 0
- Keith Moreland 0
- Ron Hassey -1
- Jay Johnstone -1
- Don Schulze -2
- Porfi Altamarino -3
- Henry Cotto -3
- Tom Veryzer -4
- Dennis Eckersley -6
- Dave Owen -6
- George Frazier -7
- Bill Buckner -9
- Dick Ruthven -9
- Rick Reuschel -10
- Chuck Rainey -10
- Larry Bowa -19
- Jody Davis -19
- Ron Cey -20
Sandberg finishes the trip exactly where he started it at 23 points. Gary Matthews moves up three positions to move back into second place with a +4 trip. Tim Stoddard was the biggest mover on the trip with 8 points. On the down side, Ron Cey has a +1 trip, but still resides in the negative 20 club and in the cellar. Jody Davis had a -12 trip and drops all of the way down to a tie for second to last with Larry Bowa who had a -3 trip. Chuck Rainey and Rick Reuschel move into the negative 10 club while Dave Owen escapes it.
Overall, this was a tremendously successful road trip. The Cubs brutal homestand in June is long forgotten as they make up for it with this trip out west where they won all three series, taking three of four in Los Angeles followed by two of three in San Diego and then three of four in San Francisco. This pushed the Cubs record to 48-36 and 12 games over .500 for the first time. Amazingly, despite that great trip, they went to the All Star break a half game out of first place. They did spend time in first place on the trip, eight days they were either tied for or in sole possession of first place, but didn’t manage to finish there.
After this trip, the Cubs got some time off for the All Star break. But next week we’ll be back with the first homestand following the break. The Cubs followed this 11 game road trip with an 11 game homestand against the same three teams. The final 11 games with the teams from California in the regular season. We’ll be back to talk about those games next week. Of course earlier in the week I will also continue my series of columns looking at the biggest WPA games of the 2017 season. I will be attending the Cubs Convention for the first time in more than 20 years with my daughter. I’ll probably also provide a brief recap on that as well.