When last we checked in the 1984 Cubs, they’d just won three consecutive series on the west coast with an overall record on the trip of 8-3. Their overall record was up to 48-36. They were in second place and half a game out of first place. With three days off for the All-Star break, the team was rested and ready to go for the second half and looking to chase history, as no Cubs team had been to the playoffs in 39 years. Let’s see how the chase goes. This week we’ll be looking at an 11-game homestand that finishes the season series with the teams from California.
Game 85, July 12 - Cubs walk it off in 10 versus Dodgers (49-36)
- Superhero - Tim Stoddard (.375). Tim continued his recent run of good outings leading up to the break with two innings of one hit, one walk, no run baseball and picked up a win for his efforts.
- Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.333). It was a two hit day for Sandberg, but he lands here because he delivered the eighth walk off hit of the season. This one was a home run leading off the bottom of the 10th (.354). He also singled and scored the first run of the game in the first inning.
- Sidekick - Steve Trout (.233). With Rick Sutcliffe starting the final game before the break, Trout gets the ball to start the second half. He gives the Cubs eight innings of nine hit, two walk, two run ball.
- Billy Goat - Ron Cey (-.116). The Penguin had just one walk to show for four plate appearances.
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.109). Bob had five at bats and just one hit to show for it. The hit was a single leading off the bottom of the eighth with the score tied at 2-2 (.063).
- Kid - Thad Bosley (-.098). Thad was increasingly used as one of the first pinch hitters as the season moved on and that’s how he was used here. He pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second and one out, but he flew out.
Ryne Sandberg was one of just two All-Stars for the Cubs. He was voted to start the game and it would start a string of 10 consecutive appearances in the mid summer game. I was a little surprised while researching that this was the only walkoff home run of Sandberg’s career. He had two inside-the-park home runs later in his career, but never had another walkoff. This one pairs nicely with the two game tying home runs a month earlier against Bruce Sutter in the ninth and tenth innings of that game. For a guy who only hit 19 home runs, two of them tied a game with his team in their last at bat and one of them won one. These were the games that surely stood out in the minds of MVP voters later in the season.
Game 86, July 13 - The Cubs jump out to an early lead and hold on to win second straight over Dodgers 7-5 (50-36)
- Superhero - Keith Moreland (.284). It was another strong day at the plate for Moreland who was back to his familiar place in right field with Leon Durham returning to the lineup following the break. Moreland had two hits in four at bats and drove in four runs. Keith had a two run single with the bases loaded in the first (.146) and a two run homer with two outs in the third (.162).
- Hero - Lee Smith (.161). Smith got two innings of work in this one and didn’t allow a hit or a walk. He recorded his 19th save (in 24 opportunities) for his effort.
- Sidekick - Rich Bordi (.143). Rich also gave the Cubs two scoreless innings, though he did allow an inherited runner to score. He allowed only a single hit. The Cubs pen combined for four scoreless innings allowing just one base runner over the final four innings in a game that had been 6-4 when Bordi came in and 6-5 after the inherited runner scored.
- Billy Goat - Rick Sutcliffe (-.187). This was not one of the Red Baron’s better days. He threw five innings plus one batter in the sixth (a double). He allowed seven hits, four walks and five runs (all earned). And he picked up his fifth win as a Cub (ninth overall). In 20 starts for the Cubs, this was one of five in which he allowed five or more runs. He also had five of them in 15 starts for the Indians prior to the trade.
- Goat - Henry Cotto (-.042). Cotto pinch hit with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh and grounded into a fielder’s choice force at third.
- Kid - Bob Dernier (-.037). Bob had one hit and one run in four at bats. The hit was a single leading off the game.
Rich Bordi did some of his best work in June and July. In those two months, he started four games and finished three. He had a 3-1 record, a save and a hold. He threw 41.1 innings and allowed 32 hits, 14 walks and 15 runs (14 earnerd). He had an ERA of 3.05 and held opponents to a line of .209/.272/.379. He was a little susceptible to the long ball, allowing seven home runs over that time period.
Game 87, July 14 - Cubs blanked by Dodgers 8-0 (50-37)
- Superhero - George Frazier (.000). This may be the lowest Superhero number I’ve seen to date. George threw two innings and allowed two hits, a walk and a run on a home run. They were the seventh and eighth innings and the Cubs were already down 5-0 when he came in.
- Hero - That Bosley (-.001). Bosley pinch hit with two outs in the eighth and lined out.
- Sidekick - Warren Brusstar (-.002). Brusstar threw the ninth and allowed two hits and two runs (one earned).
- Billy Goat - Scott Sanderson (-.175). Scott threw six innings allowing six hits, two walks and five runs. He did strike out five.
- Goat - Leon Durham (-.053). Leon was hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Jody Davis (-.047). Jody was hitless in three at bats. Orel Hershiser was the opposing pitcher on this day and he threw a complete game shut out allowing just two hits and a walk. He was in just his second big league season, but already the Cubs had seen enough of him. He faced the Cubs three times, two were starts, both were complete games. He threw 21.1 innings allowing 15 hits, five walks and four runs. He had a 1.69 ERA.
Leon was out of action from June 24 to July 12. The Cubs were 13-5 during that time. But I assure you they missed Leon. Prior to getting injured, Leon had a line of .308/.394/.527. From his return to the end of the season he hit just .250/.343/.483. That was quite a step down. One is left to wonder what might have been as he was on pace for what would have been the best season of his entire career, slightly better than his All-Star/Silver Slugger 1982 season.
Game 88, July 15 - Cubs win 4-1 to take three of four from Dodgers (51-37)
- Superhero - Dennis Eckersley (.213). Dennis gave the Cubs seven innings of five hit, no walk, one run ball and picked up his third win for the Cubs (seventh overall).
- Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.181). Ryno had a seventh inning solo home run off of Fernando Valenzuela to tie the game at one. He also had a walk in the game.
- Sidekick - Gary Matthews (.165) Matthews had a hit and a run in this one. The hit was a double following the Sandberg homer and ended up being the winning run.
- Billy Goat - Keith Moreland (-.134). It was a tough day at the plate for Keith who was hitless in four at bats and struck out three times.
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.073). The Deer was also hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Larry Bowa (-.063). Fernando Valenzuela allowed only three hits in seven innings of work and two of them were in that seventh inning as the Cubs rallied for four runs (two unearned). Until that point, he’d totally handcuffed Cubs hitters for a second straight day. Bowa was hitless in three at bats.
Dennis Eckersley allowed five runs in 2⅔ innings on June 26 for the Cubs. After that game his season record including games in Boston was 5-9 and he had a 5.23 ERA. From July 1 until the end of the season, he started 17 games for the Cubs. In those games he was 9-3 with a 2.13 ERA. He threw 118.1 innings (6.96 innings per start) and allowed 103 hits, 25 walks and 31 runs (28 earned). Dennis Eckersley in the second half was a massive part of the Cubs success. They were 12-5 in games he started.
Game 89, July 16 - Cubs shut out by Padres 4-0 (51-38)
- Superhero - Keith Moreland (-.001). Ugh. It got worse, now we have a negative superhero. The Cubs offense was stifled for a third straight game. This time by little known Mark Thurmond. Keith actually had a hit and a walk in this game. The Cubs had four hits and three walks on the day.
- Hero - Jody Davis (-.014). Davis also had a hit and a walk in this game.
- Sidekick - George Frazier (-.016). George threw the ninth inning and allowed two hits, a walk and a run. This is almost certainly the worst pitching performance I’ve seen end up on a Hero podium.
- Billy Goat - Ron Cey (-.118). Ron was hitless in four at bats. The worst WPA at bat was a seventh inning foul out to first with a runner on second and one out (-.043).
- Goat - Gary Woods (-.077). Gary got a rare start and was hitless in three at bats as he started in right field.
- Kid - Gary Matthews (-.072). Sarge was hitless in four at bats.
Jody Davis had one of those seasons that had clear splits. He hit .288/.359/.505 in the first half over 79 games including 76 starts. I can only guess he was totally worn out by the second half as in 71 games including 65 starts he hit .219/.262/.322. Jody will only make two Superhero appearances in the second half as things take a big turn for the worse offensively.
Game 90, July 17 - Cubs defeated by Padres 6-5 (51-39)
- Superhero - Keith Moreland (.138). The Cubs waste a big day at the plate from Moreland as he homers twice and drives in three runs in the loss. Moreland also played the full game at catcher.
- Hero - Dave Owen (.080). Dave gets a start at short and picks up a triple leading off the third (.099). Unfortunately, the Cubs didn’t score in the inning. It was Dave’s only hit in three at bats.
- Sidekick - George Frazier (.052). This was a strong performance for the reliever. He threw two perfect innings in the eight and the ninth to give the Cubs a chance to cut a 6-3 deficit to 6-5.
- Billy Goat - Steve Trout (-.266). Trout was knocked around pretty good. He threw 5.2 innings allowing 19 hits, two walks and six runs.
- Goat - Thad Bosley (-.142). Thad got a start in right field. He didn’t have much to show for it, going hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Bob Dernier (-.074). Dernier actually had a hit and a run scored in this one. He also stole a base. His big negative on the day was a ground ball back to the pitcher one batter after Owen’s triple. They threw Owen out at the plate (-.080).
Thad Bosley was 27 years old in 1984. His best year as a pro would come in a Cub uniform a year later when he hit .328/.391/.511 off the bench, appearing in 108 games but only making 202 plate appearances. He was originally drafted by the Angels in the fourth round of the 1974 draft. He reached the majors for the first time in 1977 with the Angels. After the season he was involved in a big deal being traded with Bobby Bonds and Richard Dotson to the White Sox for Brian Downing and two other players. He would be trade twice more and play for four different teams total before the Cubs acquired him. The Cubs too would ultimately trade him in 1987 and he retired after the 1990 season.
Game 91, July 18 - Cubs avoid sweep with 4-1 win over Padres (52-39)
- Superhero - Rick Sutcliffe (.349). This one was a masterpiece for Sutcliffe. He threw a complete game allowing six hits, one walk and one run on a seventh inning homer by Carmelo Martinez.
- Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.099). Ryno had two hits in this one. He had an RBI triple in the bottom of the first (.136) and later scored on a Leon Durham double as the Cubs jumped out to a 3-0 first inning lead. He batted four times in the game.
- Sidekick - Bob Dernier (.070). Bob also had two hits and added a sacrifice bunt in his four plate appearances. He singled in the first and scored on the Sandberg triple. He added a two out RBI single in the fourth (.050).
- Billy Goat - Gary Matthews (-.057). Matthews was hitless in three at bats.
- Goat - Ron Cey (-.039). The Penguin was hitless in three at bats as well.
- Kid - Dave Owen (-.030). Dave was also hitless on the day, but reached on a fielder’s choice and scored in the fourth.
Bob Dernier had another strong month in July. He played in 27 games, making 26 starts. He had 117 plate appearances and had a .318/.365/.411 line. He stole four bases in six tries and scored 16 runs. He had two of his five triples this month and drove in five runs. This will be the last good month at the plate for Dernier as he too was a player who tailed off as the season wore on.
Game 92, July 19 - Cubs rally in the seventh to beat Giants 6-4 (53-39)
- Superhero - Ryne Sandberg (.265). The Giants had no answer for Sandberg who had three hits and a walk in four plate appearances. He singled in the first, tripled (.170) and scored in the third, singled in the fifth, and walked in the seventh and scored.
- Hero - Gary Matthews (.243). In one of the closer top three WPA games, Matthews lands here with just one hit on the day. But that hit was a three run homer in the seventh (.351). He also had a sac fly in the third (-.011).
- Sidekick - George Frazier (.238). George replaced Scott Sanderson after four innings. He threw three innings and allowed two hits, one walk and no runs.
- Billy Goat - Scott Sanderson (-.115). Scott got knocked around again pretty good. He allowed eight hits, two walks and three runs in four innings of work.
- Goat - Larry Bowa (-.090). Mark Davis threw a complete game for the Giants despite allowing eight hits, two walks and five runs. None of those hits were by Larry Bowa who was hitless in three plate appearances.
- Kid - Jody Davis (-.062). Jody was also hitless against Mark. But he did manage to drive in a run with a third inning RBI ground out. The Cubs had two three run innings account for all of their scoring.
Gary Matthews starts to take off in July. April was one of his best months of the year, but then in May and June Gary had a line of .250/.367/.341 in 215 plate appearances. July will be a totally different story though. He will have a line of .318/.413/.459 while driving in 18 runs in 104 plate appearances. Of Gary’s 14 home runs, just six of them came with men on base and this was one of only two three run homers. This one had the second greatest WPA of the 14 (.362), nudged out by the other three run homer on April 20 that came while the Cubs were losing 2-1.
Game 93, July 20 - Cubs done in by Giants fourth inning rally 3-2 (53-40)
- Superhero - Bob Dernier (.119). Dernier had two hits and a walk. He stole a base and scored a run. The run scored was in the first after he had a lead off double.
- Hero - Tim Stoddard (.057). Tim worked a perfect eighth in a one run game.
- Sidekick - Lee Smith (.043). And Lee worked a one walk ninth to give the Cubs one more chance to tie.
- Billy Goat - Dan Rohn (-.187). Rohn started this game at third base and was hitless in three at bats. He had this much negative WPA because of a fourth inning double play grounder with runners on first and third and one out (-.152).
- Goat - Jody Davis (-.118). Davis was hitless in three at bats. He did drive in a run with a fourth inning sacrifice fly that cut the Giants lead to 3-2. His big negative was a strike out to end the game (-.051).
- Kid - Gary Matthews (-.090). Gary had a sacrifice fly in the first (.017) and later singled (.047) and scored in the fourth. He lands here because he flew out in the eighth inning with runners on first and second and two outs (-.125).
Rohn gets another start here and doesn’t do much of anything with it. One of the stark differences between the 1984 team and the 2016 team is depth. Guys like Rohn, Veryzer and Owen provided little offensively. That is a double effect because Larry Bowa produced so little at the plate and aside from RBI it was a down year for Ron Cey as well. Gary Woods, Henry Cotto, Thad Bosley and Richie Hebner did provide a little bit of offensive support for the team off the bench. But the team had no backup catcher to speak of. This lead to Jody Davis playing entirely too many games. One can only wonder if there had been more depth and guys like Davis, Bowa and Cey could have played in less games. At least two of those guys still had quite a bit of offensive value at times.
Game 94, July 21 - Cubs walk it off for ninth time to beat Giants 4-3 in 11 (54-40)
- Superhero - Thad Bosley (.505). This was tied for the seventh largest single game WPA of the season for the Cubs. Thad pinch hit in the tenth and singled (.073), later stole second with two outs (.044) but failed to score as the Cubs left the bases loaded in the tenth. He then drove in the winning run in the 11th on a two out single with a runner on second (.388).
- Hero - Dick Ruthven (.347). Ruthven had a very strong outing going seven innings allowing five hits, no walks and just one run.
- Sidekick - Rich Bordi (.146). Rich got the win after throwing a scoreless 11th inning.
- Billy Goat - Larry Bowa (-.157). Larry was hitless in five at bats. But, in this one, he had a huge contribution. After a one out Jody Davis single in the 11th, Larry reached on a fielder’s choice. He then stole second and scored on the Bosley single.
- Goat - Keith Moreland (-.148). Moreland had a hit and a sacrifice fly in five plate appearances.
- Kid - Ryne Sandberg (-.140). Ryno was hitless in five at bats. He did have an RBI ground out in the third inning following a lead off Dernier triple.
The day after I point out a lack of bench support, Thad Bosley has a pinch hit single and then stays in the game to drive in the winning run. Thad was used as a pinch hitter 30 times. He had a .261/.433/.391 line that included one home run and five RBI. For his career, he had a .283/.366/.397 line as a pinch hitter encompassing 345 plate appearances. He also had a .273/.296/.351 line as a designated hitter. He was a very useful bench player throughout most of his career.
Game 95, July 22 - Cubs lose homestand finale 11-5 to Giants to split series (54-41)
- Superhero - Ron Cey (.063). A hit and a walk were enough to land him in the top spot.
- Hero - Gary Matthews (.015). Gary had two hits and a walk in this one. His ninth inning two run homer made this game seem closer than it was.
- Sidekick - Warren Brusstar (.014). Warren recorded seven outs in this one in throwing the seventh, eighth and part of the ninth inning. He lands here despite four hits and a walk allowed and two runs in another dubious Hero podium performance on this homestand.
- Billy Goat - Steve Trout (-.192). Steve allowed seven hits, two walks and four runs in just four innings of work.
- Goat - Leon Durham (-.114). Tough break for Leon as he hits a two run homer and ends up down here. The homer made it just 6-3 Giants.
- Kid - Rick Reuschel (-.052). The Giants also had four hits and a walk against Rick. They plated two runs. So his line was almost identical to the one Brusstar had. The difference? Reuschel came into a 4-1 game and Brusstar came into a 6-1 game.
This series was a fun one to look back on. Looking through the box scores, we see Dusty Baker, Chili Davis and Bob Brenly in a group of guys that will have more than a footnote in Cubs history. And of course this last game was started by Mike Krukow who threw for the Cubs for several years at the start of his career and threw a complete game in this one despite allowing 10 hits and two walks. Three of the five runs he allowed were unearned.
- Ryne Sandberg 31
- Gary Matthews 16
- Richie Hebner 14
- Tim Stoddard 13.5
- Bob Dernier 12
- Lee Smith 11
- Rich Bordi 9
- Thad Bosley 7
- Leon Durham 5
- Keith Moreland 4
- Warren Brusstar 2.5
- Scott Sanderson 2
- Rick Sutcliffe 2
- Dickie Noles 2
- Gary Woods 2
- Steve Trout 0
- Dan Rohn 0
- Ron Hassey -1
- George Frazier -1
- Jay Johnstone -1
- Dennis Eckersley -3
- Porfi Altamarino -3
- Tom Veryzer -4
- Henry Cotto -5
- Dave Owen -5
- Dick Ruthven -7
- Bill Buckner -9
- Rick Reuschel -10
- Chuck Rainey -10
- Jody Davis -21
- Ron Cey -25
- Larry Bowa -26
Ryne Sandberg jumps out to a very large lead and becomes the first person to cross the positive 30 mark. Matthews and Hebner hold steady at second and third, but Tim Stoddard has a strong homestand to move into fourth overall and become the fifth plus 10 member. Lee Smith became the sixth. Steve Trout falls all of the way down to break even for the year with a tough homestand. At the bottom of the list, Larry Bowa moves into the “lead” with Ron Cey right behind him. Jody Davis along with Bowa become the second and third players to cross the negative 20 mark. Sandberg appears to have the top end firmly under control and there is a tight competition emerging at the bottom.
In the games themselves, the Cubs win six of 11 on the homestand. They got as high as 14 over .500 four different times. They stayed in second place throughout the homestand and actually by the time they left home, they were 2½ games out of first. Nobody ever said it would be easy.
Looking ahead, next week we’ll cover a seven game road trip to face division foes Philadelphia and New York. They’ll play three in Philly and four in the Big Apple including a double header to wrap up the road trip. That will take us almost to the end of July and past the 100 game mark.
That’s all for this week. Next week, I’ll continue my series on top WPA games of the 2017 season early in the week. And I’ll have the next installment in this series late in the week.