When last we checked in on our 1984 Cubs, they had a mediocre homestand, winning six of 11 against N.L. West foes from California. They remained in second place, 2½ games out of first. 14 games over .500 was acting as a bit of a ceiling as they reached that mark on four separate occasions, each time losing at least one game afterwards. This week, the team heads east to play the Phillies for three and the Mets for four.
Game 96, July 23 - Cubs beat Phillies 3-2 to once again climb 14 over (55-41)
- Superhero - Ron Cey (.339). 1984 wasn’t a stellar year at the plate for Ron, but we’ve talked often that despite his struggles at the plate, he did drive in 97 runs and performed well with men in scoring position. He wins the game here with a sixth inning, two out, three run homer (.427). It was his only hit in four at bats.
- Hero - Rick Sutcliffe (.298). The Red Baron gets the job done in this one. He worked eight innings allowing six hits, four walks and two runs. But he picks up the win, his seventh as a Cub to move him to 7-1 as a Cub.
- Sidekick - Lee Smith (.200). He came into a 3-2 game and retired the Phillies in order for his 21st save in 27 attempts.
- Billy Goat - Keith Moreland (-.084). Keith did have a hit, an eighth inning two out single (.012), but he was hitless in his other three plate appearances to end up here. He did end up scoring on the Cey home run in the sixth after grounding into a fielder’s choice with one out and a man on first (-.046).
- Goat - Leon Durham (-.068). Bull was kept penned up in this one. He was hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Bob Dernier (-.062). Bob had just one walk to show for his four plate appearances.
Ron Cey struggled mightily in the first four months of the year. July was rock bottom from a batting average and on base at .179 and .268 respectively. Thanks to four home runs and two doubles (after two home runs and no doubles in June) he had a .345 slugging percentage that was up a bit from June. But this was his second consecutive visit to the Superhero podium. From these two games until the end of the year, Penguin will hit .272/.359/.512 and will become a much bigger presence in the lineup. He will hit 13 home runs and drive in 48 over 251 plate appearances from July 22 to the end of the season.
Game 97, July 24 - Cubs drop close one to Phillies 3-2 (55-42)
- Superhero - Gary Matthews (.257). It was a strong day at the plate for Matthews as he collects three hits in four at bats. Included were a one out double in the first (.083), a two out double in the third (.025) and an RBI single with no outs in the fifth (.137).
- Hero - Henry Cotto (.082). Henry pinch hit in the ninth and drew a one-out walk, but advanced no further with the potential tying run as Phillies reliever Al Holland closed the door.
- Sidekick - Scott Sanderson (.031). Sanderson threw five innings allowing seven hits, one walk and two runs. He left a tie ballgame though.
- Billy Goat - Jody Davis (-.240). Jody was hitless in four at bats. The biggest negative was a fifth inning grounder to third with a runner on third on which Gary Matthews was thrown out trying to score (-.101).
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.151). Bob actually had two hits in five at bats. He struck out for the second out in the ninth with a runner on first (-.092) and was also caught stealing after one of his hits. He did score a run in the first after singling to start the game.
- Kid - Leon Durham (-.090). The woes continue on a day in which he had one hit in four at bats.
This is the third consecutive game for Leon Durham on the negative side of the ledger and overall this is the sixth consecutive time that when Leon appeared it was on the negative side. His last Hero side appearance was on the Hero podium June 16, more than a month earlier. He did lose time to an injury and there was an All-Star break, but looking at the numbers, from June 17 to July 24 Leon played in 17 games, had 74 plate appearances and had a .215/.311/.323 line. It is a small sample size, but that’s quite a drop for a guy who prior to that was hitting .324/.407/.563.
Game 98, July 25 - Cubs pound Phillies 9-4 to win series and move back to 14 over (56-42)
- Superhero - Leon Durham (.268). Leon ends his drought in a big way. He hits a first inning two run homer (.176) and a fifth inning RBI double (.081). He also walked and scored in the third.
- Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.107). It was three hits and walk in five plate appearances for Sandberg. He scored three times and drove in two with a sixth inning triple that made it 8-2 Cubs.
- Sidekick - Keith Moreland (.106). Zonk had three hits in five at bats as well. He drove in one with a third inning double.
- Billy Goat - Jody Davis (-.066). Always frustrating when your teammates put together 15 hits and nine runs and you go hitless in five at bats.
- Goat - Dave Owen (-.036). Dave got a start at short and was also hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Bob Dernier (-.066). Bob did get two hits in five at bats for the second straight day, but once again ends up on the wrong side of the ledger. The problem for Bob was that the two hits in this one did account for much positive WPA. The first was a sixth inning RBI single (.032). He ended up scoring later on Sandberg’s triple. The other was a triple of his own with two outs in the eighth, but it was already 9-2 (.000).
This game marked the 39th consecutive start for Moreland. During the stretch, he started games in right, at third, at first and at catcher. Still his numbers to this point in July were .256/.289/.449, not massively down from his line heading into July (.267/.338/.417). He’ll continue the streak through the end of this trip, including playing both ends of a double header start to finish to end the trip. He won’t finally get a partial day off until the 44th consecutive game, during which he’ll pinch hit and finish the game in right. He won’t see a full day off until after playing 68 consecutive games. His numbers won’t suffer a bit and will in fact pick up as the season wears on. He also hit quite well in the playoffs, so the increased playing time worked out fantastically for him.
Game 99, July 27 - Cubs stopped by Dwight Gooden and the Mets 2-1 (56-43)
- Superhero - Gary Matthews (.173). Sarge was on base all four times against Gooden with an RBI single in the first (.058) and three walks. He also stole a base.
- Hero - Tim Stoddard (.069). Tim bounced back from a loss a few days earlier and came in after Dick Ruthven had allowed a go ahead RBI single with one out in the seventh. In something you don’t see often, the last two outs of the seventh inning were both recorded via caught stealing. Tim had a rough eighth allowing a single and two walks (one intentional) but got out of it without any damage to give the team a chance.
- Sidekick - Ryne Sandberg (.033). Sandberg had just one hit in four at bats. He didn’t figure into any of the scoring. The Cubs were only able to come up with four hits in this one, though they did draw seven walks.
- Billy Goat - Leon Durham (-.338). Leon was hitless in four at bats. He struck out with a runner on first in the first (-.024), grounded out with a runner on second and one out in the third (-.034), flew into a double play in the fifth with no outs and runners on first and third (-.206), and grounded out with two outs and runners on first and second in the seventh (-.074). One tough day.
- Goat - Keith Moreland (-.160). Durham wasn’t alone in his struggles against Doc Gooden. Moreland was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice.
- Kid - Jody Davis (-.120). Jody was also hitless in four at bats, he had three strike outs as Gooden struck out 8 Cubs on the day.
Dick Ruthven doesn’t make it to a podium, but he pitched very effectively in this one. He pitched 6⅓ innings and allowed seven hits and three walks. He struck out four and allowed only two runs. But he takes the loss for his trouble. Dick made just three starts for the Cubs in July, but pitched very effectively despite an 0-2 record. He threw 21⅓ innings allowing 18 hits and five walks. He allowed six runs (all earned) and struck out 10 hitters. This was by a wide stretch his best month of the season. He only made three starts with more than five days’ rest, but had his best ERA in those situations at 4.15.
Game 100, July 28 - Cubs explode late for an 11-4 victory over the Mets to reach 14 over (57-43)
- Superhero - Leon Durham (.266). Leon lead a balanced Cubs attack as he was one of four Cubs with two hits and one of three who were on base three times. Leon had two hits and a walk. He had an RBI triple in the fourth (.182) to start the scoring for the Cubs off of Ron Darling. He scored a batter later. He added an RBI single to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth (.081) and scored later in the inning.
- Hero - Gary Matthews (.147). Gary had two hits and a walk in four plate appearances. Gary had a single in the eighth inning in what turned out to be an eight run rally. He was the second batter and singled after a Ryne Sandberg walk. Henry Cotto pinch ran for Gary and ended up having a two run single later in the inning.
- Sidekick - Ryne Sandberg (.146). Sandberg had two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. He drove in three and scored two. He had a fifth inning RBI double (.089) and a two run double in the eighth (.022). He also walked earlier in the inning and scored both times he reached base in the inning.
- Billy Goat - Rick Sutcliffe (-.159). Rick didn’t pitch all that badly, throwing 6.1 innings and allowing four hits and three runs (two earned). He struck out five and walked two. The Cubs offense broke out late to make Lee Smith a winner after getting a double play to get out of a Sutcliffe first and second one out jam in the seventh.
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.035). Dernier had one hit in five at bats. He scored a run in the eighth after reaching on a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning.
- Kid - Larry Bowa (-.033). Larry had one hit in three at bats before leaving for a pinch hitter in the wild eighth inning.
It was of course the Mets the Cubs were dueling for the division lead and so this was a big win for them. Gooden shut down the Cubs in the first game and that allowed the Mets to move to 22 games over .500 and a 4½-game lead over the Cubs. That would be the largest lead of the season for the Mets. July 28th in an odd eighth inning, the season turned. The Cubs scored the first two runs in this one by way of a Gary Matthews walk, a Leon Durham triple and a Keith Moreland sac fly. Sandberg added an RBI double in the fifth and it was 3-0. Meanwhile, Sutcliffe didn’t allow a hit through four. In the fifth a single and a pair of doubles cut the lead to 3-2. In the seventh, a one out single and a dropped fly ball to center resulted in a tie ball game.
Maybe hyperbole, maybe not, one of the most important innings of the year went like this. Walk, wild pitch, single, single, error on sac bunt all runners safe, balk, intentional walk, single, intentional walk, strike out (Lee Smith), fielder’s choice out at home, double, single, ground out. Eight runs on just five hits. If the Cubs lose this game, the Mets move to a 5½-game lead. The Cubs go on to win and including this game, win 39 of their last 63 games (.619 winning percentage). Meanwhile, the Mets lose and finish the season wining 31 and losing 35 (.469 winning percentage after, .615 before).
Game 101, July 29 - Cubs shut out Mets 3-0 to finally reach 15 over in their eighth try (58-43)
- Superhero - Steve Trout (.537). This game ranks as the sixth-largest WPA game of the season for the Cubs. Trout carried the Cubs momentum into and through this game throwing a complete game shut out. He allowed seven hits and no walks while striking out six.
- Hero - Leon Durham (.105). Leon was finally starting to find a bit of a groove with his third appearance on the Hero side in four games. Always batting in the middle of the order and often batting fourth, Durham was important to the Cubs. This was the sixth game of the road trip and Leon was on a podium in all six. In this one, Leon had two hits and drew a walk in four plate appearances.
- Sidekick - Jody Davis (.103). Jody had a hit and an RBI in this one. They both came in the fifth inning when he singled with runners on first and second and no outs (.160) to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
- Billy Goat - Ryne Sandberg (-.078). Sandberg appears down here for the first time since June 11. He had one hit in four at bats.
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.054). Bob had one walk in four plate appearances. All five appearances in this column are on the negative side for Bob.
- Kid - Gary Matthews (-.048). Gary did have one hit in four plate appearances. The Cubs pull off a tough feat of winning when their top three hitters combined for two hits and one walk in 12 plate appearances and end up sweeping the Goat podiums.
Steve Trout records his highest game score of the season at 79. He also records his 10th win. He allowed seven hits, but 15 ground balls in the game avoided trouble and produced two double plays. Steve also had a caught stealing behind him in this game and he only ended up facing 31 batters in completing the game.
Game 102, July 29 - Cubs sweep double header with 5-1 win; take 3 of 4 in series and 5 of 7 on trip (59-43)
- Superhero - Scott Sanderson (.253). Scott picked up where Trout left off and threw 7⅔ innings allowing five hits, one walk and one run. The Cubs bullpen didn’t appear in this double header until the eighth inning of the second game.
- Hero - Jody Davis (.184). Jody had two hits in this one in four at bats. One of those two hits was a fourth inning one out, three run homer (.161) that made it 4-0 Cubs.
- Sidekick - Ryne Sandberg (.127). Ryno added two more hits including a sixth inning home run to make it 5-0 (.032). He scored twice.
- Billy Goat - Keith Moreland (-.088). Moreland had a tough day going hitless in four at bats.
- Goat - Thad Bosley (-.061). Thad picked up a rare start in left and was also hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Dan Rohn (-.031). Another tough day for Rohn as he goes hitless in four at bats, picking up a start at third.
Scott Sanderson picked up the Superhero here, following the Steve Trout Superhero performance in the game before. For Trout, there are some interesting statistics in the world of Heroes and Goats. This is his seventh Superhero of the season. This is also the sixth (technically seventh because one was three straight) time the Cubs had back to back starting Superhero performances. Trout was the part of every one of them. (April 13/14 Trout/Ruthven, April 18/19 Sanderson/Trout, May 23/24 Rainey/Trout, May 29/30 Bordi/Trout, June 8/9/10 Trout/Bordi/Rainey and this one July 29/29 Trout/Sanderson). He may not have been the star of it, but Steve Trout anchored that ‘84 staff start to finish.
- Ryne Sandberg 33
- Gary Matthews 23
- Tim Stoddard 15.5
- Richie Hebner 14
- Lee Smith 12
- Rich Bordi 9
- Leon Durham 7
- Scott Sanderson 6
- Thad Bosley 5
- Bob Dernier 4
- Steve Trout 3
- Warren Brusstar 2.5
- Dickie Noles 2
- Gary Woods 2
- Rick Sutcliffe 1
- Mel Hall 0
- Dan Rohn -1
- Ron Hassey -1
- George Frazier -1
- Jay Johnstone -1
- Don Schulze -2
- Keith Moreland -3
- Dennis Eckersley -3
- Porfi Altamarino -3
- Henry Cotto -3
- Tom Veryzer -4
- Dave Owen -7
- Dick Ruthven -7
- Bill Buckner -9
- Rick Reuschel -10
- Chuck Rainey -10
- Ron Cey -22
- Jody Davis -25
- Larry Bowa -27
Sandberg adds to his total at the top, but a +7 trip for Gary Matthews moves him not only into the +20 club, but also within 10 of the lead. Tim Stoddard moves into third. Bob Dernier falls out of the +10 club leaving only five Cubs in positive double digits. Steve Trout moves back into positive territory. and Dan Rohn moves back into negative territory ever so slightly. The five double-digit negative Cubs all remain there, though Ron Cey has a +3 trip to move up a spot. Davis has a -4 week to drop into second to last. The two largest negative movers were Bob Dernier -8 and Keith Moreland -7.
As noted above, the Cubs won five of seven on the trip. Taking three of four from the Mets who they were chasing was pivotal. Mired in a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning on the road, with the largest deficit in the division of the year, facing the team you are trailing in the division, the Cubs reeled off eight runs. Over the last 20 innings of the series, the Cubs outscored the Mets 16-1 and won three games as a result. They shaved the division lead to 1½ games and with two games remaining in July, the tides turned in the division.
Next week, we’ll look at the following homestand. It was a three-team, 11-game homestand. The Phillies will be in for three, followed by the Expos for four and a Mets team looking for revenge for four to close it out. We’ll see if the Cubs carried the momentum through the homestand. The three previous homestands resulted in a total record of 13-13, as the road had been where the Cubs were doing their damage. The two roadtrips between those two homestands resulted in a 13-5 total record. Winning on the road is crucial to winning divisions, but you always want to create that dominant home atmosphere.