When last we checked in on the 1984 Cubs, they’d won nine of 11 on their homestand and had moved out to a 4½-game lead in the division. The homestand finished off with a four game sweep of the Mets, giving them seven consecutive wins over the Mets, their competition for the National League East title.
This week, we’ll take a look at the subsequent 10-game road trip. This trip will run through three cities and see the Cubs face the Expos, Astros and Reds. As the season moves into the final quarter of the season, the Cubs will be looking to cement their hold on the division as this team tries to put an end to 39 Cubs seasons without playoff baseball.
Game 114, August 9 - Cubs blanked by Expos 1-0 in 10 inning loss (68-46)
- Superhero - Dennis Eckersley (.576). This game is actually the fifth largest positive WPA of the year for the Cubs, despite the team losing. Eckersley follows up two strong outings on the previous homestand with nine shutout innings. He allowed only four hits and two walks.
- Hero - Henry Cotto (.038). This was a tough day for both offenses. Henry had one hit in four at bats in a game he played right field in. The Cubs managed only four hits on the day.
- Sidekick - Larry Bowa (.021). Larry was the only other Cub in positive territory for the day. He also had one hit in four at bats.
- Billy Goat - George Frazier (-.393). George threw the tenth inning and picked up the loss. It was a pair of future Hall of Famers who did him in. Tim Raines had a one out single in the bottom of the tenth. He stole second and third and then scored on a two out single by Andre Dawson. Interestingly, Fangraphs shows the hit as a single to second, so the stolen bases mattered.
- Goat - Ron Cey (-.139). Ron was one of four Cubs to post a hitless in four at bat days. Interestingly, Cey was batting seventh and ends up with the highest negative score.
- Kid - Keith Moreland (-.113). Moreland nudges out Jody Davis for the final spot.
This wasn’t one of the games where it showed, but August was by a wide margin the best month of the season for Ron Cey. In 30 games, 29 starts, Ron had 118 plate appearances. In those plate appearances he hit .303/.407/.636. He hit nine home runs and drove in 28 runs. The only other month he appeared in over 25 games was May, so I can only assume that he was at his healthiest in August and then Jim Frey just rolled with his hot bat.
Game 115, August 10 - Cubs bullpen loses second consecutive game 4-2 (68-47)
- Superhero - Rick Reuschel (.107). Making what would be the last of 343 career starts for the Cubs, Reuschel turned back the clock. Rick through seven innings and allowed seven hits, four walks, and two runs. He’d be even better for the Pirates the following year, but this was an effective start.
- Hero - Henry Cotto (.084). Henry got a second consecutive start in right field and finds the Hero podiums for the second consecutive day. His fourth inning double with a runner on first contributed to a two run, game tying rally.
- Sidekick - Gary Matthews (.074). Sarge lead off that fourth inning with a solo home run to get the Cubs on the board.
- Billy Goat - Tim Stoddard (-.361). Tim’s struggles continue. He threw the eighth inning and was touched for two runs in an inning of work. The big blow came off of the bat of another future Hall of Famer in Gary Carter. He allowed three hits and two runs in his inning of work.
- Goat - Ryne Sandberg (-.156). Sandberg was hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Bob Dernier (-.108). Bob had just one hit in five at bats on the day.
Ryne Sandberg was so consistently good that his August OPS of .855 was only his third-best month of the year and just .015 better than the fourth highest in July. In August, he played in 28 games, all starts. He had a line of .306/.369/.486. He had four home runs and nine RBI. He also scored 25 runs, second only to his scorching month of June when he had a 1.134 OPS and scored 27 runs. He also stole nine bases in 11 tries in August, the most stolen bases he had in any month. He stole 32 bases on the year.
Game 116, August 11 - Cubs tally a run in the ninth to win 2-1 (69-47)
- Superhero - Keith Moreland (.298). Another strong day at the plate for Moreland as he comes up with three hits. All three hits were a single, one contributed to the Cubs initial run scoring in the second inning. His final hit of the day was a ninth inning, one out RBI single (.191)
- Hero - Lee Smith (.292). Lee came into a 1-1 tie with a runner on first and one out in the eighth. He retired all five batters he faced and recorded the win.
- Sidekick - Dick Ruthven (.150). Ruthven came up with a strong start to give the Cubs a chance to avoid a three game losing streak. He did allow 11 hits and two walks, but only the one run.
- Billy Goat - Jody Davis (-.175). Jody was hitless in this one in four at bats. The Cubs offense only managed four hits in the game.
- Goat - Bob Dernier (-.111). Dernier was also hitless in his four at bats.
- Kid - Ron Cey (-.044). This is a tough one. Ron had a one out sacrifice fly in the second that gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead but he lands here anyway.
Dick Ruthven started six games for the Cubs in August. In those six games he compiled a 2-2 record (Cubs were 4-2 in the starts) and a 5.29 ERA. He threw 32.1 innings, allowed 45 hits and 13 walks. He also allowed eight home runs. Actually, with that number of hits, walks and home runs, he was fortunate not to have allowed more than the 21 runs (19 earned) that he did. Sadly, it won’t get any better in September. Dick didn’t have a ton of good starts after April. In April, Ruthven recorded 4 of his 14 total games with a game score over 40.
Game 117, August 12 - Cubs bats finally break through, Cubs win 7-3, Split series with Expos (70-47)
- Superhero - Ron Cey (.267). Ron had a two-out, two-run homer in the sixth inning that made it 5-3 Cubs. It was his only hit in four at bats.
- Hero - Keith Moreland (.166). Moreland also had one hit in four at bats. He reached on an error and scored in the first and then doubled and homered ahead of the Cey home run that ended up being decisive.
- Sidekick - Rick Sutcliffe (.139). The Red Baron went the distance in this one. He allowed eight hits and three runs. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out 12. He did allow two home runs.
- Billy Goat - Leon Durham (-.110). After a couple of days out of the starting lineup, Leon was back in there and went hitless in four at bats.
- Goat - Ryne Sandberg (-.036). Ryno had a third inning double, but didn’t score. He had only the one hit in five at bats.
- Kid - Gary Matthews (.000). On a day when the Cubs lead almost throughout, Matthews is the tough luck guy. He actually had a hit and a walk in four plate appearances. He scored once.
Rick Sutcliffe throws a complete game here. If I can back seat drive a little bit, it’s hard to see a 7-3 final and a complete game. But in trying to be fair, we dig a little deeper. First of all, something pro getting Sutcliffe out of this one earlier. Sutcliffe worked around trouble in the seventh. There was a single, a stolen base and an error, but no runs. Through seven innings, Sutcliffe had allowed seven hits, including two home runs, and three runs. However, as we dig further, this was only a 5-3 game moving to the ninth inning. The Cubs added three in the ninth, the last of which actually scored on an RBI double by Sutcliffe himself. So that decision worked out as well as could be for Frey. Not only did Sutcliffe get through the ninth with only four batters, but he helped his own cause at the plate. Still, one has to wonder if this is a spot where he could have saved a few bullets for later in the year.
Game 118, August 13 - Cubs bats stifled again in 2-1 loss to Astros (70-48)
- Superhero - Ryne Sandberg (.025). This week’s weird entry into a superhero spot. Ryno batted once, reached on an error and then left the game. That wasn’t good news as Thad Bosley, Steve Lake and Dave Owen were all in the starting lineup. Tom Veryzer replaced Sandberg and left the Cubs with a pretty inept group.
- Hero - Tom Veryzer (-.004). But give Tom credit. Obviously, the negative score looks pretty bad here, but he did have one of only four Cubs hits and scored the only run.
- Sidekick - Leon Durham (-.018). Completing the ugly looking Hero side for this game was the Cubs first baseman. He drove in the Cubs lone run in the fourth with a sacrifice fly.
- Billy Goat - Bob Dernier (-.092). Bob was hitless in four at bats.
- Goat - Thad Bosley (-.090). Bosley got the rare start, in left field and was hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Scott Sanderson (-.074). Scott actually pitched into the ninth inning and gets a complete game here. He is credited with 8.1 innings pitched, eight hits, one walk and two runs.
This road trip started a steady decline for Bob Dernier. Up until the end of the just completed homestand he had a line of .323/.400/.406. From August 9 to the end of the year, Bob appeared in 42 games, 41 starts. He had 184 plate appearances and managed only a line of .177/.254/.262. He scored only 24 runs but stole 11 bases. Despite the struggles, he had a strong post season for the Cubs including two doubles and a rare home run in 17 at bats.
Game 119, August 14 - Cubs late rally comes up short in 7-6 loss to Astros (70-49)
- Superhero - Jody Davis (.273). Jody had two hits in five at bats. He lands here in large part due to a fifth inning two out, two RBI single that gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead (.282).
- Hero - Gary Matthews (.267). Matthews reached base all five times he batted. He had a two out walk in the first, a one out single in the third after which he scored, a one out single in the fifth after which he scored, a two out RBI single in the sixth (.171) that made it 4-4, and an eighth inning two out single after which he scored.
- Sidekick - Ron Cey (.194). Ron had a hit, two walks and a hit by pitch in five at bats. He didn’t score any runs or drive any in though.
- Billy Goat - Steve Trout (-.415). Steve threw five innings, allowed nine hits, one walk and four runs. Twice the Cubs took early leads (1-0 and 3-2) and twice Trout gave it right back.
- Goat - Gary Woods (-.291). Gary was used as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning with the Cubs down 5-4. He came up with one out and the bases loaded and grounded into a double play.
- Kid - Tom Veryzer (-.194). It is easy to wonder what might have been on this one. After leaving early one day earlier, Ryne Sandberg missed this game too. Veryzer played second and batted second. He batted six times, the first five of which proceeded times when Gary Matthews reached base, and was retired six times including making the final out of the game with the tying run on first.
We last looked at Gary Woods back on July 8. Since that time, Gary has appeared in 15 games, including this one, but started only three. He’s had 19 plate appearances and managed a line of .063/.158/.063. Gary wasn’t making much impact off of the bench or in his spot starts. It doesn’t get any better as the season progresses and Woods didn’t really provide much impact at all to the 1984 Cubs.
Game 120, August 15 - Cubs swept by Astros in 6-2 loss (70-50)
- Superhero - Gary Matthews (.144). Gary followed up a day in which he reached five times with just one hit in four at bats. But it was good enough to land here. Gary reached on an error and scored in the first and then had a single with no outs and a runner on first in the eighth (.135). The Cubs were only trailing 3-2 at that point.
- Hero - Tom Veryzer (.080). Getting another start at second base, Tom reached base just one time in three plate appearances, but the one time was a walk in the eighth inning leading off and gave the Cubs a glimmer of hope (.090).
- Sidekick - Ron Cey (.029). Cey drove in the two Cubs runs with his only hit, a two out, bases loaded single in the first (.185) that gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
- Billy Goat - Dennis Eckersley (-.256). Dennis went the distance allowing 10 hits and six runs (four earned) while walking three. A little more back seat driving, I wonder if Eck should have been allowed to go back out for the eighth, two hits, an intentional walk and two errors (one by Eckersley) allowed the fifth and sixth Astros runs to score.
- Goat - Keith Moreland (-.197). A tough day at the plate for Moreland as he goes hitless in four at bats.
- Kid - Gary Woods (-.063). Gary got a start in right field with Moreland at first. He did get one hit in four at bats.
Tom Veryzer had a three hit game on May 16. That was his shining day in 1984. He had three hits in four at bats that day. Excluding that game, he had 11 hits in 70 at bats (.157). The Cubs bench provided next to no support for them in 1984.
Game 121, August 17 - Cubs lose fourth straight 6-4 to the Reds (70-51)
- Superhero - Leon Durham (.275). Leon had an up and down day. He grounded into a double play to end the first (-.045). But then he had a three run homer with two outs in the third to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead (.300). He also had a walk.
- Hero - Gary Matthews (.057). Sarge reached three more times in this one, in four plate appearances. He drove in a run with an RBI single in the first and scored on the Durham home run.
- Sidekick - Ron Cey (.049). Cey reached twice in four at bats with a single and a walk. This is the fourth consecutive podium visit on the positive side for Ron, digging himself out of the basement a bit.
- Billy Goat - Dick Ruthven (-.283). Dick threw six innings, allowed nine hits, a walk and five earned runs.
- Goat - Jody Davis (-.146). Jody had just one walk in four plate appearances.
- Kid - Keith Moreland (-.114). Keith failed to reach base in his four plate appearances.
Leon Durham had a bounce back month in August after a down July. He played in 27 games in August, 23 of them starts. He had 98 plate appearances and a line of .272/.388/.580. He had six of his 23 home runs and drove in 18 runs in the month. A healthy Leon Durham was a big plus for the Cubs lineup.
Game 122, August 18 - Cubs get back on track in a wild 13-11 win over the Reds (71-51)
- Superhero - Lee Smith (.166). Just about the worst line you’ll ever see from a relief pitcher ending up on a podium. He three three innings, allowed seven hits, a walk and four runs (three earned). When Lee came into this game, the Cubs were leading 9-6, there were runners on first and third and no outs. He immediately got a double play grounder that scored a run to make it 9-7. He then allowed two runs in each the eighth and ninth inning.
- Hero - Leon Durham (.151). Leon had two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. He had a two run single with the bases loaded and no outs in the first (.094) to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. He also had an RBI double with two outs in the sixth to give the Cubs a 9-5 lead.
- Sidekick - Ron Cey (.094). Cey reaches yet another positive podium with three hits in five at bats. Cey reached on an error with runners on second and third and no outs in the first (.039), had an RBI single with runners on first and second and one out in the the second (.014) to make it 8-1 Cubs, he doubled in the fifth (.022), and he capped the Cubs scoring with a two run homer with two outs in the eighth (.013) to give the Cubs a 13-7 lead.
- Billy Goat - Tim Stoddard (-.185). Tim threw a perfect sixth inning in this one with the Cubs leading by four. He went back out for the seventh and issued two walks and then allowed a single before leaving. He was credited with two runs allowed.
- Goat - Rick Sutcliffe (-.059). Rick was given a 7-0 lead before he ever threw a pitch. He ended up throwing five innings allowing eight hits, five walks and five runs. It doesn’t appear the large lead worked to his advantage.
- Kid - Jody Davis (-.018). On a day when the Cubs posted 15 hits and 3 walks, Jody was hitless in five at bats. He did drive in a run and score another one. He reached on a fielder’s choice in the first that scored a run and later came around to score on a single by Rick Sutcliffe.
Lee Smith had an odd line for a reliever in August. He was 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 11 appearances. He finished 10 of the 11 outings. He threw 16.1 innings, allowed 18 hits and six runs (five earned). He walked three and struck out nine. He had just four saves. Despite the lowest K/BB of his season, he did record his second best WHIP of the season at 1.286 (he had a .818 in July).
Game 123, August 19 - Cubs beat Reds 9-6 to win two of three (72-51)
- Superhero - Thad Bosley (.330). Thad pinch hit in the fifth with two outs and runners on first and second and delivered a three run homer.
- Hero - George Frazier (.251). George threw five innings of scoreless relief to close this game out. He allowed only four hits and no walks.
- Sidekick - Keith Moreland (.214). Keith had three hits in five at bats. He got the scoring started with an RBI single with two outs and runners on first and second in the first (.099) and then scored on a Ron Cey three run homer. He added a single in the third and then added an RBI single in the fifth with no outs and runners on first and second (.122).
- Billy Goat - Scott Sanderson (-.398). Very much like Sutcliffe the day before, Scott had a 4-0 lead before he took the mound. He pitched 3.2 innings, allowing seven hits, a walk and six runs. He left with the Cubs losing 5-4 and then Warren Brusstar allowed an inherited runner to score to make it 6-4.
- Goat - Warren Brusstar (-.082). Warren actually faced only one batter who had an RBI single. The hit was by Pete Rose, but he was thrown out trying to advance to second.
- Kid - Larry Bowa (-.018). Larry reached once in four at bats, via a walk. He did end up scoring.
Thad Bosley appeared in his first game as a Cub on June 25. By August 6, he had a line of .176/.300/.235. On August 7, he started the second game of the double header against the Mets. He had three hits in three at bats plus a walk. He followed that up with a two hits in four at bats game against the Mets the next day. From August 6 to the end of the year, Thad appeared in 33 games, starting 11. He had two doubles, a triple, and two homers and he drove in 12 runs. Over those games in 72 plate appearances, he had a line of .359/.417/.516. Thad was one guy providing quite a bit of production off of the Cubs bench in the summer of 1984.
- Ryne Sandberg 32
- Gary Matthews 24
- Lee Smith 21
- Richie Hebner 14
- Rich Bordi 12
- Leon Durham 11
- Thad Bosley 6
- Keith Moreland 6
- George Frazier 5
- Scott Sanderson 4
- Tim Stoddard 3.5
- Dennis Eckersley 3
- Henry Cotto 3
- Dickie Noles 2
- Jay Johnstone 2
- Warren Brusstar .5
- Mel Hall 0
- Dan Rohn -1
- Ron Hassey -1
- Tom Veryzer -1
- Bob Dernier -2
- Steve Trout -2
- Rick Sutcliffe -2
- Don Schultze -2
- Gary Woods -3
- Porfi Altamarino -3
- Rick Reuschel -6
- Dick Ruthven -8
- Bill Buckner -9
- Chuck Rainey -10
- Dave Owen -12
- Ron Cey -22
- Jody Davis -32
- Larry Bowa -33
Gary Matthews had the strongest trip for the Cubs at +7, and he moves within eight of Ryne Sandberg’s lead. The second largest trip goes to Lee Smith at +5 and he moves past the +20 mark for the first time and remains in third. Leon Durham’s +3 trip moves him over the +10 mark and gives the Cubs six players above that level.
Tim Stoddard and Bob Dernier had the biggest drops at -6 for the trip. Tim falls out of the top 10 on the year and Bob falls all of the way into negative territory. Steve Trout also falls into negative territory. Ron Cey had a +4 week and creates some space between himself and the bottom two. Those two are Larry Bowa (-33) and Jody Davis (-32), now separated by only one at the bottom.
After a road trip that saw them drop six of 10, the Cubs will come home for nine games against the Astros, Braves and Reds in the homestand that we’ll cover next week. Fortunately for the Cubs, despite the difficult trip, they return home with a three game lead on the division and 39 games to play. The Cubs will be looking to bounce back from the tough trip and play the way they did on the previous homestand when they won nine of 11. One more strong homestand would put the team in complete control of the division with 30 games following the homestand.
Come back next week to see how things go.