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Cubs Heroes and Goats, 1984 edition: Games 144-152

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The second to last homestand of the year as the Cubs move towards an NL East title.

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When last we checked in on the 1984 Cubs, they were winning seven of 11 on a four-city road trip. That pushed their lead in the division to six games and now there are 19 to play. Today we’ll look at the following homestand. Four teams will come in for a total of nine games.

Game 144, September 10 - Cubs come from behind to beat Phillies 3-2 (87-57)

  • Superhero - Lee Smith (.298). Smith picks up the two inning save allowing just one hit and a stolen base. This is save number 31 for Lee.
  • Hero - Bob Dernier (.161). Dernier reached base three times in four at bats, all on walks. Included in his day was a seventh inning walk with the bases loaded that cut the Cubs deficit to 2-1.
  • Sidekick - Gary Woods (.106). Gary had a one out single with runners on first and second in the seventh inning and eventually came around to score the winning run.
  • Billy Goat -Ron Cey (-.176). Not only was Ron hitless in four at bats, he grounded into an inning ending double play in the fourth (-.105)
  • Goat - Keith Moreland (-.085). Zonk was also hitless in four at bats.
  • Kid - Billy Hatcher (-.049). Hatcher was used as a pinch hitter in the seventh innning and grounded out. This was his first major league at bat.

Lee Smith pitched in 13 games in September, finishing 11 of them. He threw 18 innings and compiled an 0-2 record and seven saves, tying July as the month with the highest total. He allowed 21 hits and six walks. He struck out 18. He allowed nine runs, all earned. For the season, Lee threw in 69 games, finishing 59 of them. He pitched 101 innings and had a 9-7 record and 33 saves. He allowed 98 hits and 35 walks. He struck out 86 and allowed 42 runs, 41 earned.

Game 145, September 11 - Cubs lose to Phillies 6-3 and split two game set (87-58)

  • Superhero - Ron Hassey (.279). Hassey had a two out RBI single in the eighth to tie the game at 2-2.
  • Hero - Dennis Eckersley (.203). Dennis threw eight innings allowing five hits and no walks. He struck out nine and allowed two runs.
  • Sidekick - Ryne Sandberg (.168). Ryno had just one hit in four at bats, but it was a go ahead RBI single in the eighth (.265) and gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
  • Billy Goat - Lee Smith (-.781). In the biggest negative WPA game of the season for the 1984 Cubs, Lee came into a 3-2 game for the ninth inning. He allowed three hits, two walks and four earned runs in one inning of work.
  • Goat - Keith Moreland (-.151). Keith was hitless in four at bats on the day.
  • Kid - Gary Matthews (-.103). As was the Sarge.

Keith Moreland finally cooled off in September. He played in 25 games, starting them all. He had 103 plate appearances with a line of .232/.262/.293. He had just one home run and six RBI. For the full season, Keith played in 140 games, starting 119 of them. He had 539 plate appearances with a line of .279/.326/.422. He hit 16 home runs and drove in 80 runs. His versatility and productivity were a huge part of the Cubs second half push and he was one of the more productive Cubs hitters from June until the end of August.

Game 146, September 12 - Cubs pound Expos 11-5, rain out next day makes this a one game series (88-58)

  • Superhero - Jody Davis (.195). Jody had a big day at the plate with three hits in five at bats. He scored two runs.
  • Hero - Ron Cey (.173). The Penguin had an even bigger day with three hits and a walk in four plate appearances. He also scored two runs and drove in another one.
  • Sidekick - Bob Dernier (.140). Dernier had just one hit and one walk in his five plate appearances. His single in the sixth inning with one out gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
  • Billy Goat - George Frazier (-.152). George was handed a 6-2 lead in the seventh. He was looking good after retiring the first two hitters, but Tim Raines tripled and then after a walk Andre Dawson hit a three run homer.
  • Goat - Billy Hatcher (-.079). Billy got a chance to pinch hit with runners on second and third and two outs in the fourth. He grounded out.
  • Kid - Keith Moreland (-.060). On a day when the Cubs offense had 13 hits, seven walks and 11 runs. Keith had one hit in five at bats.

Jody Davis had five three-hit games and one four-hit game in 1984, but this was the only one after the All-Star game. In September he appeared in 24 games, starting 23 of them. He had 89 plate appearances with a line of .247/.295/.321. He hit one home run and drove in 10 runs. For the season, Jody appeared in 150 games, starting 141 of them. He had 579 plate appearances with a line of .256/.315/.421. He hit 19 home runs and drove in 94 runs. A very strong season at the plate, even if Heroes and Goats didn’t love it.

Game 147, September 14 - Cubs maul Mets 7-1 (89-58)

  • Superhero - Rick Sutcliffe (.361). The Red Baron goes the distance in this one. He allows eight hits and no walks. He strikes out six and allows one run. This is his 19th win of the season.
  • Hero - Bob Dernier (.172). Bob has a three hit game including a third inning RBI double (.146) that gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
  • Sidekick - Jody Davis (.036). Davis had just one hit in four at bats, but it was a big one, a grand slam with two outs in the sixth (.078).
  • Billy Goat - Gary Matthews (-.063). Sarge did have one hit in four at bats, but it didn’t come until the Cubs were winning 7-0.
  • Goat - Leon Durham (-.039). Leon reached one time in four plate appearances, by way of a walk. He scored one run.
  • Kid - Ron Cey (-.016). Cey had a hit and a walk in his four plate appearances. He scored one run.

Ron gets a little bit of tough luck here as he ends up on a negative podium more or less because someone had to, as only four Cubs end up with negative WPA scores. Cey appeared in 25 games in September, starting them all. He had 96 plate appearances and a line of .256/.323/.395. He had two home runs and drove in 13 runs. For the full season, Ron played in 146 games, starting 142 of them. He had 580 plate appearances and a line of .240/.324/.442. He had 25 home runs and 97 RBI.

Game 148, September 15 - Cubs hold on to beat Mets 5-4 (90-58)

  • Superhero - Scott Sanderson (.204). Scott pitched 7.1 innings and allowed three hits, two walks and allowed three runs. He picks up his eighth win.
  • Hero - Ron Cey (.152). Once again the Penguin has a hit and a walk in four plate appearances. But today that puts him on the Hero side of things. He had a two run double in the first inning (.135) and later scored on a wild pitch (.051) as the Cubs jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first.
  • Sidekick - Bob Dernier (.134). Dernier had two hits and a walk in four plate appearances. He had a double, a stolen base, a run scored and an RBI as he found quite a number of ways to contribute.
  • Billy Goat - Keith Moreland (-.055). Once again, there wasn’t a lot of negative so someone drew the short straw. Keith had one hit in four at bats.
  • Goat - Jody Davis (-.033). Davis had one walk in four plate appearances.
  • Kid - Leon Durham (-.028). Bull had one hit in three at bats.

The first two games of this series effectively ended the National League East race. Even if the Mets had been hoping for a miracle with visions of some kind of repeat of 1969, this snuffed those hopes. With these two losses, the Cubs extend the division lead to 9½ games with only 14 games left on the calendar and no head to head games remaining. After one more game against the Mets, the Cubs would close out with 12 games against the Cardinals and Pirates. Though both teams did finish over .500 that year, neither was likely to sweep the Cubs and that would be more or less what the Mets needed, the Cubs to lose every single game the rest of the way.

Game 149, September 16 - Cubs tripled up by Mets 9-3 (90-59)

  • Superhero - Leon Durham (.182). Bull had a three-hit game. Included was a two-run single in the third inning with two outs (.195) to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. He also added an RBI double with two outs in the ninth to cut it to 9-3.
  • Hero - Thad Bosley (.045). Thad had two hits and a walk in five plate appearances.
  • Sidekick - Ron Cey (.020). Cey had two walks in four plate appearances.
  • Billy Goat - Steve Trout (-.306). Steve got hammered for 10 hits and six runs in 5.1 innings. On the plus side, he didn’t walk anybody.
  • Goat - Keith Moreland (-.117). Moreland was hitless in five at bats with three strikeouts.
  • Kid - Ryne Sandberg (-.092). Ryno had a walk in four plate appearances.

Bill Johnson pitched in this game for the Cubs. He was a 23 year old. He had pitched in 10 games in 1983 for the Cubs. In 1984 he pitched 5⅓ innings allowing four hits, a walk and one run. He never pitched in the major leagues after 1984. He pitched two more games for the AAA Cubs and then four for the Athletics’ A level squad in 1986 and then has no more statistics after that. Johnson passed away, young at age 57, a little more than a month ago (January 18).

Game 150, September 18 - Cubs defeated by Pirates 6-2 (90-60)

  • Superhero - Ron Cey (.117). On a day when the Cubs only mustered five hits and four walks, one hit in four at bats lands here. The single was relatively meaningless, a one out single in the fourth inning (.033). But in the sixth inning he batted with two outs and a runner on third and reached on an error (.112).
  • Hero - Gary Matthews (.055). Gary had two walks in four plate appearances. He walked (.041), stole second (.020) and scored in that sixth inning when the Cubs cut their deficit at the time to 3-2.
  • Sidekick - Dan Rohn (.054). With the score still 3-2 in the seventh, Rohn drew a one out pinch hit walk.
  • Billy Goat - George Frazier (-.209). George’’s backslide continues. He started the eighth inning for the Cubs with them trailing 3-2. He walked the first batter he faced and then one out later he allowed a single and a triple. He intentionally walked a batter before leaving the game. The next hitter had a sacrifice fly and Frazier was tagged for three runs while only recording two outs.
  • Goat - Keith Moreland (-.162). Zonk also continues to backslide. He was hitless in four at bats and struck out once. The biggest at bat for Keith was the eighth inning when he batted after Matthews had reached on an error. Keith grounded into a double play (-.058).
  • Kid - Ryne Sandberg (-.140). Sandberg had one hit in four at bats. The big at bat for Ryne was a pop our with runners on first and third and no outs in the seventh.

Ryne Sandberg was always known for slow starts to his season, but in 1984 his worst month was actually September. He played in 25 games, all starts and had 107 plate appearances. He had a line of .250/.308/.385. He had one home run and 11 RBI. He stole six bases in seven tries and scored 24 runs (his second lowest monthly total of the year). For the season, he played in 156 games, all starts. He had 700 plate appearances and a line of .314/.367/.520. He had 19 triples and 19 home runs and stole 32 bases in 39 tries. He drove in 84 runs and scored 114. He led the National League in runs and all of baseball in triples.

Game 151, September 19 - Cubs fall to the Pirates 11-6 (90-61)

  • Superhero - Leon Durham (.222). Leon had only three plate appearances in this one but reached base twice. The first was on a hit by pitch with two outs and a runner on second in the second (.012). The second was a two out, two run triple in the fifth (.241). The triple gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead. Leon was ultimately out on the play, had he not been the WPA would have been even higher for that one.
  • Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.127). Ryno had two hits in five at bats. He lead off the fifth inning with a triple (.117) and then scored on a balk (.036).
  • Sidekick - Keith Moreland (.126). Moreland had the back half of back to back homers in the third with two outs (.118). He also drew a walk and scored on the Durham triple in the fifth. He had four plate appearances.
  • Billy Goat - Rick Sutcliffe (-.374). A rare clunker for Sutcliffe as he pitched 4.1 innings and allowed nine hits, one walk and four runs. He did strike out seven.
  • Goat - Rich Bordi (-.276). Rich had an even rougher day. He retired only one hitter in the sixth inning while allowing two hits, a walk and two runs. He inherited runners on second and third. He intentionally walked the first batter he faced and the second was Tony Pena who hit a grand slam.
  • Kid - Tim Stoddard (-.219). Stoddard had started that sixth inning for the Cubs. It was the sixth inning and followed the three run rally the Cubs had in the bottom of the fifth. He had actually retired the final two batters in the fifth after coming in with the Cubs trailing 5-3 and runners on first and third. But he went back out for the sixth. He walked the first batter he faced, then got two fly outs. The next hitter tripled in a run to tie the score at 6-6. He then allowed a walk and a double and his day was over.

This is the earliest concrete memory I have of being at a Cubs game. I know my dad had taken me to one in 1983 and I know I’d been to several as a guest of a friend that season. But on this day, I had tickets I’d received from my school for having perfect attendance and this game fell on my Mom’s birthday so I chose her to take me to the game. I remember the Pena slam vividly all these years later. And I think it was the only time I ever went to a game with Mom.

Game 152, September 20 - Cubs stumble late, swept by Pirates for fourth straight loss 7-6 (90-62).

  • Superhero - Gary Matthews (.230). Gary had three walks in five plate appearances. The first of those came with the bases loaded and one out in the third (.105). It cut the Cubs deficit to 2-1. Then in the fifth he had a one out walk (.022) and was the back half a double steal with Bob Dernier (.025). He ultimately scored as part of a four run rally that gave the Cubs a 6-2 lead.
  • Hero - Ryne Sandberg (.094). He reached four times in five plate appearances in a day where he filled the box score. He singled and was caught stealing in the first. He was hit by a pitch in the third. He tripled in the sixth and he reached on the first of back to back errors by the Pirates in the eighth.
  • Sidekick - Larry Bowa (.070). Bowa reached three times in four plate appearances with two hits and a walk. He lead off the third with a single and scored the Cubs first run. He singled again in the fourth and then drew a walk to lad the bases in the seventh with two outs. He would have been a step higher on the podium but for a line out to end the fifth inning with two outs and a runner on second.
  • Billy Goat - Lee Smith (-.464). The Cubs brought Lee into the game with a runner on second and one out in the seventh. They were leading 6-4. He allowed a two singles sandwiched around a fly out to let the Pirates get back to within one at 6-5. He then started the eighth and allowed a walk, a single, and a walk to start the inning. He got a fielder’s choice grounder that allowed the score to be tied and then a sacrifice fly gave the Pirates the lead. The next hitter singled and that was it for Smith.
  • Goat - Keith Moreland (-.127). Keith did have an RBI single and score a run in the fifth inning rally. But he was hitless in his other four at bats.
  • Kid - Davey Lopes (-.100). Davey batted with one out and runners on first and second in the eighth with the Cubs trailing 7-6 and grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Davey Lopes came to the Cubs on August 31 as the player to be named later in the trade that sent Chuck Rainey to the A’s. At 39 years old, he appeared in 16 games for the Cubs. He had 23 plate appearances and a line of .235/.435/.294. He got quite a bit more playing time the next two seasons for the Cubs. He was a four time All-Star earlier in his career playing for the Dodgers. He’s actually still 26th all time in stolen bases and had a 77 steal year in 1975.

Cumulative Standings

  • Ryne Sandberg 37
  • Gary Matthews 33
  • Lee Smith 21
  • Richie Hebner 14
  • Rich Bordi 13
  • Thad Bosley 13
  • Dennis Eckersley 11
  • Scott Sanderson 10
  • Rick Sutcliffe 6
  • Leon Durham 5
  • Warren Brusstar 3.5
  • George Frazier 3
  • Tim Stoddard 2.5
  • Dickie Noles 2
  • Jay Johnstone 2
  • Steve Trout 1
  • Davey Lopes 1
  • Don Hassey 1
  • Henry Cotto 0
  • Bill Johnson 0
  • Mel Hall 0
  • Don Schulze -2
  • Keith Moreland -3
  • Billy Hatcher -3
  • Porfi Altamarino -3
  • Gary Woods -3
  • Tom Veryzer -4
  • Dan Rohn -4
  • Rick Reuschel -6
  • Bob Dernier -8
  • Bill Buckner -9
  • Chuck Rainey -10
  • Dick Ruthven -11
  • Dave Owen -12
  • Ron Cey -24
  • Larry Bowa -34
  • Jody Davis -43

At the top of the standings, Ryne Sandberg rides a +3 homestand to increase his lead to four over Gary Matthews who had a +1 homestand. Lee Smith’s -3 week keeps him in the +20 group well back in third place. Dennis Eckersley and Scott Sanderson have +2 and +3 weeks respectively and both move into the +10 group, expanding that group to eight people. Ron Hassey moves into positive territory with a Superhero on the homestand.

On the bottom of the list, Jody Davis had a +2 homestand but still has a nine point lead on Larry Bowa who was +1. Ron Cey was +4 but remains in the -20 group. Keith Moreland had probably the worst homestand from a Heroes and Goats perspective of the season with a -13 score. He dropped all of the way from the +10 group to the negative side of the ledger.

On the field, the Cubs started the homestand out with four wins in five games to effectively end the division race... except that they then followed with four straight losses. Fortunately, those four losses only saw the division lead drop from a season high 9½ games to 7½ games. With only nine games remaining, the CUbs were inching closer and closer to a division championship and knew that with a few wins on the road trip they would capture that elusive National League East championship.

Next week, we’ll cover the following road trip. It is only six games long, but it promises to be historic. The Cubs begin with three games in St. Louis and then move to Pittsburgh for three more. The experts project that the Cubs are likely to clinch the division title somewhere on this trip.