While watching the Diamondbacks eviscerate the Cubs 9-0 Wednesday evening, I was reminded of a game from a long-ago Cubs playoff season, 1984.
The ‘84 Cubs were on a great run of 15 wins in 19 games when Dwight Gooden one-hit them at Shea Stadium, the only hit an infield single by about the last person you’d expect to have an infield single, Keith Moreland. To complete the comparison, the Cubs’ starter that night, the same as their starter Wednesday in Phoenix, was a former Phillie (Dick Ruthven).
The good news, perhaps, for this year’s Cubs, likely also headed to the postseason (and to a better result than 1984, let’s hope), is that the 1984 Cubs won five of their next seven after that one-hitter.
Hey, these kinds of things happen, because baseball. It was notable Wednesday night that the D-backs started what appeared to resemble a spring training split-squad lineup. That lineup, though, still consisted of major-league players, as was pointed out by Jim Deshaies on the TV broadcast, and they hit Cole Hamels hard in the first inning, with two sharp singles followed by a three-run homer by Christian Walker. Another run later in the inning made it 4-0.
It wasn’t known at the time, of course, but everyone could have gone home right then, because the game was basically over. Hamels then threw four really good innings before getting hit hard again in the sixth, including another home run, this one by Chris Owings.
Hey, it happens. Hamels had been otherworldly-good for his first few starts as a Cub, but he is, after all, nearly 35 years old, and maybe this stretch of 30 days without an off day is catching up with him, as it likely has for all the Cubs players.
James Norwood and Dillon Maples split up a scoreless seventh inning, and then Allen Webster made his Cubs debut in the eighth. He showed good velocity, hitting 96 a few times. One of the 96 mile per hour fastballs was deposited into the left-field seats at Chase Field for a two-run homer by Jeff Mathis, whose last home run prior to Wednesday had been hit in May 2017.
The Cubs’ sole hit was a leadoff single by Addison Russell in the third inning. The Cubs also drew four walks off Robbie Ray and Russell later reached on an error, but no Cubs runner advanced past first base. For the record, here it is, the Cubs’ only hit in the game [VIDEO], a solid line drive to center field.
The good news, I suppose, is that all this didn’t take very long. At two hours, 20 minutes, this was the shortest Cubs game of 2018.
The Cubs’ 30-day trek through three time zones thus ends with a dull thud, but overall, they did pretty well:
The Cubs’ final numbers for their 30-for-30 odyssey:— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) September 20, 2018
Division lead change: -0.5
(now 2.5 over MIL)
Starters ERA: 2.84
Bullpen ERA: 3.69
The 18-11 record is the second-best in the National League since the Cubs last had an off day. Only the Brewers (18-9) were better. The 2½ game lead and half-game change noted by Gordon Wittenmyer includes a Brewers win on the Cubs’ off day August 20. The Brewers defeated the Reds Wednesday night to move a game closer to the Cubs, but Milwaukee heads out to Pittsburgh for a series that begins Friday, and Milwaukee is 1-6 in PNC Park this year, and 5-11 overall against the Pirates.
And so, on the 31st day, the Cubs at last will rest. Joe Maddon gave kudos to his team:
“I’m happy and proud with the way the guys have handled this,” manager Joe Maddon said. “They’re not going to know what to do with themselves (with a day off Thursday).”
I’m sure sleep will occupy much of the day for almost everyone on the team.
The Cubs will now spend the rest of the regular season playing in the city of Chicago, a real benefit to them. The first three of the 10 remaining games will be on the South Side at the White Sox, with the series beginning Friday afternoon at 3:10 p.m. CT. Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs, his first start against the White Sox since he was traded to the Cubs last July, and Reynaldo Lopez will go for the Sox. TV coverage Friday will be via NBC Sports Chicago.