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Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats: 2003, part 15

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We take a look at the start of a 10-game homestand.

Jose Hernandez
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Last time, we looked at a seven-game road trip for the Cubs to play the White Sox and Phillies. The Cubs dropped five of seven games. As I’d noted, that actually was part of a stretch of 10 losses in 15 games. Fortunately, no one got hot in the National League Central during that time and, despite falling into third place, they were still only one game out of first.

The Cubs hadn’t been playing great ball at home, but they returned home to play the final 10 games leading up to the All-Star break. Today we’ll look at the first two series, those against the Cardinals and Marlins. Then the next time, we’ll finish out the pre-All-Star break schedule with four games against the Braves. In 2003, the Cubs played 94 games before the break. Let’s see if they were able to get things turned around before the break.

Game 85, July 4: Cubs 8, Cardinals 11 (43-42)

Another disappointing game for the Cubs. But there was one Cub who had a big day. Despite hitting 332 career home runs, this game was the only three homer game of Moises Alou’s career. He had two solo homers and a three-run homer in a five at bat game. Boosted by this one game, Moises had a huge month. He had a line of .313/.365/.604 (wRC+ 145). He slugged six homers and 10 doubles, drove in 20 runs and scored 14. This with a BABIP of .289.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Moises Alou (.060). It was one of those Wrigley days. The Cubs slugged five homers in a losing effort and the Cardinals added three of their own.
  • Hero: Sammy Sosa (.053). Sammy had a homer of his own as well as a walk in his five plate appearances. He scored twice and drove in two.
  • Sidekick: Mark Grudzielanek (.031). Mark had three hits and two runs in five at bats.
  • Billy Goat: Kerry Wood (-.396). Wood was pounded for six hits, three homers, six walks and seven runs in just three innings of work. He only struck out one. On a runs per innings basis, this was the worst start of Kerry’s career.
  • Goat: Mark Guthrie (-.074). Mark faced four batters, walked one and allowed a hit. This after he inherited runners on first and second with one out. Two inherited runners scored, putting the game out of reach.
  • Kid: Alex Gonzalez (-.057). Alex had one hit in four at bats and struck out twice.
  • Game 86, July 5: Cubs 6, Cardinals 5 (44-42)

The Cubs bounced back with a win in the second game of the series. In this one, Shawn Estes pitched well enough to lose (five runs allowed in six innings), but the Cubs bats scored four runs in five innings against Matt Morris and then tacked ttwo more runs on against the Cardinals bullpen for the win. The Cubs managed 12 hits including yet another home run by Moises Alou and another by Sammy Sosa.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Alex Gonzalez (.294). Alex didn’t come into this game until he pinch hit in the eighth inning. He was retired in that at bat, but he came back to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He delivered a walk-off single for the win.
  • Hero: Mike Remlinger (.248). Mike threw two perfect innings and collected the win. He had two strike outs, one of Mike Matheny and the other of Jim Edmonds.
  • Sidekick: Moises Alou (.172). Alou continued to be a thorn in the side of the Cardinals with two hits, including a solo homer, and two walks in five plate appearances.
  • Billy Goat: Ramon Martinez (-.207). Martinez was hitless in four at bats.
  • Goat: Shawn Estes (-.197). Shawn allowed nine hits, four walks, two home runs and five runs in six innings of work. He did strike out five.
  • Kid: Paul Bako (-.151). Paul was hitless in four at bats with one strike out.

Game 87, July 6: Cubs 1, Cardinals 4 (44-43)

Mark Prior allowed a three run homer by Eduardo Perez in the second inning and that was pretty much it for this one. Woody Williams started for the Cardinals and allowed one run on six his in 7⅔ innings of work. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out six. The Cubs did muster a two-out rally in the eighth inning that produced a run, but Jason Isringhausen slammed the door recording the four out save as the Cubs dropped yet another series.

Prior made only three starts in July and amassed a 5.40 ERA (4.12 FIP) in 18⅔ innings of work. He was 0-2 and allowed three home runs and eight walks. He did strike out 23 though.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Eric Karros (.054). Eric managed two hits in four at bats and drove in the only run.
  • Hero/Sidekick: Mark Guthrie/Kyle Farnsworth (.008). Each threw a scoreless inning to give the Cubs a chance at the late rally. Kyle’s was a perfect inning with a strikeout and Mark’s was a one hit inning.
  • Billy Goat: Mark Prior (-.153). Prior did throw seven innings in this one. He allowed five hits, three walks and four runs. He struck out 11.
  • Goat: Sammy Sosa (-.072). Sammy was hitless in four at bats including a strikeout.
  • Kid: Alex Gonzalez (-.055). Alex matched Sammy’s line.

Game 88, July 7: Cubs 6, Marlins 3 (45-43)

The teams each scored a run in the first and then two more each in the second. But the Cubs added three more in the fourth inning and that was all she wrote. The Cubs scored all six runs off of Josh Beckett. Ex-Marlin Matt Clement was not only the winning pitcher, but he drove in the two decisive runs in the fourth inning rally with a double. This also allowed the oddity of Alex Gonzalez and Alex Gonzalez each being the official Superhero for their respective teams.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Alex Gonzalez (.169). Alex really filled the box score in this one. In four plate appearances, he had a two-run homer, two walks and a sacrifice bunt.
  • Hero: Ramon Martinez (.117). Martinez had a three hit game and drove in the sixth run of the game for the Cubs.
  • Sidekick: Tom Goodwin (.107). Tom also had three hits in four at bats. He added a walk. He scored a run.
  • Billy Goat: Sammy Sosa (-.136). Sosa was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice.
  • Goat: Jose Hernandez (-.096). Jose had one hit and one strikeout in four at bats.
  • Kid: Moises Alou (-.062). Alou was hitless in four at bats and struck out once.

Game 89, July 8: Cubs 3, Marlins 4 (45-44)

The Cubs continued alternating loss, win, loss, win, loss to start the homestand. In this one, the game was scoreless through six innings in a duel between Carlos Zambrano and Dontrelle Willis. The Marlins plated two in the seventh and two in the eighth against the Cubs pen. The Cubs answered with two in the eighth and one in the ninth, but a run in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Cubs left runners on first and second in the ninth with the final two outs being made by Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Carlos Zambrano (.359). Carlos threw six scoreless innings allowing seven hits, three walks and striking out four.
  • Hero: Lenny Harris (.126). Harris drew a pinch-hit walk in the ninth inning.
  • Sidekick: Eric Karros (.072). Eric had a hit and a walk in four plate appearances.
  • Billy Goat: Mike Remlinger (-.297). Remlinger allowed back to back homers in the seventh to open the scoring.
  • Goat: Jose Hernandez (-.177). You might remember Jose has a productive Cub player who had grown from a bench utility player into a solid everyday player. The 2003 version of Jose, in his second stint with the Cubs, was not that player. He somehow amassed 571 plate appearances over 150 games for three different teams that season. He produced a line of .225/.287/.347 (wRC+ 58) and a fWAR of -1.5. On this day, he was hitless in four at bats, striking out three times.
  • Kid: Moises Alou (-.151). Alou had a hit and a walk in five plate appearances, but he was dragged down by his last at bat.

Game 90, July 9: Cubs 5, Marlins 1 (46-44)

The Cubs continued to alternate losing and winning and won a series for the first time since June 10-12 in Baltimore. Kerry Wood was the star in this one. He went the distance allowing only one run on three hits. He walked three and struck out 12. Kerry’s July of 2003 was a mixed bag. He started two games against the Marlins, completed and won both, allowing a total of one run. He allowed 19 runs in 14 innings of work in the other three starts. Together, he threw 32 innings across five starts and had a 5.63 ERA (5.28 FIP). He struck out 39 batters but walked 22 and allowed six homers. Odd that two of his best starts of the year (against a very good team) were surrounded by three clunkers.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Kerry Wood (.425).
  • Hero: Sammy Sosa (.291). Sammy supplied most of the offense in this one with two hits in four at bats. He had an RBI single in the fifth that tied the game at 1-1 and then he added a two-run homer in the eighth to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
  • Sidekick: Mark Grudzielanek (.146). Mark had a hit and two walks in four plate appearances. He scored one run and struck out once.
  • Billy Goat: Moises Alou (-.112). Alou had one hit and one strikeout in four at bats.
  • Goat: Hee-Seop Choi (-.092). Choi was hitless in four at bats.
  • Kid: Tom Goodwin (-.040). Tom was hitless in four at bats, but did make the most of reaching on a fielder’s choice. He followed it with a steal of second and then scored. He also reached once on an error and stole a base after that.

The Cubs perfectly altered one loss and then one win through the first six games of the homestand. On the upside, 3-3 was an improvement over 5-10 in the previous 15. This Cubs team appeared to be running on fumes heading up to the break. But just one series stands between them and the break. Next time, we’ll take a look at that.

The Cubs did finish two days on this homestand two games out of first. They also finished two days in third place. But, they finished this mini-stretch with a one-game deficit and in second place. We’ll see if the Cubs can get back on top coming off of their first series win in almost a month.

Until then, thanks for reading, thanks for commenting!