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Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats: 2003, part 23

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The Cubs come home for eight games as the calendar turns to September.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Welcome back. When last we looked back at these 2003 Cubs, they’d won four of nine on a late August road trip. For the second consecutive stretch of games, the Cubs had done the minimum to stay in contention in the hotly contested National League Central. But with only 30 games remaining, sitting in third place, one and a half behind. Their slate of games against the Astros was done and they had just five games left against the Cardinals.

So, this time we’ll look at the Cubs coming home for eight games. The final three games in the month of August would take place against the Brewers. Then, five games in four days against the Cardinals. Those final five games against the second place team. Five wins in eight games would probably be the minimum here. But again, with the team bobbing along between second and third place, at some point they needed to not win the minimum. Would this be it? Let’s take a look.

Game 133, August 29: Cubs 4, Brewers 2 (69-64)

This was a matchup of Matt Clement and Ben Sheets. Some of you may be like me and remember Ben Sheets as a guy who always pitched well against the Cubs. Sheets didn’t pitch badly in this one, allowing only three runs in seven innings. He did allow 11 hits and a walk though. Clement? He went the distance in this one. Allowing only two runs on seven hits with no walks. Only six Cubs had hits on the day, but five of them had at least two hits and that was enough to push across four runs.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Matt Clement (.422). Matt completed two games, one on July 29 and this one on August 29. One of the two runs he allowed in this one was unearned.
  • Hero: Sammy Sosa (.129). Sammy wasn’t the force he had been in previous years as we’ve talked about in the comments. But he was still quite potent with the bat. In this one, he had three hits in four at bats and an RBI. He had three of 10 Cubs singles in the game.
  • Sidekick: Eric Karros (.081). Karros had two hits in four at bats. Like Sosa, he drove in a run, like Sosa, his hits were singles. Unlike Sosa, he struck out once.
  • Billy Goat: Tom Goodwin (-.106). Tom got a start in left field and was hitless in four at bats and struck out twice.
  • Goat: Alex Gonzalez (-.074). Gonzalez was also hitless in four at bats.
  • Kid: Aramis Ramirez (-.034). Tough luck for Ramirez who lands here after Clement’s hitting is dropped. Aramis also had two singles in four at bats and even stole a base. He was retired in the first with runners on first and third and two outs and then again in the seventh with runners on first and second with two outs.

Game 134, August 30: Cubs 5, Brewers 9 (69-65)

This one was a matchup of Shawn Estes and Matt Kinney. Estes allowed four hits and two walks to the 12 batters he faced in this one. He was charged with five runs, including a two-run homer by Richie Sexson in the first. The Cubs offense managed five runs, but it wasn’t enough as the Brewers tallied four more runs off of Todd Wellemeyer in relief. Future Cub Glendon Rusch (2004-2006) threw 1⅓ innings for the Brewers. The Brewers also had ex-Cub Brooks Kieschnick throw a scoreless inning in this one.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Ramon Martinez (.131). In an odd line to generate this much WPA, Martinez had one hit in five at bats. He struck out once. The one hit was a double with a runner on first and no outs in the first inning. The Cubs were already trailing 2-0. He also reached on an error with two outs in the second, scoring a run.
  • Hero: Kenny Lofton (.067). Kenny had four singles in five at bats. He scored a run in the first. He later stole a base.
  • Sidekick: Troy O’Leary (.051). You know it is a weird WPA game when four hits in five at bats (Lofton) and a three-run, pinch homer by O’Leary finish second and third. Alas, it was 9-2 in the sixth when Troy hit his homer.
  • Billy Goat: Shawn Estes (-.365). Shawn threw two innings, allowed four hits, two walks and five runs. He struck out two.
  • Goat: Todd Wellemeyer (-.122). Wellemeyer threw four innings in relief. He allowed three hits, three walks and four runs. He did strike out seven.
  • Kid: Randall Simon (-.100). Randall was hitless in five at bats.

Game 135, August 31: Cubs 0, Brewers 2 (69-66)

The Cubs did win 10 of 16 from the Brewers on the season, but they lost two of three in this fairly important series. Doug Davis threw 8⅓ innings of scoreless ball for the Brewers, allowing only five hits and two walks. The Cubs had one runner caught stealing and hit into three double plays. No Cub advanced past first until the ninth.

Juan Cruz was good for the Cubs, but not good enough as he was charged with two runs in 5 ⅓ innings. Cruz got the start in this one, allowing Mark Prior to be pushed back an extra day in order to face the Cardinals.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Sammy Sosa (.184). Sammy had a hit and drew a walk in four plate appearances. He also struck out once. He singled with a runner on first in the ninth and then went to second on an error.
  • Hero: Alex Gonzalez (.081). Alex had one walk in three plate appearances. The walk was in the eighth inning. He also reached on a dropped third strike.
  • Sidekick: Antonio Alfonseca/Mike Remlinger (.065). Alfonseca struck out the only two batters he faced after coming in with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth. Remlinger then threw two scoreless innings. He allowed two hits and he struck out three.
  • Billy Goat: Moises Alou (-.270). Alou had one hit in four at bats. He lands here because he grounded into a double play with no outs and a runner on first in the seventh inning with the Cubs trailing 2-0.
  • Goat: Eric Karros (-.257). Eric was hitless in four at bats. He lands here after making the last out of the game with the bases loaded.
  • Kid: Damian Miller (-.183). Miller was hitless in three at bats. He grounded into a double play with a runner on first and no outs in the third with the Cubs trailing 1-0.

Game 136, September 1: Cubs 7, Cardinals 0 (70-66)

The Cubs sent their best to the mound to start this series. Mark Prior threw eight scoreless innings and the Cubs chased Woody Williams in the fifth to take the season opener. The Cubs offense managed 17 hits in this one as compared to just six for the Cardinals. Every Cub who batted in this game had at least one hit and six Cubs had multiple hits.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Mark Prior (.304). Have I mentioned he was dominant after coming off of the disabled list? This made five Superheroes in six starts after (with the other being a Hero). He allowed five hits and three walks while striking out eight in his eight innings of work. In so doing, he improved to 14-5.
  • Hero: Moises Alou (.159). Alou had just one hit in four at bats. But he was also hit by a pitch to load the bases in the first inning with one out (the Cubs didn’t end up scoring).
  • Sidekick: Damian Miller (.110). He had two hits and a sacrifice fly in four plate appearances. He had a double and drove in a run.
  • Billy Goat: Aramis Ramirez (-.094). In the short time he was with the Cubs in 2003, he had some negative Heroes and Goats luck. He had a hit and a walk in five plate appearances. He even scored a run. But he ends up last.
  • Goat: Sammy Sosa (-.056). Sammy had one hit and three strike outs in five at bats. He scored a run.
  • Kid: Kenny Lofton (-.055). Lofton had three hits, including a double, and drove in a run in five at bats. His line out with runners on second and third and one out in the fourth was the culprit. The Cubs had five hits, a walk, a hit batter and reached on an error in the first four innings and scored no runs. Then they plated six in the fifth.

Game 137, September 2: Cubs 4, Cardinals 2 (71-66)

This one started as a matchup of Carlos Zambrano and Jason Simontachi. But both were long gone by the time the final tally was recorded. This one took 15 innings to wrap up. The Cubs scored two each in the fifth and 15th innings. The Cardinals managed single runs in the second and fourth. The Cubs used 22 players and the Cardinals 20. Ex-Cub Jeff Fassero (2001-2002) was tagged with the loss in relief. He threw two scoreless innings in the 13th and 14th before going back out for the 15th. Sammy Sosa had a two-run homer in the 15th to walk it off after being retired his first five times at bat. The Cubs took the first two of the series.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero/Hero/Sidekick: Mike Remlinger, Antonio Alfonseca, Mark Guthrie (.280). Each threw two scoreless innings. Remlinger held the Cards scoreless in the 12th and 13th despite walking two and allowing a stolen base. Alfonseca threw perfect 10th and 11th innings striking out two. Guthrie pitched the 14th and 15th innings allowing only a double to the first batter he faced. He struck out one and picked up the win for his troubles.
  • Billy Goat: Tony Womack (-.308). Tony got the start at second and had just one hit in seven at bats. He put the ball in play all seven times. That does bad things for your BABIP.
  • Goat: Kenny Lofton (-.172). Lofton didn’t get into this game until the seventh inning. He had a hit and a strikeout in four at bats.
  • Kid: Ramon Martinez (-.160). He pinch hit with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and two outs and flew out. It was his only at bat.

Game 138, September 2: Cubs 0, Cardinals 2 (71-67)

After dropping two straight to the Cubs, the Cards bounced back with a win in the second game of a double header. Even when you use Zambrano in game one and Kerry Wood in game two, a sweep is far from a sure thing against quality competition. Wood allowed two runs (one earned in seven innings of work. Matt Morris and three Cardinal relievers held the Cubs to five hits and five walks in the shutout.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Kerry Wood (.113). In the losing effort, Kerry allowed only four hits and two walks. He struck out nine. One of the two hits was a homer by future Cub Jim Edmonds.
  • Hero: Tom Goodwin (.065). Tom walked in his only plate appearance, drawing a ninth inning walk. He made it as far as second (on defensive indifference), but no further.
  • Sidekick: Mark Grudzielanek (.056). Mark returned to the lineup and had a single, a sacrifice and a hit by pitch in four plate appearances.
  • Billy Goat: Moises Alou (-.161). Alou had just one walk in four plate appearances. He flew out with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning.
  • Goat: Ramon Martinez (-.125). Martinez got the start at third in this one and was hitless in four at bats.
  • Kid: Randall Simon (-.099). Randall had one hit in three at bats. Unfortunately, he was erased on a base-running gaffe and the play ended up being a net negative. Doubly unfortunate, Troy O’Leary followed with a double that might have scored a run.

Game 139, September 3: Cubs 8, Cardinals 7 (72-67)

The Cubs won in come from behind fashion. The Cardinals plated two in the first and four more in the sixth to go up 6-0. The Cubs scored three in the sixth to cut it 6-3 but then allowed another run in the seventh. They then scored three more in the seventh to cut it to 7-6. Two runs in the eighth sealed the win. The Cardinals used Woody Williams in relief after he had been chased in the fifth inning of game one of the series. So the Cubs beat him twice in just three days. This was a game started by Matt Clement for the Cubs and future Cub Dan Haren for the Cardinals.

This game also saw the major league debut for Felix Sanchez for the Cubs. Felix has a very common Latin name and so you might feel like you should know him. But if your memory isn’t particularly sharp, you probably don’t. The 21-year-old left pitcher appeared in three games for the Cubs in 2003 and then never pitched in the majors again. In this one, he allowed two walks and a a home run (J.D. Drew) out of four batters he faced. Amazingly, he actually had good sequencing in this and only allowed two runs and got of the inning.

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Mark Grudzielanek (.376). Mark pinch hit with one out and a runner on second in the eighth inning after the Cardinals brought Woody Williams into the game. He haded an RBI triple to tie the game at 7-7. One out later he scored the winning run.
  • Hero: Moises Alou (.371). Moises had a monster game that included that game winning single to score Grudzielanek. This was the only five hit game of Alou’s career. He had five hits in five at bats including a two-run homer. He drove in four runs in all. He scored twice.
  • Sidekick: Joe Borowski (.218). Joe actually recorded a win in this one. He recorded the final out of the eighth inning against Scott Rolen with runners on first and third and two outs. He then pitched a perfect ninth including two strike outs to close out the win.
  • Billy Goat: Felix Sanchez (-.183). Felix would end up facing just nine batters in his big league career. He allowed two hits, three walks, a home run and struck out two. That gave him a 10.80 ERA (13.83 FIP) and a 3.00 WHIP. Small samples provide some amusing numbers.
  • Goat: Kenny Lofton (-.171). Kenny had a walk and a sacrifice in five plate appearances. He also grounded into a double play. That landed him here. Kenny grounded into just 111 double plays in 9,235 career plate appearances.
  • Kid: Randall Simon (-.149). Randall was hitless in five at bats.

Game 140, September 4: Cubs 7, Cardinals 6 (73-67)

In another wild one, the Cubs beat the Cardinals for the fourth time in five games. The Cardinals scored two in the first off of Shawn Estes. The Cubs scored three of their own off of Cardinals starter Brett Tomko in the bottom of the second. Then the Cards scored three more off of Estes in the fifth. But the Cubs chased Tomko was three of their own in the bottom of the inning to take a 6-5 lead.

Each team plated a run in the seventh, but the Cubs held on for the win as the Cubs survived allowing 12 hits and six walks in this one. Joe Borowski shut this one down again, earning the save while working around a hit by pitch. The save was Joe’s 24th save of the season. While the Cubs were making their move in September, Joe was fantastic. He was 1-0 with 10 saves in 11⅔ innings of work. He recorded 10 saves in his final 10 appearances of the season. He allowed only five hits, four walks and one run while striking out 11. (0.77 ERA, 3.55 FIP).

Three Heroes/Three Goats:

  • Superhero: Tony Womack (.216). Tony had an RBI pinch hit single in the seventh inning to score the game’s final and decisive run. He stole second but was stranded there.
  • Hero: Joe Borowksi (.165). JoeBo threw a scoreless ninth.
  • Sidekick: Mark Grudzielanek (.157). Mark had two hits in four at bats. He drove in two with a fifth inning double to tie the game at 5-5 and then scored two batters later.
  • Billy Goat: Shawn Estes (-.340). Estes lasted five innings, allowed nine hits, three walks and five runs. He struck out three.
  • Goat: Alex Gonzalez (-.132). Alex had a sacrifce fly in four plate appearances.
  • Kid: Troy O’Leary (-.061). O’Leary had a sacrifice bunt in three plate appearances.

A bit of an odd sequence of games. The Cubs managed to only win one of three from the Brewers who were well off the pace in the Central. After losing to the Brewers for the second straight game on August 31, the Cubs were in third place and 2½ games out of first. Things were starting to look a little bleak.

And then, they won four of five from the Cards. At the end of play on September 4, they were just a half game out of first. The Cardinals would remain in third place for the remainder of the season.

While five of eight looked like the minimum number of games they could afford to win on this homestand, winning four of them against the Cardinals moved them into second place. They’d also moved within half a game of the first place Astros.

With 22 games remaining in the season, the Cubs would play 13 of them on the road. So there was a lot of work still to do. Even with the two teams so close, this figured to be an uphill battle.

Next up for the Cubs, they’d head out on a six-game road trip. The opposition would be the Brewers and Expos for the final three games with each team. The Cubs had just lost two of three to the Brewers. But this time, they’d have Prior and Wood set to pitch in the series. We’ll have that road trip for you next time.

Until then, thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.