So far in this series, we haven’t seen one Cubs team with a winning record accomplish the headlined feat.
That won’t change today. The 1994 Cubs began as a terrible team, starting the year with a 12-game home losing streak and a “firehouse chat” from manager Tom Trebelhorn. The team was 11-24 and 11½ games out of first place after losing to the Marlins on May 15.
They actually played near .500 ball (38-40) from there on, finishing at 49-65, though the overall winning percentage (.475) would have wound up as a 77-win season if that strike-shortened year had been completed.
So by late June they had righted the ship, sort of, and had won six of nine going into the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley against the Pirates Sunday, June 29.
The Cubs had fashioned a 4-0 lead entering the seventh. Glenallen Hill had homered as part of that lead, and Anthony Young threw six shutout innings. (Young had broken that long losing streak by then.)
But Trebelhorn took him out to “preserve the win.” What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, as it turned out. Relievers Dan Plesac and “the other” Jose Bautista allowed five runs in the seventh and eighth, so the Cubs went to the bottom of the ninth trailing 5-4.
Rey Sanchez led off with a double. Trebelhorn ordered him sacrificed to third. Even by 1990s standards that was dumb — he’s already in scoring position! Two walks loaded the bases for Sammy Sosa, who was not yet the home run monster he became later. Sammy struck out, leaving the bags jammed and two out for Hill.
Yes, that’s Thom Brennaman on the call.
The Cubs proceeded to lose seven of their next nine, so this big walkoff win brought with it no “momentum.” They usually don’t. Still, it was exciting, one of the brighter moments of a dismal season.