Coming off the disastrous end to the 2003 season, the 2004 Cubs made some deals and began that year in first place by the end of April. A rough stretch in May dumped them briefly as low as fifth in the NL Central, but they entered a series against the Athletics June 18 in second place having won six in a row and 10 of 13.
They lost the first of that three-game set to the A’s 2-1 and Mark Prior took the mound to try to even up the series on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in front of a full house at Wrigley Field.
Prior, though, wasn’t sharp on that afternoon. A three-run fourth off him put the A’s ahead 3-1. An RBI single by Michael Barrett made it 3-2 in the seventh, but the Cubs went 1-2-3 in the eighth and so entered the ninth down a run facing A’s submariner Chad Bradford. Arthur Rhodes, who had been Oakland’s closer beginning 2004, had been ineffective (five blown saves by that point in the season), so manager Ken Macha was trying others in the role.
Bradford struck out Ramon Martinez to start the inning. Dusty Baker then sent up two straight pinch-hitters. Todd Hollandsworth (batting for Kyle Farnsworth) and Todd Walker (batting for Mark Grudzielanek) both singled, putting runners on first and second for Barrett, who came through [VIDEO].
Barrett was credited with a double as both runners scored and the Cubs won 4-3.
I wish I could tell you that led to something good, but the Cubs followed that win by losing 10 of their next 18. By mid-July, when they played the Cardinals for the last time that year (that’s true, and possibly one of the reasons MLB began computerizing scheduling not long after that) the Cubs had fallen 10 games out of first place and were looking instead to take the wild card.
Well, you know how 2004 wound up for the Chicago Cubs, pretty depression. But this game, at least, had an exciting ending.
Here is Mike Bojanowski’s scorecard from this game. Click here for a larger version of the scorecard.