Yes, this game was played with the Cubs wearing those awful “Cuba” road uniforms, as sported by Luis Gonzalez in the photo at the top of this post.
Luis Gonzalez. Now there would have been a guy to keep! But the cheap Tribune Co. ownership didn’t want to pay Gonzo what he wanted, so he left after 1996 to return to the Astros, and later the Diamondbacks, for whom he starred and won a World Series in 2001.
Sigh. Gonzo signed for only $1.4 million with Houston, the same as he made in 1996 with the Cubs. What might have been.
Anyway, this game was Luis Gonzalez’ turn to shine. He singled, doubled and homered (the TV announcer’s “triple shy of a cycle,” like that’s something rare — it happens generally over 200 times in a 162-game season) and drove in six runs.
The Cubs had a 7-0 lead after the first inning; that included Gonzalez’ first home run. Former Royals ace Bret Saberhagen, now just trying to hang on with the Rox, was the victim. By the third they led 9-1. You’ll note in the boxscore that Cubs starting pitcher Kevin Foster was taken out after the third inning, despite allowing just one hit and one run (a solo homer by Andres Galarraga), and driving in one of the two third-inning runs himself with a double. Why? Per the Tribune recap by Joey Reaves, the Cubs:
... got chased off the field by a monster thunderstorm after only three innings.
The Cubs, of course, were determined to wait out the storm. And the state-of-the-art drainage system at Coors Field meant they had every chance.
Indeed they did. When the game resumed, the Cubs piled on six more runs in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run homer from Todd Zeile. Three RBI singles in the sixth made it 18-4 after that inning was over, and a four-run seventh got the Cubs across the 20-run mark. It became 22-4 after that frame; Sammy Sosa’s three-run homer was the big blow in the seventh. Scott Bullett cleared the bases with a triple in the eighth and scored on a groundout to complete the Cubs scoring for the evening, so the final was Cubs 26, Rockies 7.
A few notes:
- No one scored more runs in a National League game until the Braves piled up 29 on the Marlins this past August.
- Curiously, between 1980 and 1996 there were three games in which a MLB team scored 26 runs, the majors’ high for that period. In each of those games the losing team scored seven.
- The Cubs’ 27 hits were one short of the team’s post-1900 record set July 3, 1945 and the 26 runs matched the post-1900 franchise record set in 1922. You’ll read about that game later in this series.
Sadly, no video appears to have survived from this game. Too bad. If nothing else, I’d love to see that thunderstorm.