Happy holidays to all of you. Hopefully all of you are staying healthy and safe as we move through the holiday season and into winter. I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to turning the calendar to 2021 and trying to put 2020 behind us. Hopefully a 2021 season will be closer to normal than the oddity that was the 2020 season. In the meantime, let’s travel back to 1989 for another installment in this series.
When last we checked in on the 1989 Cubs, they were trying to pull out of a funk. After getting off to an 8-2 start, the Cubs lost six of seven games in the third week of the season to fall to just one game over .500. Then they came home and dropped two more to fall below the break-even point. They recovered, winning three of their final four games of the week to climb back to one game over. That back slide was enough to move them out of first place and down into fourth.
In week five, they’ll try to get back on track. But if they were going to do so, they’d have to have some success on the west coast. This was one of those relatively unusual baseball weeks where the Cubs played three different teams in the same week. This was a one-week, three-city trip to San Francisco (two games), San Diego (two) and Los Angeles (three). Let’s get to the action and see how they fared.
Game 24, May 1: Cubs 4 at San Francisco 3 (13-11)
This game started out between Rick Sutcliffe and Scott Garrelts. The Cubs jumped out to a three run lead with two in the first and another in the third. But the Giants battled back with two of their own in the fourth and one in the eighth, scoring on a dropped fly ball. The game stayed right there for three scoreless innings. Damon Berryhill unknotted the score with a solo homer leading off the 12th. Calvin Schiraldi pitched a perfect 12th, striking out two following three perfect innings by Jeff Pico.
- Superhero: Jeff Pico (.368). 3IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 1K (W 1-0)
- Hero: Damon Berryhill (.234). 1-5, HR, RBI, R, K
- Sidekick: Calvin Schiraldi (.176). 1 IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 1K (Sv 2)
- Billy Goat: Andre Dawson (-.190). 0-5, K
- Goat: Mitch Williams (-.164). ⅔IP, 0H, 1BB, 0R, 0K
- Kid: Darrin Jackson (-.083). 0-2, K
Game 25, May 2: Giants 4, Cubs 0 (13-12)
A strong pitching match-up between ex-Cub Rick Reuschel and Greg Maddux ended up lopsided. The Cubs managed 10 hits in this one, but were unable to put any runs on the board. Meanwhile Reuschel and another ex-Cub Goose Gossage combined on a shutout. Kevin Mitchell had the big blow off of Maddux with a two-run homer in the sixth.
- Superhero: Damon Berryhill (.037). 2-4, K
- Hero: Ryne Sandberg (.022). 3-4, BB
- Sidekick: Dwight Smith (.012). 2-4, BB
- Billy Goat: Greg Maddux (-.124). 6IP, 7H, 0BB, 4R, 6K (L 1-4)
- Goat: Vance Law (-.109). 0-4, K
- Kid: Mitch Webster (-.103). 0-5
Game 26, May 3: Cubs 5 at Padres 4 (14-12)
The Cubs continued their early season success in one run games with a win in San Diego. This one was started by Paul Kilgus for the Cubs and Dennis Rasmussen for the Padres. The Cubs scored first on a solo homer by Vance Law in the second. Andre Dawson added a two-run homer in the fourth. The Padres rallied back in the fifth though to tie the score on three with the primary damage being done by a two-run triple by future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. He then scored on an RBI-single by ex-Cub Carmelo Martinez. Andre Dawson continued to power the offense though with a two-out RBI triple in the sixth inning. Mark Grace followed with an RBI-single scoring what would be the decisive run. Kilgus was greeted with a walk and a double to start the sixth, but Calvin Schiraldi shut the door. He retired three straight hitters, allowing only an RBI ground out by future Hall of Famger Roberto Alomar.
- Superhero: Calvin Schiraldi (.348). 2⅔IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 1K
- Hero: Andre Dawson (.346). 2-4, HR, 3B, 3RBI, 2R
- Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.245). 1⅓IP, 0H, 1BB, 0R, 1K (Sv 8)
- Billy Goat: Paul Kilgus (-.369). 5IP, 9H, 3BB, 4R, 2K (W 3-2)
- Goat: Darrin Jackson (-.084). 1-4, 2K
- Kid: Mitch Webster (-.073). 0-4
Game 27, May 4: Cubs 4 at Padres 0 (15-12)
Mike Bielecki went the distance for the Cubs, allowing five hits and one walk. The Cubs offense pushed four runs across against Padres starter Walt Terrell in six innings of work. Andre Dawson got the scoring started with his second triple of the series in the second, scoring on a Mark Grace single. Dawson then had his third triple of the series in the fourth inning and for the third time scored on a Grace RBI single. Damon Berryhill added a two-run single in the sixth inning to cap the scoring as the Cubs won their sixth game in eight tries.
- Superhero: Mike Bielecki (.371). 9IP, 5H, 1BB, 0R, 4K (W 2-1)
- Hero: Andre Dawson (.239). 4-4, 2-3B, 3R
- Sidekick: Damon Berryhill (.055). 2-4, 2RBI, K
- Billy Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.062). 0-4, K, DP
- Goat: Shawon Dunston (-.050). 0-4, K
- Kid: Dwight Smith (.-.028). 2-4, K
Game 28, May 5: Cubs 4 at Dodgers 2 (16-12)
Scott Sanderson started this one for the Cubs against Tim Belcher for the Dodgers. Andre Dawson remained hot, starting the scoring with a solo homer in the second. But the Dodgers bounced right back with a couple of runs in the second. Mike Scisscia drove in the first run with an RBI single and then later scored on a Franklin Stubbs double. The Cubs bats roared to life in the fourth inning. Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson went back-to-back to give them the lead. Then Mark Grace singled, Damon Berryhill walked and a run scored on an error made on a ground ball off the bat of Vance Law. The Cubs bullpen closed the game with four scoreless innings to nail down the win.
- Superhero: Andre Dawson (.305). 4-4, 2HR, 2RBI, 2R
- Hero: Pat Perry (.172). 3IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 1K
- Sidekick: Ryne Sandberg (.142). 1-4, HR, RBI, R
- Billy Goat: Shawon Dunston (-.090). 0-4, K
- Goat: Scott Sanderon (-.072). 5IP, 9H, 0BB, 2R, 6K (W 3-2)
- Kid: Mitch Webster (-.049). 0-4, K
Game 29, May 6: Dodgers 3, Cubs 0 (16-13)
Rick Sutcliffe made the start for the Cubs. He didn’t pitch all too badly, but he was outdueled by future Cub Mike Morgan, who thew six scoreless innings and limited the Cubs to four hits and a walk. This one was scoreless until the fifth inning when Franklin Stubbs delivered an RBI-single. Mickey Hatcher added one of his own an inning later. Mike Davis added the cherry on top with a two-out, RBI-double in the eighth inning.
*HH&G note. In part four of this series, we saw Andre Dawson register a negative WPA Sidekick award in the April 27 game. That was recorded in a win. An anti-hero in a win is an odd enough event. I believe this game produced the first ever all negative game score in the time I’ve run this series. Dwight Smith actually started this game with a single for the Cubs and produced WPA of .039. Shawon Dunston also had a single in the third inning, generating .044. But, both lost points afterwards. Smith struck out with a runner on second and one out in the third (-.039) and Dunston was thrown out stealing on the play (-.037). The Cubs offense managed only two hits over the final five innings and everybody who played ended up negative for the day.
- Superhero: Gary Varsho (-.009). 0-1
- Hero: Shawon Dunston (-.010). 1-2, CS
- Sidekick: Curtis Wilkerson (-.016). 0-1, K
- Billy Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.112). 1-4, DP
- Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.073). 0-3
- Kid: Vance Law (-.062). 0-3, K
Game 30, May 7: Cubs 4, Dodgers 2 (17-13).
Greg Maddux started this one for the Cubs and left in the fourth inning. Orel Hershiser pitched eight innings. That’s usually going to mean a Cubs loss. But not this time. Maddux actually got the scoring started with an RBI-single in the third inning. The Dodgers put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the inning following a single and double. The next hitter grounded to Dunston who made an error leading to the first run of the game. Eddie Murray then doubled in a run to give the Dodgers the lead.
Maddux then went out and allowed a couple of walks around a single in the fourth and was lifted from the game. Five Cubs relievers combined to record the final 16 outs without surrendering a run, including escaping a bases loaded situation in the fourth. The Dodgers managed just two hits and four walks over that time after posting four hits and four walks off of Maddux.
The big blow for the Cubs was a two-out two-run single by Damon Berryhill in the sixth inning. That put them ahead 3-2. Gary Varsho added an RBI-double in the eighth inning during a rare start.
- Superhero: Damon Berryhill (.326). 1-3, BB, 2RBI
- Honorable Metion: Greg Maddux (.122). 1-1, RBI
- Hero: Mitch Williams (.115). 2IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 0K (Sv 10)
- Sidekick: Mark Grace (.103). 2-4
- Billy Goat: Greg Maddux (-.214). 3⅔IP, 4H, 4BB, 2R (1ER), 1K
- Goat: Mitch Webster (-.127). 0-5, K
- Kid: Vance Law (-.088). 0-3
This was quite a week for the Cubs. Facing a tough, three-city west coast trip, they came away with five wins in seven games. Pairing with the three out of four wins to end the homestand, they had won eight of 11. That moved the record back up to four games over .500. The week started out in fourth place, a game and a half out of first. The hot week in a bunched up division was enough to elevate the Cubs back to a first place tie by week’s end. I keep saying that the path to the top was not linear. This one is far from over.
Historical Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Damon Berryhill
Certainly, if you are paying attention, this one looks like a weird call by me. Andre Dawson had a huge week. But Damon Berryhill had a sneaky good week that showed up really well in terms of H&G. He had the decisive hit in two different games and nabbed two Superheroes and a Hero. Dawson had a three-day spree that included two Heroes and a Superhero. But he also added a Billy Goat. The result was a +4 week for Dawson and a +7 week for Berryhill. So Dawson probably had the more memorable week but Berryhill the one that had a greater impact.
Damon Berryhill was the 25-year-old primary catcher for the 1989 Cubs. Along with Berryhill, the Cubs had Joe Girardi and Rick Wrona, giving them a trio of catchers right around that same age. Damon was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 13th round of the 1983 draft but did not sign. The Cubs got him with the fourth overall pick the following year in the January phase of the draft. He reached the majors for the first time in 1987 with the Cubs, appearing in 12 games. The following year he appeared in 95 games, notching a .690 OPS and finishing 6th in Rookie of the Year voting.
The offense never really clicked as a Cub. In parts of five seasons with the Cubs, he appeared in 955 games with a .633 OPS. The Cubs traded him in September 1991 along with Mike Bielecki for Yorkis Perez and Turk Wendell. Despite Bielecki and Berryhill being players I liked, I remember that trade far, far more because of the player that was Turk Wendell. Surely, that was a deal where the Cubs gave up too much for too little. But the Turk Wendell experience was certainly an interesting one and he grew to be one of my favorite players for a time. For Berryhill, he was squeezed out first by Girardi and then later by Rick Wilkins.
Damon had three productive seasons for the Braves and appeared in two different postseasons with them. He is a proud owner of one World Series homer, hit against the Blue Jays in a series the Braves lost. He also spent time with the Red Sox, Reds and Giants. He last appeared in the majors with the Giants in 1997. He had a career high OPS of .727 in 1994 with the Red Sox. In total, he appeared in parts of 10 major league seasons playing in 683 games and having 2,208 plate appearances with a .656 OPS.
Who was your favorite early 1990s Cubs catcher?
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