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1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats: Part 4

The Cubs look to bounce back after a rotten week

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In our last installment of Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats, we covered a relatively disastrous week three of the season. The Cubs lost six of seven games. I say only relatively disastrous because they came into the week with a two-game division lead in the National League East and left the week tied for first place. They were tied with the Philllies, so two teams who not a lot was expected for were tied for first. You’d always want to have a large lead, but you can’t really ever feel too down if you are still in first place.

In this week four, the Cubs head home. There they would open play against the National League West with two three game sets. The first would bring the Dodgers to town and the second would bring in the Padres. Let’s dive into the action and see if the Cubs woes would continue or if they could turn things around.

Game 18, April 25: Dodgers 4 at Cubs 0 (9-9)

Tim Belcher was not the cure for what ailed the Cubs. Belcher went the distance, allowing only five hits. Three of those hits were by Mark Grace. Scott Sanderson was not terrible for the Cubs, being tagged only for three runs in the second inning. That was aided by back-to-back errors on the first two hitters in the inning. Had the results been exactly the same but no errors made, Sanderson would have allowed a single and a double in the inning, but only have faced four batters after a double play. Instead, three of the first four batters reached base and four of the first five. That resulted in two runs. The indignity of the inning was a two-run double by the opposing pitcher, Tim Belcher.

  • Superhero: Pat Perry (.159). 3⅔IP, 2H, 1BB, 0R, 4K
  • Hero: Mark Grace (.050). 3-4, 2B
  • Sidekick: Phil Stephenson (.049). 1-1
  • Billy Goat: Scott Sanderson (-.256). 2⅓IP, 6H, 0BB, 3R (2ER), 2K (L 1-2)
  • Goat: Mitch Webster (-.104). 0-4, 2K
  • Kid: Vance Law (-.087). 0-4, K

Game 19, April 26: Dodgers 3 at Cubs 1 (9-10)

This game was an eerie carbon copy of the day before. The Dodgers scored three in the second once again. And once again their pitching was excellent. The only real difference is that the late game run scored this time was scored by the Cubs, making this one look closer than it really was. Rick Sutcliffe wasn’t terrible despite recording his first loss after four straight wins. He threw eight innings and was good other than the second. That inning saw an Eddie Murray double, a Mike Marshall walk, a Mike Scioscia single (Marshall out at second), a John Shelby walk and a three-run double by No. 8 hitter Alfredo Griffin.

  • Superhero: Mark Grace (.193). 3-4, 2B, RBI
  • Hero: Ryne Sandberg (.096). 2-4, R
  • Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.017). 1IP, 0H, 1BB, 0R, 1K
  • Billy Goat: Vance Law (-.156). 1-4, K
  • Goat: Mitch Webster (-.150). 0-4, 2K
  • Kid: Andre Dawson (-.137). 0-4

Game 20, April 27: Cubs 1, Dodgers 0 (10-10)

The Cubs offense remained dormant. But Greg Maddux stopped the bleeding for a day. He went the distance, allowing five hits and two walks. Gary Varsho came off the bench and provided the offense in this one. He had a two-out triple in the fifth inning scoring Greg Maddux with the game’s only run. Those of us who were long time Cubs fans will remember that Greg Maddux was a very good base runner for a pitcher. Games like this went a long way to creating the legend of Maddux around Wrigley Field as he largely willed the Cubs to a victory, snapping a losing streak.

  • Superhero: Greg Maddux (.736). 9IP, 5H, 2BB, 0R, 6K (W 1-3)

This is the No. 1 highest WPA game score of the 1989 Cubs

  • Hero: Gary Varsho (.160). 1-2, 3B, RBI
  • Sidekick: Andre Dawson (-.003). 0-3, K
  • Billy Goat: Curtis Wilkerson (-.083). 0-3, K
  • Goat: Mitch Webster (-.073). 0-4, K
  • Kid: Joe Girardi (-.070). 0-3

Game 21, April 28: Cubs 3, Padres 1 (11-10)

The offense was a little better in this one. Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg each had three hits. The two combined for a pair of runs and a pair of RBI. Darrin Jackson also had a pair of hits and an RBI. Jackson had seen quite a bit of playing time off of the bench in 1988. His role was diminished in 1989, but this was a game that he played a big part in the win. On the mound, Paul Kilgus narrowly missed a complete game for the second time in the season. He recorded 26 outs and his second victory. This was already is third start of seven or more innings early in the season. With back-to-back wins, the Cubs sneaked back over .500.

  • Superhero: Paul Kilgus (.321). 8⅔IP, 3H, 3BB, 1R (0ER), 3K (W 2-2)
  • Hero: Ryne Sandberg (.175). 3-4, HR, R, 2RBI
  • Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.073). ⅓IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 0K (SV 7)
  • Billy Goat: Mitch Webster (-.051). 0-4
  • Goat: Mark Grace (-.042). 0-4
  • Kid: Shawon Dunston (-.033). 0-3

Game 22, April 29: Padres 5 at Cubs 4 (11-11)

This game was scoreless through three with Cubs starter Mike Bielecki dueling with Walt Terrell. The Padres scored two in the fourth. With one out Tony Gwynn doubled and Jack Clark followed with a single. Benito Santiago hit a grounder to Sandberg. Sandberg made an error on the play, allowing a run to score and once again placing runners on the corners. Mike Bielecki then balked in a second run. If all of that wasn’t bad enough, Mitch Webster misplayed a ball in the fifth allowing a third run to score.

The Cubs battled back with single runs in each of the last four innings. The depth of the roster was on display with RBIs by Gary Varsho, Curtis Wilkerson (2) and Mark Grace. But a John Kruk two-run homer in the eighth inning off of Calvin Schiraldi spoiled the comeback and the Cubs fell back to .500.

  • Superhero: Curtis Wilkerson (.169). 2-5, HR, R, 2RBI, K
  • Hero: Phil Stephenson (.156). 1-1
  • Sidekick: Mark Grace (.126). 2-4, HR, R, RBI
  • Billy Goat: Andre Dawson (-.399). 1-5, R, DP
  • Goat: Calvin Schiraldi (-.168). 1 IP, 2H, 0BB, 2R, 1K
  • Kid: Mitch Webster (-.141). 0-4, S, K

Game 23, April 30: Cubs 7, Padres 3 (12-11)

The offense finally busted loose in this one and propelled Scott Sanderson to his second win of the season. This one did not look good early when a Carmelo Martinez sac fly and a Marvell Wynne two-out single put the Cubs behind 2-0. But Andre Dawson tied things up with a two-run single in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs benefited from some sloppy Padres defense in the second, allowing two runs to score on a misplayed ball in the outfield with two outs. Curtis Wilkerson had an RBI triple in the fourth and scored on a wild pitch and the Cubs led 6-2, chasing old nemesis Eric Show after only four innings. The Cubs worked around a Mark Parent homer in the sixth and took the series and evened their record on the week at three up and three down.

  • Superhero: Ryne Sandberg (.223). 0-2, BB, R, 2 SB, K, DP
  • Hero: Curtis Wilkerson (.216). 2-5, 2B, 3B, 2R, RBI, SB, K
  • Sidekick: Scott Sanderson (.071). 7IP, 5H, 1BB, 3R, 4K (W 2-2)
  • Billy Goat: Shawon Dunston (-.048). 1-4, 2B, R, K
  • Goat: Mark Grace (-.037). 0-2, 2BB, K
  • Kid: Mitch Webster (-.036). 2-4, R, SB, K

After the Cubs’ woes stretched into a second week, dropping two more games to start the home stand, they bounced back. They ended the week by winning three of the last four. In a division that bunched up with everyone around the .500 mark the Cubs dropped all of the way down to fourth place during the week and finished it 1½ games out of first. 1989 was definitely one of the years where it was a straight line to the top. The Cubs were in fourth as late as May 15 and during that time got as far as 3½ games out of first. They stayed near or at the top throughout, but they were 3½ behind as late as July 26. Buckle up, this one is going to be a bit of a bumpy ride.

1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Ryne Sandberg

There aren’t a lot of Cubs who have had more words written about them than Ryne Sandberg. Ryne was a 20th-round draft pick by the Phillies in the 1978 draft. He was traded with Larry Bowa to the Cubs in January of 1982. He played the remainder of his career with the Cubs (he had appeared in 13 games as a Phillie, and got his only Phillie hit against the Cubs at Wrigley Field). He appeared in two post season series, was elected to 10 All-Star teams, won an MVP, won nine gold gloves, won seven silver sluggers, two Player of the Months, seven Player of the Weeks, led the NL in runs three times and homers once. He led the majors in triples once and total bases once.

In all, he amassed 2,164 games played across 16 major league seasons. He had 9.282 plate appearances with a .796 OPS (.285/.344/.452). He slugged 282 homers, stole 344 bases, drove in 1,061 runs and scored 1,318. He is ninth among all players with 6,363 assists at second base, is 20th with 1,158 double plays turned at second and 24th in putouts with 3,807 at second. He’s played the 14th most games at second (1,995) and has the 10th highest fielding percentage (.989).

Ryne is one of the finest players in Cubs history and one of the few surprises to me is that it took him three tries to go into the Hall of Fame, finally being elected in 2005. As for the 1989 Cubs, he led them in games played, plate appearances, at bats, runs, hits, and home runs. That was the first of his back-to-back 30+ homer seasons and first of four straight with 25+ (he had six of those overall). Manager Jim Frey was quoted as saying Ryne was the most consistent player he ever saw. Like many people my age, he was bar none my favorite player growing up.


Where do you rank Ryne Sandberg among all second basemen?

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  • 45%
    Top 3
    (38 votes)
  • 45%
    Top 10
    (38 votes)
  • 9%
    Top 20 (Baseball Almanac lists 20 HOF at 2B)
    (8 votes)
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