In week 18, the Cubs swept three games in Houston, capping a seven game winning streak. They then dropped two of three in Los Angeles. Still, they increased their division lead during the week to 7½ games. Briefly they were at a nine game lead. Nine would be the biggest lead of the season. They’d reach that mark on a number of occasions.
We’re now under 50 games remaining in the season. In week 19, we’ll look at six games, two in San Diego, with an off day before and after, and four games in San Francisco including a Sunday double header. That will take the Cubs down to 41 games remaining in the season. That means we’ll have reached the three-quarter mark of the season and we’ll check in on the top and bottom five in the cumulative Heroes and Goats standings.
Game 116, August 12: Cubs 4, Padres 0 (73-43)
The Cubs returned to 30 games over .500 with a win over the hapless Padres. The loss was the Padres 80th of the season (in just 115 games). Fergie Jenkins went the distance for the 17th time on the season and recorded his sixth shutout. The offense turned eight hits and five walks into four runs.
- Superhero: Fergie Jenkins (.460). 9IP, 6H, 2BB, 0R, 10K, W(16-10)
- Hero: Billy Williams (.100). 1-4, RBI
- Sidekick: Glenn Beckert (.070). 2-5, R
- Billy Goat: Don Young (-.067). 0-3, BB, K
- Goat: Ron Santo (-.049). 0-3, BB, DP
- Kid: Ernie Banks (-.027). 1-3, 2B, R, SH, K
Game 117, August 13: Cubs 4, Padres 2 (74-43)
The Cubs completed the mini-sweep of the Padres, winning both games of the abbreviated series. In this one, the Cubs got all four runs in the fourth inning, erasing an early 1-0 lead by the Padres after a run in the second. Bill Hands got the win over ex-Cub Joe Niekro. Hands went the distance as Jenkins had the day before. With the off days bracketing the series, that meant four straight days off for the Cubs bullpen. Going back further, Ken Holtzman through seven of the eight innings on Sunday and Bill Hands went the distance on Saturday of the previous week. So heading to San Francisco, Phil Regan had the only inning pitched out of the bullpen in a week.
- Superhero: Bill Hands (.302). 9IP, 5H, 2BB, 2R (1ER), 3K, W(15-8)
- Hero: Glenn Beckert (.152). 2-4, R
- Sidekick: Ron Santo (.057). 1-4, 2B, RBI, R, K
- Billy Goat: Ernie Banks (-.035). 0-3, SH
- Goat: Bill Heath (-.017). 0-2, 2BB
- Kid: Jim Hickman (.003). 0-3, RBI, SF
Game 118, August 15: Cubs 0, Giants 3 (74-44)
The Cubs bats didn’t show up on time in San Francisco. They mustered only four hits and drew three walks. Randy Hundley left after eight innings in the shutout in San Diego. He then only one at bat between August 13 and August 23. At the time he was hurt, he was carrying a .805 OPS, a good number for a catcher and generally the sixth or seventh hitter in the lineup in those days.
- Superhero: Glenn Beckert (.028). 2-4
- Hero: Ken Holtzman (.006). 6IP, 7H, 1BB, 4K, 2R, L(13-7)
- Sidekick: Bill Heath (.002). 1-3, BB, K
- Billy Goat: Ron Santo (-.121). 0-4, K
- Goat: Don Kessinger (-.105). 0-4, K
- Kid: Don Young (-.060). 0-2
Game 119, August 16: Cubs 3, Giants 0 (75-44)
The Cubs returned the favor, winning this one 3-0 in a duel of future Hall of Fame pitchers. Ferguson Jenkins added again to his complete game and shutout totals. In this one, he only allowed three hits, though he did walk six. The game was scoreless until the ninth inning. The rally started with one out when Bill Heath drew a walk. Jim Hickman followed with a single. Paul Popovich drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single. Jenkins then reached on an error that scored two runs.
- Superhero: Fergie Jenkins (.558). 9IP, 3H, 6BB, 0R, 8K, W(17-10)
- Hero: Paul Popovich (.341). 1-1, RBI, R
- Sidekick: Jim Hickman (.033). 2-4, RBI, 2K
- Billy Goat: Glenn Beckert (-.146). 0-4
- Goat: Bill Heath (-.132). 0-3, BB, R
- Kid: Ron Santo (-.093). 1-4
Game 120, August 17: Cubs 3, Giants 5 (75-45)
The Giants won the first game of the scheduled doubleheader. The Cubs scored the game’s first run in the third inning, but Bill Hands was touched for three runs in the fourth. The Cubs did get back within one when they scored two in the sixth, but two by the Giants in the seventh iced this one. Despite allowing five runs, Hands went the distance. To this point, Phil Regan had thrown three innings for the week and no other bullpen pitcher had been used.
- Superhero: Glenn Beckert (.162). 2-4, R, SB, DP
- Hero: Jim Hickman (.126). 1-4, HR, RBI, R
- Sidekick: Don Kessinger (.064). 1-4, R
- Billy Goat: Bill Hands (-.390). 8IP, 8H, 2BB, 5R(3ER), 6K, L(15-9)
- Goat: Billy Williams (-.156). 0-4
- Kid: Paul Popovich (-.106). 0-1
Game 121, August 17: Cubs 3, Giants 1 (76-45)
The Cubs scored three runs in each end of the doubleheader. But the key in the second one was a strong start from Dick Selma. The Giants were held to just four hits. Rich Nye actually pitched in this game. It was his first appearance since starting on August 6. The Cubs themselves only mustered five hits, but they were able to turn them into three runs and that was enough for the win and the split in the four game set.
- Superhero: Billy Williams (.310). 2-3, BB, RBI, R
- Hero: Dick Selma (.249). 6⅔IP, 3H, 5BB, 1R, 7K, W(12-4)
- Sidekick: Phil Regan (.248). 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 3K, SV(14)
- Billy Goat: Gene Oliver (-.074). 0-3
- Goat: Don Young (-.062). 0-4
- Kid: Jim Hickman (-.054). 0-3, BB, K
Looking Back: The Cubs won four of six games, sweeping the two in San Diego and then splitting the four in San Francisco. That matched the four of six they took the week before to start the trip. That meant that the Cubs took eight of 12 on the trip. The Cubs game into the week with a 7½-game lead in the division and it actually grew to nine with their first win of the week. It stayed there for four days, but then ticked back down to eight with the loss in the first game of the doubleheader.
WPA Heroes of the Week: Fergie Jenkins and Glenn Beckert (+6)
WPA Goat of the Week: Don Young (-6)
Week 19 Player Profile: Glenn Beckert
Glenn was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox before the 1962 season. Following that season, the Cubs drafted him from the Sox in the 1962 first-year draft. Glenn reached the majors for the first time in 1965, following the sudden death of Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs. From 1965 until 1973, he was the regular second baseman for the Cubs. In each of those nine seasons he played alongside Don Kessinger at short.
1969 marked the first of four straight trips to the All-Star game for Beckert. In 1968, he lead the majors with 98 runs scored. He also won a gold glove that year and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting. In two other seasons he’d receive MVP votes (‘63 and ‘71). In all, he played in 1,247 games as a Cub, notching 5,572 plate appearances, and scoring 672 runs. He had a line of .283/.318/.348 for his career. Five times Beckert had the lowest strikeouts per at bat in the National League. In 1971, he finished third in the NL in batting average at .342.
After the 1973 season, the Cubs traded Beckert and Bobby Fenwick to the Padres for Jerry Morales. He played two seasons for the Padres, though he only appeared in 73 games over the two seasons, and many of them at third base. He was released after the 1975 season and that was the end of the line for Glenn.
1969 Heroes and Goats Year to Date Top/Bottom 5:
- Ferguson Jenkins +29
- Bill Hands +21
- Billy Williams +14
- Ken Holtzman +11
- Phil Regan +10.5
- Ted Abernathy -10.5
- Don Kessinger -11.5
- Nate Oliver -12.5
- Ernie Banks -13.5
- Don Young -22.5
Looking Ahead: As we creep towards the finish line, the Cubs return home for an 11-game homestand. The first team up would be the Atlanta Braves. At that point in the season, the Braves were sitting in third place, 2½ games out of first in the National League West. They would be followed in by the Astros for four games. The Astros were having a sub-par season and the Cubs swept them in Houston in week 18 of the season. Those will be the games we’ll be covering next week, then the following week will start with four games at home against the Reds. With an eight-game division lead and an 11-game homestand, the Cubs had a real opportunity to put the division away.