The 1977 Cubs went 40-15 in May and June and led the N.L. East by eight games before collapsing in the second half.
Before that, though, the team got off to a .500ish start, not bad coming off an 87-loss season in 1976.
April 27, 1977 was one of those warm summerlike days that we never seem to get in April in Chicago anymore. The game-time temperature for the series finale against the Cardinals was 79 degrees and the wind was blowing out at 16 miles per hour. It sounds like a perfect combination for one of those games where both teams score in double figures.
Someone forgot to give the Cubs the memo, though. Jose Cardenal homered for the Cubs, but the Cardinals smashed the ball all over Wrigley Field. They had 19 hits and Cubs pitchers issued eight walks and St. Louis won the game 21-3, one of just 11 games in Cubs history (since 1904) where the team has allowed 20 or more runs.
Mike Krukow started the game. He faced four batters and all of them reached base. He was removed. Per the Tribune, he threw only 12 pitches. Krukow had a pretty good MLB career, but his first four MLB starts in April 1977 were awful. He allowed 18 hits and 10 walks in those four starts in just 9⅔ innings. That’s a WHIP of 2.897. He had a .391 opponents BA in those four outings and an ERA of 15.83. No wonder Herman Franks had the quick hook.
The rest of the Cubs pitchers that day weren’t any better. Paul Reuschel managed to throw a pair of scoreless innings (the third and fourth), but he was followed by Jim Todd, who allowed 10 runs (eight earned) in two frames. Yikes.
The Cubs lost their next two games, at Cincinnati, to begin May at 7-9. That’s when they went on that amazing 40-15 run. Not even the 2016 World Series champion Cubs had a two-month stretch quite that good.
Of this game, though, Franks was quoted in the Tribune:
“We just got the hell beat out of us,” said Franks. “Everything went wrong today, but it’s not the end of the world. I never saw runs go up on the board like that.”