It didn’t seem like that important of a trade at the time, but Gonzalez got hot right after the Cubs acquired him. In his first 34 games in a Cub uniform he hit .287/.373/.504 (33-for-115) with 10 doubles, three triples and three home runs.
And then came the opener of a three-game series against the Rockies in Colorado, and Gonzalez had himself a big night. Really, the whole team did — they pounded out 27 (!) hits, which came up one short of the franchise record (you’ll read about that game later in this series) and 26 runs. That’s also the post-1900 franchise record, also done in the wild 26-23 win over the Phillies in 1922.
They didn’t wait, posting seven runs in the first inning off starter Bret Saberhagen.
Wait, what? I didn’t remember Bret Saberhagen playing for the Rockies. But there he was; he had been acquired by the Rox at the trading deadline that year from the Mets, and man was he bad: Nine starts, 6.28 ERA, 1.698 WHIP, eight home runs allowed in 43 innings. Turned out he was injured. He had to have shoulder surgery in 1996 and missed the entire season, though he came back and had a couple of decent years for the Red Sox after that.
Saberhagen faced nine batters, allowed five hits, two walks and a runner to reach on a fielder’s choice. He threw 37 pitches to record one out.
But the Cubs didn’t let up on five subsequent Rockies relievers, either. Lance Painter, David Nied, Steve Reed, Mike Munoz and Bryan Hickerson were touched up for 22 hits and 19 runs over 7⅔ innings. Only Darren Holmes, who worked the ninth, put up a scoreless frame. Maybe the Cubs were just worn out by then.
Cubs batters hit just three homers in this slugfest: Gonzalez, Todd Zeile and Sammy Sosa. Gonzo led the Cubs with six RBI and went 3-for-6. Sosa was 4-for-6 with four runs and four driven in and even Scott Bullett, who didn’t start the game, chipped in with four RBI.
A curious note about this game, a 26-7 win for the Cubs: Between 1985 and 1996 there were three games in which a MLB team scored exactly 26 runs. Including this 1995 Cubs game, the losing team scored seven in all three of them. The other two:
Gonzalez eventually left the Cubs as a free agent after 1996 and signed back with the Astros. Eventually he wound up with the Diamondbacks and had some big years there, including a third-place MVP finish in their 2001 World Series championship season.
Here are five minutes’ worth of highlights from the Cubs’ big 1995 win in Colorado.