Welcome back to our look back at the 1989 Cubs. I’ve told you from the start that the 1989 season was not one that featured a straight line to the top. I’ve prepared you for ups and downs. In part six of our series, the Cubs suffered some injuries and dropped all five games in the week. They righted the ship though and in part seven, we saw that they won the first five games of the week before dropping the sixth to end the week.
All of the ups and downs had them yo-yoing between first and fourth place before settling into a tie for second at the end of the week, just half a game out of first. As we turn our attention to week eight of the season, we find the Cubs halfway through a two-city, six-game trip. They started out nicely winning two of three in Cincinnati. This week will start out with those final three games and they’ll be played in Houston. For as long as I can remember, Houston was not a fun place for the Cubs to visit and usually they have gotten much, much more bad than good out of games there. After the trip to Houston, they’ll head home and play three more with the Reds, this time at home.
Let’s see if they kept the momentum rolling or if Houston was a house of horrors for them.
Game 42, May 22: Cubs 5 at Astros 3 (23-19)
Rick Sutcliffe returned to the rotation and he did so as the winning pitcher. In fact, he threw seven scoreless innings to start this one. While he was doing that, the offense had some better luck against our old pal Jim Deshaies than they’d had a few weeks back at Wrigley Field. In the third inning, Doug Dascenzo led off with a single. One out later he moved to second on a wild pitch and another out later Mark Grace delivered an RBI-single.
In the fifth inning, Dwight Smith delivered the decisive blow of the game. Batting with the bases loaded and two outs, he delivered a three-run triple and the Cubs led 4-0. Dascenzo added a sac fly to drive in Shawon Dunston who had singled, stole second and advanced on a sac bunt by Sutcliffe.
In the bottom of the eight, the Astros bats finally woke up. With one one out, future Hall of Famer Craig Biggio delivered a single and then stole second. Louie Meadows followed with an RBI-single and Gerald Young then added a single and that was it for Sutcliffe. Mitch Williams followed but walked the first two batters he faced, the second forcing in a run. Don Zimmer made the quick hook and brought in Calvin Schiraldi to face Glenn Davis. Davis delivered a sac fly and that cut the score to 5-3. But when the dust settled, Calvin had retired five of five batters faced and nailed down his second save.
- Superhero: Rick Sutcliffe (.264). 7⅓IP, 6H, 2BB, 3R, 3K (W 5-3)
- Hero: Calvin Schiraldi (.240). 1⅔IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 0K (Sv 2)
- Sidekick: Dwight Smith (.230). 1-2, 3B, 3RBI
- Billy Goat: Mitch Williams (-.158). 0IP, 0H, 2BB, 0R, 0K
- Goat: Gary Varsho (-.074). 1-2, K
- Kid: Ryne Sandberg (-.049). 0-4, BB
Game 43, May 23: Cubs 5, Astros 4 (24-19)
This game followed a lot of the same script of the day before. The Cubs jumped out to a lead and the Astros battled back before coming up short. Shawon Dunston put the Cubs on the board first with a two-out, two-run homer in the second with Dwight Smith along for the ride following his two-out single. In the sixth, Gary Varsho led off with a triple. Mark Grace followed with an RBI-double. Two outs later, Dwight Smith picked up an RBI-double. After a Shawon Dunston intentional walk, starting pitcher Scott Sanderson came to the plate. He delivered an RBI-double to chase Astros starter Mike Scott.
On the mound Sanderson also contributed. He threw five scoreless innings while the Cubs offense was doing its thing. In the sixth he got into trouble though. Gerald Young drew a one-out walk and Craig Reynolds followed with a single. Bill Doran and Glenn Davis each followed with RBI-singles and the lead was cut to three. Pat Perry came in, but couldn’t immediately stop the parade of singles. He allowed one to Billy Hatcher, driving in another run. Kevin Bass followed with a sac fly and it was 5-4. Calvin Schiraldi closed this game with three scoreless innings for his third save.
- Superhero: Calvin Schiraldi (.423). 3IP, 2H, 1BB, 0R, 2K (Sv 3)
- Hero: Shawon Dunston (.194). 1-3, BB, HR, 1R, 2RBI, K
- Sidekick: Scott Sanderson (.123). 5⅓IP, 6J, 1BB, 4R, 2K (W 5-2)
- Billy Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.122). 0-4, K
- Goat: Pat Perry (-.098). ⅔IP, 1H, 0BB, 0R, 0K
- Kid: Vance Law (-.065). 0-4, K
Game 44, May 24: Cubs 3, Astros 1 (25-19)
The Cubs completed a three game sweep of the Astros and returned to six over .500 for the first time since April 16 when they were 8-2. The Astros were an 86-win team that year and were no slouch. This one had much the same recipe as the first two games of the series. The Cubs scored early and the Astros rallied late only to come up short.
The Cubs grabbed the lead in the fourth inning with two outs. Shawon Dunston batted with the bases loaded. He was credited with a two-run single. Two runs scored on the play but Darrin Jackson made the third out of the inning at third base. Fortunately, both runs had already scored. In the sixth inning they added another run after back-to-back singles to start the inning by Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace put runners at the corners. Damon Berryhill grounded into a double play to score the third run.
Greg Maddux started this one and took a shutout to the ninth inning. With one out, Ken Caminiti singled. One out later Kevin Bass singled and Gerald Young continued his strong series with a RBI single. Mitch Williams was summoned and retired Rafael Ramirez for the final out and his 12th save.
- Superhero: Greg Maddux (.359). 8⅔IP, 9H, 4BB, 1R, 3K (W 3-5)
- Hero: Shawon Dunston (.151). 1-3, BB, 2RBI
- Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.090). ⅓IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 1K (Sv 12)
- Billy Goat: Doug Dascenzo (-.060). 0-4, S
- Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.038). 1-4, R
- Kid: Damon Berryhill (-.027). 1-3, BB, R, DP
Game 45, May 26: Reds 10 at Cubs 8 (25-20)
The Cubs three-game winning streak came to an end in a wild 12-inning affair. The Reds scored two in the first on an RBI-single and a sac fly off of Cubs starter Paul Kilgus. The Cubs benefited from a Reds error in the bottom of the inning and plated four runs. Mark Grace and Damon Berryhill each had RBI-singles and Vance Law added a two-run single of his own. All three of those singles along with a Dwight Smith double in the middle came with two outs.
In the third inning, the Cubs extended their lead on an RBI double by Berryhill and an RBI-single by Law. In the fourth they pushed their lead to five on a Ryne Sandberg RBI-single. In the bottom of the sixth, it was the Cubs defense that provided a golden opportunity. Shawon Dunston made an error to start the inning. Todd Benzinger started the scoring with a two-run double for his second and third RBI of the day. Bo Diaz had a two-out single to cut the Cubs lead to 7-5. Chris Sabo added another single off of reliever Jeff Pico and the Cubs only led by one.
In the seventh inning, Todd Banzinger had a two-out solo homer off of Pico to tie the game. A single by Paul O’Neill and a Rolando Roomes double gave the Reds their first lead. John Franco pitched a perfect eighth for the Reds, but in the ninth the Cubs were again aided by the Reds defense. Domingo Ramos reached on a Chris Sabo error and then a second error by John Franco sent him around to third. Gary Varsho then tied the game with an RBI-double.
It stayed that way until the 12th when Roomes hit a two-run homer off of Calvin Schiraldi who was in his third inning of work for the second time in the week. Benzinger scored on the play, capping a monster day for him that included two hits, one a homer, a walk, three runs and four RBI. Roomes had three hits including a homer and three RBI as well.
- Superhero: Domingo Ramos (.366). 0-2, K
- Hero: Gary Varsho (.263). 1-6, 2B, R, RBI, SB
- Sidekick: Vance Law (.119). 2-5, 3RBI, K
- Billy Goat: Jeff Pico (-.334). 2⅓IP, 4H, 0BB, 2R, 2K
- Goat: Doug Dascenzo (-.261). 1-6, R, K
- Kid: Paul Kilgus (-.131). 5⅔IP, 8H, 1BB, 2R, K
Game 46, May 27: Cubs 5, Reds 3 (26-20)
The Cubs returned to the week’s theme. They jumped out to a lead and then held off a comeback attempt to nail down the win. They put two on the board in the first inning. They loaded the bases with a pair of walks sandwiched around by a hit by pitch. Damon Berryhill then had a sacrifice fly for the first Cubs run. Dwight Smith followed with a two-out RBI single to make it 2-0. Chris Sabo cut the lead in half with a solo homer off of Cubs starter Rick Sutcliffe with two outs in the third inning.
The Cubs added two more runs in the third inning. Berryhill drove in the first one with an RBI single and then Smith again delivered an RBI-single to make it 4-1. In the fifth inning, Berryhill led off the inning with a double. He advanced to third on a sacrifice by Smith. Then Vance Law singled to put the Cubs up by four.
Sutcliffe pitched into the ninth inning when Ryne Sandberg made an error on a grounder starting the inning. Eric Davis followed with a two-run homer to cut the lead to two. But Sutcliffe bounced back with three straight grounders to close it out. Sutcliffe also recorded one of four stolen bases in his career in this game.
- Superhero: Rick Sutcliffe (.240). 9IP, 4H, 2BB, 3R (2ER), 8K (W 6-3)
- Hero: Dwight Smith (.155). 2-2, BB, RBI
- Sidekick: Damon Berryhill (.089). 2-3, 2B, R, 2RBI
- Billy Goat: Doug Dascenzo (-.061). 0-5, 2K
- Goat: Shawon Dunston (-.013). 0-3, BB, 2K
- Kid: Curtis Wilkerson (-.011). 1-3
Game 47, May 28: Cubs 6, Reds 1 (27-20)
The Cubs moved to seven over .500 for the first time with the win in this one. Once again, they jumped to a lead, but the Reds only managed a single run and this one never came particularly close. The game was scoreless through three innings. In the bottom of the inning, Vance Law singled and Mark Grace walked. A grounder advanced the runners one station. Lloyd McClendon then had a sac fly for the first run. Darrin Jackson then doubled and made it 2-0 Cubs.
In the sixth inning, Damon Berryhill led off with a single and McClendon followed with a second one. Jackson walked and loaded the bases. Shawon Dunston delivered a two-run single to make it 4-0. One out later, Doug Dascenzo drove in another run with a single of his own. The final run scored an inning later on an RBI double by Dwight Smith.
Chris Sabo added his second homer of the series leading off the eighth inning to break up the shutout attempt by Mike Bielecki. Bielecki went the distance and beat losing pitcher and they beat future Cub Danny Jackson for the second time in quick succession to drop him to 3-8.
- Superhero: Mike Bielecki (.363). 9IP, 7H, 2BB, 1R, 5K (W 4-2)
- Hero: Darrin Jackon (.091). 1-3, 2B, BB, R, RBI, K
- Sidekick: Mark Grace (.060). 0-2, 3BB, 2R, K
- Billy Goat: Doug Dascenzo (-.032). 1-5, RBI, K
- Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.025). 1-4, R
- Kid: Curtis Wilkerson (-.019). 2-5
The Cubs took two of three from the Reds for the second time in as many weeks, this time at home. That was an odd little three-game homestand. Coupled with the sweep in Houston, the Cubs had won 10 of 12 after their five game losing skid. With that, they moved to a season high seven game over .500.
The Cubs moved into a first place tie with their win on Monday to start the week. By Tuesday, they had sole possession of the division lead. By Sunday, that lead had swelled to 2½ games.
The Friday afternoon 12-inning game completed in three hours, 36 minutes. In 2019, the last normal season, the Cubs played 15 different nine-inning games that ran at least that long. It’s amazing how much longer games take just 30 years later.
1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Calvin Schiraldi
Calvin Schiraldi was initially drafted by the White Sox in the 17th round of the 1980 draft, but didn’t sign and instead went to college, where he was a teammate of Roger Clemens at the University of Texas. Three years later, he was the 27th pick in the first round by the New York Mets. He reached the majors with them quickly, at the age of 22 in 1984. After the 1985 season, he was part of an eight-player deal between the Red Sox and Mets. Bob Ojeda appears to have been the biggest piece in that deal.
Schiraldi was very effective out of the Red Sox bullpen in 1986 and 1987. That first year, he had a 1.41 ERA in 51 innings and picked up nine saves. He added six more saves in 83 plus innings of work the following year. He pitched in the ALCS and World Series in 1986, notching one save in each, but picking up two losses in the Series — Games 6 and 7, in which he pitched poorly in both contests.
After the 1987 season, he was part of the infamous Lee Smith trade, going to the Cubs along with Al Nipper for the future Hall of Fame reliever who was far from done. In 1988, Calvin actually started 27 games, completing two and throwing 166 plus innings. He was 9-13 with a 4.38 ERA. That was his only significant starting experience in his career. He was 3-6 with a 3.78 ERA and four saves out of the Cubs bullpen in 1989 at the time he was traded.
He will be a part of the biggest in-season trade of the 1989 season. He went to the Padres along with Darrin Jackson for Luis Salazar and Marvel Wynne. Phil Stephenson will also be a player to be named later a week later, in a deal that involved five players that played for the Cubs that season. Schiraldi was 3-1 in five appearances, four starts, for the Padres down the stretch. He started eight more games for them in 1990 as he made 42 appearances with a 4.41 ERA. 1991 was his last major league season. After being signed by the Rangers in season, he appeared in three games with an 11.57 ERA. After that season, he never pitched in organized baseball again.
In all, Calvin pitched in parts of eight seasons. He had a 32-39 record and 21 saves. He pitched in 235 games, covering a total of 553⅓ innings. He recorded a 4.28 ERA. I’ve seen some negative comments about him, but he was a pretty effective reliever for the Cubs that year. He had the second most innings pitched among pitchers that were solely relievers. His numbers were significantly damaged by a June in which he was 1-2 with a 6.50 ERA in 18 innings of work. In fact, it might have been a mistake to trade Schiraldi. The Cubs bullpen was lackluster in their NLCS loss. Luis Salazar had a strong contribution to the offense, but Schiraldi could have added another option to the Cubs pen that was lacking.
My memory of Calvin Schiraldi?
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The key piece in the Lee Smith deal
The 1988 starting experiment
The 1989 return to the pen
Traded for Luis Salazar and Marvell Wynne
Other (please leave your thought)