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1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats: Part 12

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As spring evolved to summer, the Cubs were still in first

Steve Wilson as a member of the Dodgers in 1992
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The last few parts of this series covered a string of 17 consecutive games that the Cubs played in 1989. Despite the grueling stretch against the three teams battling with the Cubs for control of the NL East, the Cubs came through at 9-8 and held on to first place. The Cubs had a day off on June 19 during a three-city, 10-game road trip. Today we’ll look at the final leg of that trip as the Cubs concluded in Pittsburgh. Then we’ll look at a weekend series at home against the Expos.

With spring beginning to evolve into summer, attendance was picking up and the Cubs were looking to take control of the division. I’ve told you often that nothing was particularly easy for the Cubs in 1989. This race is far from over in June. Let’s see how things went in week 12 of the season.

Game 68, June 20: Cubs 5 at Pirates 4 (38-30)

You might recall the Cubs finished the week before with a pair of wins against the Expos and so this one made it three straight. It wasn’t easy though. It started out looking good when Andre Dawson homered with a man on the first off of John Smiley giving the Cubs an instant 2-0 lead. But in the bottom of the inning, the Pirates bounced right back. Barry Bonds was the Pirates lead-off hitter that day. He drew a walk and stole a base before scoring one out later on an Andy Van Slyke single. Bobby Bonilla followed with a single of his own and RJ Reynolds hit a sacrifice fly tying the score.

Jerome Walton led off the third inning with a solo homer. That put the Cubs and Scott Sanderson ahead 3-2 and it stayed there for quite some time. Unfortunately, in the eighth inning Van Slyke had a one out triple off of Steve Wilson. Bonilla followed with a walk against Mitch Williams. Reynolds then added his second RBI of the day with a single, tying the game. The Cubs summoned Jeff Pico who got a ground ball, but Ryne Sandberg made an uncharacteristic error allowing a run and the Pirates had their first lead of the day.

All was not lost though. Dwight Smith had a clutch triple with two outs in the top of the ninth off of Jeff Robinson. Damon Berryhill then came through with a game-tying single. The game stayed knotted until the 11th inning. Vance Law started things with a single. Calvin Schiraldi who’d thrown two scoreless innings to that point then sacrificed Law to second. Shawon Dunston came through with a two-out, RBI single giving the Cubs the lead. Schiraldi retired the first two batters in the 11th. Paul Kilgus was summoned to close the game out. His opposition? Bonds. Bonds singled though and that brought Jose Lind to the plate. But Kilgus got a ground ball to short and nailed down his first save in his first Cubs relief appearance.

  • Superhero: Calvin Schiraldi (.365). 2⅔IP, 2H, 0BB, 0R, 3K (W 2-4)
  • Hero: Shawon Dunston (.321). 1-2, RBI
  • Sidekick: Damon Berryhill (.235). 1-2, RBI
  • Billy Goat: Mitch Williams (-.236). 0IP, 1H, 1BB, 0R, 0K
  • Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.230). 0-5, K
  • Kid: Jeff Pico (-.199). ⅔IP, 0H, 1BB, 0R, 0K

Game 69, June 21: Cubs 1 at Pirates 0 (39-30)

This was the kind of game that legends are made of. Greg Maddux and Doug Drabek locked up in an epic duel. In fact, both threw nine scoreless innings. The Cubs drew a pair of walks and Dwight Smith stole a base in the first. Bobby Bonilla double for the Pirates with Barry Bonds on first in the bottom of the inning. Neither team cashed in and neither had a lot more opportunities in regulation.

The Cubs next put together an opportunity in the fifth when Vance Law drew a one-out walk and Maddux and Jerome Walton had back-to-back singles one out later. But the second of those singles was an infield hit and therefore couldn’t score the run. Maddux added another single in the eighth and went to send on a Walton sacrifice. But he advanced no further.

Maddux did get himself into one other jam. That was in the 10th inning. He issued a lead off walk to Gary Redus. There was a sacrifice and then Redus stole third. But Junior Ortiz struck out. The Cubs then elected to walk both RJ Reynolds and Bonds to load the bases. Jose Lind grounded out and the game went to the 11th.

Gary Varsho led off the 11th with a double. He then scored on a pair of flyouts by Damon Berryhill and Lloyd McClendon. That provided the game’s only run. Mitch Williams worked a perfect 11th for his 18th save.

  • Superhero: Greg Maddux (.734). 10IP, 6H, 4BB, 0R, 5K (W 6-6) (also 3-4 at the plate)

*2nd largest WPA game score of the season (behind an earlier start that was .736)

  • Hero: Gary Varsho (.296). 1-1, 2B, R
  • Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.167). 1IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 0K (Sv 18)
  • Billy Goat: Dwight Smith (-.233). 1-4, BB, SB, CS
  • Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.198). 0-5
  • Kid: Vance Law/Lloyd McClendon (-.124). Law: 0-4, BB, K; McClendon 0-4, SF, RBI, K

Game 70, June 22: Cubs 8, Pirates 0 (40-30)

The Cubs reached 10 over .500 for the first time with a three-game sweep in Pittsburgh. Finally, an easy one after two extra-inning wins. The Cubs pounded out 12 hits behind Rick Sutcliffe. The Cubs held the Pirates scoreless for a second straight game and for the final 23 innings of the series.

Sutcliffe also contributed to the offense. He drew a leadoff walk in the third inning. He advance to second on a Jerome Walton single. One out later, Ryne Sandberg doubled in the game’s first run. Damon Berryhill followed with a single that ended up scoring two runs due to a defensive miscue by the Pirates. In the fourth, Lloyd McClendon singled, moved to second on a ground out and then scored on a Domingo Ramos single.

The floodgates opened in the ninth. Dwight Smith had a one-out double. Then with two outs, Berryhill walked, McClendon walked, Vance Law singled in two runs and Ramos singled in two more for a three RBI day. Meanwhile, Rick Sutcliffe was going the distance.

  • Superhero: Rick Sutcliffe (.266). 9IP, 5H, 1BB, 0R, 4K (W 9-4)
  • Hero: Ryne Sandberg (.172). 2-4, 2B, BB, R, RBI
  • Sidekick: Lloyd McClendon (.057). 2-3, 2BB, 2R
  • Billy Goat: Mitch Webster (-.055). 1-5, R, RBI, CS
  • Goat: Vance Law (-.047). 1-5, 2RBI
  • Kid: Dwight Smith (.003). 2-4, 2B, BB, 2RBI

Game 71, June 23: Expos 5 at Cubs 1 (40-31)

Home wasn’t quite as sweet as the Cubs would like. After five straight wins on the road, the Cubs came home and dropped the first one at Wrigley Field. Mike Bielecki started this one and wasn’t bad for the Cubs, but Mark Langston was terrific for the Expos. Old pal Dave Martinez started this game off with a solo homer for the Expos. He then added his second of the game leading off the fifth inning.

The Cubs bounced back with a run of their own in the bottom of the fifth. Dwight Smith led off the inning with a double and then scored on a Lloyd McClendon single. The game stayed at 2-1 into the eighth inning with both starters still in the game. That’s when Tim Raines drew a walk and stole second. Then Hubie Brooks launched a two-run homer to make it 4-1.

Martinez reached on an error to start the ninth. He moved to second on a sacrifice and the Cubs intentionally walked Andres Galarraga. Raines delivered an RBI-single to complete the scoring. Tim Burke pitched the final two innings and recorded his 15th save for the Expos.

  • Superhero: Andre Dawson (.151). 2-2, 2B, BB, R
  • Hero: Calvin Schiraldi (.002). ⅓IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 0K
  • Sidekick: Steve Wilson (-.001). 1⅓IP, 1H, 1BB, 0R, 1K
  • Billy Goat: Domingo Ramos (-.151). 0-3
  • Goat: Mitch Webster (-.088). 0-2, 2BB, K
  • Kid: Jerome Walton (-.078). 0-4, 2K

Game 72, June 24: Expos 5 at Cubs 0 (40-32)

After recording a save earlier in the week, Paul Kilgus was back in the rotation. He had just one bad inning, but that was more than enough to doom the Cubs. Kevin Gross shutout the Cubs in this one. This game reached the fifth inning scoreless. But it didn’t leave that way.

Hubie Brooks started things off with a single. Tim Wallach followed with one of his own. One out later, Spike Owen was intentionally walked to load the bases for Gross. Gross came through with an RBI single. Otis Nixon followed with a two run single, then stole second. Rex Hudler added a two-run single of his own and that was effectively it for the Cubs.

Gross went the distance allowing three hits and three walks. He improved his record to 7-6.

  • Superhero: Dwight Smith (.020). 0-2, BB, HBP, K
  • Hero: Les Lancaster (.019). 3IP, 2H, 1BB, 0R, 2K
  • Sidekick: Mark Grace (.009). 1-3, BB, CS
  • Billy Goat: Paul Kilgus (-.214). 5IP, 6H, 1BB, 5R, 1K (L 5-7)
  • Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.087). 0-4, K
  • Kid: Andre Dawson (-.070). 0-3, BB, K

Game 73, June 25: Expos 5 at Cubs 0 (40-33)

After a road sweep of the Pirates, it was a disappointing start to the homestand, getting swept by the Expos. Particularly, watching the offense go scoreless Saturday and Sunday. After scoring in the fifth inning on Friday, the Cubs offense never scored again. That makes for a long weekend.

Scott Sanderson didn’t pitch too badly in this one, but Dennis Martinez stifled the Cubs offense and the Expos put enough on the board to win fairly comfortably. This one was actually scoreless into the seventh when Tim Raines led off the inning with a bunt single. The future Hall of Famer came around to score on a Hubie Brooks triple. Sanderson walked Tim Wallach and then Mike Fitzgerald doubled in the second run of the inning.

Calvin Schiraldi was on the hill in the ninth inning when the Expos rallied again to put it out of reach. Brooks led off with a single. A strike out and a caught stealing later, it looked like things might go okay. But Fitzgerald walked, Spike Owen walked and then Mike Aldrete doubled in two. Dave Martinez continued his hot series with an RBI single.

The Cubs had only two runners reach second. Jerome Walton led off the first with a double, but he never moved from second. Then in the third, Sanderson walked and Walton reached on an error putting two on with one out. But again, the runners never moved.

  • Superhero: Steve Wilson (.131). IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 0K
  • Hero: Jerome Walton (.041). 1-4, 2B
  • Honorable Mention: Scott Sanderson (.006). 0-1, BB
  • Sidekick: Mark Grace (-.013). 1-4
  • Billy Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.146). 0-4
  • Goat: Vance Law (-.108). 1-4, 2DP
  • Kid: Andre Dawson (-.106). 0-4

So the Cubs split six games. They did it in a weird way, winning the three road games and losing the three home games. Of course, the Pirates despite a strong lineup finished well back of the division race in fifth place 19 games out. The Expos were in fourth by year’s end, but seven games clear of the Pirates. So it makes some sense.

The Cubs played in front of fairly packed houses Friday and Saturday with over 36,000 in attendance each day before dropping down a bit on Sunday. The Saturday game completed in two hours and 27 minutes with all of the offense occurring in a single half inning.

The three early-week wins pushed the Cubs division lead to three games. But, with the Expos still hanging out at the top of the division, the sweep to end the week dropped the Cubs into a first place tie.

In part 13 of this series, we’ll cover a seven-game week. The Cubs had three more games at home against the Pirates, then they headed west for an odd single city west coast trip to face the Giants.

1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Steve Wilson

Calvin Schiraldi was already featured previously as our PotW, so this week we went with an honorable mention. Our featured player is Steve Wilson. Steve was drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round of the 1985 amateur draft. He reached the majors with Texas in 1988 and pitched in three games, throwing 7⅔ innings with a 5.87 ERA.

That offseason, he was part of the blockbuster Rafael Palmeiro deal. We’ve talked about that one before. Jamie Moyer and Drew Hall also went to the Rangers and the Cubs received Paul Kilgus, Curt Wilkerson, Mitch Williams and two minor league players. Wilson pitched for the Cubs in parts of three seasons. He appeared in 106 games as a Cub, starting 23 of them and finishing 16 others. He was 10-13 during that time with a 4.56 ERA and three saves. That season of 1989, he was 6-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 85⅔ innings of work. He started eight games and saved two others.

Late in the 1991 season the Cubs traded Wilson to the Dodgers for Jeff Hartsock. Wilson pitched for the Dodgers through the end of the 1993 season. He appeared in 96 games over those three years, throwing 100⅔ innings with a 3.93 ERA. The 1993 season, his age 28 season, was his last in the majors. He did pitch at the Triple-A level for the Brewers and White Sox for the following two seasons, but never made it back to the big leagues.