The last two installments of this series have seen the Cubs win five of six games during the week. Those 10 wins in 12 games put the Cubs back into first place. I’ve told you often though that this was not one of those seasons were success was linear. There is no straight line to the top and there are still more struggles to be written about.
Spoiler alert, this will be one of those weeks. That probably shouldn’t be too surprising. As the season was coming to the end of May, the Cubs were finishing up a stretch of games against the NL West with a three game set against the Braves. The Cubs had swept the Braves at Wrigley a few weeks earlier. The Braves were pretty bad that year, losing 97 games. But they were starting to put together some of the pieces of a team that would be dominant throughout the 1990s.
After that series in Atlanta, the Cubs traveled on to St. Louis to face their old nemesis Cardinals. Trips to St. Louis are always perilous for the Cubs and their ‘89 team was no pushover. They were on their way to winning 86 games and they remained in contention deep into the season for the division title. This figured to be a tough week. Let’s get to the action and see just how many games the Cubs were able to win.
Game 48, May 29: Braves 2, Cubs 1 (27-21)
Scott Sanderson and Derek Lilliquist matched up in this one and they’d match zeroes until the bottom of the fourth. Jeff Treadway led off the inning with a double. A pop up and ground out had a runner on third with two outs. Dale Murphy came through with a two-out RBI single. He then stole second and scored on the RBI single of Darrell Evans.
The Cubs offense did put together nine hits, but didn’t draw any walks. Unsurprisingly with that kind of production, they didn’t dent the scoreboard much. They did finally put a run on the board in the seventh. Darrin Jackson got things started with a double. One out later Domingo Ramos added a single to put runners at the corners. Doug Dascenzo drove in the lone run with a sacrifice fly. Joe Boever closed the game for the Braves and recorded his seventh save.
- Superhero: Ryne Sandberg (.119). 3-4, 2B
- Hero: Curtis Wilkerson (.079). 1-1
- Sidekick: Domingo Ramos (.074). 1-1
- Billy Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.235). 0-4, K
- Goat: Vance Law (-.159). 0-4
- Kid: Dwight Smith (-.090). 0-1, K
Game 49, May 30: Cubs 3 at Braves 2 (28-21)
The Cubs bounced back to win game two of the series behind Greg Maddux. They put their first run on the board in the second inning against Braves starter Pete Smith. Mark Grace started the inning with a single. Damon Berryhill followed with a double scoring Grace. The Cubs had Dwight Smith sacrifice bunt and then stranded the runner at third. They got right back to work in the third inning. Doug Dascenzo started that inning with a walk. Gary Varsho followed with a single. The Cubs attempted a double steal but Dascenzo was out at third. Ryne Sandberg added a single to put runners at the corners. Mark Grace then hit a grounder to first and it scored a run to make it 2-0.
The Braves were able to tie it back up in the fourth inning when Dale Murphy led off with a single and Andres Thomas followed with a two-run homer. but the Cubs scored the decisive run in the fifth inning with a little help from the Braves defense. Doug Dascenzo started the inning by reaching on an error. Gary Varsho grounded out moving the runner to second. Ryne Sandberg walked. Then Mark Grace delivered an RBI-single. Maddux and Mitch Williams held the Braves in check and the Cubs won.
- Superhero: Mark Grace (.262). 2-4, 2RBI, R
- Hero: Greg Maddux (.251). 7⅓IP, 5H, 4BB, 2R, 2K (W 4-5)
- Sidekick: Mitch Williams (.250). 1⅔IP, 2H, 1BB, 0R, 3K (SV 13)
- Billy Goat: Dwight Smith (-.068). 1-3, 2B, S
- Goat: Vance Law (-.055). 0-3, BB, K
- Kid: Doug Dascenzo (-.052). 0-4, BB, R, CS
Game 50, May 31: Braves 3, Cubs 2 (28-22)
This one got off to a good start when Ryne Sandberg homered with two outs in the first. The Cubs made it 2-0 with a run in the third. Shawon Dunston started things with a single. He advanced to second on a ground out. Then moved to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a Doug Dascenzo squeeze bunt.
Paul Kilgus could not make it hold up though. With one out in the third he walked Braves starter John Smoltz. Then Ron Gant and Jeff Blauser followed with RBI-doubles and the score was tied. Blauser started the rally that led to the final run as well. He led off the inning with a double. He was then erased at home when he tried to score on a single. A fielder’s choice ground out meant that there was a runner on second with two outs. The Cubs issued an intentional walk and Geronimo Berroa stepped up. He hit a grounder to short but Shawon Dunston threw the ball away and a run scored. Boever faced one batter and recorded two outs in the ninth for his eighth save.
- Superhero: Mitch Webster (.286). 1-1
- Hero: Curtis Wilkerson (.116). 1-1
- Sidekick: Shawon Dunston (.027). 1-3, R
- Billy Goat: Gary Varsho (-.218). 0-4, 2K
- Goat: Ryne Sandberg (-.211). 2-4, HR, RBI, R, DP
- Kid: Mark Grace (-.171). 0-3, DP
Game 51, June 2: Cubs 5 at Cardinals 2 (29-22)
The Cubs scored two in the third behind Rick Sutcliffe to get off to a goof start in this one and then held on for the win. Darrin Jackson led off the third with a single and then scored on a Shawon Dunston triple. One out later Doug Dascenzo delivered an RBI-single. Unfortunately, he was ultimately caught stealing home with two outs. The Cubs added another run in the fourth inning. Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace each walked. A double play followed but Lloyd McClendon came through with a clutch two-out single to make it 3-0.
The Cubs added two more runs in the eighth inning. That inning started with a Vance Law single. Sandberg followed with a double and Grace was intentionally walked. Damon Berryhill followed with a sac fly and then Mitch Webster followed with another one.
The Cardinals finally pushed across two runs in the bottom of the inning. Vince Coleman singled with one out. Ozzie Smith followed with an RBI-double and Terry Pendleton added an RBI-single. Mitch Williams entered the game in the ninth after Calvin Schiraldi had allowed a walk and a single to the first two batters. Williams struck out three straight to notch his 14th save.
- Superhero: Rick Sutcliffe (.269). 7⅓IP, 7H, 3BB, 2R, 3K (W 7-3)
- Hero: Mitch Williams (.162). 1 IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 3K (SV 14)
- Sidekick: Shawon Dunston (.160). 1-4, 3B, RBI, R, K
- Billy Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.085). 0-3, RBI, SF, DP
- Goat: Calvin Schiraldi (-.083). ⅔IP, 1H, 1BB, 0R, 0K
- Kid: Vance Law (-.041). 1-5, R, K
Game 52, June 3: Cardinals 6, Cubs 5 (29-23)
Cubs Starter Mike Bielecki got in trouble right away. He allowed a one out double to Willie McGee in the first. Pedro Guerrero delivered a two-out RBI double to start the scoring and Terry Pendleton then slugged a two-run homer. The Cubs got one back in the second when Mark Grace led off with a single. Dwight Smith reached on an error putting two on. Then with two outs Shawon Dunston delivered an RBI single.
The fun was just starting. In the third inning, Ryne Sandberg drew a two-out walk. He then stole second. Grace walked. Damon Berryhill singled to load the bases. Dwight Smith doubled, driving in three to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead. In the sixth though the Cardinals took it back. They got another double from Guerrero to start the inning. One out later Tom Brunansky had a double to tie the game. One out later Tony Pena drove in the go ahead run with a single.
Mitch Webster hit a dramatic two-out solo homer to tie the game off of Cardinals closer Ken Daley. The game then stayed tied until the bottom of the 10th. Calvin Schiraldi, in his third inning of work, started the inning by walking Ozzie Smith. After a sac bunt, the Cubs then walked Pendleton. Brunansky singled to load the bases and then Tom Pagnozzi had the walk off sac fly against Mitch Williams.
- Superhero: Dwight Smith (.387). 1-2, 2B, BB, 3RBI
- Hero: Mitch Webster (.293). 1-5, HR, RBI, R, K
- Sidekick: Lloyd McClendon (.154). 1-2, SB
- Billy Goat: Mike Bielecki (-.426). 5⅔IP, 9H, 1BB, 5R, 2K
- Goat: Curtis Wilkerson (-.268). 0-5, K
- Kid: Mitch Williams (-.174). ⅓IP, 0H, 0BB, 0R, 0K
Game 53, June 4: Cubs 11, Cardinals 3 (30-23)
The Cubs capped the trip in a laugher. It’s hard not to enjoy putting a double digit number on the board against one of your longest rivals. lt didn’t look great for the Cubs early. Shawon Dunston hit a home run in the second inning with two outs to get things started. Ryne Sandberg made it a two-run lead with his own two-out homer in the third.
But then the Cardinals cut it to a one-run game against Cubs starter Scott Sanderson with a run in their half of the third. Jose Oquendo led off with a single. After a strikeout and sacrifice, he was on second. Vince Coleman drew a walk and Milt Thompson delivered the RBI-single. Then in the fourth, Pedro Guerrero reached on a Vance Law error and scored on a Terry Pendleton homer to give the Cards a lead at 3-2.
From there, the flood gates opened. Dunston hit his second homer of the game leading off the fifth. One out later Doug Dascenzo drew a walk and was along for the ride on a Mitch Webster two-run shot. Sandberg went back-to-back for his second home of the game. That was it for Cardinals starter Scott Terry who allowed five homers in just over four innings of work.
But that wasn’t it for the Cubs bats. Dwight Smith and Vance Law drew back-to-back walks to start the sixth and Dunston continued his monster day at the plate with a two-run triple. Law would add a solo homer leading off the eighth to make it 9-3. The scoring was completed in the ninth when Curtis Wilkerson tripled, Lloyd McClendon drew a walk, Rick Wrona had an RBI-single and then Smith grounded into a double play scoring the final run. Sanderson went the distance after a rough early going and improved to 6-3.
- Superhero: Shawon Dunston (.337). 3-4, 2HR, 3B, 4RBI, 2R
- Hero: Mitch Webster (.212). 1-4, HR, BB, 2RBI, R
- Sidekick: Ryne Sandberg (.173). 2-4, 2HR, 2R, 2RBI
- Billy Goat: Scott Sanderson (-.134). 9IP, 5H, 2BB, 3R(2ER), 6K (W
- Goat: Damon Berryhill (-.103). 0-4, K, DP
- Kid: Dwight Smith (-.024). 0-4, BB, R, K, DP
So there we have it. The Cubs didn’t particularly follow the script. They only managed one win against the Braves who were having a down season. But they managed two wins in St. Louis against a very good Cardinals team. Baseball can be so weird. Just the same, the Cubs managed three wins on the road while taking six games off the schedule. I remember an old cliche about trying to split your road games and take two of three at home. That’s a pretty good formula for success.
In this instance, the Cubs started the week in first place and ahead by 2½ games. The week saw that lead shrink to one. Not all together a great result, but far from devastating.
1989 Cubs Historical Heroes and Goats Player of the Week: Mitch Webster
Mitch was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 23rd round of the 1977 draft. He then went to the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979 in the minor league draft. In 1983 he first reached the majors, appearing in 11 games for the Blue Jays. He would appear in 26 more the following year for them as well. The Jays traded him to the Expos during the 1985 season ultimately for Cliff Young. After splitting the ‘85 season with the Jays and Expos, he played two full seasons in Montreal.
In midseason 1988, he was traded to the Cubs for Dave Martinez in a trade I remember being fairly universally disliked. He finished ‘88 and then played with the Cubs the following year. The Cubs then traded him to the Indians following the season for Dave Clark. He’d be traded two more times, once to the Pirates and then to the Dodgers, both during the 1991 season. He held on through his age-36 season in 1995 for the Dodgers.
In all, Mitch appeared in 1,265 games over 13 big league seasons. He had a career line of .263/.330/.401. He did score 504 runs in his career and stole 160 bases (though he was also caught 73 times). He largely played the outfield, splitting time among all three positions. He did eventually play some first base off and on in his 30s. In 1989, Mitch appeared in 98 games and had 308 plate appearances for the Cubs. He posted a line of .257/.331/.364.
I thought it was interesting that from his age-27 through his age-29 season that Mitch was identified as most similar to ex-Cub Angel Pagan. Then at age 30 he was most similar to ex-Cub Chris Coghlan. (At ages 31 and 32 he was most similar to Marvin Benard.)
Dave Martinez for Mitch Webster in 1988?
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I remember it as a good deal at the time
I don’t remember it much
I disliked it then and it didn’t get better with time
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