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Today in Cubs history: The last time the Cubs scored 20 runs in a game

The Cubs offense has struggled at times this year. Here’s a game where they exploded.

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Last fall, I wrote this series about the highest-scoring games in Cubs history.

The game you’re going to read about here didn’t make it into that list — because while the Cubs scored 20 runs, their opponent, the Dodgers, managed just one.

Since 1900, the Cubs have scored 20 or more runs in a game just 15 times. Here’s the entire list:

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt
1 2001-05-05 CHC LAD W 20-1
2 1995-08-18 CHC COL W 26-7
3 1987-06-03 CHC HOU W 22-7
4 1979-05-17 CHC PHI L 22-23
5 1977-05-17 CHC SDP W 23-6
6 1967-05-20 CHC LAD W 20-3
7 1959-08-13 CHC SFG W 20-9
8 1954-04-17 CHC STL W 23-13
9 1945-08-15 CHC BRO W 20-6
10 1945-07-03 CHC BSN W 24-2
11 1938-05-05 CHC PHI W 21-2
12 1937-08-13 CHC CIN W 22-6
13 1930-06-23 CHC PHI W 21-8
14 1922-08-25 CHC PHI W 26-23
15 1911-06-11 CHC BSN W 20-2
Provided by View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 4/26/2021.

And so you are reading about this because today is the 20th anniversary of the last time the Cubs scored 20 runs in a game, May 5, 2001 at Wrigley Field against the Dodgers.

It’s not just that the team scored 20 runs, it’s how they did it. Through six innings this was a rather ordinary game. Sammy Sosa and ex-Dodger Todd Hundley had homered off Darren Dreifort and the Cubs had a 4-1 lead.

Dreifort departed for a pinch-hitter in the seventh and that’s when the fun began.

Former Cub Terry Adams entered the game in the bottom of the seventh and Cubs hitters just pounded him: Four singles, a sacrifice bunt on which the hitter (Ricky Gutierrez) reached base on a fielder’s choice, two more singles and a double before Dodgers manager Jim Tracy (another former Cub!) had mercy and lifted him. A strikeout followed, but Julio Zuleta hit a three-run homer and the Cubs had an eight-run inning.

Leading 12-1 going into the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs were relentless. With one out, Gutierrez doubled and after a walk, Sosa hit an infield grounder and Dodger pitcher Jose Nunez threw it away. Gutierrez scored. After another walk loaded the bases and a strikeout, Cubs pitcher Courtney Duncan batted and walked, scoring run number two of the inning. A single followed, scoring two runs and another single re-loaded the bases. Augie Ojeda hit a ground ball to third on which another error was committed, scoring two more runs. Gutierrez batted again, singling in the seventh run of the inning, and two more walks completed the Cubs’ second consecutive eight-run inning.

Twenty runs. It’s rare, and now it’s been 20 years since the Cubs last accomplished this feat.

Here is the entire game (minus 10 minutes, the link says, and I’m not sure which 10 minutes). It was Sammy Sosa bobblehead day at Wrigley, and Sosa went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBI.

This game is tied with four others as the second-biggest blowout in Cubs history, a 19-run differential. Those four games are:

The biggest winning margin in Cubs history is 22 runs, a 24-2 win over the Braves on July 3, 1945. You can read more about that game in this article posted here in April 2020.

Despite the Cubs’ occasional offensive woes so far this year, they already have a win by 12 runs and another by 13 in 2021. Could the Cubs break this 20-year drought tonight? In a quirk of the schedule, they're playing the same team, the Dodgers, at home.

Unlikely, but you never know!