Cubs' win on Sunday was strikeout/walk rarity

Cubs batters never struck as many as 14 times in a game from the start of the Modern Era, in 1901, until Aug. 1, 1924, a span of 3,487 games.

That day they were no match for Dazzy Vance of host Brooklyn, fanning 14 times and making only 3 hits.

Sunday's 6-4 victory at Milwaukee was their 15,356th game since then. It was only the 122nd of those in which they had at least 14 strikeouts -- 1 of every 126.

The vast majority of the games in which they had a minimum of 14 strikeouts have come in recent years: 94, or 76.4 percent, since 2000, including 13 just this year.

Saturday and Sunday were the third time they have done it in back-to-back games this season, and on June 25-27, at Los Angeles, they did it 3 in a row.


While the Cubs were striking out 14 times on Sunday, their pitchers struck out only 2 Brewers -- the second, leading off the ninth inning.

They have struck out no more than 2 batters 2,411 times since the start of 1924, but only 49 times since 2000.

Their 2,362 such games in 1924-99 were an average of 31 per season. In the 22 seasons since, they have averaged a mere 2.2.

The last time they did it before Sunday was on Aug. 2, 2018, when they had 2 strikeouts in a 6-1 loss to the Padres. They had played 426 games since then through Saturday.


And the combination of at least 14 strikeouts by batters and no more than 2 by pitchers?

Sunday's game was just the 7th played by the Cubs since 1901 in which both of those things happened!



The first was the 1924 game in which they first fanned 14 times, as Cubs starter Vic Aldridge struck out a lone batter in his 7 innings: Vance. George Milstead pitched the eighth and did not strike out a batter.

It didn't happen again until 1963, in a 3-1 loss at San Francisco on June 12. Bobby Bolin whiffed 14 Cubs (and walked none). Bob Buhl struck out Felipe Alou in the third inning, just before Willie McCovey homered for the Giant's final run. Don Elston pitched a 1-2-3 eighth with no strikeouts.



Then it happened 3 times in fewer than 8 years, beginning June 25, 1979, in a 6-4 loss at Houston. Two Astros combined for 16 strikeouts: J. R. Richard (12, in 7.1 innings) and Joe Sambito (4, in 1.2). Three Cubs hurlers had 1: Rick Reuschel (1 in 5.2), Willie Hernandez (0 in 1.1) and Dick Tidrow (0 in 1.0). Reuschel's strikeout victim: Richard.

On June 9, 1982, the totals were the strike counts were the same, 16 and 1, when the Cubs lost at Philadelphia, 4-2. All the Phillie strikeouts were by Steve Carlton, who went the distance. Ferguson Jenkins fanned Mike Schmidt to end the first inning and no one else in his 6 innings. Lee Smith (1.2 innings) and Bill Campbell (0.1) had no strikeouts.

The Cubs beat the Expos, 1-0, at Montreal on July 1, 1987, despite striking out 14 times to just twice by their hosts. Greg Maddux struck out Tim Foley in the fifth inning and Vance Law to end the seventh. Maddux pitched a 4-hitter.

He also contributed 3 of the strikeouts to the total of Bob Serba of the Expos, who allowed only 3 hits and walked 1, but was beaten by Jerry Mumphrey's 1-out homer in the ninth, right after he had recorded his final strikeout.



More than 3 decades then went by before the sixth such game, and last before Sunday. The contest on July 20, 2018, could not have been any more different from the one that had come before: an 18-5 pounding by the Cardinals at home.

The Cards not only struck out only twice. They drew 8 walks and smacked 18 hits. Matt Carpenter had 5 of hits, 3 homers and 2 doubles, matching the "full house" previously achieved only by Kris Bryant of the Cubs, at Cincinnati on June 27, 2016.

Only 1 player has duplicated the feat since then: Alex Dickerson of the Giants, against the Rockies, on Sept. 1, 2020.

Jon Lester got 1 of the Cubs' strikeouts before departing after 3 innings, in which he allowed 8 runs on 7 hits (2 homers) and walked 5. James Norwood recorded the other strikeout, of Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty, in the fourth.

The Cubs used 7 pitchers in all, including position players Tommy La Stella (1.1 innings), Victor Caratini (1.0) and Ian Happ (1.0).

Flaherty notched 9 strikeouts in 5 innings, then and 4 relievers raised the total to 14.



8/01/1924: 14 by batters, 1 by pitchers in 4-0 loss at Brooklyn

6/12/1963: 14 by batters, 1 by pitchers in 3-1 loss at San Francisco

7/25/1979: 16 by batters, 1 by pitchers in 6-4 loss at Houston

6/09/1982: 16 by batters, 1 by pitchers in 4-2 loss at Philadelphia

7/01/1987: 14 by batters, 2 by pitchers in 1-0 win at Montreal

7/20/2018: 14 by batters, 2 by pitchers in 18-5 loss at home to Cardinals

9/19/2021: 14 by batters, 2 by pitchers in 6-4 win at Milwaukee


As you can see, the biggest difference between strikeouts by Cubs batters and Cubs pitchers was 15, in the games in 1979 and 1982, followed by 13, in both of the first 2 games, and 12, in each of the last 3.

Sunday's game was the second of the 7 that the Cubs won.

It also was the sixth of the 7 that took place on the road, each at a different site.



In addition to their 14 strikeouts on Sunday, the Cubs had 7 walks.

They had finished 29 previous games with at least that many strikeouts and walks, including exactly 14 and 7 in a 9-8, 10-inning loss at Detroit on May 15.

All 30 have taken place since 1978, with 22 of them since 2000. Sunday was the 10th in the past 8 seasons.

The Cubs are 12-18 in those games. Their previous win also was over the Brewers, 2-1, in 15 innings, at home on May 11, 2019. They had 17 strikeouts and 9 walks before Willson Contreras homered to end the Mother's Day marathon.


The game Sunday was only the 8th that did not go in extra innings, all since May 1, 2001.

The Cubs had won only 1 of the earlier 7: a 6-5 victory at Milwaukee on July 24, 2016, in which they struck out 16 times and walked 8.

Their only such game after that before Sunday was an 8-6 loss at Texas on March 30, 2019, when they finished with 14 strikeouts and 12 walks.



Since 1901, Cubs batters have received at least 7 walks in 1,051 regulation-length games. Sunday was the 10th this season, but first since July 26.

Cubs pitchers also walked 7 on Sunday, the 1,149th time they have issued at least 7 walks in games that lasted 9 or fewer innings, including 20 this year.

But it was just the 91st game in which they both drew and issued at least 7 walks.


The last time the Cubs did it before Sunday: June 30, in their previous series at Milwaukee, when they had 7 walks but gave up 9 while turning a 7-0, first-inning lead into a 15-7 defeat.

They did it twice in 2019, too: the 8-6 loss at Texas on March 30 noted above (got 12 walks, gave up 7) and a 6-5 loss at home to the Angels on April 13 (got 7, gave up 8).

In 2018, they did it 5 times, just 1 short of their season record, 6, set in 2000. They did it as many as 3 times in only 4 other seasons: 1929, 1938, 1987 and 1991.

They played 63 games with at least 7 walks by each team in 1901-99, about 3 every 2 seasons, but have played 28 more since 2000, more than 1.25 per year.

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